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    Default Actions before Initiative is rolled.

    My gaming group has been having heated discussions about how to handle actions taken before initiative is rolled. We are playing my own Heart of Darkness system (link in sig!), but the concept is pretty system agnostic and can be discussed in the D&D terms this forum is most familiar with.

    Basically, one of my players played a rogue in the last game, and declared that he was hiding the moment he woke up in the morning, and remaining hidden all day, and that means that he shouldn't have to waste a turn in combat hiding, he should always just open combat with an automatic surprise-round backstab. We have been arguing about this for atleast two years, and I started a thread about it in November 2021.

    This weekend, it came to a head. Spells in my system have durations measured in encounters rather than real world units of time, and he wanted to cast a spell on the turn before the players kicked in the door and initiated combat. I told him that he would need to cast a spell with a 2 encounter duration as initiative hadn't yet been rolled when he cast it, and he cried foul. Honestly, its a pretty tough edge case and I could see it going either way.

    I remember in 3.5 D&D readied actions ignored the normal initiative rules, and we had players who would declare readied actions 24/7 to always "win initiative". Then the NPCs started doing the same, and rather than rolling initiative every combat just started out as a chain of readied actions that was a mess to resolve.

    Likewise, I have heard stories about 5E wizards casting cantrips or signature spells every round of their waking lives and the headaches that involved.


    The big problem with these sort of things is that they should work both ways, and I have to keep track of it. I don't want to worry about monsters, or god forbid townsfolk, being "always stealthed" and the headaches the involves. Likewise, wouldn't NPCs take the "full defense" action every turn, thus rendering them LESS susceptible to sneak attacks from the "always stealthed" rogues?

    And if the PCs are allowed to cast spells and ready actions before kicking in the door, logically wouldn't the monsters (potentially) hear them coming, and then all ready actions to watch the door and beat the crap out of the first person who stepped through?


    During the argument, I was told that I don't allow combat actions to bypass initiative rules because I am an adversarial GM who wants to rule against the players, but IMO its the opposite; allowing people to take combat actions outside of initiative ultimately disadvantages the PCs if applied across the board and played fairly.

    So does anyone have any thoughts? Advice on how to handle this sorts of actions? Stories about how this has worked (or hasn't worked) at your tables? How your RPG system of choice structures the rules to avoid this sort of nonsense? Or, gasp, appeals to realism?

    Thanks!
    Looking for feedback on Heart of Darkness, a character driven RPG of Gothic fantasy.

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    Default Re: Actions before Initiative is rolled.

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    This weekend, it came to a head. Spells in my system have durations measured in encounters rather than real world units of time, and he wanted to cast a spell on the turn before the players kicked in the door and initiated combat. I told him that he would need to cast a spell with a 2 encounter duration as initiative hadn't yet been rolled when he cast it, and he cried foul. Honestly, its a pretty tough edge case and I could see it going either way.
    Well, i don't know your system, but I think I would have ruled similarly : Prebuffing costs one encounter of duration.

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    Default Re: Actions before Initiative is rolled.

    Frankly, it sounds like you've just found a flaw in using encounters as a duration. This doesn't seem like a particular edge case to me either, because pre-buffing for a fight is a genuine and completely normal tactic. I don't think youre an adversarial DM for not wanting it to work like that, but I do think its a bug in the system you need to get resolved soonest to be fair to the players. They deserve a specific understanding of how things work specifically so they can make plans around it.
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    Default Re: Actions before Initiative is rolled.

    I'd rule against "constantly hiding during the day" in the first place. If they have time to prepare for an encounter, they can hide. Otherwise, no dice.

    Similarly, if they can prebuff directly prior to an encounter (e.g. because the enemies don't see/hear them), I'd allow it. Otherwise, no.

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    Default Re: Actions before Initiative is rolled.

