SUGGESTION - Action sequence update

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Turns, actions, and rounds, how about an update?

OK, I understand that from a game mechanics perspective, it is hard to simulate the fact that everyone is acting at the same time, not turn by turn, round by round. However I would like to see a bit more effort on painting that picture in 4-E. To illustrate my point, I will describe a scenario:

An archer and a melee character are way-laid by 5 bad-guys, all “mooks,” if you will, that the archer could drop with 1 arrow each. The archer has the ability to fire 4 arrows in 1 full attack. Initiative is rolled and the order is the archer, the mooks, and then the melee fighter.

In D&D, heres how it plays out: The archer fires 4 arrows, assume all of them hit and drop 4 mooks. Then the remaining mook goes, he sees four buddies drop and he quaffs a potion of invisibility and runs off to sound the alarm. The melee character says “damn it!” and it is all over.

Here’s how I would picture it playing out: The archer is faster and more aware right now (higher initiative) and so starts picking off the mooks while the melee fighter is busy quick-drawing his sword. The mooks are in the middle of swinging their weapons but four of them are taken out before they can connect, the 5th one finishes his swing and hits or misses his target then the final combatant finishes drawing his sword and kills the guy that just swung at him.

Now mechanics-wise, here’s my suggestion. It borrows heavily from AEG’s L5R system:
Everyone, in descending order of initiative, announces their intent. Then, in increasing order of initiative (lowest to highest), each character begins to resolve their action. At this point, you *can* change what you are doing based on what people slower than you (lower initiative) have already started doing. Attack rolls are made, movement begins, provokes AoOs, roll to break spell resistance, etc. Then, from highest to lowest initiative, each character finishes resolving their action and damages are rolled and applied, saves vs spells or whatever are made. If you die or go unconscious before you roll damage, then you failed to complete your action.

That can get a bit convoluted I know, as it requires the DM to interact with each character 3 times (potentially) each round, and there is a lot of stuff to remember such as who is doing what, or who rolled what, but mechanics aside that’s closer to the idea I’m going for.

I would actually cut down to the first two steps, but it is harder to explain and needed the first way as a basis. You have the step where everyone announces what they are doing from highest initiative to lowest. Then you have everyone complete their action from lowest to highest EXCEPT, a higher initiative can always interrupt an action by a lower initiative to act. If the character(s) they are interrupting survives the interruption, they finish the action they were taking.

So, to run you through the above story from this perspective, here’s what you get: The archer is faster and more aware right now (higher initiative) and so starts picking off the mooks while the melee fighter is busy quick-drawing his sword. The mooks swing their swords, but the archer player asks for his higher-initiative action to be resolved first and 4 arrows hit 4 mooks, dropping them. The 5th one is still alive and finishes his swing. The melee fighter cuts him in half.

That is closer to my ideal of real-time combat. I would like something very much like that in 4E. Please?
I think that looks cool, but a bit complicated to resolve. It is simple in essence, but could get messy. I could be worked out, though. But I doubt they'd do something like that.
Some of the steps seems unnecessary.
(1) Everyone declarer and resolves action (roll attack) in reverse initative order. Then those having a higher initative can act on the happening of the round (counterspell).

Here comes the problem of not having simultaneous actions. If you finish the action (roll damage) at this stage in normal initative order, then you might have rolled attack for enemies that are slain earlier in the round. Unnecessary rolls are bad.

So why not have simultaneous actions. Everyone declares and resolves attack fully in reverse initative order, but the effect of the action only counts from the end of the current round. Thus two facing combatant can kill each other.
Has anybody played the "Dimplomacy" board game? It's kind of like "Risk", but no dice, no luck: just strategy. In this game, theres a time in each round in which every player secretly writes down their moves for the round and then they all resolve them simultaniously. This is really cool. I know it soesn't fit so easyly in role-playing but the above suggestion kind of aims to this. It lacks something, though... but what?
Has anybody played the "Dimplomacy" board game? It's kind of like "Risk", but no dice, no luck: just strategy. In this game, theres a time in each round in which every player secretly writes down their moves for the round and then they all resolve them simultaniously. This is really cool. I know it soesn't fit so easyly in role-playing but the above suggestion kind of aims to this. It lacks something, though... but what?

I've played it. It involves a lot of whispering The trouble I see with this is that in order to prevent metagaming a player shouldn't be aware of what other players are preparing to do. This is always a time consuming process.
Old school Star Wars RPG had everyone declare what they were doing from the last to act to the first to act. That way the person with initiative could make the best action based on what everyone was doing. It was a very simple method but at best it was clunky and unrealistic. When they revised the game I don't think they carried it over. Based on how poorly it worked in play I don't think it is such a good idea (based on experience).
I think Ars Magica had a similar mechanic. It's an interesting idea, but I'm not sure it would suit D&D.
The last to act, first to declare concept I believe is fairly comon among war games. I know battletech uses it. Although with so many possible combatants in a D&D game I dont know how well it would work.
The last to act, first to declare concept I believe is fairly comon among war games. I know battletech uses it.

Ever played a company vs company or larger battles? They are fun ;)

I think Ars Magica had a similar mechanic.

In one edition (4th IIRC) one having initative was able to fend off another if having a longer reach weapon. Made long weapons very effective.
The last to act, first to declare concept I believe is fairly comon among war games. I know battletech uses it.

