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Say I decide I want to attack a Gnoll Pack Lord 10 feet away from me and I have 3 attacks. I roll 3 times and each roll is a hit. If my first two attacks kill the Gnoll, can I use the third on one of his buddies (assuming they're within my range) or is the attack lost?

Only asking because on Critical Role, it seems like they roll all their attacks and then roll for damage after all of the attack rolls are made.

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You make your attacks one at a time.

Here is what the rules say regarding attacks:

Attack

The most common action to take in combat is the Attack action, whether you are swinging a sword, firing an arrow from a bow, or brawling with your fists.

With this action, you make one melee or ranged attack. See the "Making an Attack" section for the rules that govern attacks.

Certain features, such as the Extra Attack feature of the fighter, allow you to make more than one attack with this action.

Making an Attack

Whether you're striking with a melee weapon, firing a weapon at range, or making an attack roll as part of a spell, an attack has a simple structure.

  1. Choose a target. Pick a target within your attack's range: a creature, an object, or a location.

  2. Determine modifiers. The DM determines whether the target has cover and whether you have advantage or disadvantage against the target. In addition, spells, special abilities, and other effects can apply penalties or bonuses to your attack roll.

  3. Resolve the attack. You make the attack roll. On a hit, you roll damage, unless the particular attack has rules that specify otherwise. Some attacks cause special effects in addition to or instead of damage.

You declare that you are making an Attack action, and pick your first target, determine modifiers, then resolve the attack. Then you begin making your second attack, pick your next target, determine modifiers, resolve the attack. Finally begin your third attack, pick your third target, determine modifiers, then resolve the attack.

When Two Weapon Fighting, the additional attack is a bonus action. It does not happen simultaneously.

When you take the Attack action and attack with a light melee weapon that you're holding in one hand, you can use a bonus action to attack with a different light melee weapon that you're holding in the other hand.

With the Extra Attack feature you can make two attacks when you take the Attack action. This does not force you to roll them simultaneously, you take one then the next.

Rolling multiple attacks at once is for convenience to speed up combat. If you play with this houserule then your DM may come up with a way for you to use the excess die, but there are a number of questions.

  1. Normally attacks happen in order, so miss, miss, hit, dead is different to hit, dead, 2x attacks can be directed elsewhere. If you rolled 2 misses and 1 hit, killing the enemy, do you expect those 2 misses to be "excess", to be redirected somewhere else?
  2. If you are rolling damage and attacks together, how do you determine which damage belongs to which attacks?
  3. If you can redistribute attacks after rolling them, then can you choose to put them on targets with AC low enough that you know you will hit? Do you need to reroll them when redistributing them?

Some suggested solutions:

  • Roll multiple colors of die; eg red is your first attack, green is your second, blue is your third. Then you can tell when you killed the enemy and which attacks are left over. Suggested by V2Blast (go give him rep!)
  • Just don't care. Depending on your encounters it may be rare for the situation to ever cause any advantage. Suggested by KRyan (give him rep too!)

In my opinion is it best to roll 1 at a time. But if you do want to roll all at once, then you have the inherent disadvantage of possible overkill.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Moving between attacks is addressed in the Sage Advice Compendium v 2.3 that is posted in WoTC web site. It was issued in early 2019. On page page 4 it refers to moving between attacks listed on p. 190 of the PHB. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Oct 18 at 12:54
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Medix2 I was just trying to think of ways to get more attacks, I thought TWF would be a good example since it is explicitly a separate action. You are welcome to edit it if you still think it's out of place, I'm on the fence. \$\endgroup\$ – jgn Oct 18 at 13:49
  • \$\begingroup\$ @jgn On a second reading it seems alright now (plus it's rather short),comments removed \$\endgroup\$ – Medix2 Oct 18 at 13:54
  • \$\begingroup\$ The dice color bit works well. I've done it for ages, with the simple rule of using the dice light to dark. \$\endgroup\$ – Loren Pechtel Oct 19 at 2:32
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Per Player’s Handbook page 194-195 (mostly 195), “an attack” is choosing a target, rolling the attack roll, and then rolling the damage. So when you have more than one attack, you do those three things for each attack—separately. And attacks don’t get broken up—when you attack, you choose a target, roll the attack, and roll damage, and then worry about whatever you’re doing next—attacking again, attacking something else, moving, whatever.

Critical Role probably just does that to speed things up. Most likely if it ever came up, they’d just change things—something like, “I’m attacking the gnoll pack lord three times—oh wait, killed it with just two, ok, last attack goes against that gnoll next to me.”