    In the one specific case of 'I want to do this thing right before we begin this encounter', I would rule that is -already in the encounter- and the other side just doesn't know they're in one yet, necessarily - the party is effectively making use of something similar to a surprise round or initiating an ambush (and presumably if you were going to have somebody ambush the party, you'd see no issue with having them prebuff, apply enhancement oils to their weapons, etc before launching the first arrow?) And yes, that would mean whatever is on the other side of the door would have a chance to hear the party casting, tossing their bags/backpacks to the ground with loud thumps so they're not encumbered during combat, loudly arguing with each over other whether or not it's worth spending extra spells to buff somebody, etc and prepare or react accordingly. Same as your players would reasonably expect to get to test their perception skills to have a chance to detect attackers before they begin combat.

    In the more general case about taking combat-relevant actions outside of combat as a long term thing I'm inclined to say no, you cannot/should not do that. One case is, I suppose, an appeal to reality, in that doing that would be mentally and physically exhausting. Even if the game rules permit it people cannot actually spend every moment of their waking life being 100% alert for attacks, trying to defend against things that don't exist, ensuring they are making no sound or trying to always be standing in a shadow, or spend 2-3 seconds out of every 6 doing a small ritual action that requires their full attention and doesn't let them do anything else while performing it (people who try to do this are considered mentally ill and encouraged to get treatment for it because you can't have a normal life while doing this.) In much the same way you should not let people get away with 'but the rules don't actually say I ever have to sleep or eat' or 'there's no rules about excreting biological waste, so my character just never has to find a bathroom.'

    The other main argument against it is on a more meta level, which is that by structuring time units on a narrative level as 'encounters' or 'scenes' you are already buying into a specific kind of setup in which 'combat time' or 'an encounter' is a distinct thing from non-combat time or 'not in an encounter.' Trying to do 'encounter' things in 'non-encounter' time breaks that premise from the start, and is essentially refusing to engage with the basic premise of how the game is made up. The two will not mix well.

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    Default Re: Actions before Initiative is rolled.

    I treat pre-encounter stuff as surprise round stuff, with a few instances of semi getting to set your own initative.

    If the pcs are set to open a door and pull off a set of actions, like a SWAT team entry, then if they would get a surprise round... well, it all works in the order they want. You know, teamwork and planning and stuff. Regular "initative" (in rolled & i-go-u-go games) takes place after that, I don't worry about rules absolutisim.

    Your instance described... if they were set and preparing to start a fight on their own timing, where they control when it starts, then I'd allow the sort of "cast/hide right before initative" stuff. If its not somewhere they control when the fight starts then no. I just realized, a sort of boxing match style thing where everyone is ready and just waiting for a trigger you know is coming in the next 30 sec to a minute then I'd also allow a pre-buff.

    If you want "i roll hide when i wake up and stay there all day" then it'd better be something like an all day invis spell, back of a wagon under a tarp all day, or hide in a barrel all day. There's no ninja stealth invis while you're sitting at the kitchen table eating lunch.

    Basically the scene/encounter can encompass more than just combat time. But if you aren't in control or have accurate knowledge of exactly when combat will start then no, because you need to be able to plan the timing in order to get one in before the starting bell.

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    Default Re: Actions before Initiative is rolled.

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    Basically, one of my players played a rogue in the last game, and declared that he was hiding the moment he woke up in the morning, and remaining hidden all day, and that means that he shouldn't have to waste a turn in combat hiding, he should always just open combat with an automatic surprise-round backstab. We have been arguing about this for atleast two years, and I started a thread about it in November 2021.
    You are carefully framing this as your player being ridiculous and silly and being the problem maker here, but let me give an alternate theory. If we could watch this entire encounter and entire history of encounters from the sky as a third party, is it possible that this player's behavior is rooted in frustration with your game rules and your game master style constantly diminishing and devaluating his skills and preferred style as a rogue? Perhaps he's tired of always being the ambushee instead of the ambusher, of always starting combats on the off foot and unable to use his primary skillset which is dependent on him being hidden.

    I've seen this in other games, where the DMs style of game keeps the rogue from every being useful. If he scouts ahead of the group, he constantly gets discovered and the others have to move up to save him. If he DOES find an encounter before the party gets to it and prepares himself to ambush when the party shows up, the circumstances magically change to invalidate his preparation. The DM I am thinking of was incapable of running an encounter where the PCs were the ones controlling the interaction. I'm sure you don't see yourself as that kind of DM, but is it possible that the player is frustrated?

