Variant Flanking Rule

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catalyst
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Variant Flanking Rule

My group has been tossing around ideas for a variant rule for flanking/outnumbering for our next campaign. The idea we came up with is somewhat inspired by the game Blood Bowl:

When making a melee attack, each free ally adjacent to your target grants you a +1 bonus on your attack roll. A free ally is one who is adjacent to your target and not any other enemies. Incapacitated allies do not provide this bonus.

What do you think? This is for a 5e game, but I think could work for any edition of D&D/PF

Cronono
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My games use the DMG rule, but we also extend it to ranged attacks. If you're in melee with someone and a ranged attack drawn from the attacker to that someone goes through opposite sides of you, you're considered flanked. The net result is that combats are extremely focused on movement and the battlemaps get very dynamic.

catalyst
catalyst's picture

The DMG rule in 5e seems to be essentially automatic advantage whenever you are 2:1 against an opponent. Because opportunity attacks only happen when you leave someone’s threatened zone, you and an ally can freely move to flank on every attack. That’s why I haven’t used flanking to date in my 5e games. Do you find the same?

Cronono
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Generally, yes. That said, there are a number of ways to prevent the combat from being lopsided while still allowing for lots of tactical movement. The most mundane option is to have some larger antagonists, say a bugbear, with a swarm of allied minions, like goblins. Other options include ranged flanking or strong grapplers. I prefer ranged flanking because it gives the players agency, but a grappler's ability to move an opponent's square can be tremendously punishing.

The best combats in 5e are the ones where people want to move, so giving them lots of good choices makes for interesting encounters.

deadDMwalking
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We currently give a +1 bonus for each ally also threatening an enemy to a maximum of +8. We don't require that you have 'no other threatened foes'. To my mind, that makes it quite a bit harder for the PCs (who are often outnumbered).

So imagine you have three enemies in a line: AAA
And imagine that you have three allies in a line: BBB

So:

AAA
BBB

In this case, the A on the left would have a +1 to attack the enemy opposite him (ie directly below), or a +2 to attack the enemy in the middle. He wouldn't be able to attack the third enemy.