AviK80
 member, 6 posts
Mon 28 Jan 2019
at 20:43
House rule proposal: Automatic attack roll successes
Yesterday I played real-life table-top D&D for the first time since high school and enjoyed it. However, the entire session encompassed a tactical combat encounter played on a battle mat and I noticed how dice rolling often compromised pacing and player agency. In traditional pen-and-paper gaming, the only time a player is empowered to influence the outcome of a roll is during character customization (i.e. generating a new PC, leveling up, or trying different gear) or when making tactical decisions that grant modifiers or dis/advantage on a roll. I know 5e tries to mitigate this with the Inspiration mechanic. Still, I feel that players are too much at the random mercy of dice for an experience that feels both fair and empowering.

I propose the following house rule:
Every combatant has a "passive" attack score of 10 + relevant modifiers and they could automatically hit AC targets equal to or less than this score (if they want to benefit from crits, they will have to roll). However, a player or the GM can announce the targeted combatant is actively defending against the attack and if so, the attacker must roll for attack as normal.
There are two caveats to this:
1) If a character chooses to actively defend against an attack, they MUST roll normally (regardless of passive attack score vs. AC) if they choose to retaliate against the attacker in the same or following round.
2) A character can only actively defend against one attack in a round. Saving throws do not count.

I understand that this would radically shake up the feel and pacing of combat encounters but I wonder if this rule would be viable and not break combat completely. I also understand that something similar could apply to saving throws for balance's sake. The objective of this house rule is to give the players more agency than dice would normally allow while still not making them overpowered.

This message was last edited by a moderator, as it was the wrong forum, at 21:00, Mon 28 Jan.

Hunter
 member, 1489 posts
 Captain Oblivious!
 Lurker
Mon 28 Jan 2019
at 21:45
House rule proposal: Automatic attack roll successes
I personally would advise against such a mechanic.   The dice roll represents the uncertainty of the situation, which is why even skill checks need to be rolled.  It's not just the attacker's skill, but the opponent making an unexpected move, a shield glinting at the wrong moment, and so forth.   Unless they specifically pay in terms of feats and/or talents, there's always a chance of failure.

What you're going to end up with is at least one character who's built specifically for abusing the mechanic you're suggesting.   Imagine a fighter type character with a maxed out strength, weapon focus, and great cleave.
swordchucks
 member, 1539 posts
Mon 28 Jan 2019
at 22:05
House rule proposal: Automatic attack roll successes
What you're proposing is, essentially, extending the D&D3.x / PF1 rule of "taking 10" to attack rolls.  There's not anything inherently wrong with it (especially when you consider that the actual rules don't include any kind of effect for rolling a 1 beyond automatically failing/missing).  If you can hit a target with a 10, then it's not a particularly challenging foe.  I'd not even bother to add anything to do with defending or forcing rolls.  I would, however, probably say that you either take 10 for all of your attacks or none of your attacks in a given round.

Personally, I find that most players would rather roll more dice than fewer.  One thing I keep considering (but not doing for various reasons) is having the players roll their AC against the monster's attack + 10 instead of having monsters roll their attack.  As a GM, I don't really want to roll dice.  I'd rather the players be responsible for their own fates.

Also... an entire session of combat in 5e?  How does that even happen?  A ton of looking things up and arguing?
Talon
 member, 386 posts
Mon 28 Jan 2019
at 23:33
House rule proposal: Automatic attack roll successes
That sounds like such a drastic shift that it might be worth asking "Is D&D (Or whatever dice based system) the right system for me?" There are a lot of systems out there that move quicker or don't get bogged down by the action, it might be best to see if there's already something existing that better fits your goals.
GreyGriffin
 member, 261 posts
 Portal Expat
 Game System Polyglot
Mon 28 Jan 2019
at 23:57
House rule proposal: Automatic attack roll successes
I think a lot of the 'pain' and loss of agency caused by missing an attack can be mitigated by strong narration from the player and the DM.  An enemy who barely dodges out of the way, or a monster whose hide effortlessly deflects a blade, or a wizard who blocks a hail of arrows with a magical shield are interesting dramatic moments.

Misses are also an opportunity to provide information to the PCs, especially if they haven't memorized the MM.  In our tabletop, "homing in" on the enemy's AC plays a big role, as we tend to at least a few Great Weapon fighters, Sharpshooters, Bards, and Battlemasters who have to gauge their post-roll resources carefully.  So equating a 12 with a "wide miss" or a "laughably easy dodge" against a "glancing blow" or a "close shave" is useful information wrapped in interesting, compelling fiction, letting them decide how to best use their powers while also giving the DM an opportunity to characterize the opposition without even having to do anything.

This message was last edited by the user at 23:58, Mon 28 Jan.

