Over the next several days, we’re previewing features of our next PDF, Fencing & Firearms, which takes aim at 3.5E combat’s clunkier aspects. First up, a brief look at two of the most significant changes. After you read this post, leave us a comment or two.
The Big Change #1: No Attacks of Opportunity
Probably no feature of v 3.5 combat causes more confusion, delays, and metagaming than attacks of opportunity. Players and DMs alike forget what provokes and doesn’t provoke them. Attempting to avoid them leads to additional dice rolls from tumblers and spellcasters. The latter characters effectively get one fewer skill points per level since high ranks in Concentration are widely seen as necessary for survival. Battle-scarred fighters count squares to avoid reach rather than charging once more into the breach, and everyone’s movement on the battlemat looks too much like checkers trying not to get jumped.
F&F gets rid of attacks of opportunity. Nothing provokes them because they just don’t exist.
The Big Change #2: The Players Roll Their Own Fate
In many combats, players often have little control over the outcome of events when it isn’t their turn. This can lead to boredom if a player’s attention drifts between his turns, threatening to distance him from the outcome of events. Big Change #2 takes a lot of the work out of the DM’s hands by having the players make the monsters’ attack rolls, saving throws, or caster level checks to overcome spell resistance. That frees up the DM’s attention for more important things, such as NPC tactics, special spell effects, terrain, and the like.
Conversely, it requires the players to become much more active and aware of what’s going on. No longer can players snooze through all the turns but their own: They’ll be rolling more dice than ever before – which (among other benefits) gives them the feeling of having greater control over their successes and failures.