There are a lot of bizarre implications introduced by the visibility effect revisions I brought up in my last post, which I hope to explain in greater detail here. For starters, folding the concept of falling, “dropping prone,” and such into one such power creates some new difficulties. Or does it? It complicates “knockdown” effects. Or does it?

There are a number of strange and wonderful creatures populating the world of Dungeons & Dragons, including creatures that defy our understanding of biology. If you think that knocking a monster off its legs should be accounted for in the rules, let me counter with this question: “how do you knock down an earth elemental?”

The thing is that, similar to The Problem With Grappling Rules, “falling down” is a concept that’s difficult to apply to the greater spectrum of fantasy creatures. What happens when a flying creature is knocked prone? And really, what’s the best terminology to apply in this case? Knocked down? Prone? Crouching? Crawling?

The best answer I find is to stop looking at “prone” as a unique effect.

Creatures without legs are difficult to knock down on the ground, and creatures without a definite “up” or “down” to them don’t suffer any great disadvantage to being knocked silly, so what do you do instead? Give them special immunity to such effects? No, that’s the loser way of dealing with it. That’s right, you heard me.

Just kidding guys. No really, I make fun of you all the time. You do a great job, and I wouldn’t have anything to talk about if you weren’t screwing stuff up working such long hours to introduce new mechanics and advance our understanding of game systems.

Here’s the thing, they gave us the “immobilized” condition, which prevents creatures and characters from voluntarily leaving the space they’re in — honestly, what good is another condition that just applies “immobilized” but attached more requirements to it and is incompatible with several of D&D’s iconic monsters? (Beholders, Oozes)

Beyond the basic problems of defining what happens when a creature falls down or does something else that’s weird and hard to define (which is still entirely possible with the Dodge Roll power), there’s a question of stacking creatures in a space.

I made a joke once during a D&D session that “you could have an infinite number of creatures in one space as long as only one of them is standing,” which knowledgeable readers will recognize as a Dwarf Fortress reference, but it’s a problem in D&D. When does one determine a space impassable? Does a prone creature grant cover?

The easiest answer to this seems to me to be, “don’t let creatures share spaces.” This introduces more problems regarding movement and passage and such, but I think you can tell your players they can move through allies as long as they don’t stop there, whether the ally is conscious or not. An unconscious ally is an obstacle to go around.

So instead of knocking creatures down, you force them to move. Push? Pull? Slide? It doesn’t really matter. Why knock them down when you can move them around? Indeed, why knock them down when you can immobilize them instead?

This is a neat way to consolidate some annoying and complicated rules, as well as reinforce the impact of the “immobilized” condition. Replace instances of “knock down” with “immobilize” and see it yourself. I don’t know how well it’ll apply to everything, but it’s well worth a shot. You know I’ll certainly be working with it. *smiles*