Actually, the original Battletech wargame does not use it. Battletech had two main phases per round: movement and fire. Movement worked much like D&D minis, in that you took turns but the better initiative score got the more favourable turn (2nd turn in Btech, winners choice in minis since you also get to attack at the same time). Loser declared fire first but it was resolved simultaneously.

There are essentially two types of pre-declaration mechanics, sequential and simultaneous. A simultaneous mechanic has everyone secretly declaring, and then you have a resolution phase to figure out what happened and resolve conflicts. Generally makes for a very stop-start game. Sequential mechanics typically use an act-last, declare-first system, which works nicely for those who act first but leads to all sorts of problems for those declaring last and again leads to stop-start activity and conflict adaption.

There is a third mainstream option which is phased initiative. Each round is broken into smaller phases (mini-turns) and actions take some number of phases to complete. Generally, each phase is significantly faster than a full turn but the sum is quite a bit slower.
it's a bit complicated, and, to me, is an artifact of having too many actions in your "turn".
In GURPS, you only get one action per turn, and the turns are only a second long. This idea of a standard+move=Full round Action becomes effectively unnecessary. You move, or you attack, or you concentrate on doing something other than those two kinds of things (such as casting a spell).

In theory, making the turns more granular better represents "simultaneous" actions, since the "time slice" you get to act is much smaller, and so your reaction to things happens more fluidly. AoO are therefore unnecessary, and you don't tend to get the problem of combats being over when the guy with improved initiative annihilates the entire opposing force with one full round action.
A simpler way would be to roll initiative, then have the lowest initiatives declare first what they are going to do (so that the higher rollers can hear). This way, those with higher initiative can act according to what they see unfolding.

Those who rolled higher act first.
I tried this system with my group. The problem is that it slows things tremendously (everyone declare in reverse order then act). I think a better solution is two split the round in two phases. In the first phase, you resolve your first move or standard action and you resolve the remaining action or your full-round action in the second phase.
No way. It is ludicrous, and destroys the tactical element of the game in favor of "realism."

Ever tried casting a fireball in a real-time computer game? You have to guess at where the enemies are going to be and start casting before they get there, you end up hitting your own teammates half the time, lots of problems. It's pretty dumb.

It would be worst in non-real-time. The wizard gets a bad init roll. Declares a fireball. Now everybody knows where the fireball is heading, so nobody's going to be there when it explodes. Even worse than in a computer game when AI ignores that kind of metagame knowledge.
A simpler way would be to roll initiative, then have the lowest initiatives declare first what they are going to do (so that the higher rollers can hear). This way, those with higher initiative can act according to what they see unfolding.

Those who rolled higher act first.

The reason we see this idea thrown around a lot is because in theory it sounds really, really, really good. Dress it up, dress it down, dress it however you like. It sounds like the perfect method to accomplish the task. I think at one point or another we have all had this idea and thought for a moment that we might be game designer geniuses. That is not meant as an insult, just to highlight that we have all been there.

Then you do it in game play and it is so, so, so horrible. And then you smack yourself in the head and wonder why you ever thought it was a good idea in the first place. I tried it. It really was a horrible, horrible thing to do to any game system. Any benefit we received from the method was lost by its clunky nature and sheer amount of time you add to the game that is completely unnecessary.
The way my group does this is to that in the first round everyone declares intent and then rolls initiative. This way, you first decide what to do, and then the initiative roll decides how fast you are able to pull it off.

Then, in initiative order, the actions are resolved, with effects applied immediately. When the first player is done with her action she declares intent for the next round. (I also encourage may players to say “ Now I begin to… / Now I will…” instead of “Next round I will…”)

Players must go through with the first half of their intended action. If the action, as a result of results from earlier actions, has become impossible, the player may abort it, but not replace it with another action. It is simply lost. This is to simulate that things happen almost at the same time. An aborted action counts as a move. Spells may also be aborted, without losing the spell.

For instance, two fighters are swinging their swords at the same opponent. Both players announce a full attack. The one that goes first drops the foe, and then declares intend (“I charge the archer”, for instance). The second one can’t attack the now dead foe and aborts the full attack, using a move. He may then use the last standard action to whatever he likes and may also act on the first player’s intent.

The justification for this is that even though the second fighter was somewhat slower than the first he's not standing idly by watching as his comrade chops away on the enemy. In “reality” they both attack at the same time, but the first fighter begins his attack a little earlier. So when the foe is dropped, the second fighter has already attacked! When the enemy falls to the ground, he turns his attention somewhere else and does something else. What he decides to do now may be influenced by the fact that is comrade (after dropping the first foe) is beginning to charge the archer (The declared intent).

We have also made a board that lets us easily track initiative from round to round allowing us to roll initiative after every round (right after the players declare intent) without any confusion (honestly it works ). This way we get situations where for instance players decides to try to reach the enemy mage before he finishes the spell, but he doesn’t know if he will make it before he rolls initiative.

Combats gets more uncertain, more actions “seemed like a good idea at the time”. The actions seem more like happening at the same time and combat also gets more chaotic. The players and me really enjoy it!
The way my group does this is to that in the first round everyone declares intent and then rolls initiative. This way, you first decide what to do, and then the initiative roll decides how fast you are able to pull it off.

Then, in initiative order, the actions are resolved, with effects applied immediately. When the first player is done with her action she declares intent for the next round. (I also encourage may players to say “ Now I begin to… / Now I will…” instead of “Next round I will…”)

Players must go through with the first half of their intended action. If the action, as a result of results from earlier actions, has become impossible, the player may abort it, but not replace it with another action. It is simply lost. This is to simulate that things happen almost at the same time. An aborted action counts as a move. Spells may also be aborted, without losing the spell.

