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Welcome to DM’s Pocket Guide, where we discuss the rules, spells, and monsters of Dungeons and Dragons, 5th edition.
Tricia: Hello! Today we are going to be talking about Other Combat Options, and this is on page 192 and 193 of the Player’s Handbook.
Rachel: So as well as attacking and casting a spell, which is what most people do on their turn, there are a bunch of other things that you can do.
T: Yeah! Which we often don’t use.
R: I didn’t use it for the longest time. I was super surprised the first time one of my players pulled one of these on me.
T: “You mean you can do something other than hack and slash??”
R: Yeah! You can Dash!
T: Why don’t you get us started?
R: Dashing! So what it allows you to do is double your movement speed and use that. So if your speed was 30 feet, for example, you could move up to 60 feet on your turn. So any increase or decrease to your speed changes this by the same amount. So if you have swim speed, that’s going to be affected in the same proportion; it just doubles your speed. It’s not adding a specific number. An interesting thing that we had noted about this is, if you’re moving over difficult terrain, which typically halves your speed, if you choose to Dash over it, those two things should counteract each other. You would be able to move over that difficult terrain at your regular speed. Like a spider monkey.
T: Yeah, you’re going over hot coals, and you’re like, hup hup hup hup hup! You’re not really going that fast, but it’s a lot faster than you would normally go. I think it would also be worth noting that you can move UP TO 60 feet or whatever your double is. You could also just Dash to 35 feet. Like, say, you’re 35 feet away from the monster and you want to get right up close to it, you can’t get there in one normal movement. You don’t have to Dash past it. I feel like that’s obvious, but just to say.
R: Yeah, you don’t have to use it all, just like with any movement. You can use up to a certain amount.
T: The second other combat action is Disengage. If you take the Disengage action, your movement doesn’t provoke opportunity attacks for the rest of the turn. This is one that I feel like an utter fool, because often when I get stuck in combat, I’m just like, “Well, I’m not going to give them an attack of opportunity, so I’m just here until I maybe die.”
R: You were just a big damage spunge?
T: Yeah! And so, knowing that this is an option, which also can be used not just to get away from dying, but just feels like a useful skill to have to be like, “Oh, I Disengage and run away so that someone else can get in close” or something like that.
R: The next one on the list is the Dodge action. To take the Dodge action, you focus entirely on avoiding attacks until the start of your next turn. Any attack made against you has disadvantage if you can see the attacker. So you can’t Dodge an invisible creature. You’ve got to know where it is if you’re going to try to get out of the way of its –
T: You can’t Dodge if you’re hiding behind a pillar with your back to the monster.
R: Yeah, because I guess you wouldn’t see the attack or where it’s coming…You also make dexterity saving throws at advantage; so you’re at such a heightened state of readiness that you get advantage on those saving throws. You do lose that benefit if you are incapacitated. So if you take the Dodge action, but then your enemy takes an action that imposes this condition on you, like Grapple or a spell I suppose, that incapacitates you…your Dodge will no longer be useful if you can’t move.
T: One of my players used this recently in a way that I was like, “Ohhh, that’s useful.” It was kind of a tight combat situation. His character wouldn’t move forward to attack, so he took the Dodge action. He was stuck waiting for the chance to be able to move closer, but he was like, “In the meantime I’ll make sure it is unlikely that any of their damage hits me.”
R: That’s super smart.
T: Yeah. The next one is Help. You can lend your aid to another creature in the completion of a task. When you take the Help action, the creature you aid gains advantage on the next ability check it makes to perform the task you are helping with, provided that it makes the check before the start of your next turn. I don’t know if this is the case for you, but that sentence was hard to parse out.
R: Yeah, there is kind of a lot here. Essentially, I don’t think I’ve ever seen this used in combat for this purpose of an ability check, but I definitely see players using it outside of combat. They want to lend their aid to another player on an ability check. So that’s where I see this most commonly. Because its an action in combat, why wouldn’t you have it as an action out of combat?
T: Yeah, that’s true. It’s kind of nice, players working together. The second part of the Help action is in combat. Alternatively, you can aid a friendly creature in attacking a creature within five feet of you. You feint, distract the target, or in some other way team up to make your ally’s attack more effective. If your ally attacks your opponent before your next turn, the first attack roll is made with advantage.
R: Yeah, so this one – the key thing to know on this one is your…YOU have to be within five feet. You’re up in the monster’s face, waving your arms and drawing its attention. The attacker – the person you’re trying to aid – doesn’t have to be within five feet. They can be across the room shooting an arrow. It’s your act of interference, essentially, is the thing there.
T: I picture this, even though it’s probably not the five feet rule, I picture this as Merry and Pippin distracting the orcs so that Frodo and Sam can get away – or Frodo, I guess, at that point. So the orcs are like, hunting Frodo down, but Merry and Pippin Help and distract the orcs so that Frodo – I guess it kinda falls apart pretty quickly. But it’s that general idea.
R: Yeah, you’ve got the right sort of idea with the drawing attention piece. Okay, the next action is Hide, and Hide has a lot of caveats to it. It actually has so many caveats to it that it deserves to be its own episode.
T: Almost like it’s hiding from this episode?
R: Pretty much, yeah. It’s passed its dexterity stealth check in an attempt to Hide from us. It follows the rules of chapter 7 for hiding –
T: Which we haven’t read yet, so let’s do that.
R: We’ll read chapter 7 and get back to you on how to Hide in D&D.
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