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D&D 5E Ranged attacks and disadvantage in melee

Asisreo

Archdevil's Advocate
Did I miss the context? Why, exactly, should melee be rewarded over ranged combat
Because melee is a more vulnerable position. While you are threatening your enemy with OAs, the enemy also threatens you with them as well so you're in just as much of a situation as your opponent. Being in melee means that you're likely not in cover from other ranged attackers in the enemy ranks. You also can't go prone against your ranged enemies since a melee enemy will then be more dangerous.

With all these concerns, you need to have some good incentives which melee provides through its other good facets.
 

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GMMichael

Guide of Modos
Are we going for realism or fantasy emulation? The goalposts have changed quite a few times in this thread.
I go for Uncommon Sense, which is highly subjective.

Because melee is a more vulnerable position. . .
With all these concerns, you need to have some good incentives which melee provides through its other good facets.
Melee's incentive is that your melee-weapon can reach your opponent. I would expect melee (range) to be less than preferable if you have a ranged weapon that you could use first. In fact, all good fighters know that they should carry two weapons at minimum, and of these, one should reach farther than the fighter's arm. (File this under realism for CubicsRube).
 

Well, I wouldn't know first hand as I've never tried shooting an arrow at a human-sized target, especially in combat when it was trying to avoid me. ;)
Let's put it this way: Bow hunters using modern compound bows, which are way more accurate than mediaeval weapons generally won't try to take a shot at over 40 yards. And that is against an unarmoured, unaware, and generally stationary target.

With a shield, of course the odds plummet! (For 5E, your chance decreases 10% with the +2 AC bonus.)
Yeah. 5e (and pretty much all editions of D&D) don't really model how effective shields are.
And the rule suggests PCs can't be unless you take Crossbow Expert. Or, who knows... maybe it is just because orcs' ACs suck and he is so good the disadvantage really doesn't matter? That is more likely the case.

I mean orcs in 5E have AC 13. Assuming Legolas has +12 to hit, he would only miss on double 1's or less than 10% of the time if he did have disadvantage...
Yep. I was thinking that he was just managing to hit despite disadvantage on the few occasions he needed to.


I'm not following you here. Care to elaborate?
I'm suggesting that the motions required to cast and target a Shocking Grasp and other melee spells do not expose you quite so much as those required to cast and target a ranged spell. Thus they do not suffer disadvantage to land compared to the ranged spells.

Did I miss the context? Why, exactly, should melee be rewarded over ranged combat?
. . . I don't think you could have missed the context. It was in the paragraph directly above the one you actually quoted.

I believe they did, too. But that doesn't make sense for two reasons:

1) Ranged weapons take disadvantage at distance. The opposite of that, being as close to the target as possible, should get advantage.
Uh. There is a distinction in ease of use between "opponent is within the effective range of your weapon" and "weapon is within the effective reach of your opponent." :)

2) "Someone actively hacking" is part of the assumption. But how many D&D opponents fit this assumption? Spellcasting wizards don't. Neither do animals (which should include many monsters with similar tactics...and plants...); they don't bat/parry away your attacks (or bow in this case). They just try to bite the closest or most accessible thing they can. Which could be your leg, arm, head... Regardless, they don't make it any harder to shoot them with your bow than to spear them or stab them.
Animals generally go with overbearing and batting or biting at you. They're not attacking your bow like an intelligent opponent would, but think about trying to load and draw a shot while a large dog is yanking you around as it worries at your leg. Stabbing it with an arrow is likely easier despite the issues with attempting that.
It is very much harder to shoot a bow in a situation like that than it is to use a spear or sword on them.
 

Asisreo

Archdevil's Advocate
Melee's incentive is that your melee-weapon can reach your opponent. I would expect melee (range) to be less than preferable if you have a ranged weapon that you could use first. In fact, all good fighters know that they should carry two weapons at minimum, and of these, one should reach farther than the fighter's arm. (File this under realism for CubicsRube).
The question is why should you even build yourself as a melee character if ranged characters get to fight from a safer position? You can take your sword with you, but you're only incentivized to use it when your opponent comes to you if the way 5e handled ranged attacking was different. Nobody would be a melee fighter because the opportunity costs would be too high.

