How Will Not Using AoO Affect Game Play?


Pathfinder First Edition General Discussion


I am playing in a campaign being run by three of my old AD&D pals, but are now using the 3.x rules. Before I started playing the other three decided that they would ignore the AoO rules as they felt it dragged the combats out too long. At least that is what they *say* the reason is. I strongly suspect that the *REAL* reason is because one of the players is something of a control freak who likes to play magic users, and he found that the AoO rules made it more difficult to showboat his character.
The other three players all take turns DMing a Forgotten Realms campaign while I will be DMing a Dragonlance game with different characters. In their campaign they don't use any PF material, but in mine I will be using the PFCRB for classes and feats.
My main concern is that not using AoO will effectively nerf several feats/skills in both the 3.x material as well as in the PFCRB material. There will be no convincing them to use AoO rules. It'd be pointless to even try. My solution so far has been to just ignore any prereqs for feats/skills that give you AoO bonuses. I just pretend those feats/skills don't exist as a prereq when it comes time to build my character. I just worry that there is going to be some kind of serious imbalance further down the line as the characters gain levels. What are the thoughts of others?

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

In your game, put the AoO in there.

It's your game, it belongs there, and if they disagree, remind them you are the DM.

You are using them, and whether they ignore their existence or not, they will happen.


Casters and ranged attackers benefit, sure. If they're going to play with that house rule, they should at the very least allow melee types to move and get all of their attacks, just like in AD&D.


blackbloodtroll,
I hear ya and I'd love to do that. The thing is all of us are getting pretty long in the tooth and none of us really have a group of gamers outside of ourselves that we know. If I tried to implement the AoO rules, they just wouldn't play and I'd be stuck with all these cool ideas I have for DMing by myself. I do like your idea though Pupsocket. I'm going to see if they are open to implementing it. I also like the fact that ranged attackers also benefit from the lack of AoO. I may have to start taking advantage of that in their game, for no other reason than to show them how jacked up not having AoO can be.


One of my biggest problems with 3.5 as it aged was that it seemed to be more and more becoming the AoO Show. Feat after feat after feat in splat book after splat book took advantage of the mechanic to the point where it seemed the entire game should be little more than waiting for somebody to just step out of the wrong square and then instantly killing him.

As for my players, I have long GMed for old school players, and those who come from other systems. Only one of my really dedicated players has ever been really comfortable with AoO; most of them find it an annoying distraction that over-mechanizes the game. They've gotten used to them over the years, but there are still sighs around the table during certain encounters.

Though I understand and use AoO, I use a keen eye to where I think they are valid. I do not think every creature deserves one. AoO is for quick, fairly intelligent creatures that have some measure of skill in combat, hunting, killing, etc, rather than just every thing out there that can hit you, however mechanically. A wolf should get an AoO. A man should get an AoO. I do not think a clay golem should get an AoO. AoO is a reactionary thing - something that, to my mind, sounds like it comes from long training or an ancient hunting instinct.

Therefore, I limit them to creatures that hunt on instinct, or that have training, and to intelligent undead, and a few undead that I think might have the reflexes for it (like skeletons, which are usually portrayed in movies like Sinbad as being pretty quick reflexive combatants).

How does this affect the game? Well, since we're not playing the AoO-happy 2007-2008 era 3.5, it doesn't really hurt much. Actually, it doesn't hurt at all. AoO are part of the rules, yes, but you really shouldn't attach yourself to them so thickheadedly. Really, honestly, when applied in a way that the rules expect, they can quickly become a cheap gimmick that slows action, stalls creative thinking and kills initiative (and fun).


Interesting Bruunwald. I haven't really DM'd in 3.x yet and don't have much first hand experience with the AoO rules. My concerns are largely based on the fact that *so many* feats and skills seem to refer to the AoO rules in one way or another, and I worry that I'll end up having to nerf a whole slew of feats/skills because of it. i've considered changing feats/skills prereqs to something that is not tied to AoO, but I haven't looked into it yet. I've also considered making it so that you can get an AoO but at the expense of your normal attack if you so choose. Either of these sound do-able?


If they don't want to play with it, they don't.

But if you're looking for ways to hinder wizards, consider the virtues of the readied action.

"I cast a spell."

"As you start casting, four arrows come whizzing out of the darkness." (Rolls). "Three hit. Concentration check, DC..." (adds) "Lots."


Nah, I'm not trying to hinder the wizards. I just wonder about the stability of the "machine" if you essentially are removing one of the "gears".


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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

I played AD&D with elements of 2nd edition from 1980 to 2000. When 3rd edition came along, I was starved for what I thought I wanted, a codified system of rules that didn't require ad hoc DM decisions. That is what we got and it improved with 3.5 and finally Pathfinder.

