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The ideal action economy

 
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OgreBattle
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 19, 2017 7:29 pm    Post subject: The ideal action economy Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

So DnD does the standard/move/swift:Full thing, Shadowrun does two standard actions (and a free action?)

Is there an action economy model you find to be ideal in tabletop RPG's?
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Cervantes
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 19, 2017 8:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Does the genre matter here or are action economies somehow "narrative agnostic"?
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deaddmwalking
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 19, 2017 8:52 pm    Post subject: Re: The ideal action economy Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

OgreBattle wrote:
So DnD does the standard/move/swift:Full thing, Shadowrun does two standard actions (and a free action?)

Is there an action economy model you find to be ideal in tabletop RPG's?


You have to think about it as a resource mechanic. I could make everything in a game '1 action' and I could give PCs 1, 2, 3, 4, or 5 in a round. Let's say I give 3 actions base and 'really fast' people get a 'bonus action'.

I'm implicitly saying that I'm okay with that person making 4 attack actions or 4 move actions or a combination of the two. There's nothing wrong with that, but there's a pretty huge incentive to dump all of your actions into 'attack'.

To discourage that, you can break up actions however you want. I could give players an 'offensive action', a 'defensive action', a 'neutral' action (and the fast players get an extra neutral action). That's going to change how the game plays. Now being fast doesn't mean an extra attack and the benefit depends on what neutral actions are and how many of them you get.

The standard/move breaks up actions into two piles and prevents someone from easily using extra actions to pile up lots of extra attacks.

As far as how many actions are ideal, the more you have (especially out of turn order) the more complex play will tend to be, especially for play-by-post and such. Even around the table people will have to pay attention when it isn't their turn. If you want to avoid that a smaller number of actions is preferable.

For myself, I think that standard/swift/move/extra move feels pretty good and depending on what that gives you can work fine. In my heartbreaker movement is allowed before/after/during your standard action so you can move 10 feet, swing a sword, then move another 20 feet.


Last edited by deaddmwalking on Thu Oct 19, 2017 8:53 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Voss
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 20, 2017 3:55 pm    Post subject: Re: The ideal action economy Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

OgreBattle wrote:
So DnD does the standard/move/swift:Full thing, Shadowrun does two standard actions (and a free action?)

Is there an action economy model you find to be ideal in tabletop RPG's?


Simple is better. I actually like 5e for this, because it's easy for people to grasp and not too much that they get lost in choice paralysis or different action types or layers of terminology or fiddly details.

You get one action, can move X feet before or after and one special thing which is based largely on a handful of character abilities, or carrying a second weapon like a chump. Not iterative attacks, Initiative passes or other shit that people tune out or find confusing

The caveat is, it's written in a shitty fashion. The most common action is of course the Attack Action, but the rules don't make it clear enough that a bonus action to attack isn't the same thing, and Extra Attacks don't apply, special shit like the UA Kensei rules don't apply and sorcerers have to dig a fair bit to find that quicken spell effectively does jack shit.


The other side of the question is what you want to emulate- having lots of actions might work for say, Clone Wars Jedi, but not for Luke and Vader banging on each other with sticks or waiting politely for their turn to throw or block.
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angelfromanotherpin
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 20, 2017 4:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Standard/Move/Minor (or one of its variants like Strike/Maneuver/Press or Attack/Maneuver/Action) is very popular. It's simple and satisfying, enables cool action scenes, and I endorse it.
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JonSetanta
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 20, 2017 7:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Final Fantasy Tactics has Move/Action in that order. Pretty standard.
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Chamomile
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 20, 2017 9:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

My favorite action economy for a tabletop game isn't actually from a tabletop game. It's from X-COM. You have two actions, and some actions (most notably attacks) end your turn immediately even if it's the first action you take.
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Zaranthan
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 20, 2017 11:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

And yet, the most popular upgrade in X-COM is the one that lets you move after shooting (only partially due to holo-targeting being far more situational).
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Eikre
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 21, 2017 12:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Countervailing methods:

In Eldritch Horror you're on a team of globe-trotting paranormal investigators. Each round is broken up into three stages. On the first, you have two actions, but both serve as facilitation; you can move your character, stock up on focus tokens, use the local training option, or buy equipment. The second stage is where you actually get something done; based on where you're standing, you'll experience some kind of confrontation, and your bid for success is predicated on the resources you've cultured through first-stage actions. The events of the last round are drawn from a deck and mostly feature a bunch of bad shit happening.

If you parsed this as an ordinary TTRPG's actions you'd work it out to two maneuvers, a standard action, and then Team Monster's turn. Notable thing is that the standard action is as much of something that happens to you as something you're doing, and it's up to your maneuvering to make sure that it's an auspicious event.

Innovation is a competitive multiplayer free-for-all where you're a highly abstract representation of some particular society vying to monopolize more of the sum total of all human achievement than anyone else at the board. The only game pieces are cards that each represent a single technology or social development, and you get two actions per turn of the following: You can draw one card, you can place a technology in your hand down among the ones you control, you can invoke the special "Dogma" inherent to one of the technologies in front of you, or, if you qualify, you can claim one of the "achievement" tokens which represent the primary game objective.

Technology is very versatile. Dogma is the only way to earn points towards winning the game, but it can do all kinds of other things (including card-draw and playing new innovations). In addition to dogma, technology also comes marked with badges that represent a broader cultural propensity: Leaves for agriculture, crowns for politics, etc. When another player invokes a hostile dogma, you can invalidate yourself as a target by having enough of these badges, and when someone uses a non-hostile dogma, you also get to participate if you have as many of the particular badge type that they do. Thus, controlling an innovation gives you both an active option as well as a defensive/parasitic capacity.

Note that the actions, in their basic conception, represent a ladder of facilitation. You need to draw cards to splice them, you need to splice them to invoke dogma, and you need to invoke dogma to earn enough points to claim an achievement token. So most turns still come down to "I do the thing, but first, I do the thing that lets me do the thing."
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Chamomile
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 21, 2017 1:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Zaranthan wrote:
And yet, the most popular upgrade in X-COM is the one that lets you move after shooting (only partially due to holo-targeting being far more situational).


You say that like it's surprising, but it's really predictable that an ability will be popular if it lets you have your cake and eat it too in what is otherwise a common and frequently difficult tactical choice.
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Whipstitch
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 21, 2017 2:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

The biggest problem with shooting ending your turn in XCOM and RPGs is that lots of people want the mechanics to feel as real and intuitive as possible since the games are ostensibly depicting life-or-death situations where arbitrary limitations don't make much narrative sense. Whereas in a game of sports ball it's completely normal for people agree to arbitrary game play limitations intended merely to keep things interesting.

In any case, I don't think Bullet Swarm's popularity really proves all that much one way or the other given that it also lets you shoot after shooting. That's just quality whether or not you think the mechanics are shit.
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Hicks
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 21, 2017 9:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

I'll tell ya what I don't like about many action economies: going faster granting more actions. Weirdly this slows down the game and makes a fast character seem slower. The solution to that is that faster characters should be able do do more with their one action; don't give multiple move actions, just increas the character's movememt speed, and don't make a character roll a die multiple times to resolve their whirlwind multi-target attack, just roll once and compare the singular die roll to each enemy's defenses. You know I'm pretty sure you're supposed to roll your 3e fireball damage dice against each enemy seperatly? That's maddenss. Nobody does that. Have fast characters get more shit done without bloating their action resolution so they actually feel slower to the player. Initiative passes are especially egregious at making faster characters resolve slower.
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