    To me, this sounds like a frustrated player trying to point out a ridiculous interaction in the system perhaps to try and get you to change it.

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    This weekend, it came to a head. Spells in my system have durations measured in encounters rather than real world units of time, and he wanted to cast a spell on the turn before the players kicked in the door and initiated combat. I told him that he would need to cast a spell with a 2 encounter duration as initiative hadn't yet been rolled when he cast it, and he cried foul. Honestly, its a pretty tough edge case and I could see it going either way.
    I mean, what other preparations did the other players do before kicking in the door? Draw their weapons? Get on either side of the door. Of course someone should be able to cast a spell in preparation for the assault. In real life, the SWAT officers don't wait to put on their armor and load their guns until the bad guys know they are coming.

    This is simply and only a fault of your "spells last one encounter" system, which I assume you did to try and simplify things. Okay. So the encounter started when the party started setting up their ambush. That includes casting prep spells.

    And, yeah, if the bad guys have some way of finding out they are there before the assault begins, they can do something also. But, come on, be reasonable about that. Do they have someone standing on the other side of the door, ear pressed against a glass listening for someone coming? Do spellcasters have to loudly shout out their spells in your universe? Someone whisper casting a spell is no louder than someone else whispering strategy and tactics "You, go on that side of the door. You knock an arrow." So why would it be any more likely to be overheard.

    The rest of your post is just taking known rule interactions to ridiculous extremes. These kind of extreme edge cases don't exist in real games, just in discussion threads by people looking for ways to break systems. If your players are doing this, ask yourself if they are doing it because they are being frustrated by YOU taking rules too literarily first.

    I don't think your player wants to be "hidden" all day every day, he just wants to eventually and occasionally be able to sidle up behind someone ambushing the party and get to use his trademark skills. Make a system that lets him be special and do that.

    I don't think your player wants to break your spell system by having a hundred precast spells ready and waiting for something to happen, he just wants to use them in a cool SWAT style assault action like a thousand movies and other games have done.
    Last edited by Wintermoot; 2023-08-02 at 12:11 PM.

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    Default Re: Actions before Initiative is rolled.

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    I remember in 3.5 D&D readied actions ignored the normal initiative rules, and we had players who would declare readied actions 24/7 to always "win initiative". Then the NPCs started doing the same, and rather than rolling initiative every combat just started out as a chain of readied actions that was a mess to resolve.
    You actually can't ready actions outside of combat. Ready and Delay are Special Initiative Actions. If there is no initiative order there there is nothing these actions could modify.

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    Default Re: Actions before Initiative is rolled.

    Assuming the party doesn't get ambushed I would probably rule on the rogue being allowed to attempt to hide before initiative is rolled. It's reasonable they might be used to positioning themselves in order to use the first few moments of combat to slip out of sight and be under the enemy's radar. In a point buy system that might be worth charging for, in D&D I believe it's expected of non-flanking rogues in order to get their SA at least once a combat.

    For the pre-buffing, I'm waffling a bit on this but landing on the player's side if it's just one spell. This is why the various World of Darkness games mention that a 'scene' should be roughly a quarter of an hour of in-world time, and essentially has GMs ask 'does the next scene start a substantial amount of time after the last one did'.
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    Default Re: Actions before Initiative is rolled.

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    Basically, one of my players played a rogue in the last game, and declared that he was hiding the moment he woke up in the morning, and remaining hidden all day, and that means that he shouldn't have to waste a turn in combat hiding, he should always just open combat with an automatic surprise-round backstab. We have been arguing about this for atleast two years, and I started a thread about it in November 2021.!
    Putting the fun into dysfunctional.

    Does your game have a "passive hiding" or "passive stealth" score? If yes, then your player is at least partially correct.
    If not then the player is not.

    As a reference, see Chapter 7 of the basic rules of D&D 5e to see how passive ability checks are made. Passive checks took me a while to get used to as a DM, but as I have DM'd more in that system I have found them to be really handy.