However, over the past decade or so I have become more determined that 3rd edition and Pathfinder is too regulated and too restricted and does not allow the DM much wiggle room.

Attacks of oportunity are a great example. I used to use a more narrative method of describing the rooms and situations. I only used miniatures to determine marching order and I almost never drew anything out on the table. I could get through levels and levels of dungeons and the flow of adventures seemed so natural. Sure there were sometimes upset players who said, "hey I thought there was enough room here for my fireball" when it may have blown up in their face. The fact of the matter was that it was a more fluid style.

Now, if I do that, I feel that I am penalizing the players who have things like attacks of opportunity built into their characters. I find that many players argue more because they see the battlefield and use their all seeing nature to plan tactics that they might not otherwise have thought up. I do not want to nerf the tactical game to speed up the game.

I just feel it has gone, in my opinion and gaming circles, from a role-play and descriptive game to a tabletop game like Warhammer or 40K. I also feel that with the codified rules that players do tend to argue more and throw fits when the DM rules ad hoc and it is not in their favor.

I have found myself trying to be as descriptive and free flowing as possible and only getting to the tactical situation when it is needed for combat and such. I think it would be interesting to try and play without attacks of opportunity and see how it really affects the game.

I have suggested the change back to AD&D, but many of my players have said they would either drop out or just refuse. The DM may be the boss in the game, but it is a group game at the table so unilateral decisions like that are dangerous and destructive.

Post and let us know how it goes and what the pitfalls are without attacks of opportunity.


Hiya.

My suggestion: Tell them that AoO's will be in the game, but they will NOT BE GUARANTEES. In other words, if it makes zero effin' sense for the fighter to get an AoO against someone behind him because that person pulled out a potion to drink, then the fighter *doesn't get an AoO*.

For me, that's been the biggest hang-up over AoO. The "abolutism" of it all. If X, then Y...regardless of the situation. This, IMHO, is just a plain old *bad* idea. So in my games, everyone knows that if I DM Pathfinder, AoO's are NOT guaranteed. If you have a feat that gives you some AoO, but in the current situation your character would have no idea what the other guy was doing/or did, then no...you don't get your AoO.

If my players ever said "We all quit if X", I'd turn around with..."Oh, ok. I guess someone else can GM the next campaign". Players like that are self-entitled dingleberries, imho. I can understand a fierce desire to not play in a game you wouldn't like...and I respect that...but as a player, using a threat like that is just so un-cool it's...well, I can't print that here. ;) If players really don't like "X" in a game system, and I absolutely love it, we play some other system.

My 2¢.

^_^

Paul L. Ming


pming wrote:
it makes zero effin' sense for the fighter to get an AoO against someone behind him because that person pulled out a potion to drink

There is no 'behind' in Pathfinder. Adding direction of facing would be a far more major change than removing AoOs.

Another thing about removing AoOs is that there's nothing to discourage enemies from walking around the melee character to get to the wizard. So it's not entirely a good thing for the mages.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

Take out AoOs, and casters.

They get to take something, you get to take something.


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Pupsocket wrote:
Casters and ranged attackers benefit, sure.

Er, what? No, if AoOs are gone, casters and ranged attackers suffer the most, because their melee friends are no longer a deterrent of any kind. Enemies can just waltz right by the Fighter and smack the wizard around. Tanking was already barely viable, but with no AoOs, it's nonexistent. "Holding the line" becomes meaningless and movement speed suddenly becomes critical, so you can just blow by the front lines and race to their vulnerables.


No AoO's means no movment tactics. I think they are very important in controlling th battlefield. With no AoO, you don't even need to tumble.

As far as the fluid notino of the game, it was all well and good, but just like you stated the fireball blew up in his face. With that type of play YOU knew what the room looked like. YOU knew what the dungeon looked like. YOU understood the tactics of the situation. The players very likely may have had a completly different opinion of what was going on.


Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

The biggest problem I see with no attacks of opportunity is that it means front line fighters cant do their job. If the enemy can simply saunter around them, the fighter can protect the squishy characters. I mean the issues with removing a weakness from archery (the strongest combat style) and casting (the strongest thing) is a problem, but I think the loss of control of space is a bigger problem.


Pathfinder Maps Subscriber

My Maneuver Master Monk would cry, because he's all about putting you on your back (and getting an AoO as you fall prone due to Vicious Stomp) and then another as you try to get back up, with the odd dirty trick thrown in for flavor.

Certain Master of Many Styles builds also fail (Panther Style, Crane Riposte, Snake Fang).

Silver Crusade

If they don't want AoOs thats fine. But that helps the bad guys too. I would create a Mad Alchemst who -along with his minions- drinks potions and applys salvves to weapons. With enough Cure X Potions a bad could be near immortal.


