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Thread: Reach and AOOs

  1. #1
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    Reach and AOOs

    It has been stated that while Reach is in the game it has been simplified and no longer gives creatures Attacks of Opportunity as creatures move through your threatened area. I'd like to argue that including these AOOs is important to the game and shouldn't be that hard to include.

    First of all, why are reach AOOs important? Pathfinder does not innately have the concept of a 'Tank' character like many modern RPGs have evolved to. Sure you can have high AC, high Con characters but there are no good ways of 'encouraging' monsters to attack you. In PnP in particular, smart enemies will just ignore AC focused characters and try to attack juicier targets who generally are more of a threat to them anyways.

    Characters with the default 5' reach are pretty easy to get around. Characters with reach weapons are a lot harder to deal with. There are also many spells that increase size or reach that are likely to be included in the game. We already know that Enlarge Person is in. Since Alchemist and Magus are in it is likely that Long Arm or Fluid Form will be in. For all these spells the ability to get more AOOs from large reaches is their primary feature. A character with such a long reach can keep control of a large area of the battlefield, protecting other characters, foiling ranged attackers, foiling spellcasters, and generally forcing people to deal with them first like a true tank. These types of area control melee fighters are a cool part of the Pathfinder character design space. You can even do it with ranged attackers with the Snap Shot line of feats, or with Whips with their feat chain.

    Not even counting the PCs, reach and AOOs are a big part of what makes iconic enemies like Dragons and Giants so dangerous. Your melees would have to suffer AOOs just getting into position in the first place. It would be a shame to effectively weaken them this way, and would make Acrobatics, the Mobility feat, or other AOO avoidance options less useful. There also wouldn't be much of a need for Combat Reflexes.

    Putting these in the game doesn't have to be that complicated. You can display the reach of enemies or allies by clicking on them with some sort of colored radius. You can automatically give characters Acrobatics rolls when they would be subject to AOOs (ignoring the half move speed in PnP). You can also keep ignoring the dead space of reach weapons (usually in PnP you can 5' step anyways). It seems you already have a concept of 5' stepping in the game (moving slowly away from enemies in a fight), so you seem to have a way to avoid AOOs if people need to be careful.

    Anyways, that is my take/wish on this. Are others interested in seeing reach AOOs in?

  2. #2
    Senior Member HenriHakl's Avatar
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    We don't (I think) know the exact technical challenges that they're considering on the reach+AOO issue. The problem may be that it is hard to determine the exact behavior in this real-time(ish) environment. For example: a movement based AOO is only provoked once a round by a creature (per opponent). There may be some catch that makes that hard to do deterministically.

    That said, I agree that they should make effort to include AOOs for reach-based attacks; or at least detail why they're choosing against it.

    Possibly this is something to raise in the Dev forum when it goes live?

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    I'd like to second the idea of keeping Reach and AoOs for Reach in the game.

    I enjoy the tactical side of the game, and I also wonder at what sort of balance concerns removing this might have? Is Enlarge Person worthy of being a 1st level spell if it doesn't increase your reach? It cuts out some build options, and I'm not sure that some weapons would really be worth taking, or remaining in the category they are at least.. I could be wrong.

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    Senior Member Mat's Avatar
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    I'd like reach with AoO in as well. I planned on playing as a glaive-wielding paladin of Shelyn my first playthrough and it would be nice to be able to take advantage of that reach. Plus it's just a mechanic I've always liked.

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    Personally, I remove reach AOOs from in my Pathfinder games anyway. I find that when players know they will provoke just by approaching an enemy, they will delay, defend, or ready an action instead. It slows down combat a lot and I would rather eliminate it from both sides entirely than have PCs standing around doing nothing for a round while waiting for the monster to approach. The same applies to a video game — penalising the player for taking the fight to the enemy just discourages certain builds and playstyles.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Moa View Post
    Personally, I remove reach AOOs from in my Pathfinder games anyway. I find that when players know they will provoke just by approaching an enemy, they will delay, defend, or ready an action instead. It slows down combat a lot and I would rather eliminate it from both sides entirely than have PCs standing around doing nothing for a round while waiting for the monster to approach. The same applies to a video game — penalising the player for taking the fight to the enemy just discourages certain builds and playstyles.
    Sometimes, though that is not an option, or something that they know to expect.