For instance, two fighters are swinging their swords at the same opponent. Both players announce a full attack. The one that goes first drops the foe, and then declares intend (“I charge the archer”, for instance). The second one can’t attack the now dead foe and aborts the full attack, using a move. He may then use the last standard action to whatever he likes and may also act on the first player’s intent.

The justification for this is that even though the second fighter was somewhat slower than the first he's not standing idly by watching as his comrade chops away on the enemy. In “reality” they both attack at the same time, but the first fighter begins his attack a little earlier. So when the foe is dropped, the second fighter has already attacked! When the enemy falls to the ground, he turns his attention somewhere else and does something else. What he decides to do now may be influenced by the fact that is comrade (after dropping the first foe) is beginning to charge the archer (The declared intent).

We have also made a board that lets us easily track initiative from round to round allowing us to roll initiative after every round (right after the players declare intent) without any confusion (honestly it works ). This way we get situations where for instance players decides to try to reach the enemy mage before he finishes the spell, but he doesn’t know if he will make it before he rolls initiative.

Combats gets more uncertain, more actions “seemed like a good idea at the time”. The actions seem more like happening at the same time and combat also gets more chaotic. The players and me really enjoy it!

This seems eally eficient. I will try it, once at least, to see how it goes. It seems very rough for slow (low-initiative) characters. This could mean that the dwarf fighter with 8 Dex (Init-1)will mostly lose move actions if his quick companions (with high dex and/or Improved Initiative) kill all the targets he was going after. Even if you roll initiative every round, slow folks will loose many actions, don't you think? How could we fix this?

EDIT: I've read more carefully now. I think it is like we see the combat secuence not as a chain of rouns but as a chain of actions, and everone declares what he is doing next after his done with his action, and, for example: Character A is first in intiative and does his action, and then declares what he is doing next: attack Monster C. The action of Character B, who is 2nd in initiative is attack Monster C, he does it and he kills it. This action will change the action Character A for the next round, losing his move action, for he was going towards Monster C to kill it. Am I correct?
This seems eally eficient. I will try it, once at least, to see how it goes. It seems very rough for slow (low-initiative) characters. This could mean that the dwarf fighter with 8 Dex (Init-1)will mostly lose move actions if his quick companions (with high dex and/or Improved Initiative) kill all the targets he was going after. Even if you roll initiative every round, slow folks will loose many actions, don't you think? How could we fix this?

EDIT: I've read more carefully now. I think it is like we see the combat secuence not as a chain of rouns but as a chain of actions, and everone declares what he is doing next after his done with his action, and, for example: Character A is first in intiative and does his action, and then declares what he is doing next: attack Monster C. The action of Character B, who is 2nd in initiative is attack Monster C, he does it and he kills it. This action will change the action Character A for the next round, losing his move action, for he was going towards Monster C to kill it. Am I correct?

Yes you are correct.

But it is not as rough on low initiative characters as one may think. The players quickly learn to pick one foe each if it seems likely that they can be dropped in one round.

In my example the second fighter would perhaps charge the archer in the first round, trusting his comrade to take care of the first opponent.

In our example character A already knows that Character B is going after Monster C. If it is likely that character B is going to kill monster C, then perhaps it is better to go for Monster D? It is not obvious what's the smartest thing to do next, leaving players with real tactical choices to be made, which in my view is good. Coordinating the actions of the different characters also gets more important. Bad coordination= lots of lost actions.

Ps. I don’t think you have to roll initiative every round for this to work. That is just for added randomness. The main point is that players declare intent just after finishing their action. The first half of the action is what the character is doing until it is the players turn again, and that is when we check how it went! Then the player decides what the character is doing next, trying his best, based on the current situation, to coordinate his characters actions with the rest. Most of the time this goes pretty well, sometimes it doesn’t.

To put it another way: The players turns are checkpoints in a continuous chain of actions (as you nicely put it) done by the characters, with one half happening before the checkpoint and the second half happening after the checkpoint.
This does make sense. Nice!
I like that way of doing things, it seems a bit more deep, but alot of fun. I think it would work best with just core, I could see things like immeadiate actions being pretty tough to adjucate, do you have any rules for that?
The essential theme song- Get a little bit a fluff da' fluff, get a little bit a fluff da' fluff! (ooh yeah) Repeat Unless noted otherwise every thing I post is my opinion, and probably should be taken as tongue in cheek any way.
The reason we see this idea thrown around a lot is because in theory it sounds really, really, really good. Dress it up, dress it down, dress it however you like. It sounds like the perfect method to accomplish the task. I think at one point or another we have all had this idea and thought for a moment that we might be game designer geniuses. That is not meant as an insult, just to highlight that we have all been there.

Then you do it in game play and it is so, so, so horrible. And then you smack yourself in the head and wonder why you ever thought it was a good idea in the first place. I tried it. It really was a horrible, horrible thing to do to any game system. Any benefit we received from the method was lost by its clunky nature and sheer amount of time you add to the game that is completely unnecessary.

You obviously play with poor players or are very impatient.
Yes you are correct.

But it is not as rough on low initiative characters as one may think. The players quickly learn to pick one foe each if it seems likely that they can be dropped in one round.

In my example the second fighter would perhaps charge the archer in the first round, trusting his comrade to take care of the first opponent.

