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D&D Next Q&A: 12/13/13
Rodney Thompson

Y ou've got questions—we've got answers! Here's how it works—each week, our Community Manager will scour all available sources to find whatever questions you're asking. We'll pick three of them for R&D to answer, whether about the making of the game or anything else you care to know about... with some caveats.

There are certain business and legal questions we can't answer (for business and legal reasons). And if you have a specific rules question, we'd rather point you to Customer Service, where representatives are ready and waiting to help guide you through the rules of the game. That said, our goal is provide you with as much information we can—in this and other venues.

1 If there are saves to maintain concentration after taking damage, will they be Constitution saves or caster stat saves?

It will be a Constitution saving throw, and currently no spellcasting class has Constitution as its magic ability.

2 If a character’s Constitution modifier goes up or down, are maximum hit points affected?

Yes, on both accounts, though there is currently no way in the rules for your ability scores to decrease, so the latter would occur only if a Dungeon Master ruled that it was the best way to represent something that happened in the game. The rules are currently silent on this issue, but we plan to reinforce that when your Constitution modifier increases by 1 (for example, as a result of gaining a level that grants an ability score increase), you gain 1 hit point for each of your levels.

3 What is the status of positional advantage (flanking, proximity to prone target, ranged attacks in melee, ranged attacks against targets near allies, high/low ground, etc.) in the rules development?

I’ll tackle all of these things separately:

  • Flanking: This isn’t in the core rules of the game since flanking relies far too heavily on a grid to be included by default. That said, flanking is a prime candidate for something that should appear in optional tactical combat rules.

  • Attacking Prone Targets: Right now, the rules say you have disadvantage on attacks against prone targets if you’re more than 5 feet away from the targets. It is likely that we will restore the previous text that granted you advantage on melee attacks against prone targets.

  • Ranged Attacks in Melee: As Mike discussed in Legends & Lore, we’re considering multiple methods of dealing with this. Though exact details are ongoing, we think it’s likely that there will be some consequence for making a ranged attack while engaged in melee. We do not intend to use opportunity attacks here because we want to keep opportunity attacks as streamlined as possible.

  • Ranged Attacks Against Opponents Engaged in Melee with Allies: Right now, your allies can provide cover to creatures you are attacking at range, and we think that’s enough of a penalty. If you can maneuver so that the monster is between you and your ally, great! You’ve played well.

  • High Ground/Low Ground: There are no plans at this time to introduce high ground or low ground as concepts in combat.

How can I submit a question to the D&D Next Q&A?

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Rodney Thompson
Rodney Thompson began freelancing in the RPG industry in 2001 before graduating from the University of Tennessee. In 2007 he joined the Wizards of the Coast staff as the lead designer and developer for the new Star Wars RPG product line. Rodney is the co-designer of Lords of Waterdeep and is currently a designer for Dungeons & Dragons.
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I don't see a point for there to be concentration checks for casters. Getting stabbed in the face doesn't deter fighters from attacking or rogues from sneak attacking so why should it deter casters? Of course it would be ok if monks had to make concentration checks to be able to punch someone after they are hit, because monks don't belong in fantasy games.... but I digress.... :-) Casters already job too much for the other classes. They all get like 10 spells ever. They don't need to be screwed over any more.

And while I"m on my soap box; I don't see a point for there being an additional penalty for firing in to melee or opportunity attacks for using ranged weapons with a dude adjacent to you.

As Rodney pointed out, allies now provide soft cover if between ranged attacker and target. That already gives a -2 to hit. Which, with the super low ac's doesn't matter at all; but still...
Posted By: awogaman (12/28/2013 2:47:51 PM)


It's fortuitous that you discuss the concentration mechanic in this Q & A, because concentration might be the least immersion-breaking approach to shooting a bow* in the face of enemies who are trying to hit you in melee. A concentration check is simple to specify as the consequence of being attacked–actually being hit is not necessary, as ducking to avoid a blow or deflecting it with one's bow might be what caused you to lose your own attack.

