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Archive-name: games/dnd/part8
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                            REC.GAMES.FRP.DND FAQ
                                   Part 8

                        Gamespeak 1: For Player's Eyes
* designates topics which have been updated.
+ designated topics which have been added.

For Player's Eyes
  J1: What books do I need in order to play?
  J2: 2ND: Does the weapon proficiency "Ambidexterity" give me extra
  J3: Is the use of poison automatically an evil act?
  J4: What about slitting throats?  Anything else?
  J5: Are all orcs inherently evil?  What about orc babies?
  J6: 2ND: Can mages wear armor?
  J7: I don't like the spell memorization system for clerics & wizards...
  J8: What does "Lawful/Neutral/Chaotic Good/Neutral/Evil" really 
  J9: Is alignment really necessary?
  J10: Can paladins have an alignment other than Lawful Good?
  J11: What is a morning star?
  J12: 3RD: How do Attacks of Opportunity work?
  J13: 3RD: Ouch!  How can I avoid attacks of opportunity?
  J14: 3RD: When can I take a five-foot step?
  J15: 3RD: What is "stacking"?
  J16: But medieval combat wasn't anything like the way it is in *D&D!

For Player's Eyes
J1:  What books do I need in order to play?

A:  Technically, as a player, you need absolutely nothing.  Nada.  Zilch.
    A pencil, paper, and dice certainly are useful, but can easily be 
    borrowed; rules can be explained by the DM or more experienced 
      However, it is usually move convenient to have a personal copy of 
    the rules for easy perusal in and outside of the gaming sessions.  To 
    this end, it is advisable to get the Players Handbook (preferably the 
    same edition which the group is playing).  There are many other books
    that might also be helpful; your DM can tell you which, if any, would
    be good for you to acquire.  Beyond that, it is just personal
    preferences.  Nothing else is truly needed, despite what TSR's
    promotional material may say; however, many people like having a
    little more than just the PH by their side when they play.

J2:  Does the weapon proficiency "Ambidexterity" give me extra attacks?

A:  No, it certainly does not.  By itself, Ambidexterity merely eliminates 
    the "off-hand" penalty for using a weapon in your left hand if you are 
    right-handed or vice-versa.  By the same token, it allows characters 
    to do tasks equally well with either hand, so that if one hand is 
    lost, the other can easily take up the slack.
      It is when this is combined with other abilities that things get
    confusing.  Here is a handy-dandy little chart to aid in fathoming the
    mysteries of the interaction of ambidexterity with other abilities:

                                               to-hit penalty
                                           normal       ambidextrous
                                        main/off-hand   main/off-hand
    Fighting w/ one weapon                 0    -2         0    0
    Fighting w/ two weapons*              -2    -4        -2   -2
    Fighting w/ Two-weapon Style spec.     0    -2         0    0

    * The penalty for using two weapons is modified by the character's 
    Reaction Adjustment, based on DEX; however, the penalty can never be 
    lowered beyond 0 by either this modifier or ambidexterity (i.e., the
    DEX Reaction Adjustment may only lessen the effects of the penalty,
    not grant any plusses to hit).  Any other modifiers work as usual.

      Ambidexterity does not grant extra attacks per round, but fighting
    with one weapon in each hand, whether or not a character is 
    specialized in that style, does.  The limit is that the one wielded in 
    the off-hand (if a character is ambidextrous, he chooses an "off" 
    hand, but has no penalties for using that hand, and can switch in 
    which hand he uses which weapon) must be smaller in size/weight than 
    the one wielded in the main hand, except when both hands wield 
    daggers.  This does not necessarily mean it must be in a smaller size 
    class, but that it must be smaller in length and/or weight, which 
    makes for good use of the length/weight charts in the Equipment 
    section of the Players Handbook.
      The length requirement is eliminated when a fighter specializes in
    the Two-Weapon Style, thus allowing the fighter to wield a long sword
    in each hand.  In the Complete Fighters Handbook, one weapon
    proficiency nets the character Two-Weapon Style, which removes the
    negative modifiers for using two weapons and also removes the length
    requirement.  In Skills & Powers and Combat & Tactics, one character
    point nets the character Two-Weapon Style, but only gives the ability
    to fight well with two weapons; it does not remove the length
    difference requirement.  A second character point must be spent in
    order to weild two weapons longer than a dagger and of equal length.
      Here's a chart to explain the attacks per round of someone fighting 
    with two weapons: 
                                  1 weapon   2 weapons | 2 weapons Att/rnd
    Character level               Att/rnd     Att/rnd  |  main   off-hand
    Fighter 1-6/all other classes   1/1         2/1    |  1/1       1/1
    Fighter 7-12, 1-6 specialized*  3/2         5/2    |  3/2       1/1
    Fighter 13+, 7-12 specialized   2/1         3/1    |  2/1       1/1
    Fighter 13+ specialized         5/2         7/2    |  5/2       1/1