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    Default Re: Actions before Initiative is rolled.

    This is why I'm not a fan of things explicitly being based on encounters, as opposed to time-spans generally equivalent to an encounter (two minutes, say) - it creates weirdness around "exactly when does a battle start" that wouldn't otherwise matter.

    In this case, consider this:
    1) If a battle started, and for whatever reason (terrain, distance) nobody made an attack in the first round, everyone spent it moving, buffing, or whatever, it'd still count as an encounter, right?
    2) If a battle started, and one side was invisible, or the room was dark, it'd still count as encounter, right?

    Therefore, in this case, why can't the PCs simply say "We are initiating combat - our first round actions are to cast buff spells, our second round will be to open the door. The enemy does get a first round of actions too, but since they don't know we're here, that would presumably just be to continue whatever they've been doing."


    On a more general level, what's the system purpose of not allowing buff actions when one side has an ambush situation? Because I could see wanting to de-emphasize ambushes in a system that was more narrative / heroic - "There should be no disadvantage to kicking in the door, announcing your name, and formally challenging the enemies to a fight" as a design principle. But from what you've said previously, HoD seems very tactical, very "manage your resources carefully and fight as smart as possible" - and to me that strongly implies "ambushes are good and you should try to be the one doing the ambushing".
    Last edited by icefractal; 2023-08-02 at 01:38 PM.

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    Default Re: Actions before Initiative is rolled.

    Quote Originally Posted by icefractal View Post
    Therefore, in this case, why can't the PCs simply say "We are initiating combat - our first round actions are to cast buff spells, our second round will be to open the door. The enemy does get a first round of actions too, but since they don't know we're here, that would presumably just be to continue whatever they've been doing."
    Basically, that's what the PCs want. The problem is (or rather A problem is) that this entirely bypasses the initiative system. There is zero chance that the "fastest gun in the west" will outdraw someone attempting to ambush him.


    EDIT: So actually, looking back at the mage player's arguments, I think maybe the whole negation of initiative may be what he actually wants, even if he doesn't know it, because initiative his his "dump stat" and a lot of his arguments revolve around the fact that he was pre-buffing but still lost initiative once the combat actually started.

    Quote Originally Posted by icefractal View Post
    On a more general level, what's the system purpose of not allowing buff actions when one side has an ambush situation? Because I could see wanting to de-emphasize ambushes in a system that was more narrative / heroic - "There should be no disadvantage to kicking in the door, announcing your name, and formally challenging the enemies to a fight" as a design principle. But from what you've said previously, HoD seems very tactical, very "manage your resources carefully and fight as smart as possible" - and to me that strongly implies "ambushes are good and you should try to be the one doing the ambushing".
    Well, first off, it isn't always an ambush situation. Once the players realize they can do something "at-will" they want it 24/7. I have seen stories on this forum about wizards doing it with signature spells as I said above, and my rogue player wants to hide every action, and now we are getting short duration spells. Why then, would the fighter also not go full defense every round? Or the bard inspire every round?


    Now, in this particular game, I am playing combat as sport in an old school mega-dungeon. Honestly, HoD isn't the best system for this, but its what the players wanted to play. Right now, for ease of play, I am simply having the players roll initiative upon "kicking in the door".

    The players said this system is "unfair to the PCs" and now want to pre-buff, and then kick in the door.

    I explained to them that if they want a "fair" system, then I need to roll to see if the monsters hear them coming, and then allow the monsters to also pre-buff. Then I further said that because of the asymetrical nature of warfare, this hurts them more than it helps them, primarily because the PCs don't know where in the room the monsters are, whereas the monsters can be fairly certain the PCs will be coming in through the doorway (or other entrance point) and use readied actions to create a kill-funnel.

    At which point the conversation just broke down into name calling.
    Last edited by Talakeal; 2023-08-02 at 02:33 PM.
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    Default Re: Actions before Initiative is rolled.

