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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    PirateGirl

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    Default Negotiations that lead to blows, and flat-footedness

    Two groups (say PCs and some random adventuring party of NPCs they ran across) cross paths on a deserted road and are speaking. Naturally it might occur to anyone involved that hostiles could break out - always a possibility in a quasi-medieval society with no present witnesses - but thus far there've been no specific 'tells' or indications to differentiate this from any other encounter (in the vernacular, not DnD sense of 'encounter') in the world.

    Someone decides to attack. Should I just roll initiative normally? If the character who wins initiative is not one of the ones planning to attack, do I assume that they saw some 'tell' or indication (going for the sword, hostile facial expression) etc. that would 'justify' being the first to actually land an attack (let's say the PC is good aligned, possibly a paladin).

    Should I treat people who haven't acted yet as flat-footed? For example, if someone has an immediate action buff spell (like Greater Mirror Image), they wouldn't be able to cast it if they haven't had a turn yet (and they would be subject to the usual flat-footedness things: no AoOs w/o Combat Reflexes, no Dex bonus to AC and so sneak attac - able), etc.?

    What do I do if players say "well obviously my guy knew this could happen, and so would have readied an action to attack if attacked, and so in effect he gets to attack first no matter what?" (And if both sided say they are doing this, then hmm...whoever 'attacks' first' in effect attacks second?)

    Should the violence-initiating NPC be able to make some sort of Sleight of Hand and/or Bluff Check to get a 'surprise round' or start at the top of the order irrespective of initiative rolls?
    Last edited by ffone; 2011-01-16 at 03:15 PM.

  2. - Top - End - #2
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    AssassinGuy

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    Default Re: Negotiations that lead to blows, and flat-footedness

    Sort of depends on what weapons are being used and where they are. Unless one of the attackers has quick draw you can assume they are going to need a round to draw their weapon unless they happened to have it sittting out close to hand. Of course a hand to hand combat type wouldn't need weapons - they could just start swinging.

    I'd be tempted to give anyone who wasn't prepared for the attack a reflex save to see if they can respond quick enough to join the fight in that round. You might give them bonuses or penalties depending on what they were doing or what attitude they were taking.

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    Ogre in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Negotiations that lead to blows, and flat-footedness

    In general, I would say that if both sides were pretty wary to begin with, you just roll initiative as usual, with no one flat-footed. It's fine if a member of the "defending" side ends up going first; just because one guy is the first to make a hostile move, doesn't mean he'll be the first to find a good opening to land a blow.

    After all, a combat round lasts 6 seconds not because it takes six seconds to throw a punch or swing a sword, but because in six seconds of fighting, the character sees one (or more, for a full attack by a higher-level character) opportunity to get past the opponent's defenses. It could easily be the defender who first finds this opening.

    If one side really wasn't expecting an attack, then they might start out flat-footed. Depending on just how off-guard they were, a surprise round might even make sense.

    Quote Originally Posted by ffone View Post
    Should the violence-initiating NPC be able to make some sort of Sleight of Hand and/or Bluff Check to get a 'surprise round' or start at the top of the order irrespective of initiative rolls?
    This I might well allow...especially if it's a player who first tries it. Let them give it a shot -- maybe an opposed check of Sleight of Hand vs. Spot, or Bluff vs. Sense Motive, with modifiers for how straightforward or confusing the situation is -- in reward for their creative thinking. But from then on, remember that the NPCs might try the same thing...
    Last edited by mucat; 2011-01-16 at 05:37 PM.

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    Titan in the Playground
     
    AssassinGuy

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    Default Re: Negotiations that lead to blows, and flat-footedness

    Everyone is aware, so that's normally an indication there won't be a surprise round. Since nobody is lulled into ease nobody should be slow to react if things turn hostile. Skip the surprise round and just roll initiative normally.

  5. - Top - End - #5
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    Bakkan's Avatar

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    Default Re: Negotiations that lead to blows, and flat-footedness

    I agree with Curmudgeon and would add that I would make anyone who has not acted yet flat-footed. Even if they think something might happen, they may still be startled by combat if it happens (just like I get startled when I'm watching the toaster intently and then the bread comes up -- I'm completely aware that it will happen, but I'm still "flat-footed" against it).

    As far as the readying an action goes, I rule that readying an action is a visible, generally obviously hostile action, so as soon as someone wants to ready an action, initiative is rolled and we begin.

    TL;DR: By my ruling, creatures who have not yet acted are flat-footed, readying actions starts combat.

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    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    Pink's Avatar

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    Default Re: Negotiations that lead to blows, and flat-footedness

    Quote Originally Posted by Bakkan View Post
    I agree with Curmudgeon and would add that I would make anyone who has not acted yet flat-footed. Even if they think something might happen, they may still be startled by combat if it happens (just like I get startled when I'm watching the toaster intently and then the bread comes up -- I'm completely aware that it will happen, but I'm still "flat-footed" against it).

    As far as the readying an action goes, I rule that readying an action is a visible, generally obviously hostile action, so as soon as someone wants to ready an action, initiative is rolled and we begin.

