Dungeon Master Assistance

Where anyone over 18 can share thoughts and ideas on RPGs.

D&D 3.5 – Replacing Attacks of Opportunity

Wizards of the Coast admits on their website that “Arguments about attacks of opportunity happen frequently.” I seriously considered eliminating them altogether, but that creates problems of its on. For instance, in D&D v3.5 there is nothing other than attacks of opportunity (AoO) that would prevent a hero from walking past a row of armed guards to get to the wizard they are protecting. My proposal to eliminate AoO and to simplify combat is this: Don’t allow anyone to pass through a threatened square. Also, don’t allow anyone to perform non-attack actions within a threatened square. That is too simple, of course, so we will allow you to do any of these things if you make a successful ability check – what I call a “heroic action.” Below is from my Dungeons and Dragons Lite house rules.

There are no Attacks of Opportunity. Ignore all references in the PHB to Attacks of Opportunity and use this rule instead.

Definition of a threatened square: A creature threatens all squares into which it can make an armed melee attack.

In a combat round your character can enter or exit a threatened square, but you must use a heroic action to enter and then exit (pass through) one or more threatened squares. (Refer to my previous Heroic Actions post.)

While within a threatened square the only thing you are allowed to do is attack with a melee weapon you have in your hand. Anything else you may want to attempt will require a successful heroic action check.

Some of the things that require a heroic action to accomplish while within a threatened square are:

  • Attack with (or load or prepare to attack with) a ranged weapon, including splash weapons
  • Cast a spell, read a scroll, drink a potion or apply an oil
  • Pick up, retrieve, draw or store an item (including weapons)
  • Deliver a coup de grace
  • Escape from a net or any other entanglement
  • Light a torch or perform any other non-combat activity other than speaking

MODIFIER: Dex modifier
SUCCESS: You can attempt the desired action.
FAILURE: You loose your turn.

As part of your move action, you enter into a threatened square and proceed out the other side. You may want to use this to get past armed guards to reach the magic user they are guarding, or to attack someone armed with a reach weapon.
MODIFIER: Tumble modifier
DC MODIFIER: +5, +2 for each additional opponent after the first one
SUCCESS: You tumble through the threatened squares. Your move rate for your entire move is 1/2 your normal move rate.
OPTIONS: Add +2 to the DC to move at your normal move rate.
FAILURE: Failure results in your move ending inside the first threatened square you enter.

Note regarding reach weapons: When your opponent is using a reach weapon, you must use a heroic action to pass through a threatened square in order to attack him. Otherwise, your move must end when you enter the threatened square.

These rules apply only to squares that are threatened by your opponents. There are no restrictions on your activity within squares that are only threatened by your allies.


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