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  1. - Top - End - #1
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    Default Judge My Judgment Call

    Looking for some feedback on a ruling I made earlier tonight.

    Situation is thus: The characters are exploring some ruins with some friendly kobolds. They come across a suit of medium-sized animated armor standing in front of a door. The players ask the kobolds how to get past and one of the kobolds demonstrates by taking a running start, then curling into a ball and rolling between the armor's legs as the armor tries to hit. Armor misses the attack and the kobold bowling balls through the closed doors.

    Combat starts and the majority of the party gets tangled up with a pair of animated swords, while the Kadalesh Monk goes staff to fist with the armor. After several frustrating rounds of bad rolls on everyone's parts, the Monk declares that he's going to take the Disengage action and move through the space occupied by the Armor to go through the doors. I rule he can try to push past, but he'd still be subject to an Attack of Opportunity despite declaring Disengaging because he's trying to force his way through the Armor's space which is not actually Disengaging at all. After some back and forth on the what it means to use Disengagement he finally gives up and just goes back to hitting the thing.

    During my post-game debrief with my brother, he states a couple of the players thought I was just ignoring the rule because it benefited me to do so. So the question is twofold:

    1) Do you think I made the right decision?
    2) Should I reach out to the player who was upset and try to explain it from my end?
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    Default Re: Judge My Judgment Call

    Assuming you are playing DnD 5th edition, I do not think you made the right call, unless you introduced this ruling at the start of the campaign. You imposed your own interpretation on an ability that ran demonstrably counter to its mechanics, essentially house-ruling an ability in the middle of combat to the players detriment.

    Another way to look at disengage is that it represents someone fighting defensively while they move around, preventing the opening that would trigger an attack of opportunity normally.

    Either way though, you should have a chat with the upset player. More precisely, you should listen to what exactly made them upset. If the only reason they're upset is this one incident, then that means that things should be fine later. If the player feels your ruling is part of a larger pattern of behaviour that you were unaware of than that is very important to know.
    Last edited by DeTess; 2020-03-28 at 09:06 AM.
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    Default Re: Judge My Judgment Call

    Assuming they are small enough to fit under him... how did you envision them slipping under him? Would the players know that method?


    At first glance I would say that while your thinking of what "Disengagement", the word, meant is spot on, I can't help but feel the rule itself was misjudged.


    Understanding how both parties felt and thought at the time is important

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    Default Re: Judge My Judgment Call

    What game system is this? We need to know the rules first to judge them.
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    Default Re: Judge My Judgment Call

    Quote Originally Posted by Alcore View Post
    Assuming they are small enough to fit under him... how did you envision them slipping under him? Would the players know that method?


    At first glance I would say that while your thinking of what "Disengagement", the word, meant is spot on, I can't help but feel the rule itself was misjudged.


    Understanding how both parties felt and thought at the time is important
    It was a Medium sized Monk versus a Medium sized suit of Animated armor. The kobolds had done so earlier by making acrobatics checks that still triggered the attack. To get through the door required going through the space the armor occupied.

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    Default Re: Judge My Judgment Call

    Quote Originally Posted by Foeofthelance View Post
    It was a Medium sized Monk versus a Medium sized suit of Animated armor. The kobolds had done so earlier by making acrobatics checks that still triggered the attack. To get through the door required going through the space the armor occupied.
    That does slightly change things. I still disagree with your decision to houserule that disengage doesn't allow offensive movement in the middle of combat when it was relevant for a players action. However, squares occupied by hostile creatures are explicitly impassible in the rules, unless the hostile creature is at least two size categories larger than the one trying to move through it, so the monk couldn't do what they tried to do.
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    Default Re: Judge My Judgment Call

    All Disengage says is: "If you take the Disengage action, your Movement doesn’t provoke Opportunity Attacks for the rest of the turn."

    That's it. It doesn't say anything about allowing any form of movement that you otherwise wouldn't be allowed.