To my mind this is exactly what's going on when Legolas, in Peter Jackson's movie, dashes from orc to orc shooting them within arm's reach with apparently suicidal recklessness. The agility of Tolkein's elf, and confidence in the accuracy of his aim, enable him to dispatch his enemies, almost casually, with a suboptimal weapon. In D & D terms, he beats their initiative and has the Archery Fighting Style! This approach also lends itself to the specification of an optional rule in which you can grant the attacker advantage, ... (see all)
Posted By: RadperT (12/17/2013 9:54:04 AM)


I agree that penalties to hit with ranged attacks don't make as much sense. It would make more sense if enemies had a better chance of hitting you! For example, when you make a ranged attack with a weapon or spell while within melee range of a hostile creature, you grant advantage to enemies until the start of your next turn.
Posted By: Chameleon-X (12/16/2013 1:43:54 PM)


Still not sure why you need a penalty for firing a ranged weapon in melee. Shooting someone at point-blank range means the chance to hit is nearly guaranteed. If you are trying to imply that holding a ranged weapon somehow makes you less able to defend yourself against a sword, then why wouldn't there also be a penalty for fighting bare-handed? Or with a dagger? None of this makes intuitive sense (and it's just clogging up the rules).
Posted By: nukunuku (12/16/2013 11:22:50 AM)


Reply to: WCU_Scout

I think one reason for DnD 5e's push to re-introduce gridless combat as default is that they then don't have to pay a cartographer/battle grid map artist, and don't have to worry about rules for it until a later date. It saves money and printing costs. 'Modularity' is cool in concept, but it is also an excuse to publish half a game. And waiting to see how it sells before committing to publishing the rest of the game.

it makes me sad to think that published adventures might not have gridded maps at all. I liked them too. My group always uses a grid for combat, and I still have maps from 3.5, the DnD minis game, and 4e that I use regularly along with dungeon tiles.
Posted By: seti (12/15/2013 4:28:30 PM)


I will always want to use flanking. It is realistic and should be relatively easy to imagine and impliment.

I like the idea of doing away with attacks of opportunity for ranged attacks while an enemy is adjacent. I liked a suggestion (last week?) that the shooter would then have disadvantage on defenses against attacks made against them during that round. Simple and realistic.

I like the advantage/disadvantage system, but it is pretty severe (roughly a +5 bonus on a d20). I wonder if the core rules will also include minor advantages (+2,-2) for minor situations, too.
Posted By: gpchem (12/14/2013 6:28:47 PM)


I feel like people aren't going to keep very close track of cover while firing into melee unless they are using a grid type system, in which case they will probably be using flanking as well. So while it is a bit inconsistant I think people will figure out their style.

My bigger question is if detailed grid maps of dungeons will still be provided in future adventures. I like the setting of MiBG and LotCS, but the lack of maps is trying.
Posted By: WCU_Scout (12/14/2013 10:30:05 AM)


Disadvantage on casting in Melee as suggested in one of the comments is a VERY bad idea. This works only if your DM "allows" you as caster to not get attacked if you stand at ranged. At least my DM never allows that ("it is boring, if you never get attacked"). This would mean Casters - who already are in some aspects weaker than melees - get even weaker. Basically with 1-2 dedicated melees on a caster you could effectively neutralize him. And with enough Melee Enemies, it is ALWAYS possible to get a caster character into melee, even if he plays clever. Maybe he can minimize the number of melees attacking him, but that he does not get attacked - not possible (unless maybe Spells like Flying).
Posted By: MagicSN (12/14/2013 5:37:00 AM)


I'm happy with flanking being optional; it's rather grid-placement-dependent, and so is high/low ground. I'm not thrilled with the extra rules-wrinkle of penalties for firing bows in melee, but I could understand the danger of firing into a melee between an ally and opponent. Not sure granting cover is the best way, or if a "natural 1 = you hit your ally instead" is more elegant.
Posted By: Dreamstryder (12/14/2013 2:12:37 AM)


I usually just rule that having the high ground provides partial cover to the higher combatant (+2 to AC). Pretty simple.
Posted By: InchLabel (12/14/2013 1:13:45 AM)


No high ground rules. It's like what NC Soft did to Guild Wars 2. Took out complex rules to make things simple or they just got lazy. What do you think WOTC is? Simple or lazy?
Posted By: KelnozzDuskryyn (12/13/2013 8:57:01 PM)


I am happy to see the CON modifier for hit points being brought back for the next edition. Thanks!
Posted By: Diamondfist (12/13/2013 8:49:53 PM)


Can I use the "Help" action out of combat, too (auto advantage to everything) ?
Posted By: Cypher2009 (12/13/2013 8:37:49 PM)


Firing in Melee - How about:
If a hostile creature within your reach that you can see makes a ranged attack, you have advantage on melee attacks you make against that creature until its next turn, provided it remains within your reach until you attack it.

