suggestions for 5e: lose shift and opportunity attack

I played 4e with a 3rd edition player the other day and she said, “I thought 4e combat was supposed to be simpler.”

It’s true that, while 4e did some great streamlining, it added a bunch of new complications. Here are my suggestions for simplifying Fifth Edition combat:

  • Get rid of the Marked condition and similar defender abilities.
  • Get rid of opportunity attacks – or, more precisely, make opportunity attacks a class feature belonging to fighters and similar defender types. (Taking a general rule and making it a class feature is a great way to hide complexity – the way 4e First Strike, a rogue feature, replaces 3e’s rule that everyone is flat-footed until their first combat turn.)
  • Take away Shifts. All they are is a way to avoid opportunity attacks anyway.

Now people can move around with impunity in combat, except around close-combat-trained defenders/soldiers, who are sticky. And instead of adding rules, we’ve cut out a giant block of rules with a scalpel.

I’d use these as 4e house rules except that so many exceptions-based rules key off every rules element. Exceptions-based rule design is great, but it does mean that house-ruling is always slightly more involved than you’d like.

7 Responses to “suggestions for 5e: lose shift and opportunity attack”

  1. Josh says:

    Agreed! I was thinking the same thing when I started my first 4e campaign. Combat is a lot more complicated, especially for low level characters who, let’s face it, just didn’t have too many options in previous editions.

    These are good suggestions for making combat easier… especially getting rid of “marked”. The last time I actually got the opportunity to play, I really wanted to play a defender… but I didn’t want to keep up with all that crap, so I ended up playing a striker/leader hybrid instead.

  2. Durn says:

    Hmm. I hear you that shifts and OoAs are one of the most consistently fiddly parts of combat, it is definitely the source of alot of inter-party second guessing, which suck, but it is still one of those realism type rules that I cling to. It just makes sense, and it makes minor foes a little more dangerous.
    I guess a simpler rule might be that you can move away from a foe if you give up your attack that round, thus simulating some sort of careful withdrawal. It also kills that annoying case of archers shifting and shooting…
    No shifts does make it harder to flank…

  3. paul says:

    No shifts/no OAs makes it easy to flank squishy people, but defenders and soldiers will be darn hard to maneuver around.

    The weakness of my proposal might be in non-soldier solo monsters, who will have no control over the PCs’ movements.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Take away marked and OAs?! Why do you hate the fighter so? There is so little left for him!

  5. paul paul says:

    Well, fighters would still have OA. Since shift is gone, that would make them pretty sticky.

  6. John E. says:

    Sounds like you would really like the new D&D board games! They are almost a new edition of D&D in themselves. Practically a 5th edition. They are much simpler to learn and understand than any previous D&D game. They keep the look and feel of the D&D RPGs but are more accessible for people who are new to table-top RPGs and who have up until then, only played card games, miniatures games and/or video games. I highly recommend the Castle Ravenloft and Wrath of Ashardalon board games to you.

  7. Michael (Gronan) Mornard says:

    Good grief.

    The whole “Attack of Opportunity” thing came about when adventuring parties stopped being close-order infantry formations with armored people on the outside. So maybe just go back to that.

    Also, the rules are ridiculous. The concept is the same as “Zones of Control,” which occupy 1 to 3 paragraphs in a typical set of boargame rules.

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