    * "Specialized" refers to whether or not a fighter has specialized in 
    the weapon being used in his main hand, not to "Two-Weapon Style 

      Neither the Ambidexterity proficiency nor Two Weapon Style 
    specialization have any effect on the number of attacks per round.
    As the table shows, the number of attacks per round for the main
    weapon does not change when a second weapon is picked up; the second 
    weapon only gets one attack per round, regardless of character level.  
    For example, a character who normally has 3/2 att/rnd gets one attack 
    during the first round and two attacks during the second round, 
    alternating each round (the lower number of attacks always occurs  
    during odd-numbered rounds).  This character then picks up a second 
    weapon.  Technically, the character now gets 5/2 att/rnd, but it 
    breaks down to one attack with the main weapon and one with the 
    off-hand weapon in the first round, and two attacks with the main 
    weapon and one with the off-hand weapon in the second round, 
    alternating each round.  A DM may allow ambidextrous characters to
    switch which hand is the "main" hand and which is the "off" hand
    during combat so that it is possible to change which weapon gets
    more attacks in a sequence, but it is likely this will be allowed
    only when an attack sequence has ended--at the end of any round for
    2/1 or 3/1 attacks per round; at the end of any even-numbered rounds
    for 3/2 or 5/2 attacks per round.
      For those of you crying "munchkin!" to all of this, there is a 
    simple limiting factor: a fighter, for example, only has four starting 
    weapon proficiencies (modified by intelligence via number of languages).
    The weapon of choice is one, specialization in that weapon is one, 
    ambidexterity is one, and two-weapon style is one, taking up all four 
    of the initial slots; if one is using the expanded weapon proficiency
    rules in Combat & Tactics, this combination requires five
    proficiencies (two-weapon style is split so that it takes an extra
    proficiency to use weapons of equal size).  In Skills & Powers,
    this combination requires all eight of a fighter's initial weapon
    proficiency character points (two each for weapon proficiency, weapon
    specialization, two-weapon style specialization, and use of weapons of
    equal size) and four of the average fighter's eight initial nonweapon
    character points (for ambidexterity).  This quickly turns the character
    into a Johnny One-Note.  If there are any other weapons he wishes to
    use without penalties, he'll have to use any extra language slots from
    intelligence or left over racial or class character points, which
    takes away slots from potential non-weapon proficiencies.  Without
    those extra NWP's, the character will be extremely limited in what he
    can do besides just fight.  Alternatively, the character can go with
    only the single weapon proficiency and gain those extra NWP's; if he
    then finds himself in a situation where he cannot use his weapon of
    choice, he will not be very helpful to a group unless the player does
    some good roleplaying.  Skills & Powers also introduces some
    DM-enforceable drawbacks which may be used to gain more character
    points and round out the character; these drawbacks then serve to
    counteract the power this combination can grant and tone down the
    character to average levels overall.

J3:  Is the use of poison automatically an evil act?

A:  If depends on how the DM rules.  Some DM's feel that use of poison is
    an inherently evil act, and its use by a character causes an alignment
    switch.  Others feel that, while it is not a particularly good act, it
    is not particularly evil, either, and can be used with caution.  Still
    others feel that poison is just a weapon, as is any other, and thus
    may be used by any and all characters with impunity.  There are
    equally persuasive arguments for any of these positions, and it is
    really best left to individual DM's.  Here to help with the decision 
    are three of the various points of view.

    * Poison is a cowardly way out of a situation.  It is best left to 
    those who wish to skulk in the shadows and strike from afar.  It is 
    also good for those people who like to make sure their enemies suffer 
    horrible agonies before dying.  Since poison is essentially a tool for 
    cowardly bullies and torturers, it is a proper tool of those of evil 
    alignment.  Everyone else should stay as far from it as possible.

