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– While perusing the AD&D DMG, I came across a few rules/tactics of note I am thinking we should be aware of both as players of the game and in light of the current party. Found some great stuff on attacks of opportunity and running the fuck away (yeah, yeah, yeah, I’m playing a halfling thief). Well, it’s not exactly an “Attack of Opportunity” per se, but it certainly looks like an opportunity to attack! ~ DMG, p. 70, COMBAT (MELEE)

Breaking Off From Melee:
At such time as any creature decides, it can break off the engagement and flee the melee (break it off). To do so, however, allows the opponent a free attack or attack routine. This attack is calculated as if it were a rear attack upon a stunned opponent. When this attack is completed, the retiring/fleeing party may move away at full movement rate, and unless the opponent pursues and is able to move at a higher rate of speed, the melee is ended and the situation becomes one of encounter avoidance.

– Okay, first of all – that is bad ass! This goes for both monsters and players, though I suppose that in the case of fighting an intelligent creature with no discernible “back” then the bonus would be mitigated accordingly. The rules for stunned opponents and attacking from behind are as follows (even though we are all probably pretty familiar with this rule):

Rear Attacks: Opponents attacking from the rear gain a +2 to hit, negate any consideration for shield, and also negate any consideration for dexterity.
Stunned, Prone or Motionless Opponents: Treat all such opponents as if being attacked from the rear, but in this case the ”to hit” bonus is +4 rather than +2.
Magically Sleeping or Held Opponents:
If a general melee is in progress, 
and the attacker is subject to enemy actions, then these opponents areautomatically struck by any attack to which they would normally be subject, and the maximum damage possible according to the weapon type is inflicted each time such an opponent is so attacked. The number ofattacks or attack routines possible against such an opponent is twice the number normally allowed in a round. Otherwise, such opponents may be automatically slain, or bound as appropriate to materials at hand and size, at a rate of one per round. Note that this does not include normally sleeping opponents (see ASSASSINS’ TABLE FOR ASSASSINATIONS).

-Then I read something rather terrifying and intriguing. Melee in D&D is Fight or Flight!

Who Attacks Whom:
As with missile fire, it is generally not possible to select a specific opponent in a mass melee. If this is the case, simply use some random number generation to find out which attacks are upon which opponents, remembering that only a certain number of attacks can usually be made upon one opponent. If characters or similar intelligent creatures are able to single out an opponent or opponents, then the concerned figures will remain locked in melee until one side is dead or opts to attempt to break off the combat. If there are unengaged opponents, they will move to melee the unengaged enemy. If the now-unengaged figures desire to assist others of their party, they will have to proceed to the area in which their fellows are engaged, using the movement rates already expressed.

– Now first of all, this was just flat out strange being told what a character would do in melee. What if I don’t want to engage an unengaged enemy? What if I want to stab the engaged one? Reading this initially, it didn’t really hit me, but that is because I didn’t realize exactly what Breaking Off combat entailed. So my reading of this rule is that once a character has engaged with an opponent, they need to stay on that opponent until they are downed or until they break-off the attack (break it off). And so it follows that once an intelligent creature is engaged in melee with a character, that fight is to the death or until a character breaks it off (break it off). As terrifying as that is, note the extremely important detail that this only applies to single combat and that makes perfect sense. If two somethings are attacking another something, the out-numbered something should be able to strike at any of his attackers who are in range. Perhaps this is obvious, but I find this an important rule to be cognizant of- even if it sounds a little scary.

– But then check out this gem!:

Flank attacks: All flank attacks negate any defender armor class addition for shield. Attacks against a rear flank, where the opponent is virtually unable to view the attackers, negate dexterity armor class bonus.

-Holy fuck, yes!  Ok, so yeah – this tactic can certainly be used against a few shield toting members of our current party, but our Cuthbert Campaign has enough melee capable players that flanking and rear-flanking are viable options. Remember what a bitch that Moat-house Asshole was?   Shoulda been Flanksteak! This is only really an option when ganging up on a single target, but it should be in the party’s repertoire for appropriate situations.

That being said, what was that bit in Breaking Off From Melee about pursuing (break it off)?

PURSUIT AND EVASION OF PURSUIT:
abridged for wordiness
Pursuit And Evasion In Underground Settings:
When player characters with attendant hirelings and/or henchmen, if any, elect to retreat or flee from an encounter with a monster ar monsters, a possible pursuit situation arises. Whether or not pursuit will actually take place is dependent upon the following:
1. If the MONSTER MANUAL so states, then pursuit will certainly occur.
2. If the monster or monsters encountered are semi intelligent or under, hungry, angry, aggressive, and/or trained to do so.
3. If the monster or monsters encountered are of low intelligence but otherwise suit the qualifications of 2.. above, then pursuit will possibly occur

A. If the party outnumbers the potential pursuers, then pursuit is 20% likely.
B. If the party is about as numerous as the potential pursuers, then pursuit is40% likely.
C. If the party is outnumbered by the potential pursuers, then pursuit is 80% likely.
D. If condition C. exists, and furthermore, the potential pursuers conceive of themselves as greatly superior to the party, then pursuit is 100% certain.

Modifiers To Pursuit: There are several circumstances which will affect the pursuer. These are:
1. Barriers: Physical or magic barriers will slow or halt pursuit, i.e. locked portal, a broken bridge, a wall of fire, etc.
2. Distractions: Actual or magic distractions will be from 10% to 100% likely to cause pursuit to falter or cease altogether.
A. Food: Food, including rations and/or wine, will be from 10% to 100% likely to distract pursuers of low intelligence or below, providing the food/wine is what they find palatable.
B. Treasure: Treasure, including precious metals, gems, jewelry, rare stuffs such as ivory or spices, valuable items, and/or magic will be 10% to 100% likely to cause pursuers of low or greater intelligence to be distracted.
3. Multiple Choice: It will mast often come to pass that the pursued take a route which enables them to cause the pursuer(s) to have to make decisions as to which direction the pursued took in their flight.

-Now there are a bunch of finer points and percentiles and chances listed in the DMG for different conditional circumstances, but the gist is that if all else fails, dropping food and treasure is a hilarious and awesome way to give yourself a chance for escape. This may not be a paladin’s cup of tea – but what if he were say, saving a baby from some cultist bandits that will sacrifice the helpless infant the moment they get their grubby hands on it?  That’s some highly noble tactical withdrawal going on. (Actually, that isn’t such a great example as I am pretty certain that heavy armor restricts running speeds, so let’s say it was a band of peg-legged cultist bandits and the point stands.) Additionally, rules are provided for parties on the run, and modifying movement rates by the slowest party member. There are also detailed rules for evading pursuit outdoors which take into account terrain modifiers and lighting conditions.

So there we go. Breaking Off From Melee rules, Attacking in Single Combat, Flanking and Rear Flanking, and the nuances and options to consider when pursuing or evading pursuit. Tactical options, people!