Meta-gaming, AoO, and Combat Reflexes


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Grand Lodge 4/5

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I wanted to get a feel for other GMs and how they deal with the meta-gaming that often revolves around the AoO, combat reflexes, and provoking.

How I deal with the issue:

Real combat isn't static. The combatants don't just stand there and take their one (or more) swipes per turn (as I've seen discussed in numerous threads). So your attack is your "good oppotunity" to land a solid blow (one that isn't parried, or dodged, or glances of his shield as would happen in actual combat).

I read the same thing for combat reflexes. All it represents is their "good opportunity" to stike a creature, not that they won't "try" and hit you going past, even if they've used up their "good opportunity".

So, the first combatant, A1, somehow provokes from B1. Attack gets rolled as normal, but unlike normal attack rolls, I roll my AoOs behind the screen, to begin minimizing meta-gaming. The next player, A2, will often think to themself, and sometimes even verbalize "they've taken their AoO, i'll just walk past them"

This is where, behind the screen, I'll roll again. Of course, if they don't have Combat Reflexes, the roll is moot, but the dice and my verbalization, "He swings as you walk by, slamming into your armour, which absorbs the entirety of his blow", or a "glancing blow, successfully parried" I find can break the meta involved, or at least try to minimize it. I like the surprised look I get when a player thinks the coast is clear but maybe, just maybe, it really isn't.

How do you try to negate this type of meta?

5/5 5/55/55/5

I don't think its meta. Since combat is all occurring more or less at the same time (there's a LOT going on in six seconds) "that polearm is in my friends kidney i should be able to sneak by now..." is a reasonable conclusion to both the player and the character

Grand Lodge 4/5

I don't bother trying to negate things like this. I don't think it's really meta to go "Hey, my friend's currently in the face of the guy with the giant sword, I can probably go around without attracting attention now" or for someone to purposefully keep someone occupied so their allies can slip past (eating an AoO they wouldn't normally have to take, for instance).

Sovereign Court 5/5 5/5 Venture-Captain, West Virginia—Charleston aka Netopalis

I think that, at a certain level, we must accept that a minimal amount of metagaming will occur as a result of the rigid combat system that is in place. Pathfinder is essentially two games - a social game and a board game. Metagaming as it pertains to the social game is avoidable, but metagaming as it pertains to the board game is much less so.

That being said, if you want to really shock your players, roll a fake roll behind a screen for the first time they provoke an AOO, then roll a real attack when they provoke a second one during the round.

Sovereign Court

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The only thing that irks me in regards to meta-gaming Combat Reflexes is when the players will contemplate moving past after an AoO has been taken, and ask me, point blank, if they have Combat Reflexes. My answer is always the same, whether they do or not. "You don't know. But try and you'll find out one way or the other." Of course, even if they do have it, I don't always use it right away. I let them feel safe. Then once they expect it's not to happen, BAM! It happens!

Personally, racial abilities and the like, if you want to know that then give me a knowledge roll. If you want to know what an individual is capable of, you're only going to learn by experience.


I like your idea Ricgeon. I'm going to start rolling for attacks of opportunity whenever they can possibly be taken. Just to keep the players guessing.

In the end it's going to appear that every opponent has good combat reflexes and an amazing dexterity. Maybe I'll just use this tactic with opponents for which these qualities could reasonably be expected.

Dark Archive

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Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Maps Subscriber

BigNorseWolf is right, your characterization of this as meta-gaming seems quite off. I recommend against this entirely.

Two aspects: First, the tactical combat subsystem is an abstraction for semi-simultaneous events. Knowing whether or not your buddy has drawn an enemy's attention enough for him to actually take an opportunity swing is not metagaming. It's how the game reduces a BUNCH of interactions, lunges, ducks, movement about that fills a 25 square foot area, and all the other things that would be in meatspace, into a tactical combat abstraction. Expecting the tactical combat abstraction to be run honestly is part of the RAW expectation of PFS.