    * The use of poison is not inherently evil, but, by the same token, is
    not inherently good either.  Thus people who wish to stay pure should
    avoid its use, but any others don't have to worry much about how they
    accomplish an end.

    * Poison is a weapon, just like any other.  Thus it can be used like
    any other weapon, whether to strike down otherwise-unreachable fiends,
    or to put an end to the overwhelming righteousness of a paladin, or to
    have a political superior suddenly leave his position vacant for the
    taking.  Poison may be used in much the same way as a sword, but has 
    less of a chance of maiming and is thus possibly more humane!  In any 
    case, poison is just the tool--it is the heart behind the action which
    determines one's good or evil nature.

J4:  What about slitting throats?  Anything else?

A:  Once again, this is really a decision for individual DM's.  However,
    there are hardly any situations where slitting a throat could be 
    considered a good act.  In most cases, it requires having an otherwise 
    helpless victim, one which good characters should be trying to reform 
    or turn over to the proper authorities for suitable punishment.  
    Killing someone in cold blood, regardless of their past actions, is an 
    action which any character should seriously think twice about.
    Killing in the heat of battle is one thing, but in cold blood (and
    especially if premeditated) is something else altogether.  A character
    who consistently does this sort of thing should do some serious 
    introspection on his outlook on life and consider an alignment change 
    to something more suitable.
      Nevertheless, there are a few situations where slitting a throat
    might be a necessity.  Mercy killing is one, as the onset of death is 
    quick.  Dealing with guards who would otherwise raise an alarm is 
    another, but more questionable one.  In either case, if the action 
    does not haunt the character for a long while, then it is quite 
    possible that the character is a closet sociopath, and therefore is
    not actually of his stated alignment.

J5:  Are all orcs inherently evil?  What about orc babies?

A:  The "inherently evil" question is best left to individual DM's.  Some 
    campaigns work best with definitive divisions between black and white, 
    much like many old westerns.  The good guys are always heroically 
    good, and the bad guys are always detestably and thoroughly evil and 
    corrupt.  In these games, all orcs are evil, regardless of age, period.
    However, some campaigns thrive on shades of grey, where the line between
    good and evil isn't always obvious.  In these games, orcs might be 
    misunderstood, might have some good tribes falsly accused of wrongdoing 
    by nearby townspeople, or might have a wide range of alignments, but
    a higher percentage of evil alignments just as a high percentage of
    are usually seen to be of good alignments but not all elves are good.
      The question of orc babies is a tough ethical question, and is a
    curve which many DM's like to throw at their players.  After a party
    sacks an orcish camp and completely annihilates the entire adult
    male population, they are left with the women and children.  If they
    kill them, they are denying that orcs have any chance at all at
    redemption, regardless of whether or not the orc in question is a
    newborn.  If they do not kill the orcs, then the party is leaving
    behind a future horde of orcs who may want revenge for the slaughter
    of their fathers--and almost definitely will thirst for revenge if the
    DM has ruled that all orcs are naturally and automatically evil beings.
      This is a perennial problem which each character must sort out on 
    their own.  However, it is much easier for evil characters to make a 
    decision than neutral, and somewhat easier for neutral than good; but 
    knowing this does not make the decision simpler.
      One question which good characters should weigh in their minds: Is 
    it better for me to not kill in cold blood, or better that the potential
    for future difficulties be taken care of while the solution is easily 
      In third edition D&D, morality is absolute rather than relative, so
    orcs are almost always evil and their society is geared to raising
    children who grow up to be evil themselves-- though there can be
    individual orcs who are exceptions to that rule.  Also, certain
    creatures (such as demons) are always evil, without exception.

