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D&D 5E – Quick Reference – Chase Rules
Quick Reference – Chase Rules
Nobody told me that the new Dungeon Master’s Guide was going to contain rules for conducting chases. Hurray! These are good, fast and easy rules. You should use them. This is my interpretation of those rules along with my house rules and some Chase Complications tables.
My house rules are shown in blue. I find that using miniature figures helps when running a chase, so the following rules assume that you are using figures on a grid. Standard combat rules apply except as noted below. Characters that pause to take an action, other than Dash, move a distance equal to their move rate. Most characters use the Dash action and move a distance equal to twice their move rate.
- Setup. Determine where everyone involved in the chase is located. The only thing that matters is how far apart everyone is. Place the lead quarry first, then place the others at the appropriate distance behind him. If their locations aren’t pre-determined based on the encounter, you can randomly set the distance from the lead pursuer to the closest quarry at the speed factor of the fastest creature + 5x(1d6) feet.
- Determine Initiative. Set initiative order based on position. The lead character is assigned the highest initiative, followed by the others in order of their distance behind him. This initiative order may change from round to round as creatures pass each other. Ties go to the one with the highest dexterity score.
- Track Movement. After the lead quarry determines his total move distance – write that distance down so it can be referenced by all players. Don’t move that figure. On each participant’s turn, compare the distance he moved to that of the lead quarry. If they are the same, the distance between them remains the same, so his figure doesn’t move. If he moved farther than the lead quarry, subtract the lead quarry’s move from his and move his figure forward by that amount. If the lead quarry moved farther than he did, subtract his move distance from the lead quarry’s and move his figure back by this amount.
- No Opportunity Attacks. No one involved directly in the chase can use an opportunity attack against anyone else in the chase.
- Track Exhaustion. You can use the Dash action a number of times equal to 3+ your Constitution modifier. For each Dash action after that you must succeed on a DC 10 Constitution check or take one level of exhaustion. Your speed becomes 0 when you reach level 5.
- Pursuer Overtakes Quarry.
- Attack. If a pursuer is able to move into a quarry’s space, he may instead use a bonus action to perform a single melee attack against the quarry when he is within reach. The attack is made at a disadvantage. Note that the pursuer cannot use this option if he can only move within reach, but could not overtake the quarry if he chose to.
- Overtake. A pursuer overtakes a quarry when he moves into its space. He can then use a bonus action to attempt to grapple the creature. Normal grapple rules apply. If successful, both pursuer and quarry are stopped. Rather than grapple, the pursuer may attempt to trip, push over or tackle the quarry. The pursuer has advantage on the attack. As an optional rule, an attack that fails by 5 or more results in the pursuer falling prone.
- Quarry Escapes. The quarry can attempt to escape if it is out of sight for all of the pursuers. He makes a Dexterity (Stealth) check and must beat the passive Wisdom (Perception) scores of the pursuers.
- Complications. Roll 1d20 at the end of your turn and compare that roll to the appropriate Chase Complications table. The complication is not applied to your character, but rather to the next character in initiative order. You can spend an inspiration point to negate the complication you rolled or one that effects you. Rather than rolling on the table, the DM may allow a quarry to impose a condition on a pursuer to slow him down. It might be one listed on the table, or one of his own creation. Another option to using a table would be for the DM to declare conditions based on his map or the terrain and the path the quarry takes.
Prone. A complication may leave you prone. To get up from prone you subtract the distance represented by half your move rate from your total move distance.
Difficult Terrain. Each foot of difficult terrain uses two feet of your move rate. So if you cross five or ten feet of difficult terrain you can simply subtract five or ten feet from your total distance traveled.
Complication Tables. The following are Complication Tables that I have created for different terrain types. The first table is a generic complications table that can be used in a pinch, when you just need to run a chase quickly. The tables that follow that one list a complication type for each situation. Look up the type in the generic complication table.