In our example character A already knows that Character B is going after Monster C. If it is likely that character B is going to kill monster C, then perhaps it is better to go for Monster D? It is not obvious what's the smartest thing to do next, leaving players with real tactical choices to be made, which in my view is good. Coordinating the actions of the different characters also gets more important. Bad coordination= lots of lost actions.

Ps. I don’t think you have to roll initiative every round for this to work. That is just for added randomness. The main point is that players declare intent just after finishing their action. The first half of the action is what the character is doing until it is the players turn again, and that is when we check how it went! Then the player decides what the character is doing next, trying his best, based on the current situation, to coordinate his characters actions with the rest. Most of the time this goes pretty well, sometimes it doesn’t.

To put it another way: The players turns are checkpoints in a continuous chain of actions (as you nicely put it) done by the characters, with one half happening before the checkpoint and the second half happening after the checkpoint.

It seems decent, except the fact it doesn't make sense how someone could get out a full round attack still while the slower character can't do anything but look dumbfounded till they die because they got 1 less on their roll.
I like that way of doing things, it seems a bit more deep, but alot of fun. I think it would work best with just core, I could see things like immeadiate actions being pretty tough to adjucate, do you have any rules for that?

Glad you liked it!

I would say that immediate (and swift and free) actions require such a small amount of planning and effort, that you are free to do them without declaring that in advance.

I might add: The players are not required to give a detailed acount of their complete plans. As a rule of thumb: What others may reasonably spot (or hear), thats what you tell.

A monk's player may say "I contuine to attack the ogre", he's not required to say that he plans to use a stun attack

A sorcerer's player may say "I start to cast a Fireball (or even just spell)", he's not required to decide exactly where he is placing it before it's the players turn again, because thats when the character is done casting it!

In my game this way of doing it has led to players paying more attention to what other players are doing and it has given combat a less "choppy" feeling, because the characters are "doing something all the time"
It seems decent, except the fact it doesn't make sense how someone could get out a full round attack still while the slower character can't do anything but look dumbfounded till they die because they got 1 less on their roll.

Well, that problem is not specific to this way of doing thing. It will happen just as well with the normal initiative rules.

Second, it may not be that stupid after all. If you look at the full attack as a attack routine with weapons swishing through the air like a torrent of steel, it may not be that strange that the victim got its hands full just defending. After all he's not just standing there. He's defending himself the best he can! If he is still alive when the attack looses it's impetus, it's his time to attack back.

Third, what I'm trying to establish is that even if the players are having turns, their characters are not! They are doing someting all the time. They are not waiting for their (player's) turn to come up, just standing there.
I still can't believe people think this is a good idea.

Making a decision, having the game world change, and then being forced to continue that course of action is TERRIBLE. Even ignoring that it's not a robust rule ("I trip him! Oh he moved away. Err. I guess I don't trip him anymore...") it just ticks off players when you remove control of their characters from them.

Have any of you tried this? I have. It's bad. One time, my wizard tried to cast an offensive spell, but the baddie rolled better initiative. So he charged my wizard for a cocktacular amount of damage, and THEN got an attack of opportunity when my wizard decided to continue with his inane course of action, which he OBVIOUSLY would not have continued to do if he had just gotten whacked. My character almost died.

It's a stupid rule.
Well, that problem is not specific to this way of doing thing. It will happen just as well with the normal initiative rules.

Second, it may not be that stupid after all. If you look at the full attack as a attack routine with weapons swishing through the air like a torrent of steel, it may not be that strange that the victim got its hands full just defending. After all he's not just standing there. He's defending himself the best he can! If he is still alive when the attack looses it's impetus, it's his time to attack back.

Third, what I'm trying to establish is that even if the players are having turns, their characters are not! They are doing someting all the time. They are not waiting for their (player's) turn to come up, just standing there.

Well the thing is, things would never be like that, either your oponent is defending (and gets bonuses to def) or is attacking you at the same time and you're blows with the weapons act as a continue parry and attack. If you get another hit in, it's because you're faster or know what you're doing better, but if the oppoent was just slightly behind you in their init roll that means they are reacting to what you do instead of being able to attack, they must now defend or just take the damage and attack you back...at the same time (ie even if they 'die' they still get their attacks in, or atleast most of them).

If that's what you mean and you just use turns the players do to decide the order of resolution, that's another thing.
I still can't believe people think this is a good idea.

Making a decision, having the game world change, and then being forced to continue that course of action is TERRIBLE. Even ignoring that it's not a robust rule ("I trip him! Oh he moved away. Err. I guess I don't trip him anymore...") it just ticks off players when you remove control of their characters from them.

Have any of you tried this? I have. It's bad. One time, my wizard tried to cast an offensive spell, but the baddie rolled better initiative. So he charged my wizard for a cocktacular amount of damage, and THEN got an attack of opportunity when my wizard decided to continue with his inane course of action, which he OBVIOUSLY would not have continued to do if he had just gotten whacked. My character almost died.

It's a stupid rule.

Well your intention was to cast a spell, the baddy was faster than you and attacked you, in your turn, you don't have to make the attack of opportunity, since the guy just "interrupted" you, you just lose your move action and can make a 5-foot step back and cast, then you declare your intention for next round. Am I right, Marak? (If not, how is this resolved)

PS (Maybe you could describe a full "round" -or a couple of them- to illustrate better)
Making a decision, having the game world change, and then being forced to continue that course of action is TERRIBLE. Even ignoring that it's not a robust rule ("I trip him! Oh he moved away. Err. I guess I don't trip him anymore...") it just ticks off players when you remove control of their characters from them.