AviK80
 member, 7 posts
Tue 29 Jan 2019
at 00:01
House rule proposal: Automatic attack roll successes
In reply to swordchucks (msg # 3):

I like the idea of the GM letting a player 'take 10' on attack rolls vs. low AC just for the sake of pacing and maybe not bother with further stipulations. The 5e Monster Manual has a rule for average damage (half each die max + modifier) in lieu of rolling for it so players could have that option too. I don't mind sacrificing 'uncertainty' since I'm used to CRPGs that just let you hit minion-tier monsters without complications.

Our session had a few new players joining in the combat encounter as uprising slaves against successive waves of enemies. Might not have been a well-designed encounter (the enemy used cheap sniper tactics too often) but our GM kept it running relatively smooth and we made the most of it.
AviK80
 member, 8 posts
Tue 29 Jan 2019
at 00:07
House rule proposal: Automatic attack roll successes
Also, I really don't appreciate the 'D&D might not be right for you' comments. That comes across as elitist and it's my decision anyway.

This message was last edited by the user at 00:07, Tue 29 Jan.

V_V
 member, 804 posts
 You can call me V, just V
 Life; a journey made once
Tue 29 Jan 2019
at 00:13
House rule proposal: Automatic attack roll successes
In reply to AviK80 (msg # 1):

If you don't like rolling (specifically for D&D) might I suggest a system my group used for awhile. We have since gone back to rolling, having gone full circle. It is rather simple, but still somewhat involved to learn the nuance of. It's a card based "rolling" system. You can use whatever you want, but I highly suggest cards as it's both easy to show and people can bid in this way if you have slightly less teamwork oriented players.

Before I tell you the system, I want to say it changes combat drastically, not for better or worse persay, but simply that the economy is vastly different.

So...how it works is you have 1 card for each number 1 to 20. You not only have this deck, but you choose, openly how you want to use them. The catch? You have to exhaust all numbers before you restock your deck. You also are unable to use these cards for superfluous rolls, like touch attacks on a willing (and non-enchanted) ally for something like a cure spell. You also cannot force superfluous rolls, like saying you're going to make spot check for no reason, or sense motive to see how scared an opponent is.

This represents a total and absolute regression to the mean. Meaning you will have this happen (sort of) with a brand new d20 anyway, just with natural fluctuation (you won't roll all the those numbers 20 times) and timing (you won't have the 20 when you need it every time).

It seems like cheating, but try it! Once you realize you have to burn that 20 carefully and have other numbers to you have to wade through, it becomes just as tactical, just as chaotic, but involves deliberate action. It's great for narrative too. You can describe the attack (like an Exalted stunt0 and the GM may even allow a +1 to +3 additional circumstance bonus for roleplaying.

In fact, I enjoyed describing even my misses, and a few times I used my 8, and thought I would miss, but the GM gave me a +1 or +2 (very, very rarely +3) and I would hit or make save anyway.

This is really departure, but is, in my opinion, very fun. We stopped doing this when we converted to home games, and using Maptools. It's so easy to use macros and with our tv table (a table with flat tv in it horizontally) we gave up both cards and physical dice and just use RNG.

That said, I don't think I've played D&D in many months. We've switched to another system, so my memory is not fresh when we went back to RNG over cards. We use a d10 system now, and it's really required to be random; or if it isn't we haven't found a good way to represent the range and bell curves of likelyhood of certain rolls.

You can do this for damage dice too, provided you use one die. You can do multiple dice, but it takes more prep and there are more cards to print/write out. Trying to map certain spells or attacks will prove to be over hundred cards, and that can really do the opposite as intended; to save time and maintain tension.



swordchucks:
Also... an entire session of combat in 5e?  How does that even happen?  A ton of looking things up and arguing?


It's easy. If you play module, maybe not, I've not played one, but our GM runs many games based on esoteric books and movies,so these are modeled after actual stoires first and games second. I've had whole session of dialogue in D&D 4e, and whole sessions of combat in 5e. It really just depends what goals the PCs have and what challenges present themselves.

For reference, we weren't using the card system, but instead maptools rolling macros for the below sessions.

Spoiler for a combat 5e session: (Highlight or hover over the text to view)
For us, we were trying to infiltrate an enemy baron's keep. We had no way of speaking quietly enough to not be heard by the guards, since whispering was worse than our stealth. We used hand motions at the table, and described our actions. WE had time limit until dawn, when the baron was going to execute his forced bride, the daughter of an assassinated king. This was the time table.

Our GM described dialogue between guards, which I guess you could describe as non-combat. We took a short rest after we cleared the grounds and parapets and were about to make the foray inside the actual keep, from the roof. We could have spoke, I suppose, whispered at that point, but we were so engaged and "in the zone" we didn't.