Second, this is just as close a brush against don't-be-a-jerk as forcing rolled saves for non-effects "to keep players nervous". This is also part of the expectation of run honestly that is part of the RAW expectation of PFS.

You are proposing to slow the game down to add fakery to deal with a non-problem.

Sior's position is fine... and about the expectation I have as a player or organizer.

Grand Lodge 5/5

TetsujinOni wrote:

BigNorseWolf is right, your characterization of this as meta-gaming seems quite off. I recommend against this entirely.

Two aspects: First, the tactical combat subsystem is an abstraction for semi-simultaneous events. Knowing whether or not your buddy has drawn an enemy's attention enough for him to actually take an opportunity swing is not metagaming. It's how the game reduces a BUNCH of interactions, lunges, ducks, movement about that fills a 25 square foot area, and all the other things that would be in meatspace, into a tactical combat abstraction. Expecting the tactical combat abstraction to be run honestly is part of the RAW expectation of PFS.

Second, this is just as close a brush against don't-be-a-jerk as forcing rolled saves for non-effects "to keep players nervous". This is also part of the expectation of run honestly that is part of the RAW expectation of PFS.

You are proposing to slow the game down to add fakery to deal with a non-problem.

Sior's position is fine... and about the expectation I have as a player or organizer.

Agreed. Sior's approach is what I use when I run. Keeps everyone honest.

The Exchange RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16

There's an in-game analogue to asking a player to make a ghost saving throw when her character handles an object she thinks might be poisonous, or a ghost Perception check when she walks down a corridor she thinks might include a hidden door. In those cases, the rolls help reinforce something that's already in the character's mind.

But attacks in combat aren't a question of perception. They either happen or they don't. (My panther style monk deliberately provokes attacks of opportunity. If he moves past the NPC, and you roll the dice and announce "he takes a glancing blow against you, which you easily parry," then I'm going to assume my monk can make his counter-attack. What are you going to say, then?)

The GM is the party's eyes and ears on the game world. They need to know when attacks happen, unless an NPC has some sort of power that messes with the PCs' minds.

RPG Superstar 2013 Top 16

Yeah, rolling fake attacks is essentially lying to the players about what's happening on the battlefield. I would be seriously ticked off if a GM told me I was being attacked when I'm really not.

5/5 5/55/55/5

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There's also this problem...

"I roll a fake attack, it misses"

"Sweet! Sake style kicks in, Fang to the face! "

Dark Archive

There's some fun to be had in that part of AoOs, isn't there? They clearly see the guy take a chunk out of their buddy as he tries to force by. Then their character is thinking, "Can he do that again, or is he off balance?" as the player is thinking, "Does that guy seem like he'd have combat reflexes? I don't think so, I'm going to risk it." A few second later, "Yeah, yeah he completely has combat reflexes. Could I get a heal?" It creates an enjoyable table banter to accompany all of the die rolling.

Sovereign Court 5/5 5/5 Venture-Captain, West Virginia—Charleston aka Netopalis

Oh, to be clear, I wouldn't announce it as an attack. I'd just roll the d20 and if they ask what I was rolling for, say, "Oh, nothing. Nothing happened." Let them come to their own conclusions.


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BigNorseWolf wrote:
"Sweet! Sake style kicks in, Fang to the face! "

Man, a drunken brute or drunken master TOTALLY need some sake style...

Liberty's Edge

Netopalis wrote:
if you want to really shock your players, roll a fake roll behind a screen for the first time they provoke an AOO, then roll a real attack when they provoke a second one during the round.

I think you might have a hard time getting players to trust that you fairly made a "fake roll" that was planned and not a roll that you ignored because you didn't like its result.


If you don't think PCs should be aware of how AoOs work, should PCs be aware of how flanking works?

Not all metagaming is bad, and player knowledge of the rules shouldn't necessarily be separate from character knowledge of the way the world works.

