How do these conditions (described in patreon) interact?
• An engaged creature may not move except as part of an overrun or to perform defensive movement…
• A frightened creature will run from the source of its fear at its full movement rate until the condition ends.
• If a frightened creature cannot flee, its cower in terror. It suffers a -2 penalty to AC and cannot attack, cast spells, move, or take any other actions until the condition ends.
A very strict interpretation leads to a frightened, engaged creature cowering in terror until either condition ends.
A slightly less strict interpretation is cower in terror the round frightened is inflicted, then declaring flee the next round.
A loose interpretation is that frightened overrules engagement and declaration rules, and the frightened creature flees immediately.
Side note: “until the condition ends” is not really needed, is it? All conditions last until they end, no?
Side note 2: Could there be a similar condition for undead, called “turned”?
Side note 3: I think a cowering creature would still try to have its shield up to keep something between itself and the source of fear. I also think it is attentive enough to not be backstabbed.
I think it should function that it cowers in terror for the (up to) one round before can declare a retreat.
EXAMPLE: Archon frightens Balbus on initiative count 6. On initiative count 4, Balbus cowers in terror, losing his action. Before the next round, Balbus declares defensive movement. He flees on his initiative count.
EXAMPLE 2: Balbus attacks on initiative count 6. Archon frightens Balbus on initiative count 4. Before the next round, Balbus declares defensive movement. He flees on his initiative count.
If it would benefit from being modeled as a "presence of mind due to experience" thing - having enough wits about you to remember you might need those wherever you're running to - it could be a save vs something, kinda like the save during special maneuvers.
I think a plain 50% chance to drop what you are holding when frightened and fleeing is good.
In real life, encumbrance is not measured with thresholds at given numbers of encumbrance. Everything counts. Calculating if dropping your weapon and shield would change your encumbrance rating when fleeing in panic seems very unnatural to me.