Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Dice, Rulebooks, Actions?

Deliberating on what to discuss on the blog is sometimes baffling as I have chosen not to follow D&D, the game the introduced me to the world of role-playing. As such, some of my issues with gaming are not standard, and possibly unrelated to problems of other gamers. Trying to sanitize data for others to find useful causes the original issue to become obscure and unrelated on all accounts. Instead of worrying about that, I am just going to jump in.

I'm currently playing the most recent edition of Earthdawn from the good folks over at Redbrick. I was updating one of the player's on-line character sheet when I realized I had to change all the action types for their skills. To put this in context, you will probably note that there are multiple types of action in a RPG.
Shadowrun uses the 'Free', 'Simple', 'Complex' actions.

D&D 3.X uses 'Move', 'Free', 'Standard', and 'Full Round' actions.
Earthdawn originally had a boolean variable for actions. 'Action: yes' and 'Action: No'. If action was set to yes, you could only perform that skill/talent once per round. All others you could do multiple times. This actually sped up gaming as it was pretty easy to remember which actions you could only do once per round. Since ED3, the actions have graduated to a more popular style and Earthdawn now hosts 'Standard', 'Simple', 'free' and 'sustained' actions.

I am now discovering the difficulty to determine which character action falls into which category. To make matter worse, some skills, like speak languages, state it uses a standard action, but in combat, a character can speak while doing other things. This makes it more like a simple action. Since you can only do one standard action per round, you could not speak and swing a sword at the same time, I think Inigo Montoya would disagree with this.

This would not normally bother me, but since I am trying to look at things from a simpler perspective. I find that simpler 'yes or no' worked fine and any disagreements were left to the GM (and the players had less ammunition to argue).


  1. In Pathfinder Inigo Montoya would be fine because he could swing his sword and talk as free action. ;)

  2. Indeed, I may try out this Pathfinder thing everyone speaks of.