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    Default Anyone else use the optional Cleave rule?

    For the unfamiliar, its an optional rule in the game in the DMG.

    "When a melee attack reduces an undamaged creature to 0 hit points, any excess damage from that attack might carry over to another creature nearby. The attacker targets another creature within reach and, if the original attack roll can hit it, applies any remaining damage to it. If that creature was undamaged and is likewise reduced to 0 hit points, repeat this process, carrying over the remaining damage until there are no valid targets, or until the damage carried over fails to reduce an undamaged creature to 0 hit points."


    We started using it as a way for melee characters to be able to swiftly clear out weak enemies. Its been a blast for my Barbarian so far, and I was just curious if anyone else uses this rule.
    Last edited by jaappleton; 2019-05-18 at 11:12 AM. Reason: typo

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    Default Re: Anyone else use the optional Cleave rule?

    Do you also have GWM? If so, how's the interaction work?

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    Default Re: Anyone else use the optional Cleave rule?

    Quote Originally Posted by Tanarii View Post
    Do you also have GWM? If so, how's the interaction work?
    Yes, indeed.

    Here's how we worked it:

    I'm surrounded on 3 sides by guards, who have full HP. I roll to his the first guard, with the -5 penalty of GWM, to attack the guard on the left. If it hits, and kills the target outright, the excess damage is then moved to the next target (since all the guards had the same stat block, they have the same AC, so the initial attack would've been enough to hit the second target).

    We rolled stats, so after 20 Str, GWM, and Rage, I managed to roll a crit on my glaive for 3d10+17 (extra dice from Half Orc). The result was 38 damage, which actually took out all 3 guards around me in a single strike.

    I think its a wonderful rule because it puts excess damage to good use. Its empowering to be able to deal with mooks like that, instead of plugging away one at a time. Kept the flow of the fight going really well, too.

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    RogueGuy

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    Default Re: Anyone else use the optional Cleave rule?

    As a Dm, I just love this rule right now as a way to deal with the parties summons, especially when there is one big monster against several summons

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    SwashbucklerGuy

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    Default Re: Anyone else use the optional Cleave rule?

    Quote Originally Posted by jaappleton View Post
    For the unfamiliar, its an optional rule in the game in the DMG.

    "When a melee attack reduces an undamaged creature to 0 hit points, any excess damage from that attack might carry over to another creature nearby. The attacker targets another creature within reach and, if the original attack roll can hit it, applies any remaining damage to it. If that creature was undamaged and is likewise reduced to 0 hit points, repeat this process, carrying over the remaining damage until there are no valid targets, or until the damage carried over fails to reduce an undamaged creature to 0 hit points."


    We started using it as a way for melee characters to be able to swiftly clear out weak enemies. Its been a blast for my Barbarian so far, and I was just curious if anyone else uses this rule.
    I like the idea, but the rule is really strange in terms of RAW: it's easier to kill three full health guards than it is to kill three near dead kobolds. If the second kobold is already on deaths door at 1 hp, the condition "was undamaged and reduced to 0 hp" can't be met. It also suggests that, when mobbing a singular powerful enemy with a large group, the mob should each hit themselves for 1hp first so that the cleave can never kill more than 2 of the group at once.
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    Default Re: Anyone else use the optional Cleave rule?

    Quote Originally Posted by diplomancer View Post
    As a Dm, I just love this rule right now as a way to deal with the parties summons, especially when there is one big monster against several summons
    My players argue for all sort of stuff. I agree, but just say that the monsters will get the same bonuses.

    They usually quieten down after that...

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    BardGuy

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    Default Re: Anyone else use the optional Cleave rule?

    Sounds good - i think the martials need a few little extras in 5e.

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    Default Re: Anyone else use the optional Cleave rule?

    I wasn't using it before, but I will start using it now! I like tossing lots of low HP enemies at once, gives an appropriately epic feel when it comes to having players wade through a force to reach a target, and having the barbarian cleave through multiple with every swing sounds incredibly compelling to me.
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    Default Re: Anyone else use the optional Cleave rule?

    As far as the “Well it doesn’t work if the target has been damaged”, my table hand waves that. It’s pretty dumb that just because one little minion already took 2 damage, he somehow can’t take 12 from my glaive even though the healthy guy next to him just did.

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    BardGuy

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    Default Re: Anyone else use the optional Cleave rule?

    this...

    ....this changes everything :O

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    Default Re: Anyone else use the optional Cleave rule?

    Quote Originally Posted by jaappleton View Post
    Yes, indeed.

    Here's how we worked it:

    I'm surrounded on 3 sides by guards, who have full HP. I roll to his the first guard, with the -5 penalty of GWM, to attack the guard on the left. If it hits, and kills the target outright, the excess damage is then moved to the next target (since all the guards had the same stat block, they have the same AC, so the initial attack would've been enough to hit the second target).
    What I meant is GWM gives you a bonus action attack if you reduce an enemy to 0 hps.

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    Default Re: Anyone else use the optional Cleave rule?

    Quote Originally Posted by Tanarii View Post
    What I meant is GWM gives you a bonus action attack if you reduce an enemy to 0 hps.
    What's confusing you on that?

    You get the kill, and so you can make a single attack as a Bonus Action. That's totally separate from the Cleave variant rule.
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    Default Re: Anyone else use the optional Cleave rule?

    Quote Originally Posted by JNAProductions View Post
    What's confusing you on that?

    You get the kill, and so you can make a single attack as a Bonus Action. That's totally separate from the Cleave variant rule.
    What's "confusing me" (more like making me curious) is it is potentially viewed as double dipping two different cleave effects off the same trigger.

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    Default Re: Anyone else use the optional Cleave rule?

    Quote Originally Posted by Tanarii View Post
    What's "confusing me" (more like making me curious) is it is potentially viewed as double dipping two different cleave effects off the same trigger.
    I suppose. But feats come at a high cost (well, usually-seems like this group rolled for stats and so it ain't so high), so I'd be fine with it.

    Mechanically, there should be no confusion. For balance, I can understand some tweaks.
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    Default Re: Anyone else use the optional Cleave rule?

    It certainly seems like a good variant for warriors in a featless campaign, I must say.

    One tweak I'd probably make to it is Sneak attack damage doesn't count.

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    Default Re: Anyone else use the optional Cleave rule?

    From a rules as reality, that sounds fair enough. Having a lascannon stab sounds weird.

    From a rules as mechanics, it sounds fine though. Rogues tend to lack a bit of multi-target damage, so giving them a bit of an option vs mook mobs wouldn't be that terrible of a thing. Slicing 2-3 throats in one swing is a bit of a Hollywood staple for assassin types anyway.

    It would take them out of their niche. It depends on whether you think this is a good thing or not (considering almost every other class has fairly cheap ways of doing multitarget damage, including every other melee class if you're using the cleave rule, I think it would be worse to leave SA out of cleave than it would be to leave it in).

    Balances out shooter safety vs melee dpr quite well in some ways. Also makes some wildshape forms a touch better too (some have fairly big attacks, but not many of them, where you have to roll quite well to hit anyway). Probably wouldn't let other WS triggers cleave though, even if they fulfilled the conditions (stomps vs several prone targets, etc), so you might have a point on SA not cleaving.

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    Kobold

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    Default Re: Anyone else use the optional Cleave rule?

    Rather than not count sneak attack one option is to limit it to attacks made with strength. Gives strength a boost if you feel it needs it. So a rogue could still get a sneak attack cleave but only if they are a burly one.
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    Default Re: Anyone else use the optional Cleave rule?

    How would you rule it for wildshape though? It's not implicitly using stats, though it's usually pretty obvious which stat it is using. Doesn't really matter too much anyway, the extra damage bits definitely aren't SA.

    So, Giant Elk ram cleave bowling is fine? It's only 4d6+4 at 10', so it's not exactly OP, but I guess the initial damage would have to cleave through the first target, or the extra ram damage, but you can't just add both together as "one attack"? Or something. Don't really know. It's "extra damage" on that attack, so adding them all together for cleave purposes seems fine (or at least, the easier way of doing it), but I'm wondering how others would do it. Stuff like Giant Scorpion poison, etc?

    That's the only tricky bit I can see from using cleave. Wildshape's damage instances, and what cleaves and how.
    Last edited by sambojin; 2019-05-18 at 08:07 PM.

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    GnomeWizardGuy

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    Default Re: Anyone else use the optional Cleave rule?

    My thought is that cleave/ram attacks should have a sense of directing for attacking adjacent opponents. Ram works like a line attack, while cleave is a sweeping circle. I would have GWM give the one bonus action attack as you bring your weapon under control before the opponents have a chance to recover.

    As for Rogues, I won't have sneak attack dice bleed through, but I may consider having them spend only as many dice as required to bonus action SA with a smaller number of dice.

    So if they have 5 SA dice, they only need 2 dice to fell one creature, they can use a bonus actin to attack and spend 3 dice on another creature. If they are using anything that limits attacks to 1/round (crossbow) then that doesn't happen.

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    Default Re: Anyone else use the optional Cleave rule?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mith View Post
    My thought is that cleave/ram attacks should have a sense of directing for attacking adjacent opponents. Ram works like a line attack, while cleave is a sweeping circle. I would have GWM give the one bonus action attack as you bring your weapon under control before the opponents have a chance to recover.

    As for Rogues, I won't have sneak attack dice bleed through, but I may consider having them spend only as many dice as required to bonus action SA with a smaller number of dice.

    So if they have 5 SA dice, they only need 2 dice to fell one creature, they can use a bonus actin to attack and spend 3 dice on another creature. If they are using anything that limits attacks to 1/round (crossbow) then that doesn't happen.
    I feel like this system falls into 3.5 simulationist thought, where each step is reasonable but may take away from the spirit of the mechanic in the first place. By making it so 'fair' and non-abuseable, you've made attacking mechanically difficult. And I don't know how much enjoyment people would even get out of it. After awhile people . might just overkill and describe what variety of chunky salsa they just cooked up.
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    Default Re: Anyone else use the optional Cleave rule?

    Quote Originally Posted by Eragon123 View Post
    I feel like this system falls into 3.5 simulationist thought, where each step is reasonable but may take away from the spirit of the mechanic in the first place. By making it so 'fair' and non-abuseable, you've made attacking mechanically difficult. And I don't know how much enjoyment people would even get out of it. After awhile people . might just overkill and describe what variety of chunky salsa they just cooked up.
    I agree on there not being a need to complicate things. I'd let rogues have it. They don't get multiple attacks. That should be enough tbh. At least the way I see it in use.
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    Bugbear in the Playground
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    Default Re: Anyone else use the optional Cleave rule?

    I'm totally going to use this in my game. Gives martials a way to deal with mobs, instead of putting that 'job' on the casters woth AoE.

    As for Sneak Attack: if they're not using a dagger, I might let them carry over damage to 1 target that's close *behind* their first, instead of next to it.
    Because most Finesse and Ranged weapons are Piercing, it wouldn't really make sense to have a great arc. But stabbing a guy through the gut of his buddy sounds possible, and gives Rogues a way to be nice and brutal in their actions.

    Hopefully, this inspires some in-combat RP, with the players describing their actions and attacks.
    Instead of just going "I attack that guy. Does an 18 hit? Okay, I deal *rolls+math* 12 damage."

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    Default Re: Anyone else use the optional Cleave rule?

    Quote Originally Posted by DarkKnightJin View Post

    Hopefully, this inspires some in-combat RP, with the players describing their actions and attacks.
    You could put in that rule but havebthe prerequisites for it working is that you have to RP your attacks.
    "Ok, trees. We are about to go into a dungeon--hey, Twigs, you paying attention?--ok, so stay out here, and if we come running out of there with a hoard of monsters behind us you're going to go all Harry Potter on them as if they were cars. No, Itchy-Bark, it's a reference. Ever heard of breaking character? *Sigh* Just stay here and kill things that chase us out. Make like a tree and... stay."

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    GnomeWizardGuy

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    Default Re: Anyone else use the optional Cleave rule?

    Quote Originally Posted by Eragon123 View Post
    I feel like this system falls into 3.5 simulationist thought, where each step is reasonable but may take away from the spirit of the mechanic in the first place. By making it so 'fair' and non-abuseable, you've made attacking mechanically difficult. And I don't know how much enjoyment people would even get out of it. After awhile people . might just overkill and describe what variety of chunky salsa they just cooked up.
    Fair enough point. The RP prerequisite will likely cover most cases anyway

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    Default Re: Anyone else use the optional Cleave rule?

    The reason not to give it to rogues is you're changing their role. From single target to multitarget. Extra attack is designed so you can divide it up if you need to. They don't get extra attack for a reason.

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    Default Re: Anyone else use the optional Cleave rule?

    I use it but only apply it to non-finesse weapons.

    Or I should say it's an option in my game but we forget about it constantly.

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    Imp

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    Default Re: Anyone else use the optional Cleave rule?

    I must admit that I thought this was a rule that only existed in 3.5 and hadn't carried over to 5e. I wish I'd known earlier, because I play a Vengeance Paladin with 2-handers that would really get a lot out of this mechanic. I also expect that my DM probably wouldn't allow it for this same reason.

    Quote Originally Posted by MeeposFire View Post
    Rather than not count sneak attack one option is to limit it to attacks made with strength. Gives strength a boost if you feel it needs it. So a rogue could still get a sneak attack cleave but only if they are a burly one.
    I like this reasoning. However, I'd like to carry it further: don't make it ability based, but only allow it with slashing (and debatable, bludgeoning) weapons. If you're slicing through someone with a sword, it's easy to cleave through the body and damage the next enemy in the same sweeping motion. The same could perhaps be said for ramming someone with a maul, though I'm personally not in favour of it because it will lose momentum - I might allow half damage. A piercing weapon, on the other hand, can't technically cleave - well, not unless the next enemy was spooning the first one. So I wouldn't count that type of weapon as able to carry over the damage to any enemy within reach, unless they used a lance or a pike to skewer both enemies with the same thrust.

    So I'd make it into something like this:

    Slashing: yes. If enemy is within reach and adjacent to first target, then full remaining damage. If enemy is within reach but not adjacent, then half remaining damage.
    Bludgeoning: DM's discretion. If enemy is within reach and adjacent to first target, then half remaining damage (full remaining damage in case of crit). If enemy is within reach but not adjacent, then no remaining damage.
    Piercing: no. Exception: lance and pike have 5ft reach. If enemy is right behind first target, then full remaining damage. If enemy is within reach but not behind, then no remaining damage.

    (edit: I would allow a bludgeoning weapon to carry over full remaining damage if the original hit was a crit - then the weapon would have enough momentum to blast through the first target's body - added this)
    Last edited by Maelynn; 2019-05-19 at 05:10 PM.
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    NecromancerGuy

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    Default Re: Anyone else use the optional Cleave rule?

    So far the party Rogue has been the main person to benefit from it between her high initiative, tendency to be a little bit ahead of the rest of the party, and speed.

    Even when our party fighter does benefit from it, she's a Battlemaster with the Dueling Fighting Style and she usually doesn't spend superiority dice on mooks, so it's very minor amounts of damage that carry over, partially because she has a tendency to roll low on individual attacks and instead accrues damage through all 3 of her attacks hitting more often than not and giving her a minimum of 9 damage each hit.

    The Ranger is a Beast Conclave Revised Ranger, so she's either doing ranged attacks or is TWFing at 3d6+4 damage on the more powerful of her two attacks and her animal companion's damage isn't all that great either at 1d6+7.

    In the other games that use or used it, generally the Paladin has reserved smites for boss-type creatures, so basically it's only come up with the occasional lucky crit against a mook and even then it was generally minor damage that didn't make it any faster to kill the creature damaged by the cleave overflow damage, unless maybe one of the casters had targeted it with a cantrip instead. Polymorph has mostly worked out so that it's been used against bosses or has come late in the initiative order so we haven't yet seen any Cleave damage from a polymorphed Giant Ape and haven't yet seen a T-Rex period. I'm sure once one of us turned into a Giant Ape DOES roll a crit against an undamaged enemy, they'll end up either having a glorious good time or have it be a lone enemy with none within Cleave range just for RNGesus to spite us.
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    Goblin

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    Default Re: Anyone else use the optional Cleave rule?

    Mechanically, i can see why some would like to restrict from rogues or peircing...

    but can't a spear pierce through multiple targets? a rapier to the neck of some foe, wont the guy right behind be surprised if suddenly he gets a stab in the eye before he can dodge? yes, there is realism, but "fantasy game" and "rules to make more fun to wade a horde of enemies" i see no reason to exclude the rogue from the fun if you are going to use to use this rule, it seems more of melee/martials cant have nice things to me...

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    Default Re: Anyone else use the optional Cleave rule?

    I think it'll work just fine including rogues if you're using 1HP mooks, 4e style. With only one attack, rogue benefits less than others. But 1HP mooks aren't for everyone, so I see the issue.
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