If you want tactical play beyond "Hulk Smash!" you're going to have to assume that characters know how combat works: They've got a better chance to hit enemies when an ally is on the opposite side; they can only move a certain distance and still be able to attack; they can charge (if the path to the enemy is clear) and have a better chance of hitting but also suffer a higher chance that the enemy will hit them; if they move around the enemy he might have a chance to take a potshot at them, but if they move acrobatically or just move a little bit they'll be safe.

We translate these things into game terms and rules, but that doesn't mean that the characters don't understand them in their own way. I don't think that there's anything in the Combat chapter of the rulebook that PCs shouldn't understand. They don't know that normally you get 1 AoO per round but Combat Reflexes gives you AoOs = Dex+1. But they do know that most people and monsters can't react quickly enough to exploit openings from multiple enemies almost simultaneously, but with training and talent some can.

I do the same as Sior, though generally it's a new player asking. In which case I explain the 1 AoO per round rule except for Combat Reflexes, and "I don't know, why don't you try and see?" if this particular enemy has Combat Reflexes.

Sovereign Court 5/5 5/5 Venture-Captain, West Virginia—Charleston aka Netopalis

jcederberg wrote:
Netopalis wrote:
if you want to really shock your players, roll a fake roll behind a screen for the first time they provoke an AOO, then roll a real attack when they provoke a second one during the round.
I think you might have a hard time getting players to trust that you fairly made a "fake roll" that was planned and not a roll that you ignored because you didn't like its result.

Psh. Players know that it'd be just as easy for me to call a fake number than to do what you suggest. Plus, it could be for any number of things - traps, invisible creatures, etc.


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Also, some of us enjoy the tactical aspect of Pathfinder combat when we play. I don't want to give that up.


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Sior wrote:
The only thing that irks me in regards to meta-gaming Combat Reflexes is when the players will contemplate moving past after an AoO has been taken, and ask me, point blank, if they have Combat Reflexes.

I agree that the a player asking if a creature has a feat/ability/spell when the character has no ability to determine the existence of said feat, is contrary to the intent of the game.

However,

Quote:
Of course, even if they do have it, I don't always use it right away. I let them feel safe. Then once they expect it's not to happen, BAM! It happens!

You are still required to play the NPC's properly. Having a creature refuse to take an AoO so you can get the third player, when the NPC has no way of knowing if they will get another opportunity is..in fact...meta-gaming.

What irks me far more than players meta-gaming, is GMs's metagaming. Do you specifically avoid running past players who have Combat Reflexes or targeting playings who are immune to spells when the NPC would have no way of knowing said thing? Do you make knowledge rolls for the NPCs?

IME, GMs meta-game far more than the players. Grant it, usually it's to soft-ball the encounter. :)

Quote:
Personally, racial abilities and the like, if you want to know that then give me a knowledge roll.

I do like that you'll give players a chance to use K skills.

Sovereign Court

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N N 959 wrote:
Sior wrote:
Of course, even if they do have it, I don't always use it right away. I let them feel safe. Then once they expect it's not to happen, BAM! It happens!
You are still required to play the NPC's properly. Having a creature refuse to take an AoO so you can get the third player, when the NPC has no way of knowing if they will get another opportunity is..in fact...meta-gaming.

Actually, the cases in which I withhold AoO's is when one character has already shown to be extremely hard to hit. I'm not going to have baddies beating on a guy they have to roll a Nat 20 to even scratch when they can easily attack the rogue or, better still, the caster. Now THEM they'll take their AoO's on every time. But I'm not going to waste them on a Panzer when I could be targeting a soft-top Jeep.

5/5 5/55/55/5

Duck duck duck duck GOOSE!


Sior wrote:
Actually, the cases in which I withhold AoO's is when one character has already shown to be extremely hard to hit. I'm not going to have baddies beating on a guy they have to roll a Nat 20 to even scratch when they can easily attack the rogue or, better still, the caster. Now THEM they'll take their AoO's on every time. But I'm not going to waste them on a Panzer when I could be targeting a soft-top Jeep.

