Sweeping attack withdrawal?

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Weron
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Joined: 2013-10-07 06:44
Sweeping attack withdrawal?

I like sweeping attacks being able to attack multiple creatures. But I don't like the last part of the last line: "If all of the opponents withdraw or are slain, the combatant may either immediately advance 5’, or conduct a fighting withdrawal himself."

Standard is "move and attack". You are never able to attack and then move. But if you declare your attack a sweeping attack, and slay your opponent, you get a "free" fighting withdrawal. Fighting withdrawal even includes possibility of another attack. Maybe it's the "or are slain" part that is problematic.

I would probably also let some monsters and other weapons do sweeping attacks.

Jard
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I just posted this as a potential house rule to my group as well, and one player is asking questions too.  It does seem like an overall upside that if even one of your targets is unable to retreat and you can kill them in one attack, you're going to get a free post-attack move that isn't a 5' step.

Also, he found the wording a bit confusing and it seemed as though it were possible to attack after the withdraw/5' portion, but it seems like the intent of the final 5' step is not to keep cleaving but to engage your foes and keep them from falling back.

One final question: A level 5 fighter engages 5 orcs and attempts to sweeping attack all of them.  3 of them withdraw but 2 of them have nowhere to withdraw to.  The fighter attacks and kills the 2 orcs... can he continue to cleave?

Alex
The Autarch
Joined: 2011-06-30 18:10

I just posted this as a potential house rule to my group as well, and one player is asking questions too.  It does seem like an overall upside that if even one of your targets is unable to retreat and you can kill them in one attack, you're going to get a free post-attack move that isn't a 5' step.

-Jard

To make sure I understand the concern, you are worried that people will use a sweeping attack on opponents who cannot retreat, and thereby allow themselves the opportunity to kill-and-withdraw whereas normally they could not. 

You're not wrong about the implications, but I'm not sure that it's wrong to allow that in the game.

Also, he found the wording a bit confusing and it seemed as though it were possible to attack after the withdraw/5' portion, but it seems like the intent of the final 5' step is not to keep cleaving but to engage your foes and keep them from falling back.

-

That's correct, you re-engage your foes. Essentially you are pushing them back and chasing as they retreat.

One final question: A level 5 fighter engages 5 orcs and attempts to sweeping attack all of them.  3 of them withdraw but 2 of them have nowhere to withdraw to.  The fighter attacks and kills the 2 orcs... can he continue to cleave?

-

No. He can only cleave onto those opponents who did not withdraw. Once he has killed or forced back his opponents, he can then either advance 5' or move away in a fighting withdrawal.

It's possible Sweeping Attack is too powerful. Two thoughts:

  • -4 penalty to the attack throw against targets who did not withdraw;
  • Targets who cannot retreat can choose to fall prone to avoid being hit instead. (That avoids the problem above). 

Monsters will be able to do sweeping attacks, I just haven't written rules I'm happy with yet!

Jard
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I think it's ok if Sweeping attack is a net bump in power to fighting types, especially higher level fighter types who tend to lag behind mages at higher levels.  The question is: is making a sweeping attack a decision at all?

For example: if a level 5 fighter is engaged with 5 lower level opponents (orcs, let's say) are they ALWAYS going to want to sweep attack?  Will there ever be a situation where they decide to do things the old fashioned way and kill them one at a time, cleaving only for as long as they can score kills, or is sweep attack just a new thing that you always get to do when engaged against multiple foes?  I think the possibility of losing your attack if everyone withdraws is where the balance comes in.


No. He can only cleave onto those opponents who did not withdraw. Once he has killed or forced back his opponents, he can then either advance 5' or move away in a fighting withdrawal. 

-Alex

this is somewhat confusing, although I now see what you're saying, compared to this block:


The attacking combatant may cleave off sweeping attacks against those opponents that did not withdraw, but his total number of attacks may not exceed the usual maximum (e.g. his attack routine plus his level in cleaves).