Generic Chase Complications
|1||Hazard||Make a DC 10 Dexterity saving throw to navigate the impediment. On a failed save, you fall 1d4 x 5 feet, taking 1d6 bludgeoning damage per 10 feet fallen as normal, and land prone.||Hole, crevice, trap, unseen obstacle, steep incline, heavily broken ground, the path skirts a quicksand pit, log bridge crossing a stream, running on rooftops, slippery floors, jump through window|
|2||Cramped space||Make a DC 15 Dexterity (Acrobatics) check to get through this space. On a failed check, the obstacle counts as 10 feet of difficult terrain.||street, market, public building, alleyway, shoppers, stationary crowd|
|3||Poor visibility||Make a DC 10 Constitution saving throw. On a failed save, you are blinded until the end of your turn. While blinded in this way, your speed is halved.||blind corner, woods, dense brush or busy area|
|4||Barrier||Make a DC 15 Dexterity (Acrobatics) check to get past the obstacle. On a failed check you fall prone.||wall, fence, cliff, thick hedges, tall fences, building, river, canyon or swamp|
|5||Impediment||Make a DC 10 Strength (Athletics) or Dexterity (Acrobatics) check (your choice) to get past the impediment. On a failed check, the obstacle counts as 5 feet of difficult terrain.||Tree branch, fallen log, chicken coop or vegetable cart, trail suddenly drops off, flock of birds|
|6||Crowd||Make a DC 10 Strength (Athletics) or Dexterity (Acrobatics) check (your choice) to make your way through the crowd unimpeded. On a failed check, the crowd counts as 10 feet of difficult terrain.||fleeing (or angry) peasants, a funeral procession, people leaving a performance, a moving crowd|
|7||Entanglement||Make a DC 15 Dexterity saving throw to avoid it. On a failed save, you are caught as if in a net and restrained. See chapter 5 “Equipment,” of the Player’s Handbook for rules on escaping a net.||Clotheslines, curtains, banners, drying pots, chimes, hanging meat, vines|
|8||Animal herd||Make a DC 10 Dexterity saving throw. On a failed save, you are knocked about and take 1d4 bludgeoning damage and 1d4 piercing damage.||Must pass through a herd of animals. Camels, Donkeys, Horses, Cows, etc.|
|9||Uneven Ground||Make a DC 10 Dexterity (Acrobatics) check to navigate the area. On a failed check, the ground counts as 10 feet of difficult terrain.||Any stairs of 4 or more steps (less than 4 steps is considered an “impediment”), river bank, hill, 5 feet or more change in elevation in 10 feet of horizontal movement.|
|10||Obstacles||Make a DC 10 Dexterity (Acrobatics) or Intelligence check (your choice) to past. On a failed check, the maze counts as 10 feet of difficult terrain.||Tables, chairs, pews, benches, carts, crates, field of boulders, field of giant mushrooms.|
Complications by terrain type
The headings are:
1d20 results of your d20 roll
Complication This is what causes the obstruction.
Type This refers to the Generic Chase Complications above.
Complications are easier to avoid when you are flying, checks are made with advantage.
|1||Flock of birds||Impediment|
|2||Snow drifts||Cramped space|
|3||Blowing snow||Poor visibility|
|5||Chunks of broken ice||Impediment|
|6||Herd of walrus||Animal herd|
|7||Snow bank||Uneven Ground|
|8||Field of Ice boulders||Obstacles|
|9||Ice bridge over river||Hazard|
|10||Pond covered by thin ice||Hazard|
|4||Flock of birds||Impediment|
|6||Sand hill||Uneven Ground|
|10||Sea turtles||Animal herd|
|2||Narrow passage||Cramped space|
|4||Floor slopes up or down||Uneven Ground|
|6||Roots across passage||Entanglement|
|9||Ruble covered floor||Impediment|
|1||Curtains across path||Entanglement|
|4||Narrow hallway||Cramped space|
|5||Highly polished floor||Hazard|
|6||Smoke filled room||Poor visibility|
|7||Chimes across path||Entanglement|
|8||Railing across path||Hazard|
|9||Balcony to climb||Barrier|
|10||Loose rugs on floor||Impediment|
|6||Fence or wall across path||Barrier|
|8||Large Animals||Animal herd|
|7||Steep grade||Uneven Ground|
|2||Stairs up||Uneven Ground|
|3||Stairs down||Uneven Ground|
|6||Columns or Statues||Cramped space|
|7||Slime covered floor||Hazard|
|10||Chains across path||Entanglement|
|1||Log bridge crossing a stream||Hazard|
|2||Heavily forested||Cramped space|
|3||Dense brush||Poor visibility|
|6||Vines across path||Entanglement|
|7||The trail suddenly drops off||Impediment|
|9||2′ tall ferns obscuring path||Hazard|
|10||Vine covered graves||Entanglement|
|1||Narrow hallway||Cramped space|
|3||Dining or sales area||Obstacles|
|4||Curtains or beads across path||Entanglement|
|6||Jump off balcony||Hazard|
|7||Jump through window||Hazard|
|10||Hole in floor||Hazard|
|3||Path narrows||Cramped space|
|4||Blind Corner||Poor visibility|
|6||Flock of birds||Impediment|
|7||Vines crossing path||Entanglement|
|8||Mountain goats||Animal herd|
|9||Field of boulders||Obstacles|
|10||Log bridge across chasm||Hazard|
|2||School of dolphins||Animal herd|
|4||Narrow strait||Cramped space|
|10||School of sea turtles||Obstacles|
|2||Thick Vegetation||Cramped space|
|3||Muck & Mire||Impediment|
|4||Insect swarm||Poor visibility|
|7||Vines crossing path||Entanglement|
|8||Lots of alligators||Animal herd|
|9||Slick, algae covered ground||Hazard|