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D&D 5E Too Few Player Options During Combat?

Filthy Lucre

Explorer
Howdy All,

Has anyone else found that player's don't really have all that many meaningful or interesting options/abilities during combat? (Obviously setting aside full time caster types). When COVID finally blows over I want to get back into in-person DMing but I can't help but feel like combat in 5e is way too 'bleh' and static.

Does anyone else feel this way? Has anyone else found a solution if they indeed see it as a problem?
 

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iserith

Magic Wordsmith
Given that a player can have their character attempt anything he or she can imagine, I don't really see how the players are lacking for things to do. That they may constrain themselves to certain options is really just their choice, so it's their fault, not the game's. Of course, those self-imposed constraints may well be in response to a DM who doesn't make non-standardized options very effective in context.
 


Filthy Lucre

Explorer
Given that a player have their character can attempt anything he or she can imagine, I don't really see how the players are lacking for things to do. That they may constrain themselves to certain options is really just their choice, so it's their fault, not the game's. Of course, those self-imposed constraints may well be in response to a DM who doesn't make non-standardized options very effective in context.
I mean, you're technically right, but what I mean is I don't have any core or published rules to adjudicate special situations or maneuvers. For example, the ranger in my game can't shoot someone in the leg to hobble them without me coming up with a ruling on the spot.
 


iserith

Magic Wordsmith
I mean, you're technically right, but what I mean is I don't have any core or published rules to adjudicate special situations or maneuvers. For example, the ranger in my game can't shoot someone in the leg to hobble them without me coming up with a ruling on the spot.
That's part of the role of the DM though - make a ruling as needed. That ruling could well be "you hit them in the leg, but it has no appreciable impact on their speed as they try to get away. What do you do?"
 

Filthy Lucre

Explorer
(Then come up with a ruling on the spot)

Or use some of the optional rules, or any one of the third party martial maneuvres rulesets. Or just give all your fighters a couple battlemaster maneuvers, or a feat or two for free?
1.) I personally don't use, and have never used, any 3PP because I find their quality, in general, falls well below WotC
2.) If I'm making up rules on the spot, then the game has become too narrative for my players and the question immediately becomes why have any rules at all.
 

the Jester

Legend
I mean, you're technically right, but what I mean is I don't have any core or published rules to adjudicate special situations or maneuvers. For example, the ranger in my game can't shoot someone in the leg to hobble them without me coming up with a ruling on the spot.
Because D&D has a long history of called shot mechanics that always prove terrible and extremely exploitable. You want to stop an enemy from moving, you have two options in the core that are available to anyone- either grapple them or reduce them to 0 hps. After all, "you can't get away" is basically "you've been defeated" when a party of adventurers is clustered around banging on you.
 


Filthy Lucre

Explorer
Because D&D has a long history of called shot mechanics that always prove terrible and extremely exploitable. You want to stop an enemy from moving, you have two options in the core that are available to anyone- either grapple them or reduce them to 0 hps. After all, "you can't get away" is basically "you've been defeated" when a party of adventurers is clustered around banging on you.
It was just an example off the top of my head, not the specific problem in question, so your comment isn't really on topic.
 

GMMichael

Guide of Modos
Are you utilizing non-Attack combat actions like Dodge, Disengage, Dash, and Help? Granted, these other actions add the most interest if you're fighting in a team, and not as an individual.

Fighting becomes more interesting when defending uses an action - you might try house-ruling that in.
 

Filthy Lucre

Explorer
Are you utilizing non-Attack combat actions like Dodge, Disengage, Dash, and Help? Granted, these other actions add the most interest if you're fighting in a team, and not as an individual.

Fighting becomes more interesting when defending uses an action - you might try house-ruling that in.
I think the implicit answer coming from the forum right now is that there isn't a core solution to my problem and I need to pray that 6th edition has more complex rules.
 


FickleKnight

The Torn
1.) I personally don't use, and have never used, any 3PP because I find their quality, in general, falls well below WotC
2.) If I'm making up rules on the spot, then the game has become too narrative for my players and the question immediately becomes why have any rules at all.
1. I think you are selling 3PP material, including the Dungeon Masters Guild, a little short here. There is a lot of good stuff available that is at the same level as WoTC's efforts. If what you really mean is that there is so much that it is time consuming to wade through the chaff to find the gems then I agree with you.*

2. I'm not really sure what to say to that except that D&D 5E has very much come back to the default idea of Rulings over Rules. Your group might be better served by Pathfinder 2E (great crunchy system) or even Rolemaster if you aren't willing to venture afield for 3PP content.

*That's why I had started The Jilted Quill thread here several years ago to try and spotlight some quality DMs Guild products, but it didn't last long (like two weeks) due to IRL reasons.
 

Filthy Lucre

Explorer
1. I think you are selling 3PP material, including the Dungeon Masters Guild, a little short here. There is a lot of good stuff available that is at the same level as WoTC's efforts. If what you really mean is that there is so much that it is time consuming to wade through the chaff to find the gems then I agree with you.*
2. I'm not really sure what to say to that except that D&D 5E has very much come back to the default idea of Rulings over Rules. Your group might be better served by Pathfinder 2E (great crunchy system) or even Rolemaster if you aren't willing to venture afield for 3PP content.

*That's why I had started The Jilted Quill thread here several years ago to try and spotlight some quality DMs Guild products, but it didn't last long (like two weeks) due to IRL reasons.
Ya my group is very much a "consult to rules first" type of group. My job as DM is only really to arbitrate those rules or to make formal interpretations.
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
2. I'm not really sure what to say to that except that D&D 5E has very much come back to the default idea of Rulings over Rules. Your group might be better served by Pathfinder 2E (great crunchy system) or even Rolemaster if you aren't willing to venture afield for 3PP content.
Agreed. I recently played in a PF2e game and there's a rule for practically everything.
 


iserith

Magic Wordsmith
Whether you like the system or not, would you say that it's a good/engaging system?
I'm sure it would appeal to particular kinds of players and GMs. The combats seemed faster than D&D 4e. I don't have enough experience with it to give an objective analysis.
 

FickleKnight

The Torn
Ya my group is very much a "consult to rules first" type of group. My job as DM is only really to arbitrate those rules or to make formal interpretations.
I think Pathfinder 2E might just fit your group much better. I love PF2, I think it is a great system, I just prefer to start from 5E and add rules/rulings to it rather than start from PF2 and subtract things from it.
 

ART!

Hero
Incentivize using terrain/surroundings as part of the combat. Leaping over things, running and sliding under things, knocking things over, etc can make things really fun. Describe the surroundings with just enough detail to get imaginations going, and grant advantage or Inspiration when players do creative things.

A good image or two of a location - it doesn't have to match exactly the dimensions or whatever of the location - can go a long way toward getting people thinking.
 

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