The Focus Fire Problem

MGibster

Legend
So house rules are forbidden?
Yes. WotC hired me to enforce their ban on house rules in the contiguous United States (Alaska, Hawaii, and US Territories are contracted out on a case-by-case basis). Anyone who uses a house rule may find me suddenly bursting into their gaming area, slapping the books out of their hands/off the table, and bellowing "No!" while wagging my finger in their face. (I really, really need to be careful when I do this in Texas.)
 

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Lojaan

Adventurer
This is a feature not a bug. PCs are supposed to team up and co-operate to defeat enemies.

If you want fights to be more cinematic, try the mook rules from MCDM.

Remember - the reason fighting like this makes sense in movies is because the heroes take out each enemy in a single attack. Replicate this and PCs will behave the same.
 

MGibster

Legend
Remember - the reason fighting like this makes sense in movies is because the heroes take out each enemy in a single attack. Replicate this and PCs will behave the same.
This is true. In games like Savage Worlds where most bad guys can be defeated with one hit, the PCs don't tend to gang up on them. Though they do gang up on the big bad evil villain leader dude.
 

CubicsRube

Hero
Supporter
I haven't seen all the replies in this thread so I apologise if this has already been suggested.

If you want to incentivise any kind of behaviour, in my opinion having a simple mechanic to incorporate that has the most effect.

Most tools boil down to a carrot or a stick. Which one you prefer is up to you.

If I were to do this, I would propose a house rule I will call the Too Many Cooks rule. That is, after a creature or a PC has been attacked once in a round, every other attack from a different creature has disadvantage.

This represents your allies getting in the way so you can't get a clear shot/stab/swing/wiggly finger pointing. I have no experience in combat, but from group martial arts sparring it holds true in my experience. I imagine with most weapons it'd be worse (except some like spears). So the idea doesn't break my immersion.

I am now interested to try it out to see how it works. Has anyone tried something like this?
 

Clint_L

Adventurer
Why not let the players handle combat in whatever way they come up with? Focus fire doesn't seem like a problem, it just seems like the players not doing what this DM wants. Trying to control player behaviour looks like a DM problem, not a player problem.

That said, one thing we don't like at my table is players meta gaming and telling each other what to do on their turns. So if the focus fire is happening because of that, then that would be a problem. But if it is just players being strategic...it's their game.
 

pemerton

Legend
Why not let the players handle combat in whatever way they come up with? Focus fire doesn't seem like a problem, it just seems like the players not doing what this DM wants. Trying to control player behaviour looks like a DM problem, not a player problem.

That said, one thing we don't like at my table is players meta gaming and telling each other what to do on their turns. So if the focus fire is happening because of that, then that would be a problem. But if it is just players being strategic...it's their game.
The strategy is driven by the game design. If you change the design, the strategy will be different - and potentially produce more interesting game play.

In 4e D&D I didn't see the "focus fire" problem, because the players have an incentive to keep multiple foes marked so as to control (to an extent) where the damage lands. Because 4e also emphasises debuffs as well as hp attrition, it creates reasons to target multiple foes.
 

rmcoen

Explorer
Had a thought on another site (DMDave, For More Entertaining D&D Battles, Stop Players From Focusing Fire): What about if you were allowed – like in HEROsystems Champions – to “abort to Dodge”?: “What, eight goblin archers are all shooting at me? H3ll yes I give up my Action next turn to Dodge now!”

(Maybe this takes your Reaction now and your Action next turn.) You put all the attackers at disadvantage, but lose out on next turn’s attacks or spell or whatever. You duck and cover! This gives an outnumbered hero a chance to survive unexpectedly being mugged… but, all’s fair, it also allows mobs to survive when PCs focus fire. If you spread out your attacks, are all the foes going to abort/dodge and thus give up their attacks? That’s a win [design goal] right there!
 

glass

(he, him)
Yes, did you read my full comment? I said the following, at the end, when I realized what you stated above and then also pointed out that it does not make a big difference in my argument:
I did, but it does not change anything. You referred to "my issue", but it is not my issue it is yours. I know how the rules work. EDIT: Also, apparently you quoted me nearly a month ago; how come I got the notification today?

But Total Attack (not one that I remember from 3e) might accomplish the same goal.
It is not (by default) an option that exists in 3e (although it could come about by the interaction of Power Attack and IIRC Shock Trooper), but Total Defence did (although Fighting Defensively, which gave an attack penalty for an AC bonus, would be a better analogy).
 

dave2008

Legend
I did, but it does not change anything. You referred to "my issue", but it is not my issue it is yours. I know how the rules work. EDIT: Also, apparently you quoted me nearly a month ago; how come I got the notification today?
Ya, I have not idea what we were talking about back then. Sorry, just assume you are correct I have no desire to even look up what this discussion is about.
 

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