-

so to go back to the example, let me see if i can illustrate this:

A level 5 fighter faces off against 4 orcs and 1 orc champion and performs a sweeping attack in a wide open room.  3 orcs step 5' away from the fighter, but the champion and 1 orc remain.  The fighter begins by attacking the orc champion.  He hits the champion, and does damage but does not kill him.  He takes his 2nd attack against the normal orc, hits and slays him.  At this point he has threatened 5 foes with sweeping attack, of whom 3 have withdrawn and are therefore not vulnerable to either the sweeping attack OR subsequent cleaves.  So the question is:

1) does the fighter have cleaves left? the wording implies that he can because he has only taken 2 attacks and his usual maximum is 1+level (5) = 6.
2) When he slays the normal orc, can he step 5' as is normally allowed when cleaving? (from ACKs core: "If engaged in melee, the attacker may move 5' between each
attack, subject to his maximum combat movement per round. ").  This may allow him to close distance to the orcs who withdrew.

3) if he can cleave, and effectively hit the orc captain a 2nd time, can he 5' step again? It sounds like "no" because even though he is in range to attack the 3 withdrawn orcs, they are not valid targets, having withdrawn, and because there is no last attack to move between, he can't move 5' while cleaving a 2nd time but...

4) assuming he can only move 5' from cleaving between the two brave fools who died, he could nonetheless potentially be engaged with the orcs who withdrew.  can he take an additional 5' from the conclusion of the sweeping attack and be in the thick of the withdrawing orcs?

 


Sorry to be such a rules lawyer. I actually like the idea of the ability quite a bit, I'm just trying to make sure I understand it or at least the intent.  It may be worthwhile to lay on some of that sweet prosaic language to sort of convey the kind of heroics this is trying to emulate so that individual judges can intepret things they are unsure about through the lens of "how well does this model the heroic situation this ability is supposed to allow".

Weron
Sinister Stone of Sakkara BackerLairs And Encounters Backer
Joined: 2013-10-07 06:44

It could be too powerful without penalties. But if penalties are too severe, it will never be used.

Sweep attacks would absolutely make combat more dynamic and moving, instead of the engage - lockdown that is current. One question is why it is only sweep attacks that enable this reactive combat model where you decide to withdraw 5 when attacked. Why can't you withdraw 5 from any attack?

I also wonder about the targets that withdrew. Nothing is stopping them from coming back to attack you again. So the attacker could loose his attack because everyone withdrew, but then everyone comes back and get their attack.

What if the target is engaged with another creature in addition to the sweep attacker, can it withdraw then?

If there is a 2nd rank of friendlies behind the target, can it withdraw into them, or are they like a wall?

More questions than answers :) The more dynamic combat gets, the more confusing, but I like it.

Alex
The Autarch
Joined: 2011-06-30 18:10

Before diving too deeply into some of these esoteric questions, let me explain the intent of the rule, and then we can figure out how to frame it in a way that makes this clear.

  1. When an attacker makes a normal attack, the defender cannot withdraw 5' to avoid the attack because the attacker is focusing all his aggression on that defender, and is assumed that he'd simply press the attack as the defender withdraws. 
  2. With a sweeping attack, the attacker is spreading his aggression across multiple targets.
    • The advantage this gives the attacker is that he can attempt to strike multiple targets. 
    • The disadvantage this gives the attacker is that any given defender can avoid his attack simply by retreating 5' away. 
    • Since the attacker is not focusing on one target, then - should he find himself with no one around him afterwards - he is not off balance or over-extended, and can now himself fall back or advance, as he chooses.

A lot of the confusion seems to arise from this language. "The attacking combatant may cleave off sweeping attacks against those opponents that did not withdraw, but his total number of attacks may not exceed the usual maximum (e.g. his attack routine plus his level in cleaves)."

Here is how it ought to work, mechanically, step by step:

  1.  The attacker is surrounded by X or more defenders. X is equal to or less than his number of cleaves, C.
  2. The attacker declares a sweep attack against X. 
  3. Y number of defenders fall back, while Z number of defenders do not. X=Y+Z. 
  4. The attacker now has an attack routine with a number of attacks equal to Z. All of the attacks are simultaneous.
  5. If the attacker kills any of Z, he may cleave off of them, to the extent that C+1 is greater than X. However, he cannot move. So he might get second attacks on some members of Z by killing members of Z with an early attack. 
  6.  If all of Z are slain, the attacker may withdraw, or may advance 5'.

