Wednesday, April 15, 2009
Doing Attacks of Opportunity Right
Attacks of opportunity were added for two reasons, the first being that the exact position of characters must have primacy in order to necessitate the use of expensive miniatures, and the second being that an additional layer of complication was felt necessary for the combat system to be more interesting. Neither of these features are necessary in a well-run game.
Therefore, I propose removing threatened areas, attacks of opportunity, and the usage of reach as general rules, with the following qualifications:
1. Retain attacks of opportunity against creatures that use ranged attacks and ranged offensive spells when in melee. This is simple and makes range-based characters require protection.
2. Reach remains somewhat useful as a way to to fight past friends in crowded dungeon corridors. To help reach along a little bit, I suggest removing the cover penalties to attack rolls from attacking past allies in melee.
3. I also suggest removing most of special attacks from the game, except for Charge because it is simple and fun, and Trip because that is so essential for the Monk class. The special attacks and related feats that I would suggest removing include: Bull Rush, Disarm, Overrun, and Sundering. These special attacks are used only infrequently by most groups, and add undesirable complications to the game. I would also suggest removing Grappling as a PC option, saving it for those few monsters that have grab attacks. Will your game suffer for having these annoying, over-complicated options removed? I think not.
4. Remove Combat Reflexes from the game. Replace the effects of the Mobility feat with the following: "Mobility: You do not suffer a penalty to AC when charging."
I have been running a game without attacks of opportunity, and it's amazing how much faster things go, and how much easier combat has been. The complications from removing it are so few, and players can move around the battlefield with less stress. You might bemoan the loss of positioning being quite so important, but I think most groups will find the trade off to be well worth it. Try it and you will see what I mean.