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I am GMing the 5e starter set with a group with experienced players from Pathfinder, and during the last dungeon (Wave echo cave), they expressed their dissatisfaction with the combat system of the 5e.

We then had a discussion on what was the problem and the main issue was that they could not do sidesteps, so they ended during each fight to stay in melee until the other side was dead (for mindless creatures) or fleeing (for others) [or until they lose].

So I question the reason of the removal of the Sidestep (If you don't take a Move action, you can do a 5 feet movement that don't trigger opportunity attacks) and how to avoid a fight with statics combatants, resuming all the actions to throwing the dice until the fight end?

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    \$\begingroup\$ Related: Are melee combatants limited to standing around saying “I attack”? \$\endgroup\$ – user27327 Jun 6 '17 at 10:43
  • \$\begingroup\$ @markovchain I think it was partially the question I wanted to ask. Thanks. \$\endgroup\$ – Naoskev Jun 6 '17 at 11:47
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    \$\begingroup\$ What other options do your players want? Sidestep is just an opener to other actions, and my pathfinder times are long gone, so I can't quite remember was possible. \$\endgroup\$ – PSquall Jun 6 '17 at 12:32
  • \$\begingroup\$ This question is not too broad - The options from rules is a bound list, and suggestions outside of the rules require backing evidence of efficacy per good subjective/bad subjective. This question hasn't invited a litany bad answers, either. \$\endgroup\$ – Tritium21 Jun 14 '17 at 3:29
  • \$\begingroup\$ Are you using a battle map? \$\endgroup\$ – Rob Rose Jul 4 '17 at 1:34
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There are many ways of moving without triggering Opportunity Attacks.

You can make an opportunity attack when a hostile creature that you can see moves out of your reach. To make the opportunity attack, you use your reaction to make one melee attack against the provoking creature.

You can avoid provoking an opportunity attack by taking the Disengage action. You also don’t provoke an opportunity attack when you Teleport or when someone or something moves you without using your Movement, action, or reaction.

Disengage

Like the other answer stated, you can use the Disengage action (instead of attacking, etc).

If you take the Disengage action, your Movement doesn’t provoke opportunity attacks for the rest of the turn.

Disengage as a Bonus Action

Some classes (like Rogue) can do these actions as a Bonus Action, so they can attack and then disengage.

Teleport

Spells like Teleport or Misty Step move you without triggering opportunity attacks.

You teleport up to 30 feet to an unoccupied space that you can see.

Moving within reach

Another way of moving, albeit more restricted, is to move around your enemy without leaving his range (and thus not giving him an opportunity attack). This can be useful if you're giving your enemy cover from your allies in the back, and you just rotate to his side.

Purposely expending enemy reactions

Another way you can move is to wait until he has expended his reaction. I've seen a ranger purposefully use his animal companion in such a way as to tank opportunity attacks so that enemies no longer have reactions and can't do Opportunity Attacks or Counterspells.

Shove

However, what you might be most interested in is to push and shove your opponents, with the special attack Shove.

Using the Attack action, you can make a special melee attack to shove a creature, either to knock it prone or push it away from you. You make a Strength (Athletics) check contested by the target’s Strength (Athletics) or Dexterity (Acrobatics) check (the target chooses the ability to use). If you win the contest, you either knock the target prone or push it 5 feet away from you.

Once he is away from you, you can move away (assuming he doesn't have Reach over 5ft).

Spells that move enemies

You can also use spells that move enemies away, such as Thunderwave or Dissonant Whispers (thanks to Marq).

ThunderWave - A wave of thunderous force sweeps out from you. Each creature in a 15-foot cube originating from you must make a Constitution saving throw. On a failed save, a creature takes 2d8 thunder damage and is pushed 10 feet away from you.

Dissonant Whispers - On a failed save, it takes 3d6 psychic damage and must immediately use its reaction, if available, to move as far as its speed allows away from you.

Remain unseen

Enemies can only make these attacks if they can see you. Spells like Invisibility solve this.

A creature you touch becomes invisible until the spell ends.

Control enemies.

Any condition that affects sight, attacks, or reactions will influence this. The list includes

  • Blind
  • Charm
  • Incapacitate
  • Paralysis
  • Petrification
  • Stun
  • Unconscious

Numerous spells, such as Fog Cloud, Sleep, etc, will cause these conditions.

