Previews05/05/2005


Prepare for War
Previews for May and Beyond



Teamwork Benefits

Armies are constantly training. Their drills and exercises, whether they are marching across a parade ground or using illusion magic to create a realistic mock battle, are an important aspect of the genre. PCs in the military take part in such training because it helps them hone their abilities before the next battle.

What Is a Teamwork Benefit?

War is not an individual calling. Whether it's the precise commands issued to a phalanx of heavy infantry or the instinctive "stay out of each other's way" teamwork of a hill giant horde, military efforts depend on cooperation and teamwork. Elf sentries focus their attention on discrete parts of the surrounding forest, together observing their surroundings in every direction. Mounted knights close their ranks to deliver a devastating charge with their steeds galloping shoulder to shoulder.

PCs benefit from teamwork all the time. Whenever a wizard renders the party invisible, a fighter provides a flanking situation for a rogue, or a cleric heals a wounded barbarian, everyone in the party benefits. In a battlefield situation, such teamwork is even more important, because the PCs' enemies will certainly be using teamwork.

Experienced D&D players understand the value of specific tactics that take advantage of teamwork. However, teamwork also has a more general benefit. Once you've trained with specific comrades, you're attuned to the nuances of how they fight, move, and communicate. Characters who have spent time working as a team can derive a benefit simply from having their comrades nearby. This teamwork benefit grants an expanded use of a skill, a bonus on certain checks, or a battlefield action otherwise unavailable to the team members.

To qualify for a teamwork benefit, PCs must meet two broad categories of requirements: training time and prerequisites.

The Team Roster

Teamwork benefits are based on the notion that once you've spent time training with your comrades, you respond instinctively to subtle changes in body languages and can anticipate your comrades' likely moves. A group of people (PCs or NPCs) must train together for at least two weeks before all members of the group are eligible to share the same teamwork benefits. If you're starting a new campaign in which battlefield adventures will be prominent, it's okay to assume that the PCs have completed this two-week training period before their first battle. The PCs will undoubtedly occupy most of the positions on the roster, but cohorts, animal companions, paladin mounts, familiars, and recurring NPC allies can also be members of a team.

Friendly Fire Evasion

By attuning yourself to minute, almost subliminal changes in your environment, you get just enough warning to avoid damaging area spells cast by your allies.

Training: During the training procedure for this benefit, the spellcasters on your team cast lightning bolts, fireballs, flame strikes, and other area spells in their arsenal, and other team members stand on the fringes of the spells' area, their senses perked for the whiff of brimstone, the crackle of static electricity, or the barely audible hum that occurs an instant before such spells go off. Then you practice ducking, dodging, and covering so that you avoid the damage from those spells.

Task Leader Prerequisite: Spellcraft 4 ranks, evasion ability.

Team Member Prerequisite: Base Reflex save +2, Spellcraft 1 rank.

Benefit: You gain the evasion ability (see page 41 of the Player's Handbook), but only concerning spells cast by your team members.

Tips: Use this teamwork benefit to keep tough characters in the front line despite allied damaging spells raining down around them. Of course, you still need a pretty good Reflex save bonus to take full advantage of this benefit.

Superior Flank

Your team is good at harrying foes by surrounding them. If two of you get into flanking positions, you can both time your attacks to take maximum advantage of the enemy's divided attention. Enemies get so distracted that every attacker benefits.

Training: This teamwork benefit happens only after all the members of the team spend countless hours practicing two-on-one, three-on-one, and other unbalanced melee combats. Eventually the team members develop split-second timing and a keen perception of where the enemy is concentrating his defensive efforts.

Task Leader Prerequisite: Sneak attack +4d6.

Team Member Prerequisite: Base attack bonus +3.

Benefit: Whenever two members of your team flank the same enemy, all members of the team can make melee attacks against that enemy as if they also flanked her. Creatures that can't be flanked are unaffected. Furthermore, if at least two members of your team are flanking a foe who has the improved uncanny dodge ability, add together the rogue levels of all team members engaged in melee with that foe to determine whether she can be flanked. If the sum of your teammates' rogue levels is four more than the foe has Hit Dice, all members of your team can flank that foe.

Tips: If your team has this benefit, you get the +2 bonus for flanking on your melee attacks more frequently. You'll want to study how to flank unusually large creatures (see page 153 of the Player's Handbook).

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