J6:  Can mages wear armor? (2ND)

A:  This question has been endlessly debated.  First of all, if he is not
    casting spells, any mage can wear any armor he wants to, unless the
    armor in question is magic and only wearable by warriors, but that's
    a different story.  Whether or not he gets an AC bonus from that
    armor is also another matter altogether.
      The question arises when a mage attempts to cast spells while
    wearing armor.  For a more in-depth survey of the rules, potential
    reasoning behind the rules, some house rules, and some possible
    ramifications of those house rules, see the Mages and Armor treatise
    at <>.  In brief, while
    the core rulebooks state that wizards may not wear armor while casting
    spells, many players do not like this rule, both because lack of armor
    gets many a mage killed and because they can't think of a logical
    in-game reason behind the no armor while casting rule that doesn't
    also have some major negative or illogical ramifications (e.g. if it
    is because it is too constrictive, so is heavy winter clothing and
    that has no penalties; if metal disrupts the magical energies, then
    wrapping all captured mages with chains becomes standard and mages
    could have problems casting while standing on a metal grate, etc.; if
    it's because wizards aren't trained in wearing armor, then
    fighter/wizards belie the rule, since they have been trained in
    wearing armor).  Here are several possible quick solutions to this

    1) Create an elven fighter/mage who wears elven chainmail, as that is
    a method by which a mage can wear armor and cast spells at the same 
    time under the core rules.
    2) Any and all bulky clothing hinders casting.  A mage wearing 
    anything heavier than what one would wear on an average autumn day 
    cannot cast spells.  Mages who, for some reason, are smothering 
    beneath something along the lines of a large pile of cloth, several 
    bodies, a trapper/lurker, etc. also cannot cast spells.

    3) If non-magical iron or steel encircles a mage and is in very
    close proximity to the mage, the mage is incapable of casting spells. 
    Anything from handcuffs up to full plate armor has this effect, as 
    would a chain wrapped once around the mage.  However, being placed in 
    a metal coffin or standing on/below a one ton block of iron would not
    have any problem casting spells.

    4) All mages may wear any armor, with no penalties, whatsoever.

    5) No mage may wear chain mail or better armor, due to the 
    interference of the metal with magical energies.

    6) All mages may wear any armor, but doing so incurs a possible chance
    of failure.  The wizard must roll percentile dice to see if the spell
    successfully goes off.  The roll must be equal to or under 50% plus 
    twice the armor's armor class.  For example, a mage in chain mail
    must roll (50+(2x5))=60% or lower each time he casts a spell to see
    if the spell was successful.  If the roll is not successful, the
    spell fizzles.  For armors with negative AC, either the AC is doubled 
    and subtracted from 50 to find the target number, or, since anything
    better than 0 is enhanced armor anyway, just use 50% as the target

    7) All mages may wear any armor, but wearing any mass of metal causes
    the mage to check to see if a wild surge occurs every time he casts a
    spell, due to the interference of the metal with the magical energies.
    8) Fighter-mage dual- or multi-classed characters may cast spells in
    armor, as they have learned to move in armor and their training
    has taught them how to make the necessary gestures to cast spells.
    9) Elvish chain can be worn by any wizard without penalizing spell-
    casting at all.  This may be due to either the mail's comfortability
    allowing easy movement or its inherent magical nature not disrupting
    magical energies.

    10) Mages may wear any armor, but certain rules apply.  A mage in armor
    may only defend himself or flee, period.  No spellcasting, no
    attacking, etc.; doing so results in a loss of xp for that playing
    period.  Also, if the armor is magical, the armor's magic does not 
    work if it is specifically intended for some other class.

    11) Create a mage character using the system outlined in the Skills &
    Powers or Spells & Magic books.  The price is to not have access to
    some spell schools, but a mage willing to go through the trouble of
    accustoming himself to regularly wearing armor should be willing to
    put up with the sacrifice.

J7:  I don't like the spell memorization system for clerics & wizards...

A:  Take a number and get in line.  There are a seemingly endless list of 
    solutions to this "problem."  The ideas differ for clerics and 
    wizards, though.
      For priests, the solution is simple.  Have the character pray for
    miracles, and let the DM decide which spells the cleric gets that day.
    Level doesn't matter, and the deity is seen to be more omniscient if 
    he/she/it can provide in advance the spells which are most likely to
    be needed.
      For mages, there have been several good solutions posited.  One is 
    to do away with the memorization time.  Another is to use some sort of 
    mana point system.  A third is to let the mage cast any spell in his 
    grimoire, without memorizing it first, but with a chance of spell 
    failure.  There are an infinite number of variations on these and 
    other themes.
      Rewriting the entire spell system is a task not fit for a FAQ, but 
    it is not too difficult to construct your own based on the rough ideas
    above, or to just take a system from some other game and transplant it
    into your campaign.