    From my reading of the somewhat vague rules, a medium creature cannot move through another medium creature's space when they are hostile. UNLESS the creature is two sizes larger or smaller than you. So a Medium creature can move through the space of a Tiny hostile creature, or a Huge hostile creature.

    So, since Disengage doesn't bypass that rule, Disengaging has no effect. And quite honestly using the "natural language" approach of 5E, to disengage is typically to remove oneself from a fight, not inject yourself deeper into it by forcing yourself through your enemy's space.

    I believe your ruling was correct, if generous in allowing any sort of forced movement opposed-roll challenge at all.
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    Default Re: Judge My Judgment Call

    The essence of a judgment call is that there is no exact ruling, so you have to use judgment. That's what you did.

    Quote Originally Posted by Foeofthelance View Post
    1) Do you think I made the right decision?
    Yes, I do. But I understand why many people won't.

    "Disengage" means get out of range. Going deeper into range to get somewhere that you cannot get by just getting out of range is not disengaging. That's the English language, not D&D rules.

    I would have ruled the same way you did. He has to accept an Attack of Opportunity to get past the enemy. Then, once he is past the armor, he can disengage to get out of range on that side without a second AoO. But I wouldn't allow Disengage through the opponent's square, for the same reason I wouldn't let somebody use the Run maneuver to move across a lake. That isn't what the words "disengage" and "run" mean.

    But it is a judgment call, which means that not everybody will make the call the same way.

    Quote Originally Posted by Foeofthelance View Post
    2) Should I reach out to the player who was upset and try to explain it from my end?
    Yes, absolutely. This is crucial with almost any judgment call. Show sympathy for the player in that situation, but also explain why you don't believe that "Disengage" can be used to do something that isn't disengaging.

    Point out that you weren't "just ignoring the rule because it benefited [you] to do so." It didn't benefit you. It benefited the suit of armor temporarily, but that doesn't benefit you in any way. You already expected them to defeat the armor; it was invented to be defeated. Remind him that, while the DM is supposed to invent challenges for the PCs, the only reason to be a DM is because you want to provide a scenario for your players to be heroes.

    And make a point of thanking him for the gracious way he accepted a ruling he didn't agree with.

    Edit: By the way, good for you for looking for advice and critique. That shows that you want to be a good DM, and that you are trying to be even better. They are lucky to have you running their game, even though it doesn't feel like it when the ruling goes against them.
    Last edited by Jay R; 2020-03-28 at 08:08 PM.

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    Default Re: Judge My Judgment Call

    1) Disengage does, by the default rules, allow you to move further into combat without AoOs. For example, if the doorway was wider, the PC could use it to step around the armor and continue forward. If you're changing that, you should let people know ahead of time.

    2) However, Disengage doesn't allow you to move through an enemy regardless. By RAW, neither should the Kobolds have been able to do so, which may be why it felt unfair that the monk couldn't without provoking. A house rule like:
    "You can move through enemy squares with an Acrobatics check, but it will always provoke an AoO even if disengaging"
    seems fine to me, and is more generous than the default. Just make it clear ahead of time so people know what the situation is.

    I think the main source of hurt feelings is that the player, having seen an NPC use this tactic (were they aware that the armor did get an AoO on the kobold and missed, rather than the swing just being flavor?) then couldn't replicate it. For allied NPCs in particular, it may be worth being more mechanically explicit what's going on.

    That said, this was a pretty reasonable judgement call; I wouldn't call it bad DMing.
    Last edited by icefractal; 2020-03-28 at 09:29 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Foeofthelance View Post
    It was a Medium sized Monk versus a Medium sized suit of Animated armor. The kobolds had done so earlier by making acrobatics checks that still triggered the attack. To get through the door required going through the space the armor occupied.

    @Yora: D&D 5th edition
    I don't do 5e but I see two failures here;



    1. The rules itself. If what the others say is all true then we have...

    A Kobald (you) breaking a rule to get past. Approved

    A Player breaking a different rule to get past. Denied

    Talking to your players as soon as possible is the best thing you can do. The above does not look pretty.



