Know Your Ally

We’ve all been there. The party have a carefully crafted plan that involves the PCs splitting up and one group waiting for the other group’s signal. And yet they players didn’t think to agree on what the signal was beforehand. Some DMs will hand-wave it and say “You’ve adventured together long enough that you would have come to some agreement”. Other DMs would have perfectly valid reasons for not letting the groups communicate. But what about the DMs that like to rely on dice and maybe some kind of benefit from a shared history?

For my group I’ve decided to do the following:
Each player writes on their character sheet the names of their allies. Next to each ally, they put the number of levels they have been adventuring with that particular ally, halved and rounded down. I have four PCs in my group. 3 of them (Maritt, Theren and Torrin) have been adventuring for 8 levels together and the final one (Horan) only joined them in the last level. Maritt’s character sheet would have the following added:

  • Theren: 4
  • Torrin: 4
  • Horan: 0

When a situation arises where we need to know how well a PC knows another PC, I will get them to make a Know Your Ally check. This is a d20 + the number noted for the ally. The DC is always 16. This means two adventurers who start out together will have a 25% chance of succeeding at level 1. By the time they have reached level 30 together, they know each other so well, there is no need to roll, ever.
Yes, it complicates things and 4E doesn’t need more complications added to it, but I don’t think the situation comes up that often and there isn’t that much to add to the character sheet.

If you wanted to, you could take this a step further and create Utility powers using Know Your Ally checks. These are two I have come up with, but there could possibly be more:
Arcane Dodge Utility 6
The shimmering and slight shaking in the ground beneath your feet is all too familiar. There is no need to look at Dralen to know that a spell is imminent.
Trigger: An ally makes an area burst attack that includes you as a target.
Effect: Make a Know Your Ally roll. On a success, you move 2 squares. NOTE: as this is a move and not a shift, it still provokes an opportunity attack

Set Them Up Utility 6
Slashing at the left side of the kobold, will force him closer to Freya, allowing her to slice his kidney open.
Trigger: You hit with a melee attack.
Effect: Make a Know Your Ally check. On a success, the creature that you hit grants combat advantage to the ally that was the subject of the Know Your Ally check.

These were just two powers I came up with off the top off my head and haven’t been anywhere near a table, but are just to illustrate my point.


  1. richgreen01

    Blimey! A Daily Encounter article!

    My players are always forgetting to agree signals beforehand or to arrange where they will meet up after separating. The party wizard is also renowned for his friendly fire incidents so I can see Arcane Dodge coming in handy for the other PCs. I don’t think a shift of 2 squares would be too powerful though, and I reckon you could use this just as easily without the Know Your Ally roll if you wanted to. Presumably the power is an immediate interrupt?

  2. paulbaalham

    Whoops yes. First power is immediate interrupt and second is immediate reaction. I’ll fix that later.

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