J8:  What does "Lawful/Neutral/Chaotic Good/Neutral/Evil" really indicate?

A:  Good/Neutral/Evil should be fairly obvious, but Lawful/Neutral/Chaotic
    is often trickier to pin down.  The easiest way to remember it is that
    Law is more concerned with the letter of the law than with the people.
    Chaos can be anti-law, but it can also merely not require set rules of
    conduct.  The PH contains a good description of each of the nine 
    alignment's typical mindsets, but that is just the tip of the iceberg.  
    There are so many variations on each alignment that it is very 
    difficult for any two people to agree on even the vaguest definitions.
    However, if in need of a standard, use the PH stereotypes.

J9:  Is alignment really necessary?

A:  For many people, no.  For just as many others, yes.  Alignment itself 
    is not meant as a straitjacket, but as a tool for playing the 
    character.  There are as many different ways of playing a LG 
    character as there are LG characters, so the argument that the 
    alignment system stifles creativity doesn't hold water.  However, 
    there are just as many characters who don't fit any alignment  
    whatsoever, and should not have an arbitrary label forced on them.  
    Whether or not to use alignments is a question for the entire group to 
    decide, and not one that should be handed down from above.

J10: Can paladins have an alignment other than Lawful Good?

A:  The by-the-book paladin cannot be anything other than Lawful Good;
    this paladin is derived from the romantic historical notion of a
    holy warrior fighting for law and order and all that is good, and
    who, as a reward for his unfailing service to the church and state,
    and as a result of his pure, saintly behavior, gains some
    "miraculous" abilities.
      Over the years, many people have expanded this concept to include
    other varieties of "holy warriors"--especially evil counterparts to
    paladins--and several varieties of anti-paladins and demi-human
    paladins have sprung up over the years.  The most-often cited (and
    looked for) article on the subject appeared in Dragon #106; it was
    titled "A Plethora of Paladins" and was written by Christopher Wood.
    This article detailed paladins of every alignment except Lawful Good
    ("true" paladins) and Chaotic Evil (anti-paladins, covered in
    an article in Dragon #39 and Best of Dragon, vol. 2).  For those
    looking for a copy of this article, but who haven't managed to turn
    up a copy of Dragon #106, you can find it on the author's web page
    at, in a
    somewhat revised version.
      The third edition DMG includes a special class called the
    Blackguard that is similar in many ways to an "anti-paladin";
    otherwise, third edition paladins still must always be lawful good,
    even if this puts the character in conflict with the default alignment
    for his race.

J11: What is a morning star?

A:  This is a perennial question both here and on
    There are essentially three schools of thought on the matter:

    1) A morning star is an elongated mace

    2) A morning star is a spiked ball, no matter what it's attached to

    3) A morning star is a special type of flail, or "chain-mace"

      According to TSR's Arms & Equipment Guide, p. 82, the AD&D morning
    star is #1 above.  This is borne out by the arrangement of the Tight  
    Groups on p. 59 of the CFH and the description of the weapon on p. 140
    of C&T.  (Note that this is true for 1st edition AD&D as well, as 
    evidenced by the description of bugbears on p. 12 of the MM and 
    the illustration of Hruggek on p. 105 of DDG.)
      Sources that support this description:
    _Encyclopedia Britannica_, 11th-14th eds. 
    _Oxford English Dictionary_, 2nd ed. (20 v.)
    Ashdown, C.H. _European Arms and Armour_
    Bull, Stephen. _An Historical Guide to Arms & Armor_
    Stone, G.C. _A Glossary of the Decoration and Use of Arms and Armor_
    Tarassuk, L. & Claude Blair.  _The Complete Encyclopedia of Arms & 

      Description #3 appears to have come into use in the early to 
    mid-19th century.  Many sources that use this interpretation can be
    apparently traced back to a German treatise on medieval weaponry
    written around 1850 by F. Kottenkamp.  The section on morning stars was 
    based on an English work written around 1830, and seems to suffer from a
    number of mistranslations, as that page has a number of incongruities
      Description #2 is a recent effort, constructed in an attempt to 
    reconcile the first and third interpretations.
      If you wish to use descriptions #2 or #3 in your games, that is 
    your decision, and is something that many people have done over the
    years.  It may not follow the rulebooks, nor necessarily history 
    itself, but on your own campaign world, you can declare that the 
    grass is purple and the sky is chartreuse, if it works for your
    world.  Just be sure to label this as the way things are done IYC 
    when discussing the weapon on the newsgroup in order to avoid flames.
      For handy reference, here are brief descriptions of the various
    weapons of the affected types (flail and club):