A level 5 fighter faces off against 4 orcs and 1 orc champion and performs a sweeping attack in a wide open room.  3 orcs step 5' away from the fighter, but the champion and 1 orc remain.  The fighter begins by attacking the orc champion.  He hits the champion, and does damage but does not kill him.  He takes his 2nd attack against the normal orc, hits and slays him.  At this point he has threatened 5 foes with sweeping attack, of whom 3 have withdrawn and are therefore not vulnerable to either the sweeping attack OR subsequent cleaves.  So the question is:

1) does the fighter have cleaves left? the wording implies that he can because he has only taken 2 attacks and his usual maximum is 1+level (5) = 6.


-

Yes. He has 1. [Perhaps this should be simplified to just number of cleaves so there isn't a disparity between C and C+1]

2) When he slays the normal orc, can he step 5' as is normally allowed when cleaving? (from ACKs core: "If engaged in melee, the attacker may move 5' between each attack, subject to his maximum combat movement per round. ").  This may allow him to close distance to the orcs who withdrew.

-

No, he cannot move. 

3) if he can cleave, and effectively hit the orc captain a 2nd time, can he 5' step again? It sounds like "no" because even though he is in range to attack the 3 withdrawn orcs, they are not valid targets, having withdrawn, and because there is no last attack to move between, he can't move 5' while cleaving a 2nd time but...

-

No, he cannot move. 

4) assuming he can only move 5' from cleaving between the two brave fools who died, he could nonetheless potentially be engaged with the orcs who withdrew.  can he take an additional 5' from the conclusion of the sweeping attack and be in the thick of the withdrawing orcs?

-

He can move 5' if he kills the orc champion.

 

 

Weron
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Joined: 2013-10-07 06:44

I let my players have a look at this rule. Response was mixed, some were confused, some liked it, and some were terrified of monsters using this against the party :)

I think in my campaign I will allow targets to fall prone, and already prone targets to be ineligible for sweeps. I also think all attacks should have a penalty of Z (number of actual attacks).

It is not clear if you can move before a sweeping attack?

Before diving too deeply into some of these esoteric questions, let me explain the intent of the rule, and then we can figure out how to frame it in a way that makes this clear.

  1. When an attacker makes a normal attack, the defender cannot withdraw 5' to avoid the attack because the attacker is focusing all his aggression on that defender, and is assumed that he'd simply press the attack as the defender withdraws. 
  2. With a sweeping attack, the attacker is spreading his aggression across multiple targets.
    • The advantage this gives the attacker is that he can attempt to strike multiple targets. 
    • The disadvantage this gives the attacker is that any given defender can avoid his attack simply by retreating 5' away. 
    • Since the attacker is not focusing on one target, then - should he find himself with no one around him afterwards - he is not off balance or over-extended, and can now himself fall back or advance, as he chooses.

-Alex

1. With a normal attack, the defender doesn't even have the option to withdraw 5', regardless of whether this would cancel the attack or the attacker could press the attack. Should he?

2. I don't buy the last argument. If anything, the attacker would be more off balance or over-extended from attacking multiple targets. If you can move or withdraw when unengaged after attacking with a sweep attack, you should be able to do so after a normal attack also.

Alex
The Autarch
Joined: 2011-06-30 18:10

Revised rules for sweep attacks:

A combatant may perform a sweeping attack in order to simultaneously attack one or more engaged opponents, up to his number of eligible cleaves. The combatant must be using a medium or large weapon (such as a battle axe, sword, or two-handed sword) or be at least one size category larger than all his engaged opponents, in order to perform a sweeping attack. Each opponent targeted by the sweeping attack may immediately withdraw 5’ away from the attacking combatant if desired. The attacking combatant may then make one attack throw at a -4 penalty against each opponent who did not withdraw. If all of the opponents withdraw from or are slain by the sweeping attack, the combatant may either (i) immediately advance 5’ and cleave or (ii) conduct a fighting withdrawal himself.  When performing a sweeping attack and any subsequent cleaves, a combatant’s total number of attacks may never exceed the usual maximum (e.g. his attack routine plus his level in cleaves).

EXAMPLE: Athelstan, a 6th level fighter with a two-handed sword, finds himself surrounded by six orcs. He declares a sweeping attack against all six orcs. Choosing discretion over valor, four of the orcs withdraw 5’, but two boldly stand their ground. Athelstan immediately makes an attack throw against the two orcs, suffering a -4 penalty. He hits and slays both orcs. Athelstan can now choose to advance 5’ and cleave against the remaining orcs, or perform a fighting withdrawal. He chooses the latter, slipping around the corner to where his friends have formed up.

