Opportunity Attacks - What are the benefits?

In every Pathfinder and D&D game I’ve played, “Attacks of Opportunity” were a major point of contention. Most players don’t like them and get annoyed if the DM insists on using them (the primary complaints being that they feel like “gotchas” and are punishment for doing cool things like Combat Maneuvers).

When the DM enforces the mechanic, everyone (players and DM) just jumps through some hoops (excessive use of 5-foot steps and Withdraw) to make sure they never occur, and the game continues without them. As a result, all my recent DMs have dropped all enforcement of Attacks of Opportunity.

Given that background, I’m wary of Open Legend’s use of “Opportunity Attacks”. It appears that OL only uses the “leaving a threatened square” portion of the mechanic, but even that can be contentious.

That all brings me to the discussion:
What are the problems that Opportunity Attacks is trying to solve, and has OL’s implementation of the mechanic solved those problems without excessive fallout?

As a GM, I often have my NPCs eat opportunity attacks to speed up combat. Keeps the threat up because they will not stick to the defender and instead eat the OA from the defender (making him feel good) and get over to pressure the wizard (making him feel bad, lol).

They also add an opportunity cost to actions in combat. I need to heal my friend, but i have to eat an OA to do it…can my friend last one more round?

I think OAs only stagnate the game if no one is willing to suffer them or the GM is not putting players in positions where they are forced to eat OAs to be maximally effective.

Mechanically, they emphasize Melee strengths and Ranged weaknesses. If OAs didnt exist, archers would have a lot less to worry about.

Just my two copper.

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Opportunity attacks are an RPG tradition meant to encourage “tanking” on behalf of the party, to threaten ranged characters by bogging them down in close quarters in such a way that they can’t just keep repeatedly retreating, and allow NPCs to protect areas or more valuable NPCs from players who could easily slip by any sort of guard otherwise due to the turn-based nature of the movement.

OL is less worried about the first aspect, part of the open nature of the system means that you don’t have to worry about something like party composition unless your group wants to make it relevant. What concerns OL more is as a minor disadvantage to ranged characters, the increased versatility of being able to hit (almost) any enemy you can see is pretty valuable, and in OL they roll the same dice to damage as a melee character. To offset this, OL uses three factors: advantage from two handed or dual wielding melee weapons, disadvantage when making ranged attacks in close combat (which only works as a downside when opportunity attacks are included), and the ability to make opportunity attacks with melee weapons.

All that being said, there’s a not particularly expensive feat that allows you to ignore opportunity attacks (Evasive Footwork) so it should be clear that it’s not something that the game can’t function without. If you want to run your games without opportunity attacks, you can go right ahead. It should make combat a lot more mobile, at the cost of making ranged characters noticeably stronger.


This could potentially be considered a good thing in some settings. Yay options!

I suppose I’m a little surprised to hear this, but I haven’t played the incredibly rules heavy system of Pathfinder, so I suppose along with everything else going on, AoO can get crazy?

It seems like a pretty simple mechanic overall, and I haven’t really had any problems or issues or voices of concern in the games I have ran or the games I have been in (including 2E and 5E d&d).

As @SamWilby it is certainly a part of the balancing mechanics, and it isn’t a hard thing to get around either by taking Evasive Footwork. Plus if you use the Defend interrupt Action, you get to move half your movement that isn’t subject to an AoO as well.

If everyone in a group is really riled up about it, I suppose take it out for your game, but if you are just wanting to take it out to make your ranged character more powerful, well, that is the why you are wanting it, and I think that’s a bad idea.

The other reason is to control battlefield flow as well as your action economy. Personally it makes sense you can’t just bob and weave your way through a line of melee to reach the ranged attackers without taking some risk of being attacked, at least without some sort of training or additional cost.

And, you can always choose to move out of the treat range to have the AoO happen to you, and then do a Defend Interrupt Action to gain an extra bit of movement in the process.

Some extra context on AoO in Pathfinder:
Pathfinder has the same system as OL where moving out of a threatened square provokes an attack. It also uses AoO to penalize other behaviors that are meant to be harder to do while threatened: casting a spell, performing some combat maneuvers (push, drag, grapple, etc), standing up from prone, etc.

Since OL only uses the Movement portion, and uses Advantage/Disadvantage to address the other issues, I think the OL Opportunity Attacks will be acceptable for my groups. (and I’ll recommend Evasive Footwork to players that aren’t as keen on it.)

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It also uses AoO to penalize other behaviors that are meant to be harder to do while threatened

OL has that idea also integrated into its mechanics, but in a much less punishing way. Being engaged in melee gives ranged attacks disadvantage and you could easily implement the same for “spells” if you are playing in a fantasy setting.