Dungeons & Dragons Online

Retaliation Turns: A Fire Emblem Inspired Combat Experiment

These rules try to adapt the way combat works in the Fire Emblem videogame series to 5e. For those who don't know, its a game where you control a small army of units and you go on missions fighting enemy units on a grid. It sounds a lot like 5e, but one main difference is that whenever you command a unit to attack an enemy, the enemy has the opportunity to retaliate with their own attack(s).

Gameplay Example

The benefits I think implementing this system brings:

  • Gives an active reason for players to pay attention outside of their turn
  • Makes large single creature encounters more viable
  • Increased player coordination and strategy
  • Increased opportunity for DMs to create memorable encounters

I also tried my best to change as few core rules as possible for easy/modular adoption and game balance. That being said, I love both constructive feedback and Asmodeus's advocates. So let me know what you all think.

Thanks in advance for reading! =)

Retaliation Combat Rules

Faction Initiative

All combatants roll for initiative as normal, but combat is divided into Faction Phases (i.e. Player Phase & Enemy Phase). Each faction chooses one initiative roll among its members to represent their faction’s initiative. Faction turn order goes from highest to lowest initiative.

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During the Player Phase, all players convene to coordinate their individual turns. Players can take their respective turns in any order that they agree upon. Similarly, the DM coordinates the enemy NPCs’ turns in any order during the Enemy Phase.

Typically there is simply a Player Phase and an Enemy Phase, but more factions present in the combat means more phases.

Retaliation Turn

In a fight, there isn’t an agreement to only attack once or twice per every 6 seconds. Combat is instead a fast-paced series of exchanges made by all participants involved. These exchanges are represented in the form of Retaliation Turns.

Whenever a hostile creature that you can see makes an attack roll or casts a cantrip against you on their turn, you can take a Retaliation Turn immediately after the hostile creature ends their turn. During your Retaliation Turn, you can only perform one of the following actions: Attack, Multiattack, or Cast a Spell. The spell you cast must be a cantrip.

However, you must pass your Retaliation Turn if an attack roll would be made with disadvantage against the hostile target or if you are flanked.


  • Be wary of spellcasters! Many cantrips use saving throws instead of attack rolls.
  • In a melee exchange, retaliations can be avoided by ending your turn outside of an opponent’s reach.
  • In a shoot-out, retaliations can be avoided by intentionally going prone or moving behind full cover.
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In addition to the flanking definition on pg.251 of the DMG, a creature is considered Flanked if at least two of its opponents share a combined Flank Power equal to or greater than its Flank Resist.

Flank Power. A creature’s Flank Power is generally equal to the total number of spaces it occupies on one side.

Flank Resist. Conversely, a creature’s Flank Resist is generally equal to half the total number of spaces it occupies (rounded down) plus one.

The DM is free to adjust these values as needed. For reference, see the Flanking Power & Resist Table below.

Flanking Power & Resist Table

Creature Size Flank Power Flank Resist
Tiny 0.5 1
Small 1 1
Medium 1 1
Large 2 3
Huge 3 5
Gargantuan 4+ 9+


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