First it is 6 seconds we are talking about, not minutes or hours. The character at least needs to look around and asses the new situation if thing change too much.
Second, as far as I understand you declare and attack, not a trip against your foe. It then can be a trip attack.

After reading some part of the Powergamer's Guide to Fighters (Goodman Games) and obviously playing some D&D the whole point of initative as it stands is that at low levels it is important to hit first, otherwise you are doomed.
At high levels it is less so, and considering that most encounters start at a distance, and thus the one with the higher initative needs to move and then attack, and the one with the lower can just then use a full attack makes having a high initative a bad idea.

Playing some BattleTech it is important in that game to stick with your declaration. Rounds are simultaneously resolved, and if one declared to attack with all weapons, then it has to go through with them even if the second attack killed the enemy. Why? Because it still uses resources (missiles) and have a cost (increased heat in this case).
Playing some BattleTech it is important in that game to stick with your declaration. Rounds are simultaneously resolved, and if one declared to attack with all weapons, then it has to go through with them even if the second attack killed the enemy. Why? Because it still uses resources (missiles) and have a cost (increased heat in this case).

That's actually a different situation, though. In effect, you have two phases: fire declaration and fire resolution. Everyone declares their fire based on the current game state, then everyone resolves the effects of fire. It's effectively simultaneous; even if my firing destroys your mech, your firing still happens.

This is very different to an environment where my action can be invalidated between it's declaration and its resolution, especially when others can deliberately act to invalidate that declaration.
As I understand Marak's idea, this is how I would handle a round:


Begin Round

Quick actions Barking orders, shouting warnings, etc.

Declare Action Outward appearance of intentions(where a feint would be used in combat): attack, defend, spell, move that way, not declaring whether or not I want to make a full/standard action.

Roll Initiative

First standard actions Roll attack + damage (standard attacks or standard spells first, then begin full round attack attempts/full round spell casting attempts/but allow player to stop instantaneously, forfeiting the remainder of their turn).

Quick actions Being that this is between the attempt and the conclusion of the full-round action, this would be the scene in combat that someone gasps as they see the mighty warrior being hit from behind, but not knowing how hard he was hit OR the beginning of the wizard casting an obviously difficult spell.

Resolve second standard actions Roll attack and damage for standard action(second standard attacks being different than full attack actions. Puts context into the difference between a full attack action and two standard attack actions in one round) and roll damage for the full attack action or apply the results of the full round spell.

Quick actions The scene where everyone sees if the warrior just died or rolls with the blow or the spell kills everyone in the room.

End Round


This feels a lot more dynamic without really being too much more complicated. It looks more complicated because of the way I broke it all down, but it's pretty much how combat goes anyway, right? Just people get a chance to change their minds/alter strategy in smaller increments without throwing things too far out of balance. The major difference I see is that people can actually accomplish more and you don't get that feeling of "Oh, crap, I'm behind those guys in initiative, therefore they're going to kill me before I even get a turn." And it removes the chance of -all- spells being full-round actions, therefore subject to every single physical enemy in the immediate area(that is, if some spells are considered standard actions and others full-round actions. I would also rule that spells may be cast in the first set of standard actions, but won't manifest properly until the beginning of the second set of standard actions, before anyone makes an action. In the case of the spell being cast in the second standard action, that would manifest at the beginning of the next round, just before anyone can make a standard action, but after they declare intentions).

The round described above shows how full round actions (such as mighty swings of the hammer or long spell incantations/motions or full-blown running) that usually take longer/more commitment than standard actions are resolved. This could be as the strong fighter using his strength rather than speed (as initiative has already determined who gets the first decision of action, inherently a full attack action should take longer than a standard, no?).

This would also put the warrior’s full attack action and the wizard’s full spell action on par with each other. The result would be, if the warrior hits the wizard and the wizard finishes the spell, it doesn’t matter if the warrior hits at the same time as the wizard finishes the spell. If the wizard dies from the hit, he dies but the spell still goes off.

As I understand it, we currently assume a mage casting a spell, when he got the lower init, would be at a complete round’s disadvantage, why is that? Because casting a spell is a full-round action. Well, make it a standard action for some, a full action for others. There. Problem solved, no?

I would assume that anything within my reach would be fair game for changing my mind, as I would pay FAR closer attention to my immediate area than the area beyond that (depending on situational awareness, if a friendly player screams for help as a free action, I should be able to break and run to help them). That is, considering I am allowed to change my mind from what I declared my intention to be. I suppose it would be a good idea to allow changing my mind only when a quick action draws my attention to some other option I hadn’t noticed/considered (Say, a friend yelling to me that there is vulnerable enemy nearby.)
I still can't believe people think this is a good idea.

Making a decision, having the game world change, and then being forced to continue that course of action is TERRIBLE. Even ignoring that it's not a robust rule ("I trip him! Oh he moved away. Err. I guess I don't trip him anymore...") it just ticks off players when you remove control of their characters from them.

Have any of you tried this? I have. It's bad. One time, my wizard tried to cast an offensive spell, but the baddie rolled better initiative. So he charged my wizard for a cocktacular amount of damage, and THEN got an attack of opportunity when my wizard decided to continue with his inane course of action, which he OBVIOUSLY would not have continued to do if he had just gotten whacked. My character almost died.

