I have a friend who has a very strong opinion that the rules of threatened range and opportunity attacks D&D 5e are completely irrational, which is fine. As a DM he house-rules the stuff from 3.5e at the very least. His main problems are these:

  1. You can move around an opponent, as though they are allowing you freedom for no apparent reason, with no real expenditure on your part. Creatures with outrageous speed can literally run around another creature freely until they get dizzy.

  2. You can interact with objects freely while within the reach of a hostile creature. You can draw or pick up a weapon, reload your crossbow, operate a lever, etc.

  3. You can pull out your bow or your javelin and make a ranged attack with disadvantage, against either the hostile creature or some other target.

According to my friend, you should not be able to do any of that around someone without them contesting it with an opportunity attack. Any skilled fighter shouldn't be letting anything like that slide. Sure, there are Feats that facilitate what he sees as the obvious thing, but those represent training and abilities beyond the norm and are optional at DM discretion anyways.

Have the developers ever explained why they moved away from "threatened squares" and why the above situations do not provoke opportunity attacks anymore?

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    \$\begingroup\$ Please don't answer in comments. \$\endgroup\$ May 26, 2017 at 10:55
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    \$\begingroup\$ We appreciate those who have helped delete the off topic answers from this question. No mods required! Answerers: We know it's really tempting to answer "why you think" this is. But that's off topic on our site. That's why questions like this ask for designer commentary (facts) as to why something is, not everyone's opinions on why it is. Thanks. \$\endgroup\$
    – mxyzplk
    May 26, 2017 at 17:18
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    \$\begingroup\$ I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because questions about designer reasoning are off-topic. See this meta question for details: Are questions about rule intent on topic? \$\endgroup\$
    – DuckTapeAl
    Dec 28, 2018 at 5:58
  • \$\begingroup\$ @DuckTapeAl I don't perfectly recall if it was on-topic before, but things do change, so that's okay. \$\endgroup\$
    – Javelin
    Dec 28, 2018 at 11:48
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    \$\begingroup\$ It was, but there was a rule change in May. \$\endgroup\$
    – DuckTapeAl
    Dec 28, 2018 at 13:05

1 Answer 1


For simplicity's sake.

I couldn't find a direct statement about opportunity attacks, but I did find the following comments:

Mike Mearls, from Amazing Stories Magazine, emphasis added:

What we found through the playtest process, though, was that people like quick fights. They like them a lot, it turns out. A battle is part of the game, a point of resolution in the grander scheme of things, not the entire point of the game. That kind of philosophical revelation has been really big for us in working on the game. We might’ve ended up spending weeks adding detail to the combat system, never realizing that the typical D&D player simply wasn’t interested in that level of detail.

Jeremy Crawford, from The Escapist Magazine:

This game is a set of tools for DMs to use. When someone else is running a game it's theirs. We view rules as servants. They are the servants of fun. The less clear a rule is the more it intrudes on fun.

We can see this philosophy reflected in how opportunity attacks work in 5e. The rule for opportunity attacks has a clear, obvious, single trigger (PHB 195):

You can make an opportunity attack when a hostile creature that you can see moves out of your reach.

On the other hand, there are many ways to trigger (and avoid) an attack of opportunity in 3.5. Flipping through the 3.5 PHB, a wide variety of actions, such as sundering and tripping, allow attacks of opportunity in addition to the situations you cite (158). All these caveats and rules make combat more complicated, which the designers clearly wanted to avoid.

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    \$\begingroup\$ This is also supported by some comments Jeremy makes in the Dragon Talk podcast episode on Stealth. Around 43:00: "I had a far more complex version of the stealth rules...and I gutted them for the simple rules we have now...The last thing we want to do is make that thing that might come up once every 20 sessions make the thing that you do all the time extra complicated, just so that once-every-20-sessions thing will have a rule...and we're going to rely on the DM to handle that 1-in-20 case." \$\endgroup\$
    – Doval
    May 26, 2017 at 5:36

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