I Full Attack!  

Posted by Spenser Isdahl in , ,

It's always bothered me that D&D combatants inexplicably get more attacks as they become more experienced. What is it about a 16th-level fighter that allows him to fit two more attacks than a lowly 1st-level fighter into a round? Some may argue that it's because the 1st-level fighter can only make one accurate attack a round... but then shouldn't he still have the chance to make those extra attacks at their normal penalty? I don't know about you, but I'd like to take them on the off chance I roll a 20. If someone has a better explanation, please inform me, but nothing I've seen in real life or can imagine gives the rules credence.

Thus, I'm considering rolling out the following houserule for my games:

Base Attack Bonus

Each class's base attack bonus advances at the same rate, but they do not gain additional attacks for having a high base attack bonus.

Full Attack

To make a full attack, the character takes a full-round action and makes two attacks, each at a –2 penalty on the attack roll. This penalty applies to all other attacks made on the character's turn as well (but not, for example, to attacks of opportunity made during the same round but not during the character's turn).
So, you won't get your full BAB when full attacking, but your second attack is more likely to hit as well. And if you were hitting anything worth hitting with a –10 (or, gods help you, –15) off your full BAB, your DM wasn't trying to kill you hard enough; in other words, it speeds up the game by trimming off unnecessary rolls. In addition, you don't have to wait until 6th level to get your full attack.


This entry was posted on January 25, 2010 at Monday, January 25, 2010 and is filed under , , . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .


Just to play devil's advocate, I'd argue that a more experienced fighter has a larger "vocabulary" of threats. D&D combat rounds are usually imagined as a series of actions, although one die roll usually defines the result.

My only experience in "combat" is competitive fencing. An experienced fencer usually has a large repertoire of moves, while an inexperienced fencer has only a few. The veteran may initiate an attack with what is intended to be a feint, but due to the novice's lack of experience, the feint may actually hit. The veteran could then (if they weren't following formal fencing rules) hit again with what was intended to be the actual attack.

Most veteran fencers wouldn't bother making too many feints against a novice. Once you've discerned what the novice's go-to move is, it's usually a simple matter to counter it and then go through a progression of things until you find one the novice can't counter. Rinse and repeat. Bout over.

January 25, 2010 at 7:04 PM

I always thought the extra attacks at 6th and 11th (and so on) levels showed the skill of the character. a 6th level fighter obviously has far more experience with weapons than the 1st level fighter. therefore, the 6th level fighter would be able to get an extra hit in just by being more familiar with weapons and having the experience in battle. this can be extrapolated to 11th and 16th level as well. I like you house rule for the full attack because it speeds up the lower level fights so perhaps why not have that rule only applicable if your BAB doesn't normally grant you another attack. Or if that seems unbalanced make the players choose.

January 25, 2010 at 7:04 PM

*can't get his openid to register*

Well, mostly, you have to keep in mind that combat is rather... abstract as it is. DnD isn't a pure simulation of blow for blow combat, and looking at it to closely always makes it wonky. If you go back to the roots of combat not begin a single blow, but a series of exchanges what iterative attacks represent is the increasing skill of the combatants and their increased chances of landing telling blows during the exchange. *shrug*

January 25, 2010 at 8:04 PM

Your proposed houserule is similar to the actual rules in both Star Wars Saga Edition and Mutants and Masterminds. In both those systems there is a feat that allows additional attacks and each has a BAB requirement. The SWSE is more like the D&D +6/+1 while Mutants and Masterminds is two attacks at -2/-2 similar to rapid shot or two weapon fighting.

I also noticed that you said "PC" rather than "Character" is this house rule meant to be available only to player characters or are NPCs allowed to make multiple attacks as well?

January 25, 2010 at 8:25 PM

I always thought the cut-off for attacks should be 3 attacks. If you fight two handed, 4 attacks. I like the idea of -2 on full attacks. You are right about the 3rd 4th and sometime 5th attacks they usually don't add much to the combat except time.

January 26, 2010 at 10:39 AM

In martial arts, I've sparred against high-ranked black belts who have a lot of combat experience - pretty much as close as I'll ever get to a high-level fighter, really. I'll tell you from bitter experience that they attack faster, more accurately, and more frequently, with better chance of success than a mere green belt like myself. I think the idea of being more likely to strike often and deal damage is pretty appropriate.

January 26, 2010 at 4:17 PM

Wickedmurph should have a bumper sticker that says "I survived a Flurry of Blows"

From a LARPing standpoint (by no means identical to real combat, but it's as close as I've gotten) one of my main advantages over people that are new to the game is the sheer amount of attacks I am capable of bringing into a brawl. Many newer players don't understand how to connect their initial strike into a full on "combo", as it were.

The problem here I think is that we are assuming that low level fighters are fully trained. They literally have no experience - and the only advantage they have over a wizard in melee combat is +1 to attack and an extra combat feat. The only difference between a wizard and a paladin at that level is the ability for a paladin to get righteously upset over evil (as well as his +1).

We're talking about a lack of confidence and a instinctual understanding. As an experienced melee fighter in my LARP I am 100% certain I make 2-3-4x more attacks than a newbie player. Typically, if a player IS making as many attacks as I am, they are all worthless flails.

The "one attack roll" at first level represents (I believe) either a flurry of worthless attacks or one or two unsure strikes. I don't particulary dislike the rules in place. I think they work well.

January 26, 2010 at 4:29 PM

First off, wow. I definitely didn't expect so much feedback on my silly little houserule :P Thanks for tuning in, everybody.

@anarkeith: Yeah, my only experience comes from fencing as well, so I definitely know what you're talking about. However, I'd argue that that's better reflected by the bonus itself rather than the number of attacks. I've had a lot of noobs come at me guns blazing, and they only missed because they weren't skilled enough to angle the blade at the right moment or whatever the case may be.

@Dan: Again, the higher bonus is what I'd more closely associate increased skill with.

@Anon: Agreed, wholeheartedly, which is why I purposefully made this rule serve the dual purpose of speeding up higher-level play.

@Katallos: Huh, I must have forgotten that about M&M. I knew Saga had those feats, but the bonuses always seemed ridiculously harsh to me. And I actually didn't mean for it to only apply to PCs, nice catch, editing as I type...

@Wickedmurph: My assertions were based purely off my own experiences, so I didn't take into account other martial arts, as it were. Good to know the existing system makes sense in some quarters!

@MD: 1) DARKSIDE, 2) If that's the case, I WANT MY WORTHLESS FLAILS!

January 26, 2010 at 6:07 PM

The Ballikineticist basically gets a projectile Darkside @ 10th level

January 27, 2010 at 12:32 AM

Heh, yeah. You should ask my wife about the time I came home with a perfectly outlined red footprint in the middle of my chest... I was too busy fending off the punches and I didn't even see the front kick coming.

I don't do martial arts anymore, unfortunately. But I got "boot to the head" enough times to know that a high-level fighter is a very different beast from a neophyte.

January 27, 2010 at 12:37 PM

Anyone tried putting this to use yet...?

September 3, 2010 at 11:35 PM

Full attack action =/= Full round action.

January 19, 2015 at 7:30 PM

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