Nullify attacks

There are many ways to hinder enemy attacks. Ones that come to mind are disarming enemies, polymorphing them into harmless creatures, applying conditions that cause disadvantage, or receiving buffs that cause disadvantage to attackers. Keep in mind that even without weapons or attacks, any creature can perform an unarmed strike.

Grapple

Grapple an enemy and drag him around with you. You can move him out of reach of your allies (and so they can move about), and you can move around with him without triggering his Opportunity Attacks. With some luck, you can just rotate around and move him away from your allies without having to move yourself and taking other nearby enemies' attacks. Also remember that you can Grapple 2 separate targets and still perform Unarmed Strikes. With the feat, after grappling someone, you can grapple them again to apply the Restrained condition (thanks to Doval).

Friendly Grapple

If a friend is in trouble, Grapple your ally and move him away (forced movement does not trigger OAs). As a house-rule (thanks to Shane), I as a DM would argue that since your ally willingly lets you move him, it is not forced movement and thus triggers Opportunity Attacks anyway, also since Grapple isn't really intended for allies, but... that would only be my house-rule, your DM will likely have a different interpretation.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Grappling doesn't have to be full on bear-hugging someone, so you could actually look at 'friendly grapples' as merely grabbing your ally and pulling them out of combat. This leaves the ally with their guard up until the precise moment that they are pulled out of combat, ensuring that they don't provoke an Opportunity Attack. (IIRC letting go is a free action, as well, so yank them out and let them go.) \$\endgroup\$ – Aviose Jul 3 '17 at 17:00
  • \$\begingroup\$ Big extra note... This heavily promotes team-work to get allies out of tough spots, and I REALLY like that as a DM and a player. \$\endgroup\$ – Aviose Jul 3 '17 at 17:01
  • \$\begingroup\$ If I remember correctly, moving within threatened squares is different between Pathfinder and 5e and that might be something Pathfinder players don't realize. This difference allows for slightly more strategy without provoking OAs, especially if you use the variant facing rule. Recently my group held a battle royale where my cleric and the fighter were dancing around each other; they were trying to get past my shield while I was constantly trying to keep my shield between us. \$\endgroup\$ – Jay Jul 3 '17 at 18:11
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You're the GM. Make combat less static.

I'm going to put this one on your shoulders: unless you're a rare sort of GM* you're expecting to lose just-about all combat encounters. The gameplay objectives, then, don't really include "kill the party."

That gives you a lot of flexibility. You can, at your discretion, use sub-optimal tactics, including eating opportunity attacks while moving combatants around.

You can create monsters who have features which push for dynamic combat: what about a giant frog with a 40' jump that doesn't provoke OA? What about a wild-magic NPC who misty-steps in a random direction any round they take damage? What about Small-sized burrowers who just like to harass via their tunnel networks?

You design the battlefield. You design the monsters' objectives. You have a heavy hand in how the encounter starts. You've got all the dials available to you!

But why would they eat an OA?

Many GMs, this one included, like to have reasonable in-fiction reasons for the things they prefer for table-reasons. So how do we design/conceive combat encounters where "eat the OA to move somewhere else" is a reasonable in-fiction choice for a combatatant to make?

  • Terrain: make sure that your locations have interesting terrain features whose use opponents (and PCs) might value more than a single OA. Choke points, cover, impassable areas....
  • Objectives: you mention that you're tired of combats slogging statically until death or flight. But what about combats whose objectives are "get the secret plans away safely" or "escort the diplomat" or "buy time for ritual to complete"? Suddenly your PCs/monsters/NPCs have interesting motivations, which often lead to interesting combat.

But be a little careful.

Just remember: you've got players who've probably designed characters that are good at going toe-to-toe. Don't take all of that away--sometimes it's nice to line 'em up for your heavy-hitters to knock down. That's a kind of fun, too.


* - there's nothing wrong with this sort of GM, to be clear. "Combat-as-war" is a perfectly valid playstyle and type of fun. It's just, in my experience, not terribly common.

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The Disengage action is what is meant to deal with this. It allows you to run around more freely for a turn and still use your bonus action, while not provoking attacks

Disengage

If you take the Disengage action, your Movement doesn’t provoke opportunity attacks for the rest of the turn.

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