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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.


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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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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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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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Hiram McDaniels
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 23, 2017 2:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

D&D's standard/move/swift action economy works fine, but I think I would prefer to consolidate move and minor actions so that each character could do one big action and one small action per turn, as well as one reaction.

Part of the reason 4E combat was such a long, tedious slough (besides HP bloat) is that every character had 3 actions per turn, each of which might have powers associated with them, which makes each turn take that much longer to resolve. Now players having interesting things to do with their actions is, of course, good but extra resolution time is bad. The question is how to make each turn eventful and short. That's why I say fewer individual actions.
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 23, 2017 4:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

I found that the issue with 4e actions taking too long to resolve at the table was not the large print Move, Minor, Standard but rather the fine print differences between Opportunity Actions (each combatant can get up to one per each other combatant's turn) and Immediate Actions (each combatant gets up to one between the end of their turn and the start of their next turn) and the crazy variability as to whether timing of any given ongoing effect was start of target's turn, end of target's turn, start of caster's turn, end of caster's turn or on alternate Tuesdays save for quarter-moons in leap years.
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Emerald
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 23, 2017 6:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Hiram McDaniels wrote:
D&D's standard/move/swift action economy works fine, but I think I would prefer to consolidate move and minor actions so that each character could do one big action and one small action per turn, as well as one reaction.


I think this kind of action economy works well in something like Shadowrun because combat is less granular and involved and more things happen at range or otherwise don't care too much about positioning, but I don't think it would work out well at all for something like D&D.

Doing this has no noticeable effect on the complexity of turns for characters who don't move much anyway (such as casters), while those who would want to move around more (such as fighter types) are forced to choose between moving with a move action and buffing their attacks with a swift action, which causes the same problems as having full attacks consume your entire turn (combat positioning is very static, anything that knocks a martial character out of position drastically drops their damage as they have to re-engage, and so forth). It's trading some theoretical upsides in reduced complexity for some very tangible downsides.

Josh_Kablack wrote:
I found that the issue with 4e actions taking too long to resolve at the table was not the large print Move, Minor, Standard but rather the fine print differences between Opportunity Actions (each combatant can get up to one per each other combatant's turn) and Immediate Actions (each combatant gets up to one between the end of their turn and the start of their next turn) and the crazy variability as to whether timing of any given ongoing effect was start of target's turn, end of target's turn, start of caster's turn, end of caster's turn or on alternate Tuesdays save for quarter-moons in leap years.


Agreed. Star Wars Saga has "reactions" as its off-turn action, which are subject to a one-reaction-per-triggering-action limit but otherwise can be taken whenever you want without a per-round limitation like Immediate actions or a per-turn limitation like Opportunity actions, and though this would seem to make things pretty slow to resolve it's actually faster to resolve than 4e in practice because there's only one kind of off-turn action and in the majority of cases (I can't think of a counterexample offhand, but there probably are some) offensive abilities last until the end of the user's next turn (so you can take advantage of them) and defensive abilities last until the start of the user's next turn (so they protect you off-turn).

It also helps that each character usually only gets a few reactions and each different reaction has a fairly narrow, obvious usage (the Deflect talent deflects blaster bolts, the Enlighten power buffs an ally's check, the Rebuke power counters a Force power, etc.). It's certain possible to get several different reactions that overlap--you could have a character who can react to a blaster attack by trying to Deflect it with a lightsaber, Intercept it telekinetically with rubble, Deflecting Slash it to deflect it and attack someone, Negate Energy it to absorb the damage, and so on--but doing so requires a conscious choice and the character will necessarily have less complex decision trees on other parts of their turn due to how they chose their powers.

So really, consistency of resolution and limiting option paralysis are key to not bogging things down with too many actions, I think, more so than the actual number of actions a character gets per turn.
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Hiram McDaniels
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 26, 2017 5:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Emerald wrote:

Doing this has no noticeable effect on the complexity of turns for characters who don't move much anyway (such as casters), while those who would want to move around more (such as fighter types) are forced to choose between moving with a move action and buffing their attacks with a swift action, which causes the same problems as having full attacks consume your entire turn (combat positioning is very static, anything that knocks a martial character out of position drastically drops their damage as they have to re-engage, and so forth). It's trading some theoretical upsides in reduced complexity for some very tangible downsides.


That is a very good point. I guess I was a little too enamored with the supposed simplicity of the 1 Big Thing/1 Small Thing economy. I definitely don't want to go back to screwing swordguy out of his full attack suite by knocking him back 10 ft.

Emerald wrote:

So really, consistency of resolution and limiting option paralysis are key to not bogging things down with too many actions, I think, more so than the actual number of actions a character gets per turn.


I don't know that there really is a way that you can eliminate option paralysis on the part of players through game mechanics. Some people are just indecisive.

