[RPG] How to rule halfling tossing as a combat action

dnd-4emovement

The party I am GMing has three characters over 6' tall with 20+ strength as well as a halfling and a kobold, both small and about 3' tall.

A couple of times, they have wanted the big characters to toss the small characters across gaps, and then later on in the game, they found themselves in a position where there was tactical advantage to getting the small characters tossed ahead of the big characters.

On the fly we ruled that picking up a small character was a minor action, tossing it was a standard action, and that landing after being tossed cost the small creature a minor action.

Are there rules that cover this kind of activity?
If not, does the action economy we went for seem right?

Best Answer

Here is how I'd rule it and why I'd rule it that way.

The players are trying to use the stronger characters' abilities to compensate for the smaller characters' shortcomings. That's good thinking, and I want to reward it without encouraging it. My goal is to make them happy that the idea works but to find other solutions, like the smaller characters investing in Athletics or magic items.

First, the larger character must pick up the smaller character. This is a minor action. The smaller character must be in a square adjacent to the larger character, and the larger character must have both hands free since humanoids are unwieldy. This is no big hindrance to either party so far.

Next, the larger character must throw the smaller character. This is definitely a standard action. That's a high cost in combat, and it's something the smaller character could typically do for himself as a move action if the player actually invested in jumping.

Requiring a roll makes sense. After all, you have to make an Athletics roll every time you jump yourself. I don't want the smaller character to get the full benefit of the thrower's investment in Athletics, though. I'd say the thrower's running start determines the check result's denominator as normal (5 with a running start, 10 without), but the thrower takes a -2 penalty to the check. That doesn't sound like much, but it should be enough to reliably reduce the maximum range by one square.

The throw doesn't count as the thrown character's movement, which is superior to a jump, but it shouldn't be as safe. The thrown character has to make a DC 15 Acrobatics check as a free action or fall prone in the destination square. For every square of movement that is higher than the thrown character's speed, he suffers a -2 penalty to this check. This should generally eat up a move action on the character's turn, and the trade-off of granting combat advantage essentially washes with the risk and increased speed of running.

Alternatively, the thrower may make an attack with the smaller character. In this case, I'd just rule it's similar to a ranged attack with an improvised weapon. I'd say a character used like this has the heavy thrown property, so use Strength instead of Dexterity. The range is 5/10, no Athletics check required thanks to the attack roll, but the thrown character cannot be heavier than the thrower's normal load (Strength x 10 pounds). The thrown character always falls prone in a square adjacent to the target regardless of whether the attack hits. For damage, use the low normal damage expression appropriate to the level per the Dungeon Master's Guide. Both the target and the thrown character take this damage on a hit.

Related Topic