Again, there has to be some plausible way for the NPC to make that distinction. And...the written tactics cannot preclude it. IN FS1, Ledford has rules for who he attacks and those rules aren't modified based on what he needs to hit.

And let me add, how would any NPC know what they need to hit? So many GMS won't give out AC for NPCs. Fairness dictates the NPCS should be just as clueless. Unless you miss on a 19, the NPC is not going to know it can only hit on a 20.

As I said, all too often GMs meta-game and they don't even realize they do it.

I'm going to expand on what CRobledo said: It's a game. It's not a real life simulation. Players are allowed to know the rules and all the mechanics that apply based on what their character can perceive. If a player's character is subject to a rule, the player has every right to expect and act on the knowledge that the NPC may be subject to the rule.

Sovereign Court

The way I perceive it, a high roll means a skillful strike. If pretty much the best attack a guy can do fails, he's not going to keep wailing at it. It's not a numbers game but interpreting it as what's happening in game. Rogues are less armoured than fighters usually (gleaned by what they can see in game). Casters, same thing. This of course assumes there are no pre-written tactics about who they target (specifically casters, biggest threat, closest target, etc.). While I may not speak this out in a skillful manner, believe me when I say that meta-gaming is far from my mind as a GM as well as a player. Even if it would make it more challenging for the players or just to make it more interesting. (Though truthfully, players tend to invalidate tactics very quickly, haha.)


N N 959 wrote:


As I said, all too often GMs meta-game and they don't even realize they do it.

5/5 RPG Superstar 2008 Top 16 aka Sir_Wulf

I've always seen someone who used their AoO as distracted or drawn out of position to strike. I don't see it as a metagaming issue at all.

Grand Lodge 4/5

Knowing when to use this is key of course, and is knowing what abilities the PCs at your table use and how much they try to use player knowledge instead of character knowledge.

Your character would never "know" that the BBEG does or doesn't have Combat Reflexes. Best you could guess is that he just took a swing at your buddy and "maybe" you could get by without getting smacked (does not = not getting swung at). There are so many different ways to verbally describe what is happening in combat. I prefer a very descriptive cinematic style, as it helps paint a picture for me and my players.

Refering to other abilities that retaliate, such as a monk, of course, would be my responsibility as a GM to know that you have such an ability. I would necessarily use this GMing for people I don't know, or at least know what their character does.

For me, I don't see combat as a buch of static things that happen, but a whirling cloud of chaos in which actions happen with in the rule set provided. Doesn't say anything about elaborating on the fluff that goes on between rolls.

This isn't about knowing what an AoO is or isnt from a rules perspective, or preventing a player from applying rules knowledge about AoOs. It's about preventing players from implying player knowledge onto their characters. No different than a character not making a knowledge check to identify a monster, then pulling out their cold-iron weapon, just cause they feel its the right thing to do.

Dark Archive

You really can't overthink things like this. It's a perfectly viable combat tactic to pull an attack so your friend doesn't get attacked (take the focus); why wouldn't it be perfectly advisable in the game? Then if the creature has "faster than average" reflexes, announce that the monster swings back around; otherwise as a GM you're not painting the picture right (the monster effectively didn't swing if it doesn't have combat reflexes, it was distracted).

Different GMs have different worries on metagaming; some GMs are worried about players talking, my theory is if monsters are all perfectly "in sync" (as they are, one player is running all of them), why can't the players be? Again, overthinking all of these things will just burden your game.

Grand Lodge 4/5 Venture-Lieutenant, Arizona—Phoenix aka TriOmegaZero

Players don't get to know when a foe does or does not have Combat Reflexes until they observe the foe making two AoOs in a round. Foes also are not required to take every AoO offered to them. No shenanigans are needed to enforce these facts.

The Exchange 5/5

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Ok. Let's reverse this.

Judge moves Mook #1 past the PC. The player rolls a AOO and carves a chunk of the Mook. Judge moves Mook #2 past the same PC and the player rolls another AOO and says... "I swing as the mook walks by, slamming into his armour and cursing as it absorbs the entirety of my blow...".