I remember someone on this board saying that 12 was the sweet spot for individual powers/options, but even with the den's wheel of fate system where you've only got 4-6 locked and loaded each round, there are still people who will take a long time to ponder their next action.

I think that the only surefire way to speed up play is to streamline out resolution operations, like when modern D&D moved from descending AC to ascending (that is, stating the target number to-hit rather than deriving it).
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 26, 2017 12:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Lago and Frank were peddling the WoF a while ago with the idea that giving people only a few usable options per turn took care of people scripting their turns or becoming stuck on the wealth of options. Not opening that one back up so that's all I'll say about that. You can't get rid of indecisiveness but the fewer and less complex the options a person has at a given time the less likely they'll get stuck. A reasonably complex game will cause more of it than a simple game with simple and fewer options.
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 27, 2017 4:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

The ideal action economies for each game will differ depending on the game, obviously. The action economy I'd use for D&D 6E would be different than what I would use for Shadowrun or Mouseguard.

That said, since it's been a few years since I plugged WoF, here's what I would imagine a system like that for D&D:

First, most opponents are on the ladder version of WoF. They get a small number of options, you roll to see what's available that round (or to recharge). Higher numbers give you better options, but even the Big Bad monsters would have like six options.

PCs and special NPCs such as the Psycho Rangers would have a chart option, also known as the Green Arrow option. That is, instead of having a numbered list of discrete abilities, you'd have a list of lists that would resemble a spreadsheet or chart. Rolling a '1' would give you options A - F while rolling a '3' would give you 'M - R'. I'm agnostic on giving people the full chart right away or starting people off with a chart that has fewer columns and rows (or at least columns) but I prefer the latter since it's easier to ease people into the game with them.

As far as actions go, it works pretty much like 3.5E D&D/Pathfinder. You have a standard action, a move action, and a swift/immediate action. You also have 'sustain' slots that work like Concentration spells in 5E D&D. If you use a power like Haste or Summon Monster, you have to put it in one or more sustain slots to keep using it. People get (or don't) get more sustain slots as they level up, allowing them to sustain more and/or stronger effects.

So a newbie wizard would be able to sustain Summon Monster II (2 sustain slots) and Silent Image (1 sustain slot), while a mid-level wizard would be able to sustain three Summon Monster IIIs (3 sustain slots, total), a Major Image (1 sustain slot), and a Silent Image and a Flaming Sphere (0 sustain slots at that level, though it'll still require actions to juggle/shape). With my WoF system, using an option for the first or X number of rounds does NOT require a sustain slot. So if all of your slots are tied up in sustaining illusions, summoning a monster mid-combat does not require a sustain slot if you're just using it for one attack -- and if the slot is sufficiently low, you can sustain it slot-free for three rounds. But because you're on WoF, you can't guarantee that you'll have a Celestial Lion on the round you might really want it unless you sustain it ahead of time.
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 27, 2017 8:35 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?


Spycraft and a few other D20 variants reduced this down to half action, full action, free action. I always found keeping track o fwhich is a standard, which is a move-equivalent, and which is a full action to be kind of arbitrary and a pain to remember.

Half, full, free. Easy peasy.
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 28, 2017 10:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

3.5 is pretty good, just needs a bit of a terminology tweak (like, Action, Move, Focus, lots of things would work), and make interrupts something that just happen, rather than being a decision tree and comparing dice and shit. Charging someone with a longer weapon can just fail to engage, maybe take some token damage to help clear mooks.

Obviously, you can move and still get all your normal Action stack.

But you know, there's others. Group initiative makes it nice to just perform actions in order by action class, and once you do that it doesn't matter so much if people have multiple actions or whatever, everyone just gets a go in each action class step if they can.

Like, All Missile fire, All Magic stuff, All Movement, then All Melee (then prep next round and do it for the other group, repeat). Missile and Magic has to be prepared from the round before, so you can interrupt it by just taking your normal turn and stabbing a dude. And yes, you can throw your axe, flame on with your sword, move into reach, and stab a fool, because that is fine in the same way that popping off a Minute Meteor, casting a Touch Spell, moving into reach, and rotting a fool's face off is fine.

How harshly you want to penalise people for doing interruptible things is ... well, depends if you want people being behind the meat shields to matter. Some genres the whole notion of being protected from the melee is just wrong.
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 28, 2017 3:49 pm    Post subject: Re: The ideal action economy Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

TheFlatline wrote:

Half, full, free. Easy peasy.


I've skimmed through Fantasycraft before, that's the same mechanics as Spycraft right?

I think they also have no out of turn actions, a quick google search brings up...