Game Design vs Realism has to draw a line somewhere. If you want the most realistic experience, you can always buy real swords and arrows and fight your friends until one of you dies but I doubt its actually any fun to kill your friends for the sake of a realistic game.

Anyways, the line drawn in D&D incentivizes fun game design over realism in the majority of cases. It allows a DM to pack realism into it, but only to an extent before reaching beyond the bounds of the system.
 

Rockyroad

Explorer
Historically bowman have always been routed when faced with infantry at melee range and so I have no issues with the game modeling that by giving the ranged weapon disadvantage when an enemy is within melee range of the shooter. And as others have said, range combat doesn't need anymore advantages over melee combat, simply for the fact that one can attack the other without the other being able to retaliate at all if at range.
 

6ENow!

The Game Is Over
Historically bowman have always been routed when faced with infantry at melee range and so I have no issues with the game modeling that by giving the ranged weapon disadvantage when an enemy is within melee range of the shooter. And as others have said, range combat doesn't need anymore advantages over melee combat, simply for the fact that one can attack the other without the other being able to retaliate at all if at range.
I'd rather allow melee attackers an OA against a ranged attacker when confronting them in melee than saying the ranged attacker has disadvantage. shrug
 

Rockyroad

Explorer
I'd rather allow melee attackers an OA against a ranged attacker when confronting them in melee than saying the ranged attacker has disadvantage. shrug
If there were several enemy at melee range with the shooter, would they all get OA against the shooter? That may be a little too much.
 



Dausuul

Legend
I'd rather allow melee attackers an OA against a ranged attacker when confronting them in melee than saying the ranged attacker has disadvantage. shrug
That's what happens if the shooter prefers it that way. You move away from the melee foe, eat the OA for moving, and now you can shoot without penalty. But you also have the option to stay where you are and accept disadvantage if you don't want to risk the OA.
 

6ENow!

The Game Is Over
That's what happens if the shooter prefers it that way. You move away from the melee foe, eat the OA for moving, and now you can shoot without penalty. But you also have the option to stay where you are and accept disadvantage if you don't want to risk the OA.
Fair enough point LOL.
 


Horwath

Hero
I would expand the 5ft rule to being in reach of melee attack(be that 5,10,15 or whatever distance) and also you provoke AoO in addition to disadvantage on your ranged attack roll. Unless you have succeed on a stealth check before the attack.

Also, I would detach AoO from reaction "slot", and give a number of AoO's per round equal to prof bonus.
 

GMMichael

Guide of Modos
They're not attacking your bow like an intelligent opponent would, but think about trying to load and draw a shot while a large dog is yanking you around as it worries at your leg.
Think about trying to spear a large dog while it's yanking you around. You'd be just as likely to stab yourself as the dog.

The question is why should you even build yourself as a melee character if ranged characters get to fight from a safer position? . . . Nobody would be a melee fighter because the opportunity costs would be too high.
Because you have limited arrows, and it's hard to hit targets that are trying to avoid being hit? Because the typical encounter distance in a dungeon is 20 feet, AKA charging range?

Or you could give the melees advantage on their attacks against the shooter. For me it doesn't really matter about the specifics, the point being that if ranged wants to play with melee at melee range then there should be consequences.
Anything other than "disadvantage on the attack roll if you are within 5 feet of a hostile creature" would be great. Under this rule, you have trouble shooting enemies just because an angry hamster is gnawing on your boot.
 

Al'Kelhar

Adventurer
Anything other than "disadvantage on the attack roll if you are within 5 feet of a hostile creature" would be great. Under this rule, you have trouble shooting enemies just because an angry hamster is gnawing on your boot.
Call me crazy, but if I had one of these things gnawing on my boot, I'd be a bit distracted...

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Cheers, Al'kelhar
 

Horwath

Hero
Think about trying to spear a large dog while it's yanking you around. You'd be just as likely to stab yourself as the dog.


Because you have limited arrows, and it's hard to hit targets that are trying to avoid being hit? Because the typical encounter distance in a dungeon is 20 feet, AKA charging range?