Once we entered the keep there was a pack of dogs that we had to pass, and the druid cast his first spell  (having been a wildshaped bear "fighter" until then). We were able to by pass the dogs with just spells, and finally came upon the Baron's pet dinosaur, his poor man's "pet dragon" he supposedly had. The evil friar had the princess in a stockade, and only at that point did we have dialogue, with the Friar but in combat. That combat took about an hour alone, because it went badly at first, the druid went down, the bard healed him, the bard went down, druid went down. I went down, and the rogue and monk barely managed to drop the dinosaur before one of them went down. THEN and only then was the Friar the target. We had freed the princess early in the fight, but didn't dare leave the place without clearing out the enemies that could rally more.

After the fight, we were more than an hour and half past the point we agreed to stop the session.




Spoiler for other sessions for contrast: (Highlight or hover over the text to view)
The next session we had only one fight, with the Baron. When we learned he had some information and took him prisoner after a rather easy fight. Except for what amounted to an easy fight with the Baron, we spent the entirety of the session interrogating the baron, reassuring the princess, and rewarding our subordinates who were basically generic level 1's with no class features, and only the equipment we gave them.

After that we had more traditional session where we tracked some of some despot Sherrif's men, fought some guards on flying mounts, and then dealt with the Sheriff from range until he fled.

After that we met up with the head nun who was a friedn of the princess. Our druid (IIRC) was criminal and his criminal base became the church that was defying the evil sherriff's orders. We met some NPCs, and had the princess stay there, for safety.

Then we tracked the Sheriff to a guard camp and fought him again, he escaped a second time, because his guards blocked us and the Sheriff endured enough attacks on his horse, to get out of reasonable hit range.


LonePaladin
 member, 794 posts
 Creator of HeroForge
Tue 29 Jan 2019
at 04:23
House rule proposal: Automatic attack roll successes
I used something like a "take 10" option in combat in other games I've run here. I included one caveat: the attack, if it hits, automatically inflicts average damage, rounding down.

So if someone had a +5 attack bonus and did 1d8+3 damage on a hit, they could auto-hit anything AC 15 or worse for 7 damage. (Average roll for 1d8 is 4.5, rounded down to 4.) If they wanted a chance at better damage rolls, they had to roll the attack as well. I made the fixed number round down to provide an incentive for rolling, but the fixed option allowed them to face-roll easy encounters to speed things up.

Besides, half the player base here is convinced that the Die Roller is biased toward rolling low, even after testing it themselves.
engine
 member, 683 posts
Tue 29 Jan 2019
at 05:31
House rule proposal: Automatic attack roll successes
In reply to AviK80 (msg # 1):

Great observation. The fact that missing is as hard for some to stomach as it is is definitely a major factor in a lot of issues with D&D. It takes some steps to mitigate the problem such as with powers that do half damage on a miss, but it's still a problem.

I've considered automatic hits, but I think it would be a tough sell. In 4th Edition, some classes has options for at-will autohit powers or at-will damage on a miss powers. When damage on a miss was proposed for 5th Edition, there was an uproar, so they backed off it.
Skald
 moderator, 840 posts
 Whatever it is,
 I'm against it
Tue 29 Jan 2019
at 06:00
House rule proposal: Automatic attack roll successes
And don't forget, D&D rules apply to the foe as well as PC's, so if you do go with a take 10 on attack rolls rule, monsters should be able to take full advantage of that too.

Personally I'd rather hope and pray to whichever dice gods are listening that the dragon rolls a 1 ...  <grins>
engine
 member, 684 posts
Tue 29 Jan 2019
at 14:58
House rule proposal: Automatic attack roll successes
Having thought about this some more:

I think it's important for every dice roll and every possible outcome of every dice roll to be something the players embrace as a good and necessary part of the game. A given roll might involve tension or anxiety or other "negative" emotions, but they should be the enjoyable sort.

However, I don't think merely removing rolls that one feels are excessive or that don't add anything to the game will make things more enjoyable. It's important to understand why a given roll isn't seen as a good and necessary thing, or why a given outcome negatively impacts the mood at the table, or is desperately avoided through the expenditure of enormous amounts of game time.

It will probably vary from table to table, but I recommend looking at what's at stake in a given scene. If it's combat and players are feeling like they can't accept the dice outcomes, look at what's at stake for them. Often it's the characters themselves; lose the fight and the characters are lost. That can be hard to stomach. It might also be the player's sense of being able to contribute; after three misses in a row (which in D&D could mean that they have had absolutely zero effect on the opposition) could leave a player feeling useless, and like their time is being wasted.