Firing into Melee can provide half cover (same size), three-quarters cover (one size larger) or total cover (two sizes or more) to the target based on the combatant 'obstacle' between you and it. It seems any system which doesn't require a second attack roll to see it you hit the combatant providing cover could be open to abuse when firing into enemies who are neatly lined up. I think a roll of 1 producing the worst case outcome (hitting your friend, not hitting at all) is probably the best compromise.

Posted By: InchLabel (12/13/2013 5:55:36 PM)


Ignoring the question of whether gridless combat lets you manoeuvre to put an enemy between you and your ally, I'm not sure that getting into a position where if you miss your ally is next in line to stop the arrow is good play.
Posted By: Bluenose (12/13/2013 3:52:26 PM)


As others have pointed out, if you don't want to require use of a grid, then saying "If you can maneuver so that the monster is between you and your ally, great! You’ve played well" fails to achieve your goal.

It would be simpler to just say, "If you are making a ranged attack against an enemy engaged in combat with one of your allies, you are at disadvantage, because you have to be careful not to hit your ally." Also, if a your game group is so inclined to include Crit Fails, you could add that rolling a 1 means that your attack actually hits your ally.

Posted By: TheGimper (12/13/2013 3:22:41 PM)


FOR THE LOVE OF DICE, DO NOT MESS WITH ABILITY SCORES IN COMBAT!!! This was one of the most annoying things in 3rd edition and 3.5.

Ranged attacks in melee have disadvantage. Done.

Flanking is real and legit. Done.

Prone targets grant advantage to melee attacks, and disadvantage to ranged attacks. Done.

High/Low ground is too minimal an issue to be in the Core Rules. Done.

So, that was easy. Can I have a job now WotC?
Posted By: Evilbastage (12/13/2013 1:24:46 PM)


Posted By: Jhishma (12/13/2013 5:07:14 PM)



"flanking relies far too heavily on a grid to be included by default"

but with ranged attacks :

"If you can maneuver so that the monster is between you and your ally, great! You’ve played well."

These two concepts are identical
Posted By: Lardking (12/13/2013 1:21:37 PM)


I never really grasped how AoO could allow a person in battle to be able to divert their attention from the immediate threat. I would think the Ranged attack IN melee would allow any threatening opponent to use their next attack action to re-tribute and gain advantage on that action only. Or simplify and use Seti's idea.
Multiclass "Dipping" adds flavor.

Posted By: RJV3 (12/13/2013 9:37:49 AM)


You say "you have disadvantage on attacks against prone targets if you’re more than 5 feet away from the targets" and "If you can maneuver so that the monster is between you and your ally, great! You’ve played well" and yet flanking "isn’t in the core rules of the game since flanking relies far too heavily on a grid to be included by default"??

If you can't tell whether you have flanking due to the lack of a grid, how do you know if you're "more than 5 feet away" or if "the monster is between you and your ally"? There seems to be a disconnect, here?
Posted By: Balesir (12/13/2013 9:34:22 AM)


You can tell if you're in melee range or not without a grid, but I agree with the point on maneuvering between.
Posted By: Dreamstryder (12/13/2013 9:54:07 AM)


That's a definite inconsistency. Flanking isn't /that/ hard to deal with in TotM, just assuming flanking whenever the outnumbered figure doesn't 'have his back to the wall' or an adjacent ally or something to prevent it.

More than 5' away is simple enough, though 6' away seems pretty close to avoid the penalty - maybe 10 or 15' - but not a major issue in TotM.

Firing into melee, though, seems to scream for a grid and a careful checking of Line of Effect.