    I think the main solution to your problem is "just because it's technically free doesn't mean it's actually free"

    Swinging your sword and turning around doesn't cost you anything. But that doesn't mean a player can say "well, my character is constantly turning around and swinging its sword to fend off potential invisible assassins" without getting some exhaustion level or something similar.

    Similarly, while "hiding" and "readying an action" are free, that doesn't mean the GM shouldn't add a cost to them when done for prolonged period of times.

    As a rule of thumb, our table applies "every game feature that is intended to be used mostly within combat encounters cannot be maintained for more than 5 minutes without the character being exhausted". EDIT: hiding is kind of in a grey area so it's usually allowed for more than 5 minutes, but "hiding all day" would still be too much.

    (And we don't always rely on the exhaustion methods included in the rules. It's often a "you cannot do that unless you really want to" with some improvised consequences if you do. A constitution skill check might help.)
    Last edited by MoiMagnus; 2023-08-02 at 02:28 PM.

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    Default Re: Actions before Initiative is rolled.

    Huh. Pretty much exactly my position (and seems to be repeated by a few other posters as well).

    Quote Originally Posted by Atranen View Post
    I'd rule against "constantly hiding during the day" in the first place. If they have time to prepare for an encounter, they can hide. Otherwise, no dice.
    Yeah. Trying to do something like "hide" all day, constantly, is absurd. So no, you can't do that.

    However, I'm going to second the idea that this could be the rogue player being frustrated by some combination of rules/rulings that effectively nullify some of his abilities. If the rogue is never able to backstab (or whatever) because he has to be hidden from the target to do so, and is never allowed to hide prior to an encounter, and can't hide once an encounter begins in most cases (enemies are alert and aware of him and we're in combat now), then that's going to be pretty frustrating to the player.

    Quote Originally Posted by Atranen View Post
    Similarly, if they can prebuff directly prior to an encounter (e.g. because the enemies don't see/hear them), I'd allow it. Otherwise, no.
    And this is the meat of the issue (and could resolve the issue above as well). IMO, an "encounter" starts for one "side" the moment that they become aware of an enemy and make the decision to encounter/engage them. Period. This absolutely means that for the side that detected the other first and decides to attack, their "encounter" may start many rounds earlier than the encounter does for the other side. The other side's encounter only starts once they are attacked and decide to attack back (which, usually will be pretty much simultaneous). It seems like you are trying to rule that the encounter only starts once an offesive action is taken such that both sides are now aware of and engaged in the conflict, and that said encounter starts at the exact same time for both "sides".

    That's a poor methodology IMO, especially if your game system has abilities that may only be used in encounters, and with durations defined by encounters. It also has the horrible side effect of making many abilities that may be most useful when used ahead of time (ie: outside of combat), now somewhat less useless (especially in combat). If you simply drop the assumption that "an encounter" requires activity by two or more sides at all times, then you can allow for any ability use much more freely. My encounter as a rogue may be the entire time I'm sneaking past a series of guards to get inside their fort and steal their goodies. The other "side" may actually never even become aware that I'm there in the first place (kinda the objective for a rogue, right?). But they can get perception rolls to possibly detect me, which could change things. This can allow you to make all abilities "encounter based", even for things that aren't specifically "in combat" abilities. And has the bonus that some abilities that may be useful both in and outside of combat, now use the same consistent rules system for both.

    I also tend to use the term "scene" when refering to ability use like that anyway. Takes things away from the assumption trap you may have fallen into. A Scene may be a combat. It could also be a conversation or interaction with NPCs. It could be just a series of related actions taken by one or more PCs to achieve a single (relatively immediate and right in front of them) objective. There's no requirement that anyone else be there at all in fact. I'm using my tracking skill, the "scene" is me tracking the enemy folks into the mountains. That scene could last all day long. I'm trying to get my party through a sealed entrace to some under ground complex/dungeon. The "scene" is all the stuff/skills I may use to detect and bypass traps on the entrance, pick the locks, figure out the code, whatever. Once we're inside and have passed this, the scene ends.