    2. Players not knowing what to do. You did not answer my question of if the players knew what rule to use and since they used a different rule entirely I must conclude based on the information available that they did not know it was an acrobatic roll. That is bad if they did not understand the mechanics the kobald used. Did you roll dice for him to show it?



    While I agree with your judgement call I wouldn't have made it that choice myself.


    you don't have to answer but I hope you understand the point I am making here.
    Last edited by Alcore; 2020-03-29 at 12:10 PM.

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    Default Re: Judge My Judgment Call

    In 5e you cannot move through an opponents space unless they are two sizes smaller. If you are, it doesn't provoke an opportunity attack, it's just difficult terrain.

    In 5e, you do not need to Disengage to avoid an opportunity attack when you move around (not through) an opponent, so long as you do not leave their reach. If you're leaving their reach at any point, either directly away without passing or after you pass them, you need to Disengage to avoid an opportunity attack.

    Explain to the player the first rule, and that you had made a New Rule that allowed a creature (same size? One size smaller?) to move through an enemy space (with a check? No check?) at the cost of an opportunity attack, and that Disengage could not prevent this OA. And that by the default rules, it's not possible at all.

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    Default Re: Judge My Judgment Call

    Quote Originally Posted by Alcore View Post
    1. The rules itself. If what the others say is all true then we have...

    A Kobald (you) breaking a rule to get past. Approved

    A Player breaking a different rule to get past. Denied

    Talking to your players as soon as possible is the best thing you can do. The above does not look pretty.
    I don't think that's correct. Both the kobold and the monk could move through the space, and both got an AoO, the suit missed the OA against the kobold. If anything the monk was more favoured, the kobold needed to make an acrobatics check that wasn't required of the monk. So no double standards.
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    Default Re: Judge My Judgment Call

    Quote Originally Posted by Boci View Post
    I don't think that's correct. Both the kobold and the monk could move through the space, and both got an AoO, the suit missed the OA against the kobold. If anything the monk was more favoured, the kobold needed to make an acrobatics check that wasn't required of the monk. So no double standards.
    The armor was medium sized, so assuming that it was blocking the space, neither could move through it.

    My understanding is that the armor is medium sized and active in the fight, and the monk is medium sized, and the kobold is small sized. Both wanted to pass through the armor's square to pass through the doors on the other side.

    It is explicitly forbidden to move through a space occupied by a hostile creature that is less than 2 size categories larger. That should be the end of it, independent of what disengage means, unless either had a special ability that allowed them to move through spaces occupied by hostile creatures.

    Only then does the ability to do so without provoking AoO apply. In which case, disengage prevents all AoO for the turn [unless the armor has Sentinel], so a person who can move through hostile spaces would not take an AoO from doing so.

    This would indicate that yes, your ruling was wrong, but probably more favorable to the monk than the correct ruling.



    That said, there are multiple "correct" ways to go about doing this:
    1: Grappling. A grappled creature can be moved by the creature controlling the grapple, so the monk could get past the armor by grabbing it, moving it to a different square [or just move it ahead of him], which would allow him to pass through the square it formerly occupied.
    2: Push. Using the push action he can kick it 5 feet forward, or maneuver to the side and push it 5 feet to the side, and then pass through the space and through the doors.
    3: Anything else [battlemaster maneuvers, charm spells] that makes the creature blocking the path either no longer in that space or no longer hostile.