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  • \$\begingroup\$ “I’m attacking the gnoll pack lord three times—oh wait, killed it with just two, ok, last attack goes against that gnoll next to me.” what would this look like when the two targets have different AC? How would this function with Critical Hits? This houserule leaves a lot of questions to me. I couldn't think of any way to make it work cleanly. Any ideas? \$\endgroup\$ – jgn Oct 18 at 5:16
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    \$\begingroup\$ @jgn: The only thing you'd have to think about seems to be that you're comparing the attack roll to a different target number. The damage roll would still apply if it were a hit, or it would be ignored if the attack would then miss. \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Oct 18 at 6:50
  • \$\begingroup\$ @V2Blast So do you allow only die that hit the first target to attempt to hit the second target? Or do you allow die that missed the first target to attempt to hit the second target? Does that make sense? Say you are rolling against AC15 and you roll a 14 and 15. You kill the target with the 15? Are you allowed to reallocate the 14? If you were rolling sequentially that may have missed if it were the first die rolled. \$\endgroup\$ – jgn Oct 18 at 7:44
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    \$\begingroup\$ @jgn: Ah, fair question. You resolve the attacks in the order they were made. If you would have made 3 attacks against Target A, but the 2nd attack killed Target A, then the 3rd attack is made against Target B. So even if rolling all your attacks at once, you still need some way (e.g. different colored dice) to determine which dice correspond to which attack. \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Oct 18 at 7:51
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    \$\begingroup\$ @jgn As V2Blast says, or simply by not caring. The speed advantage might be worth the small, occasional benefit the attacker gets. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Oct 18 at 12:08
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"Attack" action and an "attack"

The most common action to take in combat is the Attack action, whether you are swinging a sword, firing an arrow from a bow, or brawling with your fists.
With this action, you make one melee or ranged attack. See the "Making an Attack" section for the rules that govern attacks.

This section may lead to some confusion, as it might make you think that the "Attack" action and "attacks" are one and the same; there is a general issue with 5th Edition rules and the capitalisation of certain words in certain contexts.

Certain features, such as the Extra Attack feature of the fighter, allow you to make more than one attack with this action.

This section should be clarifying that issue though, showing that it allows you to "make more than one attack", suggesting from a language or RAI point of view the attacks within a string of Extra Attack attacks are separate attacks, this is why you roll to hit multiple times and it's not just one roll for all the attacks.

Can I use the third on one of his buddies?

Yes! The reason for this is that, per the "Attack" rules, each attack is a separate attack made within the "Attack" action. So each time you make an attack within the action, you would run through the "Making an Attack" rules again, the very first step of which is:

  1. Choose a target. Pick a target within your attack's range: a creature, an object, or a location.

So if we were to break down your turn, it would look a little like this:

  1. Move within range of the Gnoll Pack Lord and his friends (Movement).
  2. Declare an attack (Choose a target, determine modifiers)
  3. Make an attack (Resolve the attack)
  4. Declare an attack (Choose a target, determine modifiers)
  5. Make an attack (Resolve the attack)
  6. Declare an attack (Choose a target, determine modifiers)
  7. Make an attack (Resolve the attack)
  8. End of Turn (EOT)

This is assuming you are using the Extra Attack feature of a level 11 Fighter but it would also work with a character using Two Weapon Fighting alongside an extra attack, only difference would occur with how the modifiers are determined:

You don't add your ability modifier to the damage of the bonus attack, unless that modifier is negative.

Critical Role's Critical Rules

Critical Role is not an accurate representation of Live Play using RAW as they use Homebrew Classes, Houserules, and bend the way Initiative works to suit the media format they are creating, they roll all the stuff at once because it's both more dramatic, and more practical for getting quick turns out of the way in what could be lengthy combat encounters. At the end of the day, their goal is entertainment and not a strict following of the rules.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Nothing wrong with rolling all attacks at once if there is only one bad guy near by. Similarly, some people in my own group often roll an attack and damage dice at the same time for efficiency. (If the attack misses the damage is ignored of course, otherwise its done). None of this "against the rules" - its just a case of expediency vs "jumping the gun" (i.e confusion of rolling dice before the situation resolves and makes the roll irrelevant). \$\endgroup\$ – PJRZ Oct 18 at 9:34
  • \$\begingroup\$ @PJRZ I don't mean for the tone of my post to suggest doing that is a bad thing or that it's wrong. Learning RAW can lead to more efficient shortcuts, or understanding of other peoples shortcuts and avoid confusion. I always to a full turn's rolls at once, as a DM and a Player, it just makes combat run much faster, if a player kills something, we all understand and take rolls, in a linear order, that happen after the death, and apply them to a target-able creature of the player's request. If there's a section that seams to be marking it as wrong, please let me know so I can fix the tone. \$\endgroup\$ – SamsyTheUnicorn Oct 18 at 9:37
  • \$\begingroup\$ And I didn't mean to imply your post was incorrect in any way! I just thought it would be useful to say that "pre-rolling" dice isn't necessarily wrong and can save time, only that it can lead to confusion if you don't know the RAW (as you have described) :) \$\endgroup\$ – PJRZ Oct 18 at 12:44

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