And the idea that you can maneuver into a position to avoid granting cover to an ally's attack, by placing the enemy 'between' you, yet can't do the same thing when you and the ally are both in melee seems more than a little off.
Posted By: Tony_Vargas (12/13/2013 12:49:23 PM)


The problem I'm seeing is that "Theatre of the Mind" thusfar only means "Not using a grid." All distances are still described in feet, there are still assumptions of "Well, if you're between a monster and your allies...", etc.

I think there should be more specific mechanics that allow you to make clear rulings as to when a character is flanked, or firing into melee, etc. Make a maneuver check or DEX check with your move action to flank a monster, or roll at a disadvantage if a target is in melee, etc.
Posted By: Criswell (12/14/2013 1:44:19 PM)


Just a quick thank-you for addressing one of my questions
Posted By: Rlyehable (12/13/2013 7:47:47 AM)


I would expect most mages to have con save proficiency because of the benefits from splashing barb, pallie, or fighter even beyond con save proficiency. Feral instincts, higher AC, better hit die and hit points, adding healing spells, action surge.

Why a con save and not magical ability save?

I don't like losing concentration in the first place because concentration already limits spellcasting and I have concerns regarding bards and the perform mechanic. Can we have some spoilers on the changes to perform, and buffing spells meant to be used in combat?
Posted By: Ashrym (12/13/2013 4:58:02 AM)


I have no idea what Ashrym means by splashing. Mechanically, encouraging casters not to dump Con makes sense. It's a bit of a stretch to imagine being fat makes you better at ignoring distractions, but it's worked since Third Edition.

Ashrym & I are on the same page as far as bards & buffing. Support classes need to be able to create simultaneous effects in order to be effective and protected. The information just isn't there to see how this is going to be done. Optimist that I am, I'm confident the devs will eventuallly implement feats &/or class features at some level which provide the ability to simultaneous enhance at least two of attack benefits, healing or defenses, and utility effects such as flight.
Posted By: RadperT (12/16/2013 10:14:12 AM)


On #1: Won't it be problematic that dipping into a class w/ Con saving throw proficiency gives a huge bonus to concentration checks? Like, a Wiz19/Ftr1 will have a +6 higher bonus than a Wiz20.
Posted By: ClockworkNecktie (12/13/2013 1:56:56 AM)


Maybe you should just say you have disadvantage when making ranged attacks in melee and be done with it.
Posted By: seti (12/13/2013 12:59:23 AM)


On point 2...Why would you get retro-active HP when your CON goes up because you put points into it at a higher level? To me, raising an ability score at certain levels implies that training, effort, personal growth, etc. allows you to improve an ability. It doesn't change what the score was when you were lower level, less trained, or less learned. It's not a time machine. I'd say you get to use your new CON mod when you raise it, and every level thereafter.
Posted By: seti (12/13/2013 1:06:24 AM)


Forget trying to justify it or even fairness, the recordkeeping involved in level-targeted character improvement is onerous. It's not hard, for instance, to imagine a situation in which somebody thinks you're cheating because your Con 14 Barbarian has as many Hit Points as somebody else's Con 16 Barbarian who just raised h/h Strength. To put it another way, applying Constitution increases to HP retroactively is the only way to avoid confusion in the face of future recalculation, checking or balancing by the DM.
Posted By: RadperT (12/17/2013 9:13:10 AM)


Speaking of checking, I meant to say the higher-Con character had just raised h/h Constitution. The example itself is onerous, which is why I "put it another way."
Posted By: RadperT (12/17/2013 9:15:08 AM)


If you didn't raise it for your all your hit dice then that bonus to con would hardly be worth it. An additional +1 modifier to con should be relevant, it should count for something, and since con makes you tough having a +3 rather +2 con mod should mean you are noticeably tougher. Why would a character raise con at, lets say level 16, when they could raise another stat if all they get for it is 1 hp, +1 con saves vs bonuses to hit, damage, various useful skills, ect., but if done the traditional way where it applies per hit die then its +16 hp, +1 con saves.

Besides, your body is in a constant state of rebuilding itself, if you become a tougher healthier individual your flimsiness when younger is less of an issue, after all most cells in your body and the protein scaffolding between them get are constantly replaced to the point that in a few years little of it will be the same as a few years back, nerve cells and senescent cells excluded, so in a way the con mod for those ... (see all)
Posted By: TCCoffey (12/13/2013 1:39:14 AM)



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