The combat rules for 5th Edition Dungeons and Dragons are much simpler that previous editions. This is a quick reference guide to the new rules. Refer to the complete rules (which can be downloaded for free here) for more detailed information. This is my own interpretation of those rules. Refer to the DM notes at the end for my house rules.
Each round represents 6 seconds in the game world. Anything a person could reasonably do in 6 seconds, your character can do in 1 round.
Each round, during your turn, you can move and take one action.
• You don’t have to move, but if you choose to, you can move a distance up to your speed. You can move before or after you take an action, or you can move first, take an action, and then move again, as long as the total distance moved doesn’t exceed your speed.
• You don’t have to take an action during your turn, but if you choose to, you can attempt to do anything that could be accomplished in 6 seconds or less. The most common action taken in combat is the attack action. See below for a list of actions that can be performed in combat.
• If your action permits multiple attacks, you can move between attacks so long as you haven’t used all of your move distance based on your speed.
• Your move can include jumping onto or off of things, jumping over things, climbing walls or ropes, swinging on ropes or chandeliers, or moving in any way that your character is capable of such as swimming or flying for example.
You can interact with one object as part of either your move or your action.
You can manipulate the object in an uncomplicated way. Some examples include:
• Draw or sheath a weapon
• Draw Two One-Handed Weapons
• Transfer an item from one hand to the other
• Load a crossbow
• Retrieve or put away a stored item*
• Pick up an item
• Move an object
• Open a chest
• Open a door
* You may only retrieve an item if it was stowed for easy access. If you must dig through your backpack to find something inside, it may require use of an action to retrieve it.
Doing more than one of these things requires the use of an action.
As part of your move or your action, you can do things that take little or no time and don’t interfere with your movement.
These activities take very little time, though there may be limits to the number you can perform in a turn. Examples include:
• Drawing ammunition for use with a ranged weapon (such as arrows, bolts, sling bullets, or shuriken).
• Dropping an item to your feet or within 5 feet of your current location.
• Dropping to a prone position. (Standing up from prone, however, takes half of your movement for the turn.)
• Speaking (you can always speak, even when it isn’t your turn – within reason.)
You may be able to take an additional, bonus action.
• A special ability, spell, or other feature of the game may allow you to do something as a bonus action. You are only allowed one bonus action in a round.
• Example: If you have a short sword in one hand and dagger in the other, after using your action to attack with the sword, you can use a bonus action to attack with the dagger (refer to the rules on two-weapon fighting.)
You are allowed one reaction each round.
A reaction is an action that is triggered by an external event.
• A special ability, spell, or other feature of the game may allow you to react to a specific triggering event.
• If an opponent attempts to move past you or attacks you and then attempts to move away, you get a free swing at him. This is called an opportunity attack, and it is the most common reaction.
• Another example would be a wizard’s feather fall spell that is triggered when the wizard is pushed over a cliff, or steps into a pit trap.
• Your reaction does not have to occur during your turn, but can occur at any time during the round. If it occurs during another’s turn, his turn is suspended until your reaction is resolved.
If surprised, you lose your turn for the first round of combat. This includes loosing use of any reaction for one round, measured from the beginning of combat until the start of your turn on round two.
Actions in Combat
During your turn in a combat round, you can perform any one of the following actions.
You can make one melee or ranged attack. Some features may allow you to make more than one attack with this action.
Cast a Spell
You can cast any spell that you are capable of casting that has a listed casting time of one action.
Rather than performing any other action, you spend the entire round moving. This allows you to move twice as far this round. It is effectively a double move action.
If you start the round within 5 feet of an opponent that can see you, you can use this action to move away from him without provoking an opportunity attack.
This is a total defense action. You spend the round trying to avoid being hit. Until the start of your next turn, any attack roll made against you has disadvantage if you can see the attacker, and you make Dexterity saving throws with advantage.
You can use your action to help an ally attack an opponent within 5 feet of you. You don’t make an attack yourself, but when your friend attacks, his first attack roll is made with advantage.