      Flail, Threshing: An agricultural device, from which the rest of
    these weapons are derived, consisting of a wooden handle, or "helve",
    attached via a rope, leather thong, or chain to a short, thick 
    wooden club, called a "swingle" or a "swiple/swipple".  They were 
    used for threshing corn or grain, and were found on almost every
      Flail, Horseman's: A variation of the threshing flail; it is usually 
    iron shod or solid iron, almost always uses a chain rather than rope
    or leather, and the swingle is often spike-studded or replaced with a 
    spiked iron ball.  Historically, these were lumped together with the
    footman's flail under the general name "military flail".  
    Occasionally, these are referred to by historians as "chain-maces", 
    (especially when the swingle was flanged rather than spiked), which
    only serves to heighten the confusion.
      Flail, Footman's: This type of flail is much larger than either the
    threshing or horseman's flails.  It is a two-handed weapon, and 
    replaces the chain with a single hinge (or two half-links, serving the
    same purpose but not requiring that the weapon be held exactly right
    for the swingle to swing properly).  Historically, these were lumped
    together with the horseman's flail under the generic term "military
      Nunchaku: An oriental descendant of the threshing flail; the helve
    and swingle were of equal length, consisted of wood, iron shod wood, or
    iron, and were linked by a short length of chain.
      Three-piece rod: Possibly a variant type of nunchaku, consisting of 
    three short wooden pieces linked by chain or rope, whereas the 
    nunchaku had only two pieces.

      Club: It's, well, a club.  Anything from a tree branch to a large
    bone to an iron rod to a finely crafted work of art.  It is found in
    nearly infinite variations in nearly every, if not every, culture.
      Mace, Horseman's: A short weapon consisting of a haft with a large
    head.  The head was usually flanged, but many featured spikes, solid
    balls, or anything else that did the job.  Historically speaking,
    this was simply called a mace.
      Mace, Footman's: Larger than a horseman's mace, yet smaller than a
    morning star, this was otherwise identical to a horseman's mace.
      Morning star: A large mace, usually 4-5 feet long.  The head was
    not usually flanged; rather it consisted of a ball, oval, or 
    cylinder which was almost always studded with spikes.  It also usually
    had a larger spike pointing straight up.  Historically, the German 
    term for this weapon, "Morgenstern" (also "Morgen Sterne" or 
    "Morgenstierne"), was used most often.
      Holy Water Sprinkler: This is a type of morning star, invariably
    with a cylindrical spiked head.  The name is an ironic reference to 
    a small device used in the Roman Church, which was dipped in holy 
    water, and then flicked at a crowd, sprinkling droplets of water over 
    them; the weapon is used in a similar manner, but with a larger arc 
    (and with more deadly intentions).  A particularly interesting later 
    version of this weapon, also called "Henry VII's Walking Stick", had 
    four pistol barrels in the head, though it was apparently prone to
    misfire.  This weapon is also often called a "holy water sprinkle".
      Godentag: This is another source of confusion, apparently based on
    varying local usage.  The French godentag was identical to the German
    morgenstern (and with similar ironic meanings: "good day" vs. "morning 
    star").  This is the sense in which the weapon is used in AD&D, as
    mentioned on p. 140 of C&T, under "morning star". However, the Flemish
    godentag was a type of halberd, in the classic axe-pike-pick form.
    Both types of godentags are also referred to as "godendag".