It's a stupid rule.

Obviously I've tried it, and it is not bad, it's rather fun actually. But if you don't like it, don't use it.

Your missing one important point though. When you declare intent after your actions, you know what those before you (monsters and PCs) have declared. When the DM informs you what the monster is beginning to do you can take that into consideration when deciding what you are going to do. Remember that you can only abort if the declared action becomes impossible, and that goes for the monsters as well!

Your first example first:

DM:"After hitting you with his sword he raises it again, going after you"
You:" I hit him with my fists" (rolling dice etc.) "Now I am going to trip him!"
(The baddie decides he's had enough and wants to run away, but his decared action is still possible,he has in fact allready done it, we just don't know how it went yet)
DM: (rolls dice) "He misses you with his sword(the declared standard action) and then moves away, and that gives you an attack of opportunity"
You: "I trip!"

If the baddie haden't moved away you could also have tripped him, of course.

He can't just "move away".

Your second example:
As I understand it this is the first round. You and the baddie spot eachother.
You:" I am trying to fry him before he gets to me",
DM: "He charges you"

You both roll initiative and he beats you to it ( that is, he is charging while you are casting the spell and he reaches you before your done casting) and hit you for a "cocktacular amount of damage". Sounds fair enogh for me. Then the DM says he's going after you again

Now it's your turn. Since it's impossible to fry him before he gets to you can abort the first action. You also know he is going to try to hit you again. You decide against casting the spell, and abort, costing you a move action. You may now take a 5 foot step ( since you haven't actually moved)and cast the spell, or use a move action to get away (since you do nothing than to move, you will not get a attack of opportunity against you for doing that.


I'm writing this in my lunchbreak, so I haven't got the time to answer the rest of the posts right now. I'll get back to it once I'm home.

I will also write something more comprehensive, detailing the rules to handle readied actions and so on and discribe some full rounds to illustrate.

Lastly: This way of doing things does take some getting used to, but my players and me find it well worth it.
Well the thing is, things would never be like that, either your oponent is defending (and gets bonuses to def) or is attacking you at the same time and you're blows with the weapons act as a continue parry and attack. If you get another hit in, it's because you're faster or know what you're doing better, but if the oppoent was just slightly behind you in their init roll that means they are reacting to what you do instead of being able to attack, they must now defend or just take the damage and attack you back...at the same time (ie even if they 'die' they still get their attacks in, or atleast most of them).

If that's what you mean and you just use turns the players do to decide the order of resolution, that's another thing.

It is a difference between defending while preparing a counterattack ( which is what characters normally do) and just defending (this is when we get bonuses).

If you envision let's say, 3 attacks, evenly spred out accross 6 seconds it seems more than strange that the opponent can't make an attack in between, I'll agree to that.

But nobody said it was evenly spread out! Quite often fencers are moving slightly, shifting their center of gravity, and then suddenly three attacks are made in less than a second! The fencer may aiming for the hand first then go for the leg maybe and third stabbing the torso.

In reality the attacked fencer may counter attack (parade riposte), instead of just withdrawing, but if all the faints, tricks and techniques of fencing (and other types of fighting) where included in the rules we would be drowning in them.

Anyhow, this has to do with the full attack-action, and will be the same however we organize initiative.

Regarding your last paragraph I don't understand it. Could you rephrase it perhaps?
That was meant if it was given for how you decide who to deal with first.

Anyway, you're right nothing says they should or even are evenly spaced, but it also doesn't represent a fight when it's taking turns hitting blocking/dodging, hitting, blocking/dodging, just because of a differance of 1 number on a die.

If such is the case that attacks are not evenly spaced and someone rolled and init of 27 and their oppontnt rolled 26 and eveyone rolled after them, then there is no real way until you get into epics or time stops or super-powered hasting that they could get 3-4 hits in before the oppoent could do anything [b]and[/b[ have 10 people still go after those two have finished trading blows. That would be almost 2 seconds in itself.

I do realise he could get all the attacks before the opponent, but its the combination of the two that makes it out of what and the lack of the opponent to do anything but pray.
Here's an alternate way to evade the OP's issue: make it so archers don't get four attacks in a round.

And hey, looks like they did that! ;) No more iterative attacks, so the most you can get off is one or two shots. A lot easier to imagine unfolding in turn-order now, isn't it?

Overall, a turn-based system is always gonna look kind of silly if you stare too hard at it. But it allows for a smoother turn order and quicker combat, which are really important to keep things fun. And to keep things from getting too stilted, it's easy to interject "reactive" abilities that use a free or swift action; attacks of opportunity is the prime example.
This post is rather long I'm afraid. Bear with me please!

This is very different to an environment where my action can be invalidated between it's declaration and its resolution, especially when others can deliberately act to invalidate that declaration.

Well, if you follow the rules outlined below, other’s can’t “deliberately act to invalidate that declaration” because they have also declared their intended actions and can only to something else if the declared action is impossible to resolve (and loosing a move-action in the process).

The only ways this may happen is:
Either: The originally declared action of “the other” is impossible and a standard action alone is enough to invalidate your action. (This will be rare)
Or: You declare an action that is invalidated by an action already declared by “the other”. (Then it is your own fault).