Judge: "Do you have Combat Reflexes?"

Player: "Guess you'll have to wonder about that... want to move another Mook by me?"

Yeah - that's going to work...

(Sarcasm mode off now...)

This game is not ment to be Judge vs. Players... and this tactic will feel that way to a bunch of players.

While I might try it in a home game with my regular friends... but with a bunch of PFS guys at a game night? I don't think so. I'm playing WITH the players, not AGAINST them.

The Exchange 5/5

I've had one of my Combat PCs move past a bad guy to draw off an AOO, then cast a ranged attack spell without casting defensively (to draw two more AOOs) to see about soaking off all the AOOs from the combat reflexes... The second time I tried that the Mook didn't take the second (or third) AOO.

;)

but heck - it worked the first time!

Grand Lodge 4/5

A GM should know what abilities the players at his table have (as is expected to at least take a look at and familiarize himself with those abilites.

They of course, not expected to Meta that as well and move by if required by tactics, or try and acrobatics, etc, etc.

I am always perplexed by the stories of mistrust that players have in GMs in general.

I guess I'm just really lucky to be playing PFS in my area with great GMs.

Shadow Lodge 5/5 5/5 Regional Venture-Coordinator, Northwest aka WalterGM

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Having knowledge about the mechanics of things like: initiative order, flanking, attacks of opportunity, disrupting spellcasting, combat maneuvers, fighting defensively, high ground, 5 ft. stepping, etc is not metagaming.

These actions form the basics of tactical combat.

These are things that are taught to green Pathfinders during their first week at the Lodge. Knowing about them, and knowing how best to use them is not metagaming. It is playing smart. I am more than happy to allow a PC to provoke an AOO to allow their friend to move past un-hindered. I will not punish players for working together, or employing wise tactics to survive deadly encounters.

Intelligent opponents will use the same tactics against them. At my table, those opponents will flank, ready, disarm, interrupt spells, get high ground, and fight defensively if the tactics allow for it. They are fighting to survive, after all.

There does need to be a disconnect of between everything in the Core and what your character knows. Things like spells, items, certain class features -- using knowledge of things like that to your advantage would be metagaming. But basic combat tactics shouldn't be left out. Knowing that when you flank someone you hit more reliably? Or knowing that when a spellcaster is moving their arms around they are vulnerable to loosing their spell if disrupted? That stuff should be known and implemented by seasoned adventurers -- like members of the Pathfinder Society.

Otherwise, combat is pretty boring.

The Exchange 5/5

Ricgeon wrote:

A GM should know what abilities the players at his table have (as is expected to at least take a look at and familiarize himself with those abilites.

They of course, not expected to Meta that as well and move by if required by tactics, or try and acrobatics, etc, etc.

I am always perplexed by the stories of mistrust that players have in GMs in general.

I guess I'm just really lucky to be playing PFS in my area with great GMs.

Agreed.

And I trust my Judge to not meta-game against me too. But I have encountered it, and this is the way it would feel if to me if my judge in a PFS game did what the OP is suggesting.

(IMHO - and this is just opinion) In it's simplest form, the judge would be burning game seconds (rolling dice, etc.) that would be better spent in RP after the combat. Heck, it would be better spent in filling out the back-story if the scenario. Doing this just "padds up" the game time spent in combat mechanics... I'd rather spend that time in listening to the Judge spin the story, or add flowery language to the VCs speach ...)

4/5

I wouldn't roll a die to attack, but if someone is looking to provoke again from a target again I would pick up my die and get ready to cast it. This is just asking the player if they're going to chance it.

+1 to Walter's post.


nosig wrote:
I've had one of my Combat PCs move past a bad guy to draw off an AOO, then cast a ranged attack spell without casting defensively (to draw two more AOOs) to see about soaking off all the AOOs from the combat reflexes...

Now that's the kind of gameplay I don't like to see at the table, either as a player or as a GM.

