D&D 5E Ranged party member keeps running off the map

If you figure it out, let me know. I'm dealing with the same problem with a champion archer fighter in my game: Action Surge for four arrows that crit on a 19+. *Shudder*

Dungeons help. Can't get 600 feet away and still see through the door.
I dig your random monster idea as well.

Fundamentally the sniper superiority issue is mostly caused by the fact that 5E makes movement too slow and ranged fire at moving targets too accurate--it makes 5E combats favor ranged combat even more heavily than the real world. To mitigate this in an outdoor scenario, you can either create monsters with a wider variety of movement speeds and modes, e.g. boosting quadrupedal movement speeds by a factor of three and flying movement speeds by a factor of ten, or you can stick within the existing rules and stack blocks and find other ways to increase closing rates, such as exploiting zero-duration "falling" as dive-bombing.

I'm telling you, dude, dive-bombing is where it's at for killing archers. Four or five gryphons "falling" from 1000' range to melee in one round--melee-specialized dudes will eat that up, because that's exactly the threat profile they are specialized for, and they can even grapple the gryphons to the ground and pin them if they want to. But a sniper will hate it.

You don't have to make every enemy a dive-bombing gryphon/dragon/peryton/whatever. All you have to do is, if it's an outdoor scenario and you don't want the sniper getting too far from the main party, have a flock of flying enemies circling over his head to threaten his flank. He'll catch up to his melee buddies fast enough.
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This. My wife's Paladin and the group's dwarven Immortal Mystic (flavored as a dragon sorcerer) don't complain that the shadar-kai monk teleports around and is often obscured in shadows or outright hidden when not attacking. They celebrate that while they pin enemies to themselves, someone is ganking the everloving crap out of them. And since they both do strong damage themselves, enemies die fast when these tactics are being used.

We now have a sniper of sorts in the form of a Nomad Mystic, and a mixed range controller in the form of a land druid, in addition to the skirmishing ranger and the pyro-mage and the warlock. We sometimes have as many as 8 people on the team, but usually the monk and ranger are NPC mode, or circumstance requires the team to split up to reach their goals.

But even when it's just the main party, and no ranger or monk, you've got two Tough Guys, a and 4 mixed ranged or purely ranged combatants. If one of them is out of harm's way, sniping, they love that. They want at least one guy on a rooftop, in a tower, or on a nearby hilltop, sniping enemies. It makes the party more tactically effective, even when outnumbered. The sniper can punish enemies for moving tactically, and can get advantage on attacks by being hidden. I even houserule in an Aim action that uses a bonus action on a turn where you haven't' moved, that just gives you Advantage, and reworked Sharpshooter to replace the -5/+10 mechanic with getting a damage bonus when you Aim.

Which means you want to get far out and/or up high, and then post there until the enemy identifies your position and figures a way to threaten you, and then kite or sneak your way to a new position.

If my player's werent' into this sort of creative tactical thinking, I still can't imagine it being a problem to have a PC do the same basic thing.
This doesn't sound like fantasy gaming to my ears. More like X-Com or Cyberpunk. But hey, if it works for you...

Myself, I like it when a game system makes you choose between slow brutal killing machine and fast but kind of only annoying. We'd all love to play fast killing machines, but what's so special about that if everybody can do it...

In other words, if the system doesn't reward you for rolling up a slow axe dwarf you risk ending up like Gimli. Tossed on the scrap heap.

Sure, and to be clear, I don't claim that it does make things harder. (Unless and until it does.)

Yep. For example. A party of 3 always-Recklessly Raging GWM Berserkers and 1 Sharpshooter Battlemaster is probably not going to last as long in a dungeon crawl as a party of 4 Recklessly Raging Barbarians. I won't allocate the blame there--but that party isn't really going to benefit from overwatch.

So in that case, I agree with you.


Fundamentally the sniper superiority issue is mostly caused by the fact that 5E makes movement too slow and ranged fire at moving targets too accurate--it makes 5E combats favor ranged combat even more heavily than the real world.
Wait, what?

Let me assure you that with no hit points mechanism (=relatively common insta-kills), the real world favor ranged combat infinitely more than most games out there and definitely D&D, pretty much the original inventor of "melee combat".

Other than that, I agree.


Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
I had a DM who ruled that if you left the map, your combat was over and you couldn't return. Seemed harsh.

Look, if the map in every case was some unpassable terrain or cliff, fine. But if it's open terrain that makes no sense. I'd openly talk to the DM that he's putting arbitrary limits on the game that are impacting my fun. Hopefully they start running it less like a wargame.

On the other hand, if the DM was adamant ask them if it's good-for-the-goose, good-for-the-gander. Can I encourage the party to fight near the edge of the map so they can step off instead of going down and can easily retreat safely from any combat.

I'm not normally that combative, but I have a particular hot button for DMs who interpret rules one ways when they screw the players and another way when the same rules help the players.