    TL;DR: By my ruling, creatures who have not yet acted are flat-footed, readying actions starts combat.
    In general I'm agreeing with this. Standard roll initiative, but still flat-footed because most people need to take that second to process and react and what not.

    Where I'll disagree slightly is with the readied action.

    First, I'll make a note that if a player does not say that they are specificically readying an action, they haven't readied it.

    Second thing to keep in mind, is that you can only ready a standard action, and drawing a weapon is a move action. So unless the party has their weapons drawn, which would likely lead to combat anyway, then yes it's definitely an offensive act that would probably provoke likewise from the opponents. That being said, if a play specifically said they'd ready to draw their weapon at the first sign of hostilities, I would allow them to draw and might allow them to avoid flat-footedness, but I'm not sure on that as it sets a bad precendent for the entire party to ready an action to draw. I might allow them to make a sense motive of some sort to see if they're flat footed or not. And there'd definitely be a negative in negotiations for having your hand on your hilt the entire time, but then again, that might just be standard fair for the enemy too in situations where you can't trust both sides.

    That being said, if a player has quick draw and can draw as a free action, I'd allow them to ready the attack and such.
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  7. - Top - End - #7
    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: Negotiations that lead to blows, and flat-footedness

    Quote Originally Posted by Pink View Post
    In general I'm agreeing with this. Standard roll initiative, but still flat-footed because most people need to take that second to process and react and what not.

    Where I'll disagree slightly is with the readied action.
    Readying an action is a combat action. Its mechanics are dependent on the initiative mechanics. I don't allow it outside of combat. Otherwise all the spellcasters will always ready an action. Do we really NEED yet another way to nerf melee by declaring that having a weapon in hand and ready starts combat but that a wizard can ready any spell in the book and cast it instantly at the start of combat?

    You're flat footed, you're not in combat, you can't ready. Roll initiative.

  8. - Top - End - #8
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Negotiations that lead to blows, and flat-footedness

    Quote Originally Posted by Doug Lampert View Post
    Readying an action is a combat action. Its mechanics are dependent on the initiative mechanics. I don't allow it outside of combat. Otherwise all the spellcasters will always ready an action. Do we really NEED yet another way to nerf melee by declaring that having a weapon in hand and ready starts combat but that a wizard can ready any spell in the book and cast it instantly at the start of combat?

    You're flat footed, you're not in combat, you can't ready. Roll initiative.
    You're allowed your own interpretation. Really though, it depends on the situation. In some situations, maybe you're allowed to get away with putting a hand on your sword, in some maybe that immediately starts combat. Concerning spell casters though, if their spell has material components and they're readying, they're reaching into their spell component pouch which in and of itself can be equivalent of "drawing a weapon", so I hardly see why it's a double standard.

    That being said, ready actions have a specific trigger. Looking to see if the group in front of you draws a weapon does nothing against if they choose to walk away, or against the other half of their group is sneaking up behind you. Ultimately though, if a player says their character is suspicious and readying if the other group attacks, why should I have them at the same disadvantage as the rest of the party that was about to trust the strangers completely?

    side note: I'm incorrect about quick draw, free actions need to be readied as well.
    Last edited by Pink; 2011-01-17 at 12:18 AM.
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  9. - Top - End - #9
    Titan in the Playground
     
    AssassinGuy

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    Default Re: Negotiations that lead to blows, and flat-footedness

    Doug Lampert is right about needing a standard action to Ready, and that standard actions aren't available until the game is proceeding in rounds.
    SPECIAL INITIATIVE ACTIONS
    Ready

    The ready action lets you prepare to take an action later, after your turn is over but before your next one has begun. Readying is a standard action.
    initiative

    A system of determining the order of actions in battle. Before the first round of combat, each combatant makes a single initiative check. Each round, the participants act in order from the highest initiative result to the lowest.
    standard action

    The most basic type of action. Common standard actions including making a melee or ranged attack, casting a spell, and using a magic item. In a typical round, a character can take a standard action and a move action, but he can't take a second standard action in place of his move action.
    turn

    The point in the round at which you take your action(s). On your turn, you may perform one or more actions, as dictated by your current circumstances.
    round

    A 6-second unit of game time used to manage combat. Every combatant may take at least one action every round.
    The definitions of the terms don't allow Ready (a special initiative action) to be used until after initiative order has been determined and the game is being run in rounds. There's no interpretation here; it's just what the rules require.

  10. - Top - End - #10
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Negotiations that lead to blows, and flat-footedness

    Well, I'm hardly trying to argue RAW here, because goodness knows if we played that way monk's wouldn't be proficient with their own fists. Just because there is a specific definition for what happens within combat concerning readying, doesn't mean you can't have rules and definitions for it outside of combat. I mean, look at spells, if we're going by your reading of RAW, casting spells are mentioned as a combat action, and there aren't any rules that say specifically how to cast them outside of combat (at least not what a quick scan of the SRD says), because this is self evident.