Or you can help him with any other task. If you are in position to do so, and your assistance could reasonably be seen to be of help, he will gain advantage on his ability check to accomplish the task.
The act of hiding requires an action to attempt. You must make a Dexterity (Stealth) check to see if you successfully hide from your opponents.
Rather than taking and action during your turn, you wait for some specific event and then take your action as a reaction. You can still move up to the distance indicated by your move rate, but you can take no other action this round. You must specify two things -
1) What the triggering event will be.
This can be anything you think might happen that you can observe. If the event occurs before the start of your turn on the next round you can perform your readied action at that time. Some examples could be: If the sniper sticks his head up, If more Orcs come around the corner, If the rope brakes, If the water level rises, If the evil magic user starts to cast a spell, If the guard spots the thief, If the prisoner attempts to escape.
2) What action you will take.
This can be any of the combat actions.
Note that this action will be a reaction and you can only have one reaction per round. This means that if you take another reaction, you lose your readied action. Conversely, if you use your readied action you can have no other reactions this round.
• If the triggering event occurs, you can choose to not take your readied action.
• If you choose Dash as a readied action, you can move up to your move rate.
• If you choose Cast a Spell as a readied action, you cast the spell during your turn but hold off on releasing the energy of the spell until the triggering event occurs. You must concentrate to hold the spell’s energy. Anything that breaks your concentration before the final release of the spell’s energy results in the loss of the spell. If the triggering event doesn’t occur this round, you can continue to hold the spell with continued concentration into the following round, or you can cast it as an action on your next turn, or you can lose it.
You can use your action to attempt to find something. The DM might require you to make a Wisdom (Perception) check or an Intelligence (Investigation) check.
Use an Object
An object may require an action for you to use it, or you may need to use this action to interact with more than one object in a round.
There are many more things that a combatant could do during a round than can be accounted for in the above actions. When you want to attempt something that is not covered by any of the above actions, you can use an improvised action.
Examples of an improvised action:
“I want to pull the rug out from under that guy.”
“I want to jump on the monster and attack him with my sword while I ride on to his back.”
“I want to talk them into surrendering.”
“I want to break that flask the bad guy is holding.” (attack an object)
“I want to slide down the stairs on my shield while I fire arrows at the enemy.”
“I want to intimidate then into running away.”
“I want to grab that piece of folded parchment that is sticking out of his vest pocket.”
“I want to slide under the table and stab that guy in his ankle with my dagger.”
“I want to sheath my sword and walk up to that guy and tweak his nose.”
“I want to hit that rope with my arrow in such a way as to cut the rope and let the body that is hanging from it fall to the ground.”
“I want to disarm my opponent.” (This could be a called shot to the hand, shattering an opponent’s weapon, severing a spear shaft, entangling a sword arm, or using the flat of a blade to smack a weapon from an enemy’s hand.)
“I want to push him into the pit.” (Use the rules for “Shoving a Creature” – this could include shield bashes, tackles, bull rushes, overruns, tables hurled into enemies, doors smashed into opponents on the other side, and so on. Generally speaking, this could be any attempt to use brute strength to move an opponent. Any attempt to shove creatures off a nearby cliff, through a railing, out a chapel’s stained-glass window, and so on will allow the creature a dexterity save.)
“I want to trip that guy.” (This could be any attempt to knock an enemy off its feet. Whether it’s hooking an enemy’s leg, stabbing a kneecap, knocking an opponent off-balance, hurling an enemy away, sweeping an enemy’s legs, or some other maneuver, this improvised action would allow the warrior to knock an enemy prone.)
The following rules apply to improvised actions:
1. You must explain the improvised action to the DM. The DM may rule that what you want to do will require more than one round, or that it is simply impossible (you can’t fire an arrow into the sky and hit the moon). He may ask you to be more specific regarding the action you want to take and how the action will achieve the results you want.