First Post
Have the enemy attack back with equal range. Except the character now doesn't have allies to help him up when he drops. Seriously, don't be afraid to kill a PC that makes stupid decisions like this. Strength in numbers is a thing, and anyone running away from allies like that is just asking to get killed.


This confuses me. Why would the team be mad that the sniper is sniping? When I'm a player, if the DM had an NPC point out that the sniper doesn't seem to be taking much risk of getting hit by the enemy, I'd just say, "Yeah, and good thing, too. That's my job. His job is kill guys without me having to worry about needing to keep him safe." or something along those lines. Just like with a sneak that has ways of being hidden nearly all the time. Great. That means they also get advantage a lot, so their attacks land a lot, so the enemies go down faster. Sounds good. Either way, they are absolutely still contributing just as much to the team's success as they tankey fighter.

D&D supports the notion of ranged characters. Not "snipers".

Of course a ranged character could and should stay out of the center spotlight. But that's not what we're discussing here. We're discussing a character that is effectively removing himself from the camera angle altogether. That is bad, because there will come times when you will need to present your own flesh and blood as a distraction for the monsters. Perhaps block a crucial movement so the monster doesn't bite the spellcaster when the tank is momentarily overwhelmed. Follow the party when the battlescene unexpectedly shifts. Etc

Not to mention the heroic angle. Why should the rest of the party accept that one character is always hundreds of feet away, and thus in relative safety? Especially since none of your abilities actually require that. Staying out of trouble? Yes. Being far away. There is no reason.

Why? Because there aren't any snipers in D&D! All this talk about "snipers" make you think D&D is actually about that stuff.

Let me assure you that playing a "sniper" in D&D is a thoroughly suboptimal tactic. And it isn't well supported by the game either.

While it can be a fun character archetype to play, it really should not be encouraged in D&D. Best save it for a modern-era game. Especially with a newbie DM.

Now, you might think I'm accusing you of playing the game badwrongfun. I'm really not. I just need to ask you to stop labeling ranged characters "snipers" to the OP. It really gives off the wrong connotations. It justifies the behavior of that gunsmith of his. Based on what?

Other than the rule of cool - nothing. Again, nothing wrong with sniper player characters. Just save them for another game than D&D :)

And then on the other end, you're telling OP not to "punish" the player with monsters, as if all the bad guys are just...what, always in a clump, even though the PC's aren't? How does that make sense?
I meant you should not add more monsters (or influence their behavior) in an attempt to change the player's tactics. That's all.

We can easily see more monsters as a reward for good story or just murderhoboing players.

This is not one of those cases. To me it was clear the OP was pondering whether to add monsters in an attempt to steer a player to certain behaviors.

In my opinion, that is almost always a bad idea: out of game issues need out of game solutions.


Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
The end analysis is that WotC have made it too cheap to build a ranged characters. Compared to 3rd edition, ranged fire is better/cheaper/less restrictive in at least seven ways, some more significant than others.

I agree that ranged is a bit too easy, but most of these fall through, they are at best equal to melee and some take spending a feat or other cost to do.


I agree that ranged is a bit too easy, but most of these fall through, they are at best equal to melee and some take spending a feat or other cost to do.
Not sure what you mean by "these fall through"?

If you think ranged is "at best equal" to melee you haven't really paid attention to the thread... ;)

...but since you do agree ranged is too cheap, let me invite you to look my proposed fix over, and tell me if you feel it's too much or too little or just right:


I agree that ranged is a bit too easy, but most of these fall through, they are at best equal to melee and some take spending a feat or other cost to do.

However: low monster movement speeds, and short range on most monster attacks, results in ranged superiority without any feat investment at all.

Consider this: an Iron Golem is ostensibly a Deadly threat for a party of three 8th level PCs. Let's make them all Champion fighters for simplicity. If they are all melee fighters with AC 20 (meaning Sword & Shield), then they'll take 34.55 points of damage per round on average, from the Iron Golem's two sword attacks; and once in a while they'll eat 90-135 points of damage in a single round when it breathes on them (depending how high their Con rolls are). However, if they were engaged in ranged combat, two of them could attack the Iron Golem in any given round while the third Dashed away, taking only a single opportunity attack in the process. Call it AC 18 because they're holding bows instead of shields, which means the Iron Golem does only 19.63 points of damage per round to them on average, and it never breathes gas on them (because it never gets to use its action to do anything except Dash).

Even using just the 5E Basic rules and standard array stats instead of full PHB rules, that's still the difference between taking 300(ish, depending on Con saves) HP of damage over the six and a half rounds it takes you to kill the Iron Golem in melee, vs. only taking 126 HP of damage over a similar six and a half rounds to kill it in ranged combat. Ranged combat is over twice as efficient as melee combat in this scenario--even moreso if you have a larger party that would get hit by the Iron Golem's AoE.

Don't even get me started on the mounted combat rules which result in killing the Iron Golem without taking opportunity attacks at all. The only thing killing it would cost you is whatever walking time it took to get to the killing area, plus maybe 2 gp on arrows for your magic bow(s).
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