Quote:

* No attacks of opportunity. Adjacency will cause characters to get "tied up" in melee, but no out of turn attacking.
* No iterative attacks or partial/movement actions. Like Spycraft 2.0, Fantasy Craft splits a character's turn into one full action or two half actions + free actions. That means a first level character can attack twice. Feats enhance the number and types of actions you can take.
* Distinct, useful non-attack combat actions. Beyond the attack and move basics, characters can take a number of skill-based actions in combat, including Distracting, Tiring, Anticipating, Threatening, Taunting and so on - enough that any social or non-combat character can contribute in his own way, too (even if it's not about DPS Smile).
* Clarified and streamlined core actions. Grapple is a skill check, and winning that check triggers easy to parse and use effects (including my favorite - the Screaming Club, which allows the winner of the check to use the loser as a battering object!). Mounted combat deals with horse and rider as a single acting unit with powerful benefits, just like in the real world.
* Restricted actions unlocked by character options and abilities. Powerful aligned characters can Turn, winged characters may Buffet a foe with a blast of wind, and particularly huge monsters can Swallow enemies whole or Trample them underfoot. Like other "standard" combat actions, each option has its own unique set of benefits and uses, adding to the diversity of combat.
* Armor provides Damage Reduction, and Defense (3.5 AC) comes from class and other character options.
* Damage uses vitality/wounds instead of hit points, allowing a lucky shot to take down even the toughest character (if the attacker is particularly noteworthy or the stakes particularly high, at least Smile)
* Unique damage types. Damage types are more than just a descriptor - each type has its own special effects. Divine damage ignores armor and addles the target's brain; fire sets people align; acid disintegrates clothing, armor and weapons; force can blast even incorporeal targets; etc.


I liked the core of what I saw with fantasycraft but thought the classes were fiddly to put together
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 28, 2017 10:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

I remember everything being pretty fiddly, including the 'non combat' actions. Weird dice attached depending on a lot of stuff, and a lot of stuff piling up to make for uber successes. With a corollary that if you didn't pile a lot of stuff up, you weren't going to succeed.

It's been a while though, so I could have some things wrong. The main thing I remember was the writing style being unappealing- all technical writing and poor explanations, with little idea what the system was supposed to produce or the feel of any setting or game attached to the endless pages of mechanics.
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 29, 2017 5:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Hicks wrote:
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.


What do you think of some 'fast actions' automatically putting the player on a higher initiative track? I've seen something that did that reviewed on here, flame princess?
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 29, 2017 8:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

For meatspace table top, I'm fairly convinced that having D&D style "initiative tracks" at all is not worth the processing power. It saves a pretty substantial amount of realtime and confusion to just resolve actions in player seating order. Of course you have to be willing to sacrifice a bit of raelizms for this, but I'm totally okay with that, doubly especially in larger groups.
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Mord
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Joined: 24 Apr 2014
Posts: 283

PostPosted: Mon Oct 30, 2017 4:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

No one has yet mentioned the Action Point system as seen in the OG Fallout games. I don't know of any tabletop games that use it, but it's possible that you could, if you really wanted to.

For those who don't know: each time your initiative comes up, you get a number of Action Points equal to 5 + Agility / 2. (Agility ranges from 1-10 and can rarely if ever be enhanced. It is the god stat.) You may expend Action Points on movement (1 AP per hex moved), opening your inventory to swap out your two active item slots (4 AP, 2 with a Perk), using items (generally 2 AP, such as a healing Stimpak), or attacking. You cannot take actions when it is not your initiative. If you wish to end your turn and you have AP remaining, these AP are added to your Armor Class at 1:1 until the beginning of your next turn.

Attacks vary in AP cost; unarmed punches and attacks with melee weapons cost 3AP, kicks and shooting a gun cost 4 AP. Some guns allow you to fire in Burst mode, which increases the AP cost. Most attacks allow you to make a Called Shot, which adds +1 to the AP cost in exchange for allowing you to target a specific body part for added damage and benefit (e.g. a called shot to the eyes has low accuracy but blinds the target on success). There are Perks that reduce the AP costs for unarmed attacks and gun attacks.

What I like about this system in comparison to the D&D style "standard, move, minor" paradigm is that it doesn't require you to burn a whole 'move' action if you only need to adjust your position by 2 hexes. This is good for the melee guy who gets knocked back just outside 5' step range and still wants to do his full attack routine, or anyone else who regrets having to burn an entire Move action if they don't need to use the full allotted distance.

I dislike details of the way Fallout implemented this concept, particularly the way their implementation makes Agility the uberstat. Even if those were fixed, though, the system would be intrinsically very fiddly since you're tracking as many as 10 individual points per character per pass.

Also on the downside, this makes it difficult to simulate a monster that can't move very far but is a whirling tornado of blades. Since every attack action uses the same resource as movement, you would have to resort to something like giving the monster in question a large number of AP and a custom movement rate (1 hex per 2-3 AP rather than 1) or a small number of AP and a custom attack action (1 attack per 1 AP rather than 3-4). Either way you add a layer of complexity by giving specific actors custom action costs.
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