Sorry, that's just the way I feel.


Been said, but worth repeating:

Mechanical version- Character A provokes AOO, Character B moves past unharmed sneaks by without an AOO.

In-world version- Character A attracts the monster's attention, allowing Character B to sneak past.

If it turns out the monster has combat reflexes, this becomes immediately apparent either way you're looking at it.

The Exchange 5/5

Lakesidefantasy wrote:
nosig wrote:
I've had one of my Combat PCs move past a bad guy to draw off an AOO, then cast a ranged attack spell without casting defensively (to draw two more AOOs) to see about soaking off all the AOOs from the combat reflexes...

Now that's the kind of gameplay I don't like to see at the table, either as a player or as a GM.

Sorry, that's just the way I feel.

really? why?

My cleric will often "draw fire" - he relies on his armor (high AC) to keep the bad guys distracted and not hitting his friends. He'll move thru groups of enemy mooks (heck! sometimes they hit him!), cast spells, pull out items, take ranged attacks... all that to draw the enemys attention and reduce the attacks on his friends. ("Swings at me are less damage I need to heal on you guys - and if I'm healing us with Channel Energy, it's basicly free!").

More than once he has moved thru enemy mooks to end his move beside the BBE and offer him a beer. (Holy symbol for Cayden is a foaming mug of beer after all...). "So, have a beer while we watch the fight. Tell me, are you currently involved in a long term relationship? I'm a Matchmaker by profession you see, and..." It can be very distracting.

Grand Lodge 4/5 Venture-Lieutenant, Arizona—Phoenix aka TriOmegaZero

Lakesidefantasy wrote:

Now that's the kind of gameplay I don't like to see at the table, either as a player or as a GM.

Sorry, that's just the way I feel.

How else do you expect a PC to keep an enemy distracted?


TriOmegaZero wrote:
Lakesidefantasy wrote:

Now that's the kind of gameplay I don't like to see at the table, either as a player or as a GM.

Sorry, that's just the way I feel.

How else do you expect a PC to keep an enemy distracted?

I don't know, but watching players approach encounters as problems to be solved using the rules of the game just sucks the life out of the game for me and makes me not want to try so hard to bring the encounters to life.

Maybe I play wrong, and perhaps I've been trying to play the wrong game for all these years.


Lakesidefantasy wrote:
nosig wrote:
I've had one of my Combat PCs move past a bad guy to draw off an AOO, then cast a ranged attack spell without casting defensively (to draw two more AOOs) to see about soaking off all the AOOs from the combat reflexes...

Now that's the kind of gameplay I don't like to see at the table, either as a player or as a GM.

Sorry, that's just the way I feel.

I run across GMs and players like this. In those cases, it was people who didn't like others trying to outsmart the game. One PFS GM in particular, I'll call Fred, had some arbitrary sense of what the players should have to endure and would try to impose a house rule that you can only use T20 once per scenario. His goal was to keep players from finding traps.

I remember specifically when Fred was a player, his speaking out against my plan to work with two other PCs to persuade an NPC to do something the NPC seemed against. So I told the GM that myself and two other PCs move out of earshot and have a talk. I told the most charismatic PC to try and make the NPC friend and myself and the other NPC would aid. We all agreed. Fred launched off on me about my how I was ruining the game. He said his "character" didn't like my "character" because I was being a rules lawyer or something and forcing people to do things. Nevermind this guy was constantly playing min/maxed builds.

Essentially it boiled down a textbook badwrongfun attitude. If you don't play the game the way I want it to be played, you're a bad person.


Lakesidefantasy wrote:


I don't know, but watching players approach encounters as problems to be solved using the rules of the game just sucks the life out of the game for me....

Yup, same attitude Fred had. Except he had no concept that his Invulnerable Rager who he hard worked every character build rule in the book to get double digit bonuses on all his saves by level 3...meant he was was fundamentally doing the same thing he was criticizing in others.