    Lots of ways of managing this sort of skill/ability/spell use by using more subjective time frames rather than objective measurementts of time. And I actually tend to like them (they're flexible across a range of different types of abilities). But the GM has to keep balance and gameplay and "fun" in mind when deciding where one time period ends and another begins. And yeah, in my scene system, "walking around all day doing other things" is not a scene. Once you enter the dark forest and the rogue decides to "scout ahead and see what's there", that now becomes a scene for the rogue character. But you have to allow them to do proactive stuff like this, or the system doesn't work. If you're constantly ruliing that the rogue can't be hidden because he had no reason to think he needed to hide this moment more than any other, but you are also not providing clues or perception rolls to act as "hooks" to a "new potential scene", then the rogue is going to be frustrated.

    Sure. You can't allow the rogue to be hidden all day long. But you do also have to allow the rogue character to occasionally realize that "something is up/it's too quiet/this would be a great spot for someone to ambush us", and slip into the undebrush/side passage/whatever (with some rolls needed) just before "something happens". It should not be every single time, but if this never happens at all, the rogue is going to feel like he's not playing the character he envisoned (well, unless he like dumped his perception skills, in which case it's perfectly reasonable).

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    Default Re: Actions before Initiative is rolled.

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    This weekend, it came to a head. Spells in my system have durations measured in encounters rather than real world units of time, and he wanted to cast a spell on the turn before the players kicked in the door and initiated combat. I told him that he would need to cast a spell with a 2 encounter duration as initiative hadn't yet been rolled when he cast it, and he cried foul. Honestly, its a pretty tough edge case and I could see it going either way.
    He's casting a spell in direct preparation for that encounter he knows will happen because the party is initiating it. It's for that encounter. Its fine.
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    Default Re: Actions before Initiative is rolled.

    Sigh.

    So I've, IRL, been "in hide mode" "all day" before. It's not hard. And I'm not even "guy at the gym", I'm bloody1 Viking at a computer2. How lame are PCs in some games that the stealth experts are worse than me?

    As far as buffing right before a fight... um, it's kinda a genre trope (?), which means it's hard to be unbiased, but... why wouldn't preparing for a fight be an optimal solution? Really, which sounds more like a group of winners: combat masters who go in prepared, or idiots who blunder into the room unprepared?

    As far as having a duration measured in encounters (really strong with the Gamist side of the Force there), why wouldn't pre-buffs count as part of that encounter? I mean, sure, you could go extreme Gamist, and have the monsters on the other side of the door notice that their actions suddenly shift to combat action logic, and hear the combat music playing in the background as the party casts their buffs... but short of the physics of the universe literally working on such logic, I don't see any reason why "I'm an assassin, I've snuck into your stronghold, I've snuck into your room, I'm prepared to stab you, but I'm silently praying to my deity of choice, but Flying Spaghetti Monster says 'sorry, the encounter hasn't started yet, you can't pray for Noodle Arms of Death and expect it to last the 3 seconds until you stab', so I have to stab you before I pray for noodle arms" would ever be a thing.

    I can absolutely see "monsters notice the loud sound of the buff being cast" - but then, I can also see "monsters notice the loud sound of Knock being cast", or the loud sound of "guy in plate mail walking" or the loud sound of "guy who tanked Con breathing" (more gasping for breath, really). The party casting a buff is potentially noticeable, sure... but this should fall under general "monsters noticing the party" rules, not some special case just because it's a pre-combat buff. In other words, the psion concentrating, the silent prayers to Flying Spaghetti Monster, and the Rune Mage directing mana into her Runes do exactly nothing to attract (auditory) attention; Quertus (my signature academia mage for whom this account is named) digging through pouches for components, waving his arms around and making his robes rustle, and speaking in a strong voice, OTOH, might attract some attention from the other side of that door some of the time (although, obviously, everything except the verbal components is approximately the same "Listen DC" as the party walking up to the door / just standing there breathing / existing in the first place).

    In short, there's no way I wouldn't have given both to the players...

    ... with minor caveats. Like how loud/noticeable their version of buffs is mattering (just like how loud they are mattering in general, obviously). And the associated costs of being in stealth mode (speed, stamina, ability to perform tasks, etc).