    Does an enemy have Combat Reflexes? That makes trying to rush them early questionable.

    I personally feel removing or reducing AoO (and Reach) dumbs down the game which makes it less interesting and fun.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mat View Post
    I'd like reach with AoO in as well. I planned on playing as a glaive-wielding paladin of Shelyn my first playthrough and it would be nice to be able to take advantage of that reach. Plus it's just a mechanic I've always liked.
    I was most likely going to make a Cleric of Erastil that swapped between Longspear and Longbow. I really hope they don't remove AoOs or the point of using a Reach Weapon.

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    Reach causing Attacks of Opportunity should not be that hard to implement programmatically. Even though this game isn't turn based, characters still act in some kind of order of initiative, and there are still options to auto pause after each round.

    Reach causing Attacks of Opportunity is a critical part of choosing a reach weapon class or option, and, it makes encounters with enemy giants much more interesting. If you have a character who is invested in acrobatics, they can and should automatically make a tumble check as they try to move in on a larger creature.

    In my campaigns, a high-armor PC might just eat attacks of opportunity on purpose to get where he wants to go.

    My enemy NPCs make those same choices.

    So many feats are tied to attacks of opportunity. Suppose you build a character who can get multiple AoOs per round... well, if that PC doesn't have a reach weapon, he'll rarely get to take advantage of this.

    Additionally, reach and AoOs is the reason why Monks are much stronger in campaigns where the GM follows the rules and uses engaging, large battlefields. The mobility and tumbling skills of a Monk to get into place to pick the best target for him to grapple or fight is what makes a Monk good.

    Sure, the Dwarf Fighter with all his armor and skills can win a 1-1 toe to toe fight... but that Dwarf can't easily reach and grapple the enemy rogue in the back row hiding and taking shots with his shortbow.

    Having Reach AoOs benefits classes who invested in mobility and speed as well as favoring the tanks who invested in using reach to slow down anyone who didn't invest in mobility and speed.

  9. #9
    Senior Member praguepride's Avatar
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    Pillars of Eternity got around this with the engaged action. AoOs still triggered when enemies "disengaged" but removing reach from AoOs first of makes things a lot easier for their AI. My guess using Pillars of Eternity as a baseline is that enemies will mostly just fight whatever is closest to them. If you lead with the tank your tank should end up in the thick of things because you don't have a jerk GM intentionally rushing the wizards.

    Pathfinder and D&D are not Shadowrun and while "geek the mage" IS good tactics, all the D&D based cRPGs don't do that reliably. At best games like Pillars of Eternity have ranged attackers and spellcasters target "low HP characters" which usually hits your casters but otherwise melee-ers gang up on melee-ers and the party works as it needs to without needing reach AoOs.

    The flipside is that having a longer attack reach is very important for cRPGs because the environments tend to be a LOT narrower compared to PnP games and as such it is very easy for characters to become "trapped" behind their allies and unable to make contact. Again you see this in BG and PoE games where having longer reach weapons really helps you surround and gang up on a tough opponent and allows semi-squishy melee combatants to still get involved without risking the front lines.

    I'm not the happiest that reach is being "nerfed" however from an AI standpoint attacks of opportunity are a nightmare and Pillars of Eternity while having challenging enough AI, it often does DUMB things triggering multiple AoOs so it can run around to the opposite side of combat already.

    I guess the bottom line is would you rather have it and face a stupid AI that just kills itself entering and exiting your AoO range or a smarter (seeming) AI but no AoOs? And no the answer isn't "just program it better".
    I know! Start swinging! Eventually you'll lop off the head of someone important and then the good fights will REALLY start!
    -- Lilarcor

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    Age of decadence and warband taught me to fear reach weapons and clever AI or players.

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