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A Quick & Easy Flanking Optional Rule

So I’m going to be DMing this Sunday, and one thing I want to introduce into combat is a quick and easy flanking rule that conveys some of the danger of being outnumbered in combat. Fifth edition only has an optional rule that conveys advantage, but that can be too strong at times (and not strong enough at others, if someone is surrounded by five foes) and involves another dice roll.

So here we go, here’s my simple rules fix. In a combat between one combatant and multiple opponents, each of the multiple opponent gets a plus modifier equivalent to their number.

Example: Aragorn is fighting two orcs. Each orc gets + 2 to their attack roll. Aragorn is fighting three orcs. Each orc gets +3 to their attack roll. Aragorn is fighting six orcs (probably the max. I’d allow to attack at one time), each orc gets +6 to their attack roll.

Note that I won’t be paying any attention to the direction the single combatant is facing, which I assume to be constantly shifting in battle. So the single combatant will still get their shield and AC bonus – having a shield and being agile would no doubt be useful still, and perhaps more importantly saves additional calculations.

Will be playtesting this on Sunday… if you think it might work for your table please try it and let me know your thoughts!


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  1. This is really elegant! I don’t use many homebrew rules because most of my players are new and I want them to have the “RAW experience,” for better or worse, but I’ve been unsatisfied with the optional flanking rule for a while so I just might use this!

    It’s been a year and a half, so did you use this? How did it fare?

    • duncan

      Hey Clayton, thanks. To be honest I haven’t DM’ed much at all in the last year or so, and my group has just played without any flanking rules (my DMs prefer easy quick play, with min. book keeping, to gritty realism), so I haven’t tested these.

      Whilst I think a flanking bonus offers more realism to your game, it does mean that a group of heroes are going to cut down the big boss even more easily than before, and players are going to hate being surrounded by even three orcs.

      Not that either of those are necessarily a bad thing, but it does change the way the game is played quite a lot, stacking the play even further in favour of numbers.

      Here’s another idea… a creature is able to fend off two creatures without any penalties, but if a third joins, one of the three attackers gets advantage on their attack rolls. (The outnumbered creature can choose which, or DM’s discretion – which of the three has the best angle etc). Any additional attacker beyond the third would also get advantage.

      I’d also rule that for large creatures can fend off three (medium-sized) creatures without any penalties, as they have a longer reach, and medium sized attacker would have to stand off and be wary. A huge creature, could fend off four medium sized creatures etc etc.

      If you do playtest either please do come back and let us know if it worked.

  2. Frazer

    Logically, it seems to me that if a character is outnumbered, the advantage granted to the mob should be an Attack of Opportunity.
    I agree that the way a character is faced should never have rules hung on to it. it’s a fruitless rabbit hole.

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