When fun and engagement are at stake, dice rolls become weighty things and misses really hurt, and not in a good way. If the issue is the fear of losing characters, one option is to make the combat less about the monsters killing the PCs and more about the monsters trying to accomplish some goal. They'll still happily kill the PCs, if they can, but they're more concerned with killing some NPC, or stealing a special object, or reaching a point on the battlefield. If a player finds repeated failed dice rolls intolerable, one might try injecting in-combat goals for the characters that don't necessarily require dice rolls, or only require dice rolls with more palatable. Most skills can be easily adapted to partial-success outcomes.
swordchucks
 member, 1540 posts
Tue 29 Jan 2019
at 18:56
Re: House rule proposal: Automatic attack roll successes
V_V:
swordchucks:
Also... an entire session of combat in 5e?  How does that even happen?  A ton of looking things up and arguing?

It's easy.

The original post made it sound like a single combat took the entire session.  Unless it's a very short session or you're taking a very weird view of what a "combat" is, that just doesn't seem likely in 5e.  There is almost certainly more going on.

And yeah, my home group had their first combat in the current campaign of 5e.  It was the fifth full session.  There was almost a combat at one point, but it was between two NPCs.

I always maintain that 4e was the best edition for roleplaying, too.  Combat took so long that my group would bend over backwards to talk our way out of having to fight things.  It got absurd at times.

Skald:
monsters should be able to take full advantage of that too.

Depending on the edition, this can make or break the idea.  In 3.x/PF1, you'd end up with monsters that hit most of the party every time but some of the party never (since you can do crazy things to your AC if you focus on it).

While this is an okay change in my books, I feel like you'd really get more of what you're after by adapting over to 3d6 instead of 1d20.  Though if you're going to go through the effort of doing that, you might as well play GURPS.
V_V
 member, 805 posts
 You can call me V, just V
 Life; a journey made once
Tue 29 Jan 2019
at 23:20
Re: House rule proposal: Automatic attack roll successes
swordchucks:
<quote V_V>
The original post made it sound like a single combat took the entire session. 

Ah! Okay, yeah I missed that key point. Yeah, not since 3.5 in a mass battle of castle siege has a single combat taken a whole session. My bad!

3d6 is, in fact, a great way to get "average" rolls and feel those critical hits. If it's the act of rolling that's slowing down the session, this won't help, as it take about a second longer to get the sum. If, however, it's just that the round is going by with miss after miss, then 3d6 is a great way to increase the hit chance of moderate ACs and making saves.
AviK80
 member, 9 posts
Wed 30 Jan 2019
at 06:31
Re: House rule proposal: Automatic attack roll successes
swordchucks:
The original post made it sound like a single combat took the entire session.


It wasn't a simple combat encounter but a siege-like situation where new PCs had to be seamlessly introduced midgame and waves of hostiles entered the field like every other round. We kept engaged by basically treating the session as a tactical war game. Yeah, the GM could have planned things better but everyone took it in stride and had fun.

Skald:
And don't forget, D&D rules apply to the foe as well as PC's, so if you do go with a take 10 on attack rolls rule, monsters should be able to take full advantage of that too.


That's better left to the GM's discretion imo. I personally have no problem with players benefiting from house-rule bias if the alternative is mandating unavoidable PC death.
engine
 member, 685 posts
Wed 30 Jan 2019
at 15:04
Re: House rule proposal: Automatic attack roll successes
V_V:
If it's the act of rolling that's slowing down the session, this won't help, as it take about a second longer to get the sum. If, however, it's just that the round is going by with miss after miss, then 3d6 is a great way to increase the hit chance of moderate ACs and making saves.

I'd like to understand what was slowing things down in this case. In my experience, it has little to do with the actual roll, and a lot more to do with time spent optimizing tactics so that the chance of a miss is reduced (and the chance of an enemy missing, or not getting to attack at all is increased). I'm pretty sure anyone who has played a game that placed any importance on combat or in which combat could be lethal has seen this behavior.

If a player knew for certain that their character would get hit, if at all possible, I think the focus would just change to gaining stealth and cover. You know the player who wants to know if they can pop up from full cover, take a shot and then drop back down? That would be everyone, on both sides, except for those trying to get to a spot from which they could attack from behind full cover.

All of which makes tactical sense, but doesn't necessarily bring about combat that's enjoyable or any faster.
engine
 member, 686 posts
Wed 30 Jan 2019
at 15:07
Re: House rule proposal: Automatic attack roll successes
AviK80:
That's better left to the GM's discretion imo. I personally have no problem with players benefiting from house-rule bias if the alternative is mandating unavoidable PC death.

Fortunately, that's not the only alternative. Changing the enemy goals to something other than the utter destruction of the PCs is one way to allow for more lethal combat rules, without necessarily making PC death more likely.
GreenTongue
 member, 836 posts
 Game Archaeologist
Fri 1 Feb 2019
at 18:48
Re: House rule proposal: Automatic attack roll successes
Might want to look at how Dungeon World handles combat.
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