Actually after reading all the replies I feel better about not having AoOs. It sounds like most of you feel like it won't break the game, and that was my main concern. Many of you pointed out that what is good for the goose is also good for the gander and i will definitely be implementing that. Thanks for the responses.

Silver Crusade RPG Superstar 2014 Top 16

Use it to your advantage, have your attackers blow right past the front line and hit their squishies.

Liberty's Edge

There are certainly some feats and other game resources that become pointless and some trees that make use if them that get kind of odd.

The biggest effect in my mind is that it effectively kills the tactical aspect of the game, which I rather like. Without AoOs, it may be a short step to playing without minis at all.

The AoO system tends to be a bit confusing early on. I would suggest that you suggest testing the system. Run a simple encounter with and without AoOs. Run a combat with some complex terrain with and without. See the difference and decide what you like.

You've mentioned that your group is older players. They may be more interested in RP, plot, and story than the combat, which is fine. 3.5 and PF seem to run somewhere between 35-50% combat time in my experience. If you're having trouble finding other players, PFS may be a way to find others, and learning the combat system including AoO is kinda necessary to play in that environment. Even if not regularly playing PFS, meeting others by doing sp may break through a sense of isolation from other gamers. That all said, PFS isn't for everyone; I tend to think of it as a spice rather than a diet.


Zahir ibn Mahmoud ibn Jothan wrote:
Use it to your advantage, have your attackers blow right past the front line and hit their squishies.

Yeah, this is the real issue. There needs to be *something*. In GURPS you don't have AoO, but you have shorter movement and you have facing -- if you go past the fighter, you put your back to him, and he can stab you in the back where you can't defend yourself.


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Well, yeah, the vast majority of people playing Pathfinder or 3.x DO USE AoO's and the game doesn't break.
That's how it's meant to be played.
If you take AoO's out, one of the major features of Reach is removed, but Reach Weapons are stuck with the downsides (no adjacent).
Removing them also penalizes Melee Full Attacks, by making them even more dependent on getting a Full Attack in,
which is difficult when you need to move in order to threaten the target.
Note that Full Casters' 'scaling' with level generally requires only the exact same Standard Action for up to 9th level spells,
while BAB-dependent classes will still just get one melee attack unless they can spend a Full Round Action.
AoOs equalize it somewhat if you maneuver to 'draw' more from the enemy.

Given that Casters don't usually have any use for Full-Round Actions (besides Summons and a very few other spells),
they are free to use their Move Action to remove themself from the danger of melee range.
You might consider pointing out that Pathfinder grants more Feats, and thus Casters can grab Combat Casting with this 'free' Feat.
Besides that Pathfinder doesn't treat Concentration as a skill, and all Casters get it for free (yay 2 skill rank Clerics!).
If they take Combat Casting (and I believe there is also a trait as well) they will sooner or later auto-pass Defensive Casting.
But in my experience, a properly played Caster just isn't going to be provoking AoOs all that often,
they will always try to maneuver to avoid provoking when casting in the first place.
(if they can't 5' step away, they can always choose to use a regular Move, provoking if they don't succeed at Acrobatics,
but this AoO is against their movement, BEFORE they start casting, so the spellcasting isn't endangered)
For the case where they want to 5' step away but also want to use a Touch Spell vs. the enemy they were adjacent to,
suggest that they take the Lunge Feat.

If your players aren't use to it, help them out.
Point out when their declared path would provoke an AoO, but another path doesn't.
Maybe throw in a GMPC at certain times, who can show them how to make good use of AoO's and how they could take advantage of them.
(Reach Weapons are ideal here, Armor Spikes or Natural Weapons are good to simultaneously threaten adjacent)
It will have a learning curve for them, and while they're still picking it up,
sure, it makes sense to not run every NPC as an AoO-optimized combatant against them,
but IMHO they add alot to the game and make it a much more dynamic game.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
pming wrote:

Hiya.

For me, that's been the biggest hang-up over AoO. The "abolutism" of it all. If X, then Y...regardless of the situation. This, IMHO, is just a plain old *bad* idea. So in my games, everyone knows that if I DM Pathfinder, AoO's are NOT guaranteed. If you have a feat that gives you some AoO, but in the current situation your character would have no idea what the other guy was doing/or did, then no...you don't get your AoO.

IF this is your thought methodology, I think I see the problem, AOO's aren't based on the fighter "knowing" that the wizard or someone is casting a spell or drinking a potion, it's based on the lowering of defenses that certain actions entail. That's why we have casting on the defensive, and combat casting feats. Removing AOO's hurts the melee classes, and boosts casters.

Webstore Gninja Minion

Attacks of Opportunity are not present in the Pathfinder Beginner Box rules. Removing them certainly sped up game play, but I can certainly see how certain builds that rely heavily on that one particular point of combat might be at a disadvantage... Removing it would probably work great depending on the group of players (and the game).