    As for concerns about the rest of the world doing the same... um 1) the guards "watching a spot" are already doing the same - you're making the PCs lame and worse than the rest of the world if they can't play with the same toys some pathetic guards are using; 2) not everybody wants ta walk around being slow and taking penalties to all the rest of their rolls by focusing on Perception (yes, Perception - Perception is a key component of being in Stealth Mode) and Stealth. So... realistically, the town will just choose not to do that, problem solved?

    1 Literally, atm (darn water parks being slippery).
    2 And, no, it didn't look like Drax from GotG... although, for the record, at times, "just standing there, eating" can be a great form of stealth to let you fade into the background - just not the way Drax did it.

  17. - Top - End - #17
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    Default Re: Actions before Initiative is rolled.

    they seem fairly easy to me. of course, they are fairly easy because i don't have adversarial players.

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    Basically, one of my players played a rogue in the last game, and declared that he was hiding the moment he woke up in the morning, and remaining hidden all day, and that means that he shouldn't have to waste a turn in combat hiding, he should always just open combat with an automatic surprise-round backstab.
    "yes, you are always trying to hide, fair enough. on the other hand, your opponents are always watching, they don't keep their eyes closed until combat starts.
    so, once combat starts you roll hide, and they roll perception, no actions required. if you win, you can get sneak attack bonuses [whatever they are called in your system].
    by the way, you cannot hide in an empty featureless corridor, so let's apply this thing only when it would make sense that you could be hiden. also, if the party is ambushed while traveling you take a hefty penalty, unless you want to slow down the whole party as you try to crawl under the bushes instead of walking on the road"
    it's what i ruled for the rogue in my game. it just seems sensible. before combat let him describe how he would approach it stealthily. if he makes sense, let him be hidden.

    This weekend, it came to a head. Spells in my system have durations measured in encounters rather than real world units of time, and he wanted to cast a spell on the turn before the players kicked in the door and initiated combat. I told him that he would need to cast a spell with a 2 encounter duration as initiative hadn't yet been rolled when he cast it, and he cried foul.
    that's a problem with measuring spells in encounters. from a realism perspective, it makes sense than an actual duration is in minutes or seconds, so prebuffing is totally a thing.
    on the other hand, i can see that you are trying to avoid everyone coming prebuffed to combat. it makes thing more complicated. but in practice, buffing before the fight - if you have the advantage of surprise - should totally be a thing.
    i mean, the warrior does not wait combat to start before wearing his armor. he does not open combat by drawing his sword. he starts combat with armor on and sword in hand. why would the same not go for the wizards?
    so, from a realism perspective, it makes absolute sense that your players should be able to prebuff. and the opponents too, when appropriate.
    when there are gamist reasons to do something irrealistic, my suggestion is to propose to the players to do the gamist thing by common consensus. So you can ask your players to choose: avoid prebuffing, for the sake of simplicity, and you will refrain from prebuffing opponents; or prebuff when possible, but being wary that opponents would also be able to do it. accept their choice.
    as an additional suggestion, I haven't seen you post drama stories in a while, but it's still one of your groups. So, whatever they choose, write it down. possibly open a google drive archive where you can put up some record of all such decisions, for reference.

    When my group was less experienced, I proposed the party - in a fight between high level adventurers, where both sides would be prepared - that everyone would avoid buffing. From a story perspective, we would pretend that everyone did buff, and the net effect was mostly canceled both ways. this way it would not break the story, but it would simplify tracking stuff. they accepted. I made the same proposal years later, in a similar situation, and the party - now much more experienced - declined. I started tracking buffs for npcs. I discovered that simply writing them in a text file (npc name, followed by a list of buff) works wonderfully. in particular, when hit by a dispel roll the dispels in the order the buffs are written; delete those that get dispelled. move on. doesn't take much time once one is practiced.