    Tabletop RPGs are different as games because the rules are not always the end-all and be-all of the game. Yes, Readying is a specific act defined for in combat use. Does that mean that a character cannot try to predict a situation and respond with an appropriate action if the situation meets their prediction outside of combat? No.

    I'm saying, that if one player is going out of their way to show a wariness and readiness for battle, this should have some sort've effect in the game. What this effect is depends entirely on the context of the situation though. Is the character trying to hide the fact that they have their hand on their sword? Are they trying to make a point of it? Is the entire party doing it or is only a couple?

    Ultimately, what I'm saying, is that, again, in the case of where one party member is suspicious of the group approaching, says so and that he's preparing to defend himself, while the others aren't and are trying to talk to the group and what not, generally not being on guard, by dint of saying what he was doing, that player should get a bonus of some kind if the group suddenly gets hostile. Whether this is a readied attack, or a bonus to initiative roll, or not being caught flat-footed, or being able to dive to the ground when arrows are shot at them. The player said his character was taking caution, and reasonably there should be some sort've benefit associated, or a check of some sort to get that benefit if the character needs to be sneaky like in order to get it.

    Now, there is the argument that this can be abused, which may very well be true, and if that starts to become the case then you need to start making calls on how reasonable it is. If everyone in the party suddenly puts a hand on their weapon and keeps it there everytime a group approaches, then maybe that would count as initiative starting since it's such an obvious unified assertive act. Maybe the other group slowly backs away and doesn't talk to the party, thinking that they don't want to mess with them now. If it's one person and it doesn't fit their character, IE, a brash barbarian, make sure they're doing a sense motive to actually be able to spot the aggressive move on time, or something as appropriate.
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  11. - Top - End - #11
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    PirateGirl

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    Default Re: Negotiations that lead to blows, and flat-footedness

    Quote Originally Posted by Bakkan View Post
    I agree with Curmudgeon and would add that I would make anyone who has not acted yet flat-footed. Even if they think something might happen, they may still be startled by combat if it happens (just like I get startled when I'm watching the toaster intently and then the bread comes up -- I'm completely aware that it will happen, but I'm still "flat-footed" against it).

    As far as the readying an action goes, I rule that readying an action is a visible, generally obviously hostile action, so as soon as someone wants to ready an action, initiative is rolled and we begin.

    TL;DR: By my ruling, creatures who have not yet acted are flat-footed, readying actions starts combat.
    Love the toaster analogy. Great for justifying to players!

  12. - Top - End - #12
    Titan in the Playground
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    Default Re: Negotiations that lead to blows, and flat-footedness

    If you haven't acted yet in combat, you are flat-footed. It doesn't matter if you're ready for combat and there's no surprise round. Haven't acted, flat-footed. Simple.
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    Bugbear in the Playground
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    Default Re: Negotiations that lead to blows, and flat-footedness

    I would be inclined to give a surpirse round to the first person to decide to act. But not their allies unless there was some pre-arranged signal to all attack on cue (in which case, eveyone who understood the signal can act in the surprise round).
    In that surprise round, they could draw a weapon, giving themselves a distinct edge in the first round of combat (at they can immediately full attack). Or if they already had a wepaon in hand they could make 1 attack. Or if they had Quick Draw they could draw and attack.

    Then everyone rolls initiative. As Yuki says, everyone is flat-footed until they act.
    If the attacker and his allies roll well on initiative then they could cut down the enemy before they realise what's happening. If they roll poorly, one of them might be getting stabbed before the thought "Oh crap, Bob's actually went for his sword" has finished going through his head.


    On the subject of readied actions:
    Realistically, if the situation is "hostiles could break out - always a possibility in a quasi-medieval society with no present witnesses" then no-one is going to approach within weapons reach of the other side with a drawn weapon.
    If no-one is willing to sheathe their swords then the conversation will be short and conducted in loud voices from 10-15 feet away.
    Someone confident might, as a gesture of trust, be willing to come within the sheathe their own weapon and come within reach of another who still has their weapon drawn.
    For archers, aiming an arrow at someone is like pointing a gun at their face: other people won't like it and will respond in kind; things become less like a tense negotation and more like a stand-off; if someone coughs too loudly at the wrong time then a lot of people could get hurt before things calm down.
    If a tree falls in the forest and the PCs aren't around to hear it... what do I roll to see how loud it is?

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    Halfling in the Playground
     
    SolithKnightGuy

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    Default Re: Negotiations that lead to blows, and flat-footedness

    This is where the rules for a "surprise" round come into play. Everyone gets a move action or a standard action but not both and no full round actions except for the specifically mentions charge at normal movement instead of double movement.

    This rewards characters with things like Quickdraw and Improved unarmed strike since they can do more than just draw a weapon and/or move in this round (a character with at least +1 BaB can draw as part of a move action)

    As far as determining order i would have everyone roll initiative and give a circumstantial bonus (maybe +4 like improved initiative) to the character that started things off. This way they are more likely to go first but a very fast character with a good roll still has a chance to see them start to reach for their weapon and get off first, especially if they are speced out for it with things like high dex, Improved Init and Quickdraw.

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