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Kaithan Kanathar wrote:
Before I started playing the other three decided that they would ignore the AoO rules as they felt it dragged the combats out too long. At least that is what they *say* the reason is.

I've never had a problem with AoO's dragging down combat speed. The general goal of combat is to take away enemy hit-points before they take away yours. If anything, AoO's speed up that goal. If you want to speed up combat, I would suggest dropping combat maneuvers instead of AoO's. That's where the real slowdowns happen.


If I give full attacks to the other classes after moving would that help negate the effect of losing AoO as Pupsocket suggested? At the very least I think I am going to have to go through the feats to see about making them viable in some other way.

Liberty's Edge

I have completely removed the entire AoO mechanic from my games and it doesn't have any negative effect at all in the games I run. There are some feats that become useless, such as Mobility, but they can be removed without issue.

The gameplay didn't speed up as much as I thought it would but it certainly freed the players up to start thinking about fights more cinematic and dynamicly instead of figures on a tabletop. I don't use figs so I remove the fig rules. It makes for fun, fast gameplay but it still isn't as streamlined as AD&D.


We like using the miniatures to help visualize the battle, but as far as I know we aren't using any fig rules.


Yeah if your not using a battlemap and minis then its probably not as easy to use AoO rules.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

In the case of not using attacks of oportunity and maybe even not using a battlemap, would the player just say, "I move into flank the orc with the rogue" provided the rogue said on his turn, "I move to melee with the orc"?


Yep, that's pretty much how we do it.


Howie23 wrote:
Without AoOs, it may be a short step to playing without minis at all.

Er, what? When I run games, I don't use a map at all, but I do include AoOs when relevant.

I guess I just object to the tone of your suggestion--it seemed like you are suggesting that playing without AoOs is like a gateway drug to some horrible world without minis...

Sovereign Court

D&D always had aoo's even if they went by another name. Even though it grew from a miniatures game, I don't think I saw anyone use miinis for m first 20 years of playing the game so the free attack you got on spell casters who tried to cast or anyone using a ranged weapon cast while you were in melee range were kinda hand wavey. Heck, AD&D had flank and rear AC's, too. So harkening back to old editions of D&D to naysay aoo's doesn't really work... Unless they've been ignoring them for all those years, too, of course.


Personally, AoOs are one of my favorite mechanics of the game. It makes big monsters with reach more scary, reach weapons relevant (there's no point of using them if you play without AoOs) and protecting your allies more easy (running past the Fighter to attack the Wizard is risky, thanks to AoOs). It makes trip and disarm more useful. AoOs also give an edge to characters in light armor with a high acrobatics score (Rogues, Monks) when it comes to moving around the battlefield without getting hit. In my experience, AoOs only slow down battles when one or more of the players suffer from analysis paralysis.

If you or your pals don't like playing with AoOs then just don't. Just ban the feats that are related to AoOs and remove them as prerequisite for any other feats.

Liberty's Edge

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mplindustries wrote:
Howie23 wrote:
Without AoOs, it may be a short step to playing without minis at all.

Er, what? When I run games, I don't use a map at all, but I do include AoOs when relevant.

I guess I just object to the tone of your suggestion--it seemed like you are suggesting that playing without AoOs is like a gateway drug to some horrible world without minis...

I didn't say a short step down, I said a short step. I have my personal preferences, but I fully recognize that others have theirs. Play what you like and like what you play.

For what it's worth, my intent was to suggest playing without minis, both because I've found that folks who have a long history with older editions may not place value in the tactical miniatures aspect of the game, and because without AoOs, the tactical aspects of the game don't have nearly as much to offer in the way of a gaming experience. Just my two coppers.

Scarab Sages

My 1st post here and I'm late to the party on this thread, but I also GM/play with other RPG systems other than PF that have no, or limited, AoO's. IME you can effectively run combat without most of the AoO's in PF or D&D 3.x, but at a minimum you need an AoO for when a character moves from being adjacent to a foe. Omitting that leads to a number of problems, some of which have already been mentioned. The biggest problem being that faster PCs/NPCs/Monsters just simply run/maneuver away from combat/conflict whenever it suits them.

I recently started up a campaign in a 3.x SRD-based system that doesn't have AoO's in the core rules, but within 1 session had the adjacent AoO rule in place. Something else to consider is that many other systems that don't have AoO's for caster actions, usually require casters to always roll for attacks and often subject them to a backlash when rollng badly. A number also potentially subject Casters to detrimental side effect even when succeeding; i..e. fatigue. IMO if you remove the AoO for Casters, you possibly need to house rule something equivalent to ensure combat remains balanced.


One option I'm thinking about trying is removing AOOs in general but allowing those who take Combat Reflexes to still make them. For monsters I would probably replace improved initiative with combat reflexes.

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