For instance:
DM: (after the baddy’s turn) “He then starts hustling towards the door 15 feet away” (this is the declaration)
You: “I get the healing potion out of my backpack( a move-action and the declared action from the end of your last turn) and drink it (a standard action).
“Now I’m beginning to cast magic missile at the baddy” (This is the first action in your next turn)

At this point the situation is that the baddy started running for the door before you started casting the spell and is through the doorway before you have the time to finish it. Your action is invalidated, because you didn’t considerate what the baddy was doing. This sounds fair enough for me.

(Assuming you are smarter than I have pretended now, you probably would have declared that you went after him (instead of casting magic missile). On your next turn your PC would hustle to the doorway (the declared action) and then, when he had line of sight, nailed the baddy with your spell!)


Overall, a turn-based system is always gonna look kind of silly if you stare too hard at it. But it allows for a smoother turn order and quicker combat, which are really important to keep things fun. And to keep things from getting too stilted, it's easy to interject "reactive" abilities that use a free or swift action; attacks of opportunity is the prime example.

Totally agree with you. It will always be a compromise between playability and “realism”.

(Warning: The following section is contains sarcasm.)

If we really wanted to simulate that things happen simultaneously we can make the round a much shorter time span. Let’s say 1 second. Movement rates would be around 5 feet, a swift spell would take 1 round to cast, a standard spell 3, a full round spell 6. A standard attack could perhaps have one preparatory phase and one executive phase and so on…

But this is just silly, isn’t it? It is slow to play, cumbersome, and with lots of things to remember. And encounters with:

DM: “He continue to charge you”
Player :“I’m still casting my spell”
DM:“Charging, getting closer”
Player: “I’m still casting that spell, almost done”
DM:”He’s still charging at you, awfully close now!” …..

Well, it may be more “realistic”, but it’s boring!

And worse: There is no end to it! We could theoretically continue to split the seconds for ever!

So this was "too much", and to my liking the current way of doing things is "not enough".

What triggered me to try to do something about the current rules was the following scenario:

Two characters, an archer and a melee guy met a evil wizard and his brute. They rolled initiative
1) Archer
2) Melee guy
3) Wizard
4) Brute

The wizard was within charging distance. This is what happens

1) The archer sends a volley of arrows at the wizard, but doesn’t drop him
2) The DM tells the melee guy’s player it’s his turn
3) The melee guy, seeing that that the wizard is still on his feet starts charging towards him and attacks.

What the…? He starts running after the archer has fired three arrows and still has the time to charge 40 feet, before the wizard can do anything. ( I’m ok with the melee guy reaching the wizard before the wizard gets his spell of. It is the fact that the melee guy has the luxury of first waiting to see what happens, and then acting as if he started right away that ticks me off.


So, my players and me sat down and agreed that even though the players and the DM are taking turns, the PCs and the monsters were not.

They are (in their imaginary world) never waiting for their turn to come up, there are no time between their actions. They do the “next thing”, right after they did the “last thing”.

Its:”go-go-go-go-go-go-go-go-go…“
Not: “go-go- wait for it… - go-go- wait for it…. - go-go- wait for it…“

So we thought:” If the first action in the next round follows immediately after the last action in the current round (from the PCs and monsters point of view), why not tell the others what it is? After all it is started right now, just after your last action.” This way the player’s turns gets more linked together instead of being isolated.

After some tinkering around (and yes it didn’t work out perfectly the first time) we came to the following routine:

Rules for initiative and announcing actions

Before the first round everybody announce what their PC's or monster's first action is(Players and DM alike) and then everybody roll initiative.

Then in order of initiative everybody to the following:
(Player with highest initiative does a, b, and c. Then player with next highest initiative does a, b, and c. And so on untill everbody have had their turn. Then you start at the one with the highest initiative again, just as normally done)

a. Resolve the announced action (This has, in the game world, already happened, we are just checking how it went)
b. Decide and resolve your next action ( If it is a surprise round, skip this)
c. Decide (and announce) your next action. (This action is resolved first in the players next turn).

If the action in a) is impossible to complete (some adjucating is involved here), it is lost but counts as move-action. (This is because even though the player is resolving it now at the beginning of this turn, the PC started doing it at the end of the players last turn. So when the announced action became impossible, somewhere between the end of last turn and the beginning of this turn, the PC had already been doing it for some time).

If the action in a) is a Full-Round action:
i) If it is completed, skip b)
ii) If it is impossible to resolve, resolve first half of it (if that is possible) then go to b), or (if you can’t resolve first half of it either) loose a move action, then go to b. ( Some adjucating is involved here)

If, for instance, the action in a) is a charge and the target is killed between the end of the players last turn and the beginning of the players next turn, the character is already “on its way” when the target is killed. He moves his speed in the announced direction and has a standard action left (action b).

Free actions, swift actions and immediate actions are “outside” the initiative system and can be done at other times than the players turn (except swift) and without being announced at all.

If a player decide that the PC is readying an action in c) (or b) it is readied immediately. This means that it can be triggered between the player’s turns. If it is triggered the PC get a new initiative score (as per the normal rules) and you resolve the readied action, and then go to c)

Remember that a) and b) is still in the same round and is still subject to all the normal rules (for instance they can’t both be standard actions). The action announced in c) is technically for the next round (it is in fact the a) in the players next turn) and may be any type of action regardless of a) and b).

When players and DM announces action they are not required to give a detailed account of their complete plans. As a rule of thumb: What others may reasonably spot (or hear), that’s what you tell.