 

Jard
Patreon SupporterDomains At War ContributorSinister Stone of Sakkara ContributorLairs And Encounters Contributor
Joined: 2012-07-11 23:23

Revised rules for sweep attacks:

A combatant may perform a sweeping attack in order to simultaneously attack one or more engaged opponents, up to his number of eligible cleaves. The combatant must be using a medium or large weapon (such as a battle axe, sword, or two-handed sword) or be at least one size category larger than all his engaged opponents, in order to perform a sweeping attack. Each opponent targeted by the sweeping attack may immediately withdraw 5’ away from the attacking combatant if desired. The attacking combatant may then make one attack throw at a -4 penalty against each opponent who did not withdraw. If all of the opponents withdraw from or are slain by the sweeping attack, the combatant may either (i) immediately advance 5’ and cleave or (ii) conduct a fighting withdrawal himself.  When performing a sweeping attack and any subsequent cleaves, a combatant’s total number of attacks may never exceed the usual maximum (e.g. his attack routine plus his level in cleaves).

EXAMPLE: Athelstan, a 6th level fighter with a two-handed sword, finds himself surrounded by six orcs. He declares a sweeping attack against all six orcs. Choosing discretion over valor, four of the orcs withdraw 5’, but two boldly stand their ground. Athelstan immediately makes an attack throw against the two orcs, suffering a -4 penalty. He hits and slays both orcs. Athelstan can now choose to advance 5’ and cleave against the remaining orcs, or perform a fighting withdrawal. He chooses the latter, slipping around the corner to where his friends have formed up.

 


-Alex

 

This seems clearer and more of a true choice than the earlier version.  I'll share this with my players and see if they agree.

Weron
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Joined: 2013-10-07 06:44

(i) immediately advance 5’ and cleave

Does this allow you to cleave without killing any target? (If all withdrew.)

Alex
The Autarch
Joined: 2011-06-30 18:10

(i) immediately advance 5’ and cleave Does this allow you to cleave without killing any target? (If all withdrew.)

-Weron

Yes, if everyone withdraws then you can advance and attack.

Jard
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the rules now seem to clarify that the sweeping attack is simultaneous, and therefore no cleaving occurs until you finish all of your attacks, and then only if you killed all targets.  in this interpretation, i think -4 might be a bit too harsh.  I know -4 is more consistent with other maneuvers, but -2 might be more appropriate (assuming i've interpreted this correclty).

 

edit: also the revised text appears to be missing the word "bladed" in the description of allowed weapons

Alex
The Autarch
Joined: 2011-06-30 18:10

I removed the requirement that it be bladed, because I wanted to admit the possibility of something like a flail or morning star being used for a sweeping attack.

 

koewn
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<jackiechan>Or a ladder.</jackiechan>

I agree with the general change to bring it in line with the other special attacks.

Plus with the new crit rules, it's possible one might see an explosion of foes forced back/knocked down in an arc around our hero added onto this.

For the example text with Athelsan, add in how many cleaves he'd have left; and maybe add an orc or two to specifically show him running out? A more useful example than a simple withdraw.

koewn
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Randomly: is a Combat Trickery (Sweeping Attack)  a  proficiency needing adding in? 

Jard
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Randomly: is a Combat Trickery (Sweeping Attack)  a  proficiency needing adding in? 


-koewn

that's a good idea, but it does pose a challenge in that the number of proficiencies a class generally gets to pick from is fixed, so only new classes would be able to select it.  That aside, I wouldn't stop any players of mine that wanted to take such a proficiency from doing so.

Loswaith
Joined: 2017-05-12 02:19

the rules now seem to clarify that the sweeping attack is simultaneous, and therefore no cleaving occurs until you finish all of your attacks, and then only if you killed all targets.  in this interpretation, i think -4 might be a bit too harsh.  I know -4 is more consistent with other maneuvers, but -2 might be more appropriate (assuming i've interpreted this correclty).

 

edit: also the revised text appears to be missing the word "bladed" in the description of allowed weapons


-Jard

Prehaps the penality would be better as -1 per initial target to a max of -4, giving a range of -2 to -4, thus having a slight edge to sweaps for 2 or 3 opponents.  Then the Combat Trickery (Sweaping Attack) proficency could cap that penality at -2.  Not sure if a scalling penality is a bit complex compared to other maneuvers however (though not realy a proficency players would take early).