Now, I imagine you aren't a closet min/maxer, so this isn't an accusation against you, just my noting that you're not the only one with such a perspective.


Lakeside, would I be correct in assuming you're not a fan of players looking up the DC they think they need from the Skill Descriptions and/or then Taking 10 or asking for Aid Anothers to hit their target DC?

Shadow Lodge 4/5

Lakesidefantasy wrote:
Maybe I play wrong, and perhaps I've been trying to play the wrong game for all these years.

I think you're just playing differently than other players do.

The Exchange 5/5

nosig wrote:
Lakesidefantasy wrote:
nosig wrote:
I've had one of my Combat PCs move past a bad guy to draw off an AOO, then cast a ranged attack spell without casting defensively (to draw two more AOOs) to see about soaking off all the AOOs from the combat reflexes...

Now that's the kind of gameplay I don't like to see at the table, either as a player or as a GM.

Sorry, that's just the way I feel.

really? why?

My cleric will often "draw fire" - he relies on his armor (high AC) to keep the bad guys distracted and not hitting his friends. He'll move thru groups of enemy mooks (heck! sometimes they hit him!), cast spells, pull out items, take ranged attacks... all that to draw the enemys attention and reduce the attacks on his friends. ("Swings at me are less damage I need to heal on you guys - and if I'm healing us with Channel Energy, it's basicly free!").

More than once he has moved thru enemy mooks to end his move beside the BBE and offer him a beer. (Holy symbol for Cayden is a foaming mug of beer after all...). "So, have a beer while we watch the fight. Tell me, are you currently involved in a long term relationship? I'm a Matchmaker by profession you see, and..." It can be very distracting.

story about drawing fire

story:
I can recall reading a book about the Devil's Brigade in WWII. While in Italy, there was a story of one sargent (nick-named the Crazy Russian I think) who would ride a bike up and down the street to draw sniper fire. He'd do this in his shorts, with an unbrella, riding back and forth "drawing fire" while his friends hunted the sniper shooting at him.

Scarab Sages

Ricgeon wrote:

I wanted to get a feel for other GMs and how they deal with the meta-gaming that often revolves around the AoO, combat reflexes, and provoking.

How I deal with the issue:

Real combat isn't static. The combatants don't just stand there and take their one (or more) swipes per turn (as I've seen discussed in numerous threads). So your attack is your "good oppotunity" to land a solid blow (one that isn't parried, or dodged, or glances of his shield as would happen in actual combat).

I read the same thing for combat reflexes. All it represents is their "good opportunity" to stike a creature, not that they won't "try" and hit you going past, even if they've used up their "good opportunity".

So, the first combatant, A1, somehow provokes from B1. Attack gets rolled as normal, but unlike normal attack rolls, I roll my AoOs behind the screen, to begin minimizing meta-gaming. The next player, A2, will often think to themself, and sometimes even verbalize "they've taken their AoO, i'll just walk past them"

This is where, behind the screen, I'll roll again. Of course, if they don't have Combat Reflexes, the roll is moot, but the dice and my verbalization, "He swings as you walk by, slamming into your armour, which absorbs the entirety of his blow", or a "glancing blow, successfully parried" I find can break the meta involved, or at least try to minimize it. I like the surprised look I get when a player thinks the coast is clear but maybe, just maybe, it really isn't.

How do you try to negate this type of meta?

I don't think its meta-gaming. Even the most socially oriented adventurer would have knowledge of minimal combat tactics. Knowing when there is a good opportunity to pass through an area unmolested is a minimal combat tactic (some might even say innate), so its not meta gaming. Its also not a difficult thing to realize that an enemy is quicker than most (combat reflexes) once that enemy has taken more than one AoO. Sometimes characters could even make assumptions based the actions of the enemy, that it might be quicker than normal (combat reflexes) and choose not to take actions to find out.

Sometimes its better to think about all the actions in a round occurring simultaneously, instead of in actual turn order, that can lend some insight occasionally. As the enemy tales a swing at the fighter drawing a potion(aoo) the wizard slips by knowing its unlikely the enemy can react (get another aoo).


