|System Reference Document v3.5|
This variant makes combat more complex, but it opens up new strategic options for PCs and monsters alike. It’s a good choice if your group relishes the tactical complexity of d20 combat and doesn’t mind spending a lot of time duking it out with the bad guys. It won’t change the power level of your game.
This variant supersedes the standard rules for flanking and creates new conditions for the rogue’s use of the sneak attack ability.
For some miniatures, it’s obvious which direction they’re facing; their faces are pointed in a particular direction, and they’re brandishing a weapon in that direction too. But some miniatures look one way and point their weapons another, or it’s otherwise unclear which way they’re facing. To keep things clear at the gaming table, it’s easiest if you mark the front of each miniature with a small dot or arrow on the base. That way everyone knows which way the character represented by the miniature is facing.
Some creatures simply have no facing. See Faceless Creatures, below.
Changing Facing: As you move, you can freely change your facing, rotating your miniature before you step into each new square. In addition, you can change facing at the end of your move. These rules do not apply if your movement is limited to a 5-foot step; see below.
If you do not move during your turn, or if your movement is limited to a 5-foot step, you may change facing once, at any point during your turn, as a free action. You can turn to face any direction you like, but you cannot change facing more than once. (You can also change facing as a move action, however, if you aren’t using your move action to do something else.)
Normal Movement: You can move into any square in your front area at the normal movement cost. As you move, you may change your facing as you enter each new square. Make it clear which way you’re facing as you move, if it matters (such as when enemies are near), and set your miniature’s facing when you’re done moving. (If your miniature is on a square base, the corners of the base may extend beyond the miniature’s space. That’s okay, but remember that regardless of your facing, the size and shape of your space never actually changes.)
Moving Backward or Sideways: In general, you’ll usually turn your character in the direction of movement before making a move. (As described above, you may freely make such changes in facing during movement.) However, sometimes you’ll want to move without changing your facing, to avoid exposing your flank or rear area to an attack of opportunity while you move. It costs two squares of movement to enter a square on your flank or in your rear area.
You do not change facing when taking a 5-foot step. (You may, however, change your facing once as a free action; see Changing Facing, above.)
ATTACKS OF OPPORTUNITY
Characters who don’t want to change their facing to point toward a foe can attack into their flank areas at a -5 penalty and into their rear areas at a -10 penalty.
Characters can make ranged attacks into any square beyond their front area without penalty, as shown in the accompanying diagram. The penalties for making ranged attacks into flank and rear areas are the same as for melee combat.shambling mound has a rear area, but it’s immune to sneak attack damage because it’s a plant. Conversely, a phasm doesn’t have a front or rear, but you can still deal extra sneak attack damage if you catch it flat-footed.
Rogue B may make sneak attacks against the gnoll as long as she’s attacking from one of the gnoll’s rear squares. If the gnoll turns to face Rogue B, she’ll have to move if she wants to make sneak attacks.
Spot Checks: Characters take a -5 penalty on Spot checks to perceive things in their flank area (or beyond) and a -10 penalty on Spot checks in their rear area (or beyond). The Combat Awareness feat eliminates this penalty. Faceless creatures (see below) and creatures with all-around vision ability don’t take this penalty.
Readied Actions: You can’t ready an action to respond to a trigger that occurs in your rear area if you have to see it happen (such as a doorknob turning). But you can ready an action for a sound-based trigger (such as the click of latch opening).elementals and oozes are faceless. Also, the following monsters are faceless: lantern archon, assassin vine, chaos beast, darkmantle, violet fungus, gibbering mouther, mimic, phasm, will-o’-wisp, xorn, and octopus (including giant octopus).
Faceless creatures can move or attack into any adjacent square, and they can’t be flanked or attacked from the rear because they don’t have flanks or rears.Combat Awareness feat affects a character’s awareness to his flanks and rear.
Improved Uncanny Dodge: No attacker gets the +2 bonus for attacking into your flank or the +4 bonus from attack from behind you. Only a rogue four levels higher than you can deal sneak attack damage by attacking from a rear square.
A character holding a shield must indicate whether he’s wielding it to the left or right. The shield only adds to the character’s AC against attacks coming from his front area and the flank area on the shield’s side, plus any squares that lie beyond those areas.
The shield spell provides a bonus to AC against attacks from the front area only.
Benefit: You take no -5 penalty on Spot checks to notice things in or beyond your flank areas. The penalty to notice things in or beyond your rear area is -5.
Normal: The penalty on Spot checks in or beyond your flank areas is -5; on Spot checks in your rear area, it’s -10.
Special: A fighter may select Combat Awareness as one of his fighter bonus feats.
The primary advantage of this variant is that it eliminates the "every other square counts double" rule for diagonal movement, because it eliminates diagonal movement. Characters simply move from hex to adjacent hex, changing direction as they like. To determine the distance between two hexagons, just count hexes by the shorter path (in most cases, there will be a number of equally short paths).
Using a hex-based grid changes relatively little about the game, but poses a mapping dilemma for the GM. Most buildings and dungeons are based on 90-degree and 45-degree corners, so superimposing a hex-based grid on a structure leaves the GM with many partial hexagons, not all of which are big enough for a Medium creature. Use this variant only if you’re comfortable adjucating these partial spaces on the fly.
Depending on their size, creatures take up one or more hexagons on the grid, as shown in the accompanying diagram.
Spell areas change to accomodate the hex grid; refer to the diagram below.