2. The improvised action can also include all or part of your move. Successfully jumping on – or diving into a creature will give you advantage on the attack roll. A failed attempt results in your move stopping at the point there the attack takes place and may grant your opponent an advantage on his next attack against you.
3. To perform the improvised action the DM will normally have you make an ability check. The DM will assign an appropriate difficulty class and will explain possible consequences if the attempted action fails. For example, if you attempt to jump off of the balcony onto the monster in the center of the room and miss you may end up prone.
Most improvised actions can be resolved as simple contests.
Player: “I want to try to [describes some form of physical contest other than an attack roll].”
DM: “Okay, make a Strength (Athletics) check.”
DM compares result to opponent’s Strength (Athletics) or Dexterity (Acrobatics) check, perhaps giving someone advantage or disadvantage.
DM Notes: Some of the information above deviates somewhat from the official rules. You can consider these to be my House Rules.
Retrieving a stored Item – This should only be allowed as part of your move or action if you don’t have to dig through your backpack to find it.
Speaking – Should be allowed at any time
Disengage – I will only allow this action if you are currently engaged in combat and want to withdraw without provoking an opportunity attack.
Help – It only makes logical sense to be able to help another if there is some action that you could take that might possibly be of help to him.
Improvised action – I got rather wordy here, but I think these should be encouraged.
An excellent post. Some good information here.
Originally posted on KEEP ROLLIN SIXES:
In addition to magic items created with spells, some substances have innate special properties. If you make a suit of armor or weapon out of more than one special material, you get the benefit of only the most prevalent material. However, you can build a double weapon with each head made of a different special material.
Each of the special materials described below has a definite game effect. Some creatures have damage reduction based on their creature type or core concept. Some are resistant to all but a special type of damage, such as that dealt by evil-aligned weapons or bludgeoning weapons. Others are vulnerable to weapons of a particular material. Characters may choose to carry several different types of weapons, depending upon the campaign and types of creatures they most commonly encounter.
This iron, mined deep underground, known for its effectiveness against fey creatures…
View original 504 more words
I am very pleased, and presently surprised, at Wizards of the Coast releasing the core rules for 5th edition Dungeons and Dragons as a free PDF download. They are calling this “Basic Rules for D&D” and it is scheduled for release on July 3, the same day as the release of the Starter Set.
Mike Mearls said on “Legends & Lore” today, “For the D&D basic rules, our initial release will include character creation. It features the human, elf, dwarf, and halfling for races, along with the cleric, fighter, rogue, and wizard classes, all from 1st level to 20th level. As the Monster Manual and Dungeon Master’s Guide near completion, we’ll add to the basic rules with more material to grow it into a complete game. Our goal is to continue to make updates to the basic rules for D&D until the end of the year, at which point it will be feature complete.” (Read “A Bit More on the Basic Rules for D&D” here.)
So we will have to wait until the end of the year for the full version that will include more monsters and more information on running your own campaign. I can hardly wait to download this.
Download a free copy of Time Travel for D&D [ here].
This is a complete re-write of the Time Travel supplement to third edition Dungeons & Dragons that I published [here] in 2012. This completely abandons those rules in preference to these new simplified rules and brings them in line with D&D Next (the current playtest version of v5.0). You can use these rules with v3.5 with a little adjustment.
Consider this an interim version of these rules. I will make any needed tweaks to them and re-publish them when the official v5.0 rules are published.
I got a lot of good information from “Chronomancer” published by TSR in 1995. I am using it’s concept of Temporal Prime as a tool for time travel. I also used some of the spells presented there, with a little modification.
As always, all comments are welcome.
“Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana.”
Time travel is easy, explaining it is hard.
I was looking over my time travel rules (posted here). I was thinking that I hadn’t explained them very well and that I also needed to re-work them for the next version of D&D. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that they needed a complete overhaul. Before posting a new set of time travel rules I wanted to post this. Below is a summary of my current thinking on how time travel should work for D&D.