Ricgeon wrote:

I wanted to get a feel for other GMs and how they deal with the meta-gaming that often revolves around the AoO, combat reflexes, and provoking.

How I deal with the issue:

Real combat isn't static. The combatants don't just stand there and take their one (or more) swipes per turn (as I've seen discussed in numerous threads). So your attack is your "good oppotunity" to land a solid blow (one that isn't parried, or dodged, or glances of his shield as would happen in actual combat).

I read the same thing for combat reflexes. All it represents is their "good opportunity" to stike a creature, not that they won't "try" and hit you going past, even if they've used up their "good opportunity".

So, the first combatant, A1, somehow provokes from B1. Attack gets rolled as normal, but unlike normal attack rolls, I roll my AoOs behind the screen, to begin minimizing meta-gaming. The next player, A2, will often think to themself, and sometimes even verbalize "they've taken their AoO, i'll just walk past them"

This is where, behind the screen, I'll roll again. Of course, if they don't have Combat Reflexes, the roll is moot, but the dice and my verbalization, "He swings as you walk by, slamming into your armour, which absorbs the entirety of his blow", or a "glancing blow, successfully parried" I find can break the meta involved, or at least try to minimize it. I like the surprised look I get when a player thinks the coast is clear but maybe, just maybe, it really isn't.

How do you try to negate this type of meta?

Your very first argument kills your entire argument.

You are assuming that the guys are waiting their turn to move.

Who is to say that guy B isn't moving at the same time guy A is and that's why he doesn't provoke?

There is only 6 seconds in any round in which every action both sides take is happening at the time.

It's not like the AoO isn't happening at the same time the guy is taking his other swings while other people are moving around.

Shadow Lodge 4/5 Venture-Captain, California—San Francisco Bay Area South & West aka JohnF

I don't mind players planning tactics, etc.
But equally I don't like it when it interferes with the game play;
"Oh, don't move there - if you move here instead, I'll be able to charge (or Joe will be able to set up a flank, or ...)" every time somebody repositions their character on the battle grid.

I've adopted a technique from one of our local GMs; if combat is beginning to bog down then I still allow this sort of tactical discussion, etc., but only between rounds.

Shadow Lodge 5/5 5/5 Regional Venture-Coordinator, Northwest aka WalterGM

Whenever players have discussions about tactics mid-fight, I always assume that they are just shouting battlefield orders.

"Hey Bob go over there, let's try to flank this guy!!"

That way, all of my intelligent NPCs can react accordingly. Of course, whenever a player has the clairvoyance to communicate via message, another language, telepathically, or what have you, they are rewarded for their prudence.

Silver Crusade 5/5 5/5

There is also the issue of one player dominating the table, often basically telling another player how to run their character. There is a fine line between giving helpful advice (at player or character level) and being a jerk.

Its when I feel that this line is being crossed that I step in, usually by just asking one player to back off a little.

In response to the OP, I'd like to add that one huge benefit to doing everything transparently is to reduce the chance of error. It is extremely easy to accidentally take 2 OAs in a round, or to miss taking even one. It is best to do everything openly, especially if the players correct mistakes in their favour as well as mistakes hurting them (which they absolutely should do)


As a DM I have said this "this guy seems ballsy and doubts you have combat reflexes for a secons AoO." To a player that I know has combat relfexes.

As a player I am very quick to point out that "the monsters would not know that". If the DM disagrees and has mindless creatures ready actions and use flanking then I just shut up and take it.

As a DM I make a serious effort to try to not metagame. I make a point of the monsters not knowing and doing stupid tactical errors off of often correct assumptions.

I have many ways I ask questions. For example if I need line of slight for a spell I do not ask if I have line of sight. I ask can I see through the cracks in the door or under it? In PFS I have seen poor DMs change rulings becuase they realize you have a creative idea and try to squash it so they can hit you with whatever is coming next.

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