    Personally, I think that the greater "bad call" of the situation was that the kobold indicated to the party a solution to the puzzle that was technically in not allowed by the rules. Thus, the party gets the idea that they should do that too, because that's the solution. And then, when they try that because it seems to be the solution, they're told they can't. If a rule is suspended, it should be suspended for both the PC's and the NPC's.
    Last edited by LordCdrMilitant; 2020-03-29 at 04:37 PM.
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    Default Re: Judge My Judgment Call

    Quote Originally Posted by LordCdrMilitant View Post
    The armor was medium sized, so assuming that it was blocking the space, neither could move through it.
    Yes, but the DM let both move through it. It was a ruling in line with RAW, but it treated both the PC and NPC equally, they were both allowed to do something they normally could not.
    Last edited by Boci; 2020-03-29 at 04:39 PM.
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    Default Re: Judge My Judgment Call

    Quote Originally Posted by Boci View Post
    Yes, but the DM let both move through it. It was a ruling in line with RAW, but it treated both the PC and NPC equally, they were both allowed to do something they normally could not.
    It's not in line with RAW though. That's the point.
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    Quote Originally Posted by LordCdrMilitant View Post
    It's not in line with RAW though. That's the point.
    DM's exist for a reason. They can make rulings and ignore RAW. Problems can arise when they make one ruling for NPCs and another for PCs, which this DM didn't do.

    Quote Originally Posted by LordCdrMilitant View Post
    Personally, I think that the greater "bad call" of the situation was that the kobold indicated to the party a solution to the puzzle that was technically in not allowed by the rules. Thus, the party gets the idea that they should do that too, because that's the solution. And then, when they try that because it seems to be the solution, they're told they can't. If a rule is suspended, it should be suspended for both the PC's and the NPC's.
    But they could, couldn't they? They just would have gotten an OA doing so, same as the kobold did when they did so.
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    Default Re: Judge My Judgment Call

    I think the real issue is that you yourself didn't fully understand the rules yourself and made a calling in that situation. I'd just explain to the player that you yourself was unsure and you meant nothing against them by it, though if something like this comes up sometimes it's better to just look up a rule if you're not sure and think a ruling might upset player(s).

    Another more RAW option would have been for the Monk to try and shove the armor backthrough the door so that they could move around them.

    I personally as a DM and player wouldn't have been okay eating an AoO when I've burned an action when it seemed like the Kobold just moved and made a check?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dork_Forge View Post
    I personally as a DM and player wouldn't have been okay eating an AoO when I've burned an action when it seemed like the Kobold just moved and made a check?
    The DM clarified in a later post that the kobold had provoked an AoO, the suit just missed.
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    Default Re: Judge My Judgment Call

    Quote Originally Posted by Boci View Post
    The DM clarified in a later post that the kobold had provoked an AoO, the suit just missed.
    I'm aware that the Kobold got an AoO, however the player was burning an action on disengage when the Kobold appears to have just moved and made a check. That's a high cost for the exact same outcome.
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    Default Re: Judge My Judgment Call

    Quote Originally Posted by Dork_Forge View Post
    I'm aware that the Kobold got an AoO, however the player was burning an action on disengage when the Kobold appears to have just moved and made a check. That's a high cost for the exact same outcome.
    Why do you assume that the Kobold did NOT also use disengage, he's not described as taking any action except to move through the doorway on his turn.

    It looks to me like this suit of animated armor has a special property, that you can spend an action and an acrobatics check to move through its space but the armor gets an opportunity attack, and the kobold DEMONSTRATED this. If so, I see no problem at all.

    Even if the kobold did take an action, how would the PCs know he didn't use a special ability to get an extra disengage and action at the same time? The kobold demonstrated a method, it provoked when it did so, the player wanted to do something else, that also provokes, unless we know that the kobold did NOT use disengage + acrobatics, I'd assume that the player needs to use disengage + acrobatics to get past with only an OA.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Boci View Post
    But they could, couldn't they? They just would have gotten an OA doing so, same as the kobold did when they did so.
    Its a bit of a messy house rule though saying you generate at attack of opp when moving through their space because then, as illustrated by OPs player - people will assume it interacts with disengage which is explicitly an action you take to avoid attacks of opportunity. Mechanics wise the better solution for OP would be making this some type of action and have it allow the occupier of the space to make a non-attack of opportunity based reaction attack.

    OP then compounded that frustration by getting into an argument about how disengaging should be used for retreating, which isn't true. You can definetly use disenage to get deeper into an enemy formation - OP is entitled to make the rule they did but this would be a concerning justification to me as a player (are they going to start making it so I can't sneak attack unless I'm hidden because otherwise the attack isn't sneaky enough, etc.).