Anything other than "disadvantage on the attack roll if you are within 5 feet of a hostile creature" would be great. Under this rule, you have trouble shooting enemies just because an angry hamster is gnawing on your boot.
disadvantage on attacks is a good mechanics, it's just not enough.
I.E. if you have shield and you are few feet only from attacker with ranged weapon, your shield covers you all, or you can easily hit a bow with your melee weapon(or even hand) and put it way off target.
 

loverdrive

Makin' cool stuff
Publisher
2) "Someone actively hacking" is part of the assumption. But how many D&D opponents fit this assumption? Spellcasting wizards don't. Neither do animals (which should include many monsters with similar tactics...and plants...); they don't bat/parry away your attacks (or bow in this case). They just try to bite the closest or most accessible thing they can. Which could be your leg, arm, head... Regardless, they don't make it any harder to shoot them with your bow than to spear them or stab them.
I don't know much about bows outside of range, but I can safely say that hitting someone with a pistol at 5 meters is relatively easy thing, but someone at arm's length who is moving and doesn't want to be hit? Nope. And pistol is infinitely easier to operate than even a modern bow.
Did I miss the context? Why, exactly, should melee be rewarded over ranged combat?
Because ranged combatants:
  • Deal pretty much the same damage
  • Attack more often
  • Hit more often
  • Don't need to spend ASIs on a dumpstat
 

Mannahnin

Adventurer
Trying to wield a bow or other missile weapon effectively when you're in sword's reach of someone trying to cut you is difficult to impossible. The Disadvantage mechanic is simple, clean and adequate to represent this. It still allows characters who get lucky or have high attack bonuses to get some hits, which is probably at the appropriate level of heroic unrealism for D&D. The AoO rule also made reasonable sense in 3.x to represent the archer's vulnerability in this position, but takes up more game time.

Getting back to the original questions-

1. If you use facing rules, I could definitely see taking away the penalty if you're behind the foe, but I'd also want to see some form of simultaneous movement to make it possible for him to turn with you if you're his target. Just running around back of the guy who's trying to stick you would be even more unrealistic and more of an absurd result than the baseline I-go-you-go initiative/movement system. Me moving in a circle around a person is (basically) always slower than them pivoting to face me.

2. Blindsight means the creature has other sensory abilities which grant it all the same combat effectiveness as a sighted creature, even though it can't see. They are still threatening the missileer just as well as a sighted character.
 

GMMichael

Guide of Modos
I.E. if you have shield and you are few feet only from attacker with ranged weapon, your shield covers you all, or you can easily hit a bow with your melee weapon(or even hand) and put it way off target.

Trying to wield a bow or other missile weapon effectively when you're in sword's reach of someone trying to cut you is difficult to impossible. . .
News flash: if you're using a sword instead of a bow, your opponent is trying to bat that away, too.

The AoO rule also made reasonable sense in 3.x to represent the archer's vulnerability in this position, but takes up more game time.
So what is OP to do? Auburn2's ruling #2 is pretty legitimate; someone with no eyes clearly can't see his opponent, so the disadvantage rule is not satisfied. Blindsight doesn't count; "perceiving" is not seeing. Further, the first example of a blindsight user is an ooze, and I'm pretty sure that an ooze isn't batting your bow away while you're trying to shoot it. Nor is it dodging your aim.

Mannahnin suggests using an Opportunity Attack (instead of disadvantage?). That's a decent solution if you want to show that an ammunition-using fighter is likely to take (more) damage while using it near a melee-weapon fighter.

I'd like to see fighters actually use an action to load their weapons. Then the "opportunity attack" is simply the melee-fighter attacking during the ranged-fighter's reload action/round.

Because ranged combatants:
  • Deal pretty much the same damage
  • Attack more often
  • Hit more often
  • Don't need to spend ASIs on a dumpstat
Those are arguments explaining why it's better to be a ranged combatant, not why melee should be rewarded over ranged combat. Except for the dumpstat argument, that's a different story.

One could argue-
  • because melee is cooler than ranged fighting, or
  • D&D is equally about stabbing and shooting, or
  • the 5e rules are unfairly biased toward ranged fighters,
but if ranged fighting is simply better than melee, then you should choose to fight at range instead of demanding rewards for melee. /sidetrack
 

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