A marching order is the order in which the player characters (and any companion non-player characters, e.g. hirelings) are positioned within a formation when journeying through a new location. GMs usually ask the group to provide their party's marching order either when space is limited in the game world (e.g. in a narrow tunnel in a dungeon) or when the party is entering somewhere new and dangerous, or both. GMs can then use the party's marching order to help set the scene and make decisions about what the party will encounter (e.g. combat, traps, obstacles, etc.). The rows of a marching order are called ranks.
Although there may be a large number of possible marching orders for a given party in a given situation, realistically the marching order will depend on the party roles of the characters. Here are some popular examples:
- Tank characters on the edges (e.g. front and back)
- Melee warriors at the front and ranged warriors at the back
- A rogue or other trap-detector at the front
- Heavily armored ranged units at the back