    So I don't think there was anything hugely wrong here rules wise (as long as OP understands they weren't following the rulebook anyway) but perhaps a lesson in making sure you know your rules and frame your language correctly.
    Last edited by Contrast; 2020-03-29 at 07:52 PM.

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    Default Re: Judge My Judgment Call

    Quote Originally Posted by Doug Lampert View Post
    Why do you assume that the Kobold did NOT also use disengage, he's not described as taking any action except to move through the doorway on his turn.

    It looks to me like this suit of animated armor has a special property, that you can spend an action and an acrobatics check to move through its space but the armor gets an opportunity attack, and the kobold DEMONSTRATED this. If so, I see no problem at all.

    Even if the kobold did take an action, how would the PCs know he didn't use a special ability to get an extra disengage and action at the same time? The kobold demonstrated a method, it provoked when it did so, the player wanted to do something else, that also provokes, unless we know that the kobold did NOT use disengage + acrobatics, I'd assume that the player needs to use disengage + acrobatics to get past with only an OA.
    Because it wasn't a player that made this thread, it was the DM and they have not said at any point that the Kobold took an action. Let's also not beat around the bush here, this armor didn't have any special properties, the DM didn't fully understand the rules in question and made a judgement call. They have said as much, this thread is discussing that judgement call, please don't add on things that make it seem intentional or fluff reasons for what could have happened to justify it.
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    Default Re: Judge My Judgment Call

    My impression is that the suit of armor was blocking a 5ft wide door way. In that case I think the result of the ruling is right but the ruling was wrong. Disengage means that you don't take any opportunity attacks when you move which lets you advance further into combat. So if someone disengages they do not take attacks of opportunity. On the other hand you also can't walk through a space of someone your size. Saying you can spend an action to get past (possibly with a check presumably the Kobald move took an action if not just pretend that it did) is a fare houserule. Now if the monk used Step of the wind and spent Ki to disengage on top of spending there action to more past I would let that happen. Overall the cost of one action and an opertunity attack to leave the fight seems reasonable to me.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dork_Forge View Post
    I'm aware that the Kobold got an AoO, however the player was burning an action on disengage when the Kobold appears to have just moved and made a check. That's a high cost for the exact same outcome.
    But the DM made is clear disengage wouldn't work, so the player could, presumable, then just do the same without disengaging. That would net them the same outcome for the same cost.
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    Default Re: Judge My Judgment Call

    I think your ruling is fine. I think you need to explain things more clearly to the players and to others on this board.

    RAW

    1) You can NOT move through an opponents square. It is simply not an option unless they are two sizes larger or smaller than you and then it is difficult terrain.
    2) Taking the disengage action allows movement without triggering opportunity attacks.

    However, in the current situation, the kobolds moved through the square of a creature where they should not have been able to do so. The DM allowed it but caused it to trigger an attack (presumably no matter what action the kobolds were taking). This was the method the DM devised to allow creatures to get past the guardian. The DM is perfectly allowed to modify the rules for any special cases in their games. Perhaps this guardian is just a bit slower which allows the creature a chance to get through the square rather than being completely blocked.

    In the situation described, the monk takes the disengage action and tries to move through the square containing the armor but finds their way blocked (they can't move through AT ALL in RAW). The armor gets in the way and the only way the monk could slip past (which is made clear by the DM) is by letting the armor get close enough for an attack. The players had already observed this happen to the kobolds so it should hardly be a surprise that they might have to take an attack if they want to bypass the guardian.

    I think the monk player did not understand that under normal circumstances they CAN'T EVER move through an opponents square unless it is two sizes larger or smaller. Disengage is irrelevant ... they can disengage or not, they still can't get through an opponents square. The DM created a special "trap" in which traversing the square requires the character to take an attack. The "trap" allows a character to traverse a square occupied by THIS hostile creature at the cost of allowing an attack. In this particular case, the DM should not have described the attack as an opportunity attack. An opportunity attack in 5e specifically refers to an attack triggered by a creature leaving your reach. That is not what is happening here. Although I think opportunity attack is descriptive in this case, it also confuses the issue since mechanically it isn't an opportunity attack.

