Volley Rounds (D&D)

Abstracting away ranges (a la The One Ring) has worked very well and combats have become faster to adjudicate. I also wanted to add in volley rounds before the battle just like TOR.

TOR’s table is that spears, 1 round and bows, 2 (or at loremaster’s discretion more) rounds.

We want & have deets so I made a longer table based on the formula that it’s range divided by 60, rounded up. So spears are still one volley round, shortbows are two without disad (+ four with disad, for six total).

I gave my players a table for the weapons but also the formula b/c spells.

To find out how many volley rounds there are, we make an open roll on the encounter distance table (on the DM screen, I’m not sure if it’s in the books too) for that biotope. For example, it says Wasteland: 2d10 times 10 feet. I throw away the feet distance – I don’t want to know exact feet distances, it trips me up – and read that line as: 2d10 divided by six volley rounds (rounded down as per usual, so there can be zero volley rounds sometimes).

The idea here is that it isn’t an exact feet distance. I was getting feet distance questions a lot (for example from wizards wanting to know if their spells could reach). Now instead of a feet distance, we know that, for example, shatter works on the last round only and lightning bolt works on the last two rounds.

This, my hellish crusade against feet distances, has made me come around to the idea that 5e RAW perhaps wasn’t as TotM-suited as I first thought. I love these house rules though♥. We are like a dozen or so sessions in with them, they work well. TOR reads as super stiff, formal, protocolized etc but decoupling the volley rounds and the back rank predicate into more of a freeform initiative has made everything fluid and fast.

It used to be that I had three kinds of fights: “chase”, “volley”, and “ordinary fight”. “Chase” and “volley” were the same thing: using paper & pencil I’d keep track of the feet distances carefully. In “ordinary fight”, all questions of ranges and movement was just yes yes yes. Can I run up to them? Yes. Can my weapon reach them? Yes. Can they really run up to me I dashed? Yes. (And after a while I added “interception” which ended up being exactly like 13th Age’s rule – independently devised.)

And in the past, we had some people always wanting to head back. And it’d mean that either I had to override the listed movement speeds of the tiny li’l monsters in order to maintain the simplified, no-track-keeping “ordinary fight”, or I had to roll up my sleeves and go to a full “chase”. And since some people “I head back 60 feet” every fight that became a chore.

The introduction of the back rank predicate from TOR has been a godsend♥♥♥

Now, when someone is like “I walk back and use so-and-so ability to step backwards”, I go “OK, so your intent is to move further back than Ran, so she becomes front rank?”. And then they can “yes” or “no” on that.

The option of going to full “chase” is still there but we need to whip that out much seldomlier. If only one PC is fleeing or moving back or trying to kite, it becomes a manner of them trying to claim the back rank predicate.

And now, the volley rounds make it so that we have to whip out the full “volley” rules seldomlier, too. (When separated by a ravine or something.)

Yesterday we had a fight where many of the participants could fly so this was awesome.

This is very much inspired by the beloved Targets in Areas of Effect table in the DMG.


how many volley rounds are there: encounter distance roll but divide by 6 (round down) to find out number of rounds instead of multiply by 10 to find out distance in feet.

how many volley rounds does my weapon/spell work? range divide by 60 (rounded up).


  • This is good stuff, Sandra. I like it a lot!

    (Though, as often is the case, I don't see what you gain by starting with D&D's rather baroque rules and then "converting" them into something simple and playable...
    This, my hellish crusade against feet distances, has made me come around to the idea that 5e RAW perhaps wasn’t as TotM-suited as I first thought.
    That's something I think a lot when reading all these discussions! Your own approach tends to be more elegant, playable, and fun, in comparison to what I see in the D&D books themselves.)

    As always, thanks for sharing! This is interesting enough that I'd be curious to try it myself. If you ever put together a coherent stand-alone document with the rules you're using, I'd jump on it fairly quickly.
  • (Fourth and final thread necro for the day):

    Here is a two-page PDF with just the TotM-fighting stuff, including volley rounds. For a more complete overview of all kindsa house rules, see here.
  • edited March 27

    For those that didn’t see it in the PDF, the update to the “volley rounds” rule is that now the rounds don’t tick down if:

    • There is a big obstruction in the way such as castle wall, ravine etc, or
    • Neither side wants to close in.

    In other words, if either side wants to close in, and there’s no obstruction, the rounds tick down. They tick down at the same rate if one side wants to close in as if both sides want to close in.

    (The math behind the volley rounds is based on the idea that the groups get sixty feet closer each round, but the rule is only based on that, it then left that behind. So it’s not “only one side wants to close in that should mean half a tick or 30 feet” or w/e. No way! Closing in は closing in だ! If you’re actively running away otoh then it’s time for a chase. And… I haven’t made chase rules yet but I might work on them today! Procrastinating from a big writing project!)

    And "not ticking down" means that instead of the volley rounds going 3, 2, 1, mêlée it's 3, 3, 3, 3 etc. So only attacks usable on the third-last volley-round or sooner are usable.

    I had to bring the group kicking and screaming into the idea that volley rounds are a time measurement rather than a distance measurement. My poor darling group they're still gearing up for that Kessel run :bawling:
  • は ... だ [wa da] = is
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