First a little thought experiment
Consider this. Your friend the wizard travels 24 hours into the past. While there, he sneaks into your room and shaves your head while you sleep. The question is this: If you are watching him when he cast the spell and he disappears into the past, what do you experience? Are you now bald? There are problems with every answer.
1) You can’t still have your hair. If you do it would mean that the wizard was unsuccessful in changing the past.
2) You couldn’t just suddenly become bald. What if the wizard doesn’t cast another spell to “return” to the present, but simply hangs out with you all day?
3) Okay, then perhaps your head is shaved, and it has been since you woke up this morning. This is a paradox, because if you have been bald all day it would mean that you were that way before the wizard cast the spell that resulted in your current condition.
There must be another answer, and I believe that I have found it. Think about this a little. I will give you the answer a little later.
This is how I think time travel should work in the D&D game.
There is only one timeline. Everyone is in it. The “river of time”. It is easy to travel forward in time. Everyone does it. You are doing it now. It takes only one second to move forward one second into the future. If you were to sleep for 17 years, you would wake up 17 years in the future.
All time travel is along this one timeline. Although there is only one timeline, this doesn’t mean that it can’t be changed.
Rule #1 – “Everything that you do changes the future.”
This may seem so obvious that it is hardly worth mentioning. However remember that we are talking about time travel. If you travel along the timeline to a point in the past anything you do there will change everything on the timeline from that point forward.
Rule #2 – “You can’t change the past.”
Well, I suppose you could travel to the past and then change it, but nothing that you do now can change anything that was done before. Again, this seems obvious but it is worth remembering that you can’t travel into the future and do anything that will change what is happening in the present.
There are two types of time travel, tactical and strategic.
Tactical Time Travel
Similar to time travel in the movie “Groundhog Day”.
Tactical time travel is free from most time travel paradoxes. It moves the timeline forward or back to the appointed time. It is not normally used to travel farther than a single day and cannot be used to travel back to a time before the time traveler was fully grown. Tactical time travel has no “return” spell that allows the traveler to go back to his original time, but he can use strategic time travel to go back should he choose to.
Tactical Time Travel to the Future
In its simplest form, this is how everyone travels through time, one second at a time. For a time traveler that uses tactical time travel to go into the future the time passes so quickly that he seems to instantly appear at the appointed time in the future. To those around him, he disappears and later re-appears. The timeline has moved on and he has moved with it as if he had been in a type of suspended animation during the time that passed. This is often used to “hide” from an otherwise unavoidable encounter or to disappear until the storm passes.
Tactical Time Travel to the Past
This is often used to correct some mistake in the recent past, or to re-fight a recent battle. The timeline is erased back to the time traveled to. It is like pressing the “rewind” button. Everyone and everything reverts to the way it was then. The time traveler finds himself in the body he had then, where it was then, doing what he was doing then, and everything is as it was then with the exception that the time traveler, and he alone, recalls future events as they happened before. He is free to repeat his previous actions or change them as he sees fit. Everyone else will do what they did before unless the time traveler intervenes. Purely random events may have different outcomes. All dice will be re-rolled for any battle or game of chance that the time traveler participates in.
The time traveler cannot magically “return” to the time he left because that timeline has been completely erased. If he does use a strategic time travel spell to travel forward again, he disappears and doesn’t re-appear until he reaches the time he is traveling to. No time will have passed for him but to everyone else, time will have passed normally until he re-appears. This effectively erases him form the timeline for that period of time. The time traveler that travels into the past using tactical time travel will typically continue through time at the normal pace making whatever changes to his previous actions as he chooses. When he arrives at the point in time where he originally chose to travel into the past, he is free to do so if he wishes. The reason for him to travel back in time may no longer exist, so he may choose to not repeat his trip to the past.
Strategic Time Travel
Similar to the time travel in the movie “Back to the Future”.
Unlike tactical time travel, strategic time travel is susceptible to time travel paradoxes so care should be taken to prevent them. Refer to the section below on time travel paradoxes.
Strategic time travel allows travel both forward and back in time to any point in the past or future.