    Also, I would suggest not generalizing the rule. Don't allow your players to move through the square of any hostile creature at the cost of receiving an attack ... since your monsters will end up doing this too and there is then no way for players to block a hallway protecting the more vulnerable characters at the back. I would make clear to your players that this is a characteristic of this particular creature in this particular situation ... normally you can't move through a hostile creatures space at all (barring 2 size difference).
    Last edited by Keravath; 2020-03-29 at 08:07 PM.

  26. - Top - End - #26
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    DruidGuy

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    Default Re: Judge My Judgment Call

    RAW Disengage has little to do with this since the rules were muddied at the time. My reading of the OP was that it was disengaging that allowed getting past with an AoO at all. If that wasn't the case why wouldn't the Monk eat the AoO anyway,and Attack from the other side? Unless they were very low on hp they may as well have done both.
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    DrowGuy

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    Default Re: Judge My Judgment Call

    Quote Originally Posted by Dork_Forge View Post
    RAW Disengage has little to do with this since the rules were muddied at the time. My reading of the OP was that it was disengaging that allowed getting past with an AoO at all. If that wasn't the case why wouldn't the Monk eat the AoO anyway,and Attack from the other side? Unless they were very low on hp they may as well have done both.
    I don't think. The DM seemed quite explicit that disengage was not relevant here, as others pointed out the reasonaing wa sa little faulty, but there's no reason to assume the kobold disengaged.
    "It doesn't matter how much you struggle or strive,
    You'll never get out of life alive,
    So please kill yourself and save this land,
    And your last mission is to spread my command,"

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  28. - Top - End - #28
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    DruidGuy

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    Default Re: Judge My Judgment Call

    Quote Originally Posted by Boci View Post
    I don't think. The DM seemed quite explicit that disengage was not relevant here, as others pointed out the reasonaing wa sa little faulty, but there's no reason to assume the kobold disengaged.
    The DM was explicit that they didn't like or agree with using disengage for that, but they only offered the option to the player when they attempted to disengage which was several rounds AFTER the Kobold had slipped past. If the option the Kobold had was actually available to the PC without the disengage action then it should have been made clear to the PC 1)when the Kobold did it and 2)definitely that they could try and get past without needing the disengage action, it'd just give them an AoO.
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  29. - Top - End - #29
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    DrowGuy

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    Default Re: Judge My Judgment Call

    Quote Originally Posted by Dork_Forge View Post
    The DM was explicit that they didn't like or agree with using disengage for that, but they only offered the option to the player when they attempted to disengage which was several rounds AFTER the Kobold had slipped past. If the option the Kobold had was actually available to the PC without the disengage action then it should have been made clear to the PC 1)when the Kobold did it and 2)definitely that they could try and get past without needing the disengage action, it'd just give them an AoO.
    DM can't do everything. The DM described the kobold going through, made no mention of disengage. The players have to work with the DM and ask if they want to do that too. When they did, the DM did explain how it would work.
    "It doesn't matter how much you struggle or strive,
    You'll never get out of life alive,
    So please kill yourself and save this land,
    And your last mission is to spread my command,"

    Slightly adapted quote from X-Fusion, Please Kill Yourself

  30. - Top - End - #30
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    DruidGuy

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    Default Re: Judge My Judgment Call

    Quote Originally Posted by Boci View Post
    DM can't do everything. The DM described the kobold going through, made no mention of disengage. The players have to work with the DM and ask if they want to do that too. When they did, the DM did explain how it would work.
    You're still talking like all of this was worked out before hand, the OP's post clearly shows that this wasn't a preplanned set of events and lack of rules knowledge let to a call that frustrated the player.
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