A monk's player may say "I contuine to attack the ogre", he's not required to say that he plans to use a stun attack

A sorcerer's player may say "I start to cast a Fireball (or even just spell)", he's not required to decide exactly where he is placing it before it's the players turn again, because thats when the character is done casting it!

That’s it!


I got to go now. I’ll come back and post an example encounter later on, if anybody asks. If nobody asks I’m not going to bother you with it.

Cheers!
This works exactly like readied actions BTW, except that readying changes your initiative order.
This works exactly like readied actions BTW, except that readying changes your initiative order.

(I'm not sure what you mean by "This", but if you mean "the whole idea with announcing in advance and so on, this is my answer)

Superficially it may look similar, but it is not.

Readying an action is a standard action in itself that lets you react, in a specified way, to a specified trigger later, after your turn is over but before your next one has begun. This effectively postpones your action to either later in the same round or before your turn in the next round, whenever the “trigger-event” happens. You can’t ready an action after your turn is over.

Announcing an action is not an action by itself. It does not let you react to things that happen after your turn, but before your next one has begun. It does not postpone your action until later. You do your move and standard action (or full round-action), then you announce your next action. End of turn, next player. When it is your turn again you do the announced action.

(Read my other posts in this thread for more details on how this works)

I will give one example of how different things play out with this way of doing it, instead of the normal one. ( If you are reading this and haven’t read my last post, I recommend doing that before you read the rest of this post).

Imagine 4 swordsmen standing in a line facing 4 axemen. The swordsmen want to get past the axemen, the axemen are 30 feet away and the speed of the swordsmen is 20.

Normal way
All roll initiative (DM rolls for the axemen, they come out first)

Round 1:

1) All the axemen ready an action to attack anyone close enough
2) Swordsman #1 charges axeman #1, survives the readied attack and drops the axeman
3) Swordsman #2 sees that axeman#1 is dropped, charges axeman #2, survives the readied attack, hits but doesn’t drop him
4) Swordsman #3 sees that axeman#2 is hurt, but not down, decides to charge axeman#2, but he misses.
5) Swordsman #4 sees that axeman#2 is still on his feet also charges axeman #2, dropping him.

I’m stopping there

To retell this, and still take into account what the swordsmen knew at the time they started running I would have to write something like:

“Swordsman #1 runs across the plaza, ducking the axe, felling his foe with a mighty blow. Then Swordsman#2 starts charging his foe,aviods the axe aimed at him, and injures the azeman, but he’s still standing. After this Swordsman #3 starts running towards the same guy, but misses. Now Swordsman#4, seeing that even though two swordsmen have run across the plaza, attacking him, the foe is still standing, decides to have a go at it. He starts running, reaches the foe and fell him with his sword”

The way I propose

1) Swordsman #1’s player announces that he’s charging axeman#1
2) Swordsman #2’s player knows that swordsman#1 is charging, but does not know if the attack will succeed or not.
What he does know is that if swordsman#1 drops axeman#1, and swordsman#2 is also charging axeman#1, the charge will be aborted halfway across the plaza and swordsman#2 will be left standing 15 feet away from the nearest living foe, with a useless standard action at his disposal. He decides to charge axeman#2
3) Thinking along the same lines Swordsman#3’s player decides for a charge towards axeman#3
4) For the same reason the player of swordsman#4 decides that his PC is charging axeman#4
5) The DM tells the player that the axemen are rising their axes, holding their ground(They are readying to attack anyone close enough.)
6) Initiative is rolled ( I’ll assume for simplicity that swordsman#1 is the first after the axemen and so on)

NB! The “all announce first, then all roll initiative”-routine is only done once in the encounter! For the rest of the encounter everybody keep their initiative (assuming no one delays or readies an action and so on), and announce their next action just after completing the last one.

Round 1:

1) Swordsman#1 charges and drops his foe, after surviving the axemans readied attack Player#1 announces that swordsman#1 now is moving to attack axeman#2
2) Swordsman#2 charges, survives the attack, and injures axeman#2. Player#2 announces that swordsman#2 continues to attack axeman#2. Since the readied action was triggered this is the new initiative of axeman#2. The DM announces that axeman#2 is attacking swordsman#2
3) Swordsman#3 charges axeman#3, survives but misses. Player#3 announces that swordsman#3 continues to attack axeman#3. The DM announces that axeman#3 is attacking swordsman#3.
4) Swordsman#4 charges and drops his foe, after surviving the axemans readied attack. Player#4 announces that swordsman#4 now is moving to attack axeman#3

I’m stopping there

To retell this, and still take into account what the swordsmen knew at the time they started running I would have to write something like:

“The four swordsmen charges across the plaza towards one axeman each. The axemen waits with their axes rised. As the Axeman swings at him Swordsman#1 fells his foe with a mighty blow, and then turns to face axeman#2. Swordsman #2 avoids the falling axe, hits his foe, but the axeman is still standing. They both attack each other again. Both swordman#3 and his foe miss, and the battle between them continues. Swordsman#4 ducks under the axe and fells him with his sword, immediately turning towards axeman#3”

The problem with the normal way of doing things is that players get too much information too early in their PC’s round, as illustrated in the above example. This problem is smaller when doing things the way I propose.

Now I'm going to get some sleep. See you in the morning, I guess!
Well the Battle Lords game I play in on Sundays uses a similar system and combat flows fairly smoothly despite the clunky rules system. Sure it has its pros and cons, just like the current system, but at least it keeps players from sitting there on there initiative, contemplating things like its a world class chess match.