I understand that a character can move while fighting.

Following this idea, I guess that, at some point, we would determine that a character have left battle, for example because they are out of range.

How it matters to me is that I am trying to solve a case like this:

  • 2 melee combats happening ~150 feet apart.
  • A character disengage from battle A, trying to join battle B.

I understand that the above scenario may be resolved by considering the two battles as one. I want to know whether any rules help determine whether a character have left a battle.


2 Answers 2


There are no hard rules about this.

An "encounter" in D&D 3.5 is a loosely defined and artificial concept that we use to separate an in-universe period of time and area of space where combat rules like initiative, positioning, and movement speed are important to keep track of. Unlike in some other editions, it doesn't really have much mechanical effect whether or not a character is in a battle or not. There are some rules for when a battle starts, because this is important for determining whether or not a surprise round occurs, whether targets are flat-footed, etc. But in general an encounter just kind of finishes when... well, when the GM decides there's not much point in keeping track of a strict turn order.

A good "rule of thumb" is that a character is involved in a battle if they're... well, participating in it. If the things that are happening in the battle could affect or be affected by the character. The specifics of this are not defined by hard-and-fast mechanics; you'll simply have to use your judgement.

As Adeptus's answer suggests, if there are two fights going on simultaneously in locations close enough to meaningfully affect one another, it's probably a good idea to model them as a single fight (or at least, to run them "in parallel", with a single initiative tracker), because it's entirely reasonable that someone could run from one to the other, or fire a crossbow, or whatever.

On the other hand, if Bob the Coward runs away in the middle of a battle and nobody on either side is at all inclined to chase him down, is it really worth anyone's time to sit there and keep saying "Bob's initiative. He runs another 120 feet further away"? He's ran away. He won't be affecting or affected by the battle in any immediate sense - he's just not participating anymore. If someone is chasing the fleeing character, or if they've only ran out to the edge of bowshot and are watching to see how the fight goes and might return at any time, then you probably want to keep them on the initiative tracker, because they can still effect the battle.

Overall, the point is that being in a battle or not being in a battle is chiefly a matter of whether or not you want to keep track of initiative, exact position, turn order, movement speed, etc. These mechanics are tools for resolving combats. If a combat is being resolved, these tools are useful ones - for most games, they are in fact vitally important.

If a character is not involved in a combat, these tools are probably not necessary. But you can still use them if you want.


In the specific case of your example, the "two battles" should be one

Considering most player races have a 30 foot base speed, and can run 4x that, the two "battles" are barely over 1 round's move apart. When you consider various spells and items that can increase your movement speed, it is possible to move from one melee to the other in 1 round.

That's not even taking into account missile weapons and ranged spells - you could target someone in "battle B" from the far side of "battle A".

Spells with a range of "Long" reach 400 feet + 40 feet per caster level.

A projectile weapon can shoot out to ten range increments. Heavy crossbows have a range increment of 120 feet. So, their maximum range is 1200 feet. The feat Far Shot increases range by 50%, so that would push this to 1800 feet.

In general, I would say no single character can "leave the battle" - they may be out of range of all attacks for a while, but an enemy may chase them down. Also, it lets you keep track of time consistently across the party. Keep using combat rounds for all characters.

If the entire party is out of range of attacks and is able to stay out of range for some time, then end combat. (In an open field, this would be a long distance away - see ranges above. In a dungeon, this may be around a few corners.) If the enemies catch up to them some minutes later, re-roll initiative then.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I upvoted, but I'd suggest making it clear that these battles should have been one all along, not just should be one at the point of the question. \$\endgroup\$
    – Miniman
    Apr 23, 2015 at 5:38
  • \$\begingroup\$ Upvoting but, although it may not be extremely clear given the way my question is developed (clear in the title, at least?), I still would like to know whether any rules help decide whether a character have left a battle. \$\endgroup\$
    – user22511
    Apr 23, 2015 at 5:48
  • \$\begingroup\$ I've edited the question, you may want to revise. \$\endgroup\$ Apr 23, 2015 at 5:58

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