    I remember in 3.5 D&D readied actions ignored the normal initiative rules,
    they don't. you need to have your turn, then you prepare an action, and you do not act right there. you act later. in fact, prepared actions are seldom used because they delay your action. it's generally better to hit the squishiest enemy with your stronger move
    and we had players who would declare readied actions 24/7 to always "win initiative". Then the NPCs started doing the same, and rather than rolling initiative every combat just started out as a chain of readied actions that was a mess to resolve.
    "yes, you have a readied action to attack the opponent once moving past the door. the opponent also has a readied action to attack whoever crosses the door. that's why we roll initiative, to see which of you gets to use his readied action first.
    yes, you surprised your opponent and you have a readied action to attack them, and they don't. it's called a surprise round"
    readied actions have a purpose in combat. outside of combat, they make no sense. initiative is what we call the way to see who gets to use an action first.
    I could accept some corner case, like a sentry watching a door keeping a prepared action outside of combat, because it's an extremely focused action. but only for a few minutes, before concentration lapses.


    Likewise, I have heard stories about 5E wizards casting cantrips or signature spells every round of their waking lives and the headaches that involved.
    that can be great characterization. have a wizard use mages hand to pick up a pen and write instead of writing wiith his own hand to show his extreme reliance on the arcane means. have one cast the ice cantrip on a wall during summer to cool the house.


    The big problem with these sort of things is that they should work both ways, and I have to keep track of it. I don't want to worry about monsters, or god forbid townsfolk, being "always stealthed" and the headaches the involves. Likewise, wouldn't NPCs take the "full defense" action every turn, thus rendering them LESS susceptible to sneak attacks from the "always stealthed" rogues?

    And if the PCs are allowed to cast spells and ready actions before kicking in the door, logically wouldn't the monsters (potentially) hear them coming, and then all ready actions to watch the door and beat the crap out of the first person who stepped through?
    apply common sense.
    people are not always stealthed while walking a road, living their normal life. However, a party that wants to travel avoiding attention, leaving the road to pass through the undergrowth, can be always stealthed. with a reasonable penalty both to stealth and to movement speed.
    people can't reasonably stay focused in full defence all day, that requires concentration. However, if there is a tense parlay with both sides having weapons drawn, then I can totally envision everyone there being in total defence, ready to try a dodge against someone breaking the truce.
    it makes sense for the party to prepare as best as they can if they know there are monsters after the door. it makes sense for the monsters to prepare as best as they can if they realize there is some hostile about to break open the door.

    really, my impression is that your problems here are because you want to have exact rules for everything instead of relying on common sense and trying to make some specific rulings based on specific circumstances of that encounter. I try to apply common sense. Actually, if there is some argument on such issues, I am more likely to discuss what would be a realistic outcome of the situation, and then trying to find the rules that better model it, rather than treating it all as an abstract game of chess (doesn't matter that a pawn is supposed to represent a squad of infantry and infantry can walk backwards. the pawn can't move backwards because the rules say so)

    Furthermore, my impression is that you tried to have exact rules because you so often had exploitative players trying to come up with ridiculous interpretation of the rules just for their advantage. well, you can't have rules that describe perfectly an adventuring party. you can have a world of perfect rules, but then they'd be abstract and all the fluff and description would become pointless - as would the pretence that those rules are describing actual combat. or you can have a world based on interpretation, where you describe the action and try for the rules that seem to best describe it on a case by case basis. generally it's something in between.
    given that the latest arguments seem to be attempts to exploit exact rules, and your latest group seems to have low toxicity, you could try to move more on the "common sense and interpretation" side.
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    Default Re: Actions before Initiative is rolled.

    Quote Originally Posted by Keltest View Post
    Frankly, it sounds like you've just found a flaw in using encounters as a duration. This doesn't seem like a particular edge case to me either, because pre-buffing for a fight is a genuine and completely normal tactic. I don't think youre an adversarial DM for not wanting it to work like that, but I do think its a bug in the system you need to get resolved soonest to be fair to the players. They deserve a specific understanding of how things work specifically so they can make plans around it.
    The way my system works is that the difficulty to cast a spell is dependent upon its variables, one of which is duration. Pre-buffing is explicitly called out as being a +1 duration, while spells cast during the encounter are explicitly called out as being cast during the encounter.