[RPG] How to tweak this crouching rule to balance it


My ranger uses light crossbow. A few sessions back, he flavored his movement and attack as "I move there, and crouch before attacking." In character, previously he taught the others that it is better shooting while crouching, because it does not leave as much open spot. Impressed, I agree, and grants disadvantage on attacks against crouched target.

Disadvantage on all ranged attacks against crouching character, but different from prone, they can stand up and continued to move without movement penalty.

Crouching character also spend extra 1 foot movement per foot moved.

Now after a few sessions now he is consistently telling me that he crouches before he attacks and before he end his turn. After a few sessions, I think having all my readied attack against him got disadvantage, and attacks on my next turn, too, is ridiculous.

How should I modify this crouching rule so that it grants some sort of mechanical advantage, but not big enough so players can abuse it?

I don’t want to just switch to using the Prone rules, because Prone gives disadvantage when attacking, which crouching shouldn't.

Best Answer

Crouching is a no-brainer

And no-brainers are bad design --- you've created a new action that has a very negligible downside. No wonder your players are spamming it!

Think about it --- the only downside is moving slower, but the character can stand up for free, so that downside hardly ever comes into play if the player uses the rule to its fullest.

I would honestly recommend dropping the rule, since it overlaps with the already existing actions Dodge and Drop prone, and by what you describe it's not really adding anything but new rotes to your game. Crouching, bending, swaying and such to avoid ranged attacks is also something abstracted in the characters' AC.

But if you really want to fix it...

Disadvantage is too much for crouching. It's like dropping prone without any of the downsides. Also, the action needs to have a cost or condition to not be spammed in every possible situation. A mere "tweak" won't fix this, so if you really want to keep crouching in your game I propose this instead:

On your turn, as a bonus action, you can crouch. When crouching, any adjacent source of half-cover instead counts as three-quarters cover.

Making it cost one's bonus action introduces a reason not to do it, and restricting its use to places where cover is available makes sense in two ways. First, it reduces the potential for spamming this action. You can also explain that one needs to have a source of cover for the "reduced size" to significantly outweigh the defensive effect of having harder time moving.