J12: How do Attacks of Opportunity work? (3RD)

A:  Attacks of opportunity simulate what happens when a character
    momentarily takes his mind off of actively defending himself from an
    opponent in order to cast a spell, pull something out of his backpack,
    turn his back and flee at top speed, etc.  Specifically, anyone
    standing near enough has a chance of whacking him while his
    concentration is elsewhere.  One very important note for attacks of
    opportunity is that they are one of the few ways by which you can
    cause an enemy spellcaster's spells to fizzle.
      All characters can potentially attack anyone within a certain range,
    depending on the weapon weilded.  For example, most standard D&D
    weapons have a "threat range" of 5 feet, and most pole-arms have a
    threat range of between 5 and 10 feet.  If an opponent in that
    area drops his guard, you can attempt to take advantage of that by
    making an attack of opportunity.
      The PH lists many actions which, if done while you are in a
    "threatened" area, allow any opponent(s) who "threaten" that area to
    attempt an attack of opportunity, in addition to your normal number of
    attacks per round.  Basic movement and casting spells are the most
    commonly seen of these.  Note that movement only incurs attacks of
    opportunity as you leave a "threatened" area (especially important for
    pole-arms) or if you move around inside of a threatened area.
    Exceptions to this are discussed in the next question.
      Standard characters can only attempt a single attack of opportunity
    per round, no matter how many opponents within range drop their guard;
    the Combat Reflexes feat increases this to a number of attacks equal to
    your Base Attack Bonus, with the exception that you can never attempt
    more than one attack of opportunity on any given opponent more than
    once per round.  Also, you are not required to attempt an attack of
    opportunity if an opening presents itself; since most characters only
    get one attack of opportunity per round, you may want to save it in
    case a more important target gives you the opportunity later in the

J13: Ouch!  How can I avoid attacks of opportunity? (3RD)

A:  There are three primary methods of avoiding attacks of opportunity.

    1) If your total distance moved in the round is five feet, then that
    movement does not cause you to incur attacks of opportunity.  Think of
    this as making a small adjustment with your feet while keeping your
    guard up.  If that five-foot step takes you into an area that is
    not threatened by any opponents, then you can also attempt any other
    actions--as long as they do not involve any movement on your part--
    without any chance of incurring attacks of opportunity.

    2) If you take a "double move" action--not a run--and do nothing else
    that round, then the first five feet of movement do not count when
    checking whether or not opponents can make attacks of opportunity.
    (Note that, since you do not have to always move your maximum distance
    when you move, a double move can cover any distance from five feet up to
    your maximum movement distance times two.)  Think of this as a fighting
    withdrawal; your concentration is still on your opponent(s) while you 
    spend the entire round cautiously moving out of their reach.

    3) Certain feats protect you from attacks of opportunity in certain
    circumstances.  (The Spring Attack feat is one example of this.)
    Likewise, if you have a certain amount of cover (such as when trying to
    fight around a conveniently placed tree), you are protected from attacks
    of opportunity from anyone on the other side of the cover.

J14: When can I take a five-foot step? (3RD)

A:  Anytime during your turn, as long as you have not, and will not
    physically move at all during your turn.  You will not incur any
    attacks of opportunity for that movement, and if that step takes
    you outside of a threatened area, any subsequent actions on your part
    will not incur attacks of opportunty.  Note that, even though
    "move-equivalent" actions count as movement for the purposes of what
    you can normally do in a round, they do not count as movement when
    determining whether or not you can take a five-foot step.
      Some DM's may make an exception to this if you are hasted or
    something similar--since in that case you can make an extra partial
    action in addition to your normal actions and movement that around--in
    which case, they might rule that you could take a five-foot step as
    part of your normal action sequence and then move as your partial
    action.  However, this is an exception; under the standard rules, even
    when hasted you are limited to a total movement of five feet in one
    round if you want to avoid in that manner attacks of opportunity caused
    by movement.

J15: What is "stacking"? (3RD)

A:  Stacking is how the 3rd edition rules determine what bonuses and
    penalties can be used together.  Every bonus and penalty has a type,
    such as "armor", "dodge", "enhancement", and so forth.  (The various
    types of bonuses are described in the DMG on p. 177.) With some
    exceptions, if two bonuses or penalties have different types, you can
    add them together ("stacking"); if two bonuses or penalties have the
    same type, only the higher one counts.
      The exceptions to stacking are standard armor and shields (which
    both provide armor bonuses, yet stack with each other though they do
    not stack with any other armor bonuses), enhancement bonuses on
    standard armor and shields (which still stack with each other, but not
    with enhancement bonuses that affect other armor bonuses), enhancement
    bonuses on ranged weapons and their ammunition, and dodge, synergy, and
    some circumstance bonuses (which stack with any other dodge and synergy
    bonuses, and any circumstance bonus not caused by the exact same
      Bonuses and penalties are always totalled separately, then each
    number is applied to the character, regardless of type.  Cursed armor
    provides only an armor penalty (rather than an armor bonus and an
    enhancement penalty).
      Some examples:

      A fighter with a 13 Dexterity, +3 chainmail, a +1 shield,
    /bracers of armor +2/, a /ring of protection +1/, who has just drunk
    a /potion of haste/, a /potion of bless/, and a potion of /maximized
    cat's grace/, has an AC of 27.
        Dexterity: +1 (ability)
        chainmail: +5 (armor), +3 (enhancement--armor)
        shield: +1 (armor), +1 (enhancement--armor)
        /bracers of armor/: +2 (armor)
        /ring of protection/: +1 (deflection)
        /haste/: +4 (haste)
        /bless/: +1 (sacred)
        /maximized cat's grace/: +5 (enhancement--ability)
      The /cat's grace/ adds +5 to his Dexterity, making it 18, and thus
    changes the AC bonus from Dexterity from +1 to +4.  The shield and
    chainmail's armor bonuses stack, as do their enhancement bonuses.  The
    bracers of armor do not stack with either the chainmail or the shield,
    so the chainmail's higher bonus is used and the bracers' bonus is
    ignored.  Everything else stacks, resulting in a +17 AC bonus and a
    total AC of 27.
      Note that the /bracers of armor/ aren't completely useless to this
    character because they provide a "force" effect.  If he finds himself
    up against an incorporeal creature (such as a spectre), the incorporeal
    creature's attacks bypass all armor that is not made of force or that
    does not have the "ghost touch" ability.  Against such a creature, the
    fighter's AC bonus would lose 8 for the chainmail and 2 for the shield,
    but would gain two for the bracers, resulting in an AC of 18.

      A wizard with a Dexterity of 13, Intelligence of 18, a /headband of
    intellect +6/, and a scarlet & blue /ioun stone/, who has drunk a
    /potion of maximized fox's cunning/ and a /potion of maximized cat's
    grace/ has a total Dexterity of 18 and Intelligence of 24.
         /headband of intellect/: +6 (enhancement--ability)
         /ioun stone/: +2 (enhancement--ability)
         /maximized fox's cunning/: +5 (enhancement--ability)
         /maximized cat's grace/: +5 (enhancement--ability)
      The headband, /ioun stone/, and /fox's cunning/ all provide
    enhancement bonuses to the wizard's Intelligence, so they do not stack;
    only the highest, the headband, is counted.  Even though /cat's grace/
    provides an enhancement bonus, since it does not enhance the same
    ability as the other enhancement bonuses, it takes full effect.
      Note that the /ioun stone/ and /fox's cunning/ aren't completely
    useless; if the /headband of intellect/ is destroyed while the others
    are in effect, the +5 from /fox's cunning/ immediately applies, and
    the wizard's Intelligence only drops from 24 to 23.  Then, when the
    duration runs out on the spell, the +2 from the /ioun stone/
    immediately applies, and the wizard's Intelligence drops from 23 to 20.
    (The wizard's memorized spells may be significantly affected, however,
    as /fox's cunning/ and a /headband of intellect/ have different effects
    on memorized spells.)
J16: But medieval combat wasn't anything like the way it is in *D&D!

A:  You're right!  Congratulations, kid; you win the kewpie doll.  The
    combat system in *D&D is a gross simplification of real combat, 
    designed to streamline the process of determining the outcome of such 
    a situation.  Many arguments about the reality of such-and-such a 
    weapon's speed, damage, use, size, etc. are often seen on, usually based on personal observations and/or on 
    SCA tournaments.  One thing to keep in mind is that this is just a 
    game; it is not real life.  It is not meant to be extremely realistic.
    There are other, more detailed combat systems out there in other 
    games, several of which take hours to determine one simple combat.
      The best thing to do, in any case, is find a system which the group
    prefers to use and stick with that.  If the group doesn't feel like
    taking the time to learn a new system, then the current one still 
    works just fine for thousands of players, especially with a few house 
    rules to customize it to the specific campaign.

***End Part 8***

Aardy R. DeVarque
Feudalism: Serf & Turf FAQ:

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