With strategic time travel, the traveler appears at the appointed time in the past or future, and his original body disappears – usually to return in a few seconds when the traveler returns from his journey. The time traveler arrives at the prescribed time with a duplicate of his body and everything he was wearing or carrying. Any time while on his journey, he can cast a spell to “return” to the time he left. When he returns his body is in the condition it was in at the end of his journey and he will bring back with him whatever he is wearing and carrying.
If, at any time during his journey, he is knocked unconscious or killed he will return to his original timeline and his body will re-appear and collapse to the floor still wearing and carrying only what he had when he left. Everyone at the time that he traveled to will see him collapse. His body and everything that he was wearing or carrying when he began his journey will disappear, leaving behind anything he may have picked up while he was there.
Strategic Travel to the Future
The time traveler appears at the appointed time in the future, and at the same location as when the spell was cast. The future that he finds is the most likely future based on how events were progressing when he left. The time traveler himself disappeared when the spell was cast and has not been there to effect changes. If he travels to the same time in the future more than once, each time he will find the future somewhat different. He cannot meet with himself in the future because each trip forward is to a different future that did not have him in it.
Strategic Travel to the Past
The time traveler appears in the past but he has not moved from where he was standing when the spell was cast. Using strategic time travel, it is possible for the time traveler to encounter himself. It should be fairly easy to avoid such encounters and avoiding them should be encouraged. Strategic time travel spells can be used to travel to times before the time traveler was born.
When the traveler cast the “return” spell to go back to the time he had left, things may not be as they were when he left. If he traveled far into the past, before he was born, things that he did then will affect the way things are now. For example, if he killed someone in the past, not only will that person no longer exist, but everything that that person did after he killed him will never have happened. This includes any children that that person may have had after that point, they were never born.
Back to the thought experiment
The problem with the thought experiment I presented above is in the question. It assumes that you will still be there after the spell is cast.
The answer depends on whether the wizard used a tactical or strategic time travel spell (as described above).
If it was a tactical spell, not only would the wizard disappear, but you and everyone else would also. The timeline will have been erased back to a point in time that existed 24 hours earlier. You will have no memory of anything that happened in the last 24 hours, which is now in your future. Everything will progress from there and when you wake in the morning you will be bald. When it comes around to the time where he originally cast the spell, he will have no reason to cast it this time.
If the spell that the wizard cast was a strategic spell you would see him disappear and would notice nothing else unusual until he re-appears a few seconds later. When he re-appears you will at that instant be bald. You still won’t notice anything else unusual because you won’t feel that you suddenly become bald. When you woke up this morning someone had shaved your head while you slept.
Time Travel Paradoxes
The Grandfather paradox
So… You may ask, “What if I were to accidently kill my Father or Grandfather?”
To answer this we must first examine the role of the soul in D&D.
When a player character travels in time, his is moving with his soul to a different point on the time line.
All sentient beings, including all player characters, have a soul. In earlier versions of D&D elves did not have souls, but that was changed in more recent versions of the game. Each soul experiences time in an uninterrupted string of events, starting when the soul is created and ending when, or if, it is destroyed.
In Dungeons and Dragons, all souls in the multiverse originate from fonts on the positive energy plain. When a sentient being is born, his soul enters his body with his first breath. How long that soul existed before it occupied the newborn and how the choice of host is made is not known. A PC’s soul then continues throughout his life and beyond. A PC’s soul isn’t typically destroyed when he dies and if he is brought back to life, his soul re-joins his body. It is possible for his soul to be moved into an object or another body or travel to other planes. In a very real sense, a player’s character is his soul. Everything about him can change, but his soul remains and it existed before his body did. If his newborn body wasn’t available for his soul to inhabit because he was prevented from being born for any reason, his soul would have gone into another body. This body would have been as close to the same as possible. In order of preference the chosen newborn would have the; same Mother, same Father, same family or close relative, same neighborhood and similar family.
This means that you can’t really prevent yourself (meaning your soul) from being born. At the worst you will have been raised in a different family. Regardless of which newborn your soul first inhabited you would now still be the same sex and race. Your physical appearance would be nearly identical and all of your abilities would not change.
The Butterfly Effect
“What if I do something like, say, accidentally stepping on a bug in the past? Couldn’t that possible cause great changes in the future?”
Well, that is one theory. Just like the way that a butterfly flapping its wings in Brazil can affect a weather system in Texas, one tiny change in the past can lead to all kinds of Rube Goldbergian complications that can subtly — or seriously — affect the present. However, that would put a serious damper on the fun of doing things in the past. Time travel in D&D must be more forgiving that that. So let’s say this; “The river of time is hard to change.”
Time flows forward as a viscous, syrupy thick river that is quiet difficult to change in any meaningful way. Although small day-to-day changes are easy to make, the course of history is such a wide and powerful force that actions taken by individuals have little effect on future history. As this relates to time travel, you can forget about the “butterfly effect”. Minor changes in the past have no effect on the present. Even large changes have only a small chance of affecting the present. The farther you travel into the past, the less likely it is that anything you do will have any effect on the present.
All major events in the past would have still happened even if the person (or creature) that caused that event was killed. Another would have done almost the same thing. Perhaps it would have been done at a slightly later date, or in a different way, but it would have still happened. The existing opportunity and situations will result in someone else filling the void left when the original perpetrator was not there.
This doesn’t mean that you can’t effect the present by changing the past. Otherwise why bother with time travel? It is just that the changes you make must be deliberate and specific to have much effect on the present.
All Other Paradoxes
“Are you trying to tell me that there is no danger of creating a time paradox? What If I caused my past self to be killed? What if something travels from the future to the past, and becomes the item that was sent back in time in the first place, thus, having no discernible origin, creating an infinite loop? I can think of a dozen other potential ‘impossible’ situations that could be caused by time travel. What about those?”
The potential for creating paradoxes is quite high. Part of the fun for players and DMs alike is how the PCs handle this potential danger. What I am attempting to do here is help the players by providing a consistent set of rules and to help the DM by providing a logical overview of how time travel works so he can apply his understanding of the concepts involved when dealing with all of the unexpected things that the PCs may do. Rather than saying that there can be no paradoxes it is my opinion that the DM should make accidental paradoxes unlikely by handling the Grandfather paradox and any Butterfly Effect paradoxes as indicated above. The DM can also provide the players with an easy way to avoid paradoxes. He should remind the players that there is no reason for you to interact with your previous self if you choose not to. This simple precaution should avoid most potential paradoxes.
How to Handle a Paradox
Regardless of precautions the PCs may end up creating a paradox. The best way to handle this is to assume that the timeline is self-correcting. Any paradox will cause the destruction of the part of the time and space affected by the paradox.
So, if a PC travels back and kills his former self, then it will cause himself to disappear. History will erase all traces of the person’s existence, and the death of the PC will have been caused by another reason. Thus, the paradox will have never have occurred from the historical viewpoint.
So now what?
I intend to create a set of rules compatible with D&D Next using the ideas presented above. If you have any questions or comments please let me know. As I said, explaining time travel is hard.
Thanks to AnaRchX, here is a fillable version of my Animal Companion / Familiar Sheet modified for Pathfinder. He also made a couple of other minor improvements.
Here is a link to his post on the Pathfinder forum:
Many thanks to George for doing this:
UPDATE: George has made several major improvements to this.
Added BAB fill able field. (Basic Attack Bonus)
Added CMB and CMD bonuses. (Combat Maneuver Bonus – Combat Maneuver Defence)
- CMB = BAB + STRmod + SizeMod + MiscMod + MiscMod
- CMD = BAB + STRmod + SizeMod + DexMod + MiscMod + 10
Cleaned up every fill able field. (Previously overlapping fields or fields not covering the entire box area)
Changed the order of calculations on the form to include CMB and CMD.
Added a non print-able button that clears everything on the form.
Here is an excellent post on this subject: