I love abstract combat in 5e its improved the games pace immensely. With only a few exceptions I use it for all my combats. However it is a little problematic when it comes to AOE spells and hitting allies. The sorceress in the party was specifically avoiding picking or casting AOE spells if she couldn’t get off the first shot as it generally meant hitting her own party members who were in melee at the time. I came up with some rules (with the help of fellow DMs) and tested them out and these seemed to work well so I will continue to use them in 5e:
- Determine the maximum number of targets affected per DMG pg. 249
- Based on the logic of the combat determine who would be affected – for example Fighter Y is in melee with Mob 6 so a fireball will hit both.
- Make a DC 10 +5 per target you want to make immune to the attack. For example make an arcane DC 15 roll to make one target immune to the attack, say Fighter Y but not Mob 6. This roll may also be modified by any benefits you have like advantage or fate points.
- Further modify the DC by the number of spell points the character wishes to burn on a 1 to 1 basis.
- Finally use spell points to add any other modifications you like.
The rule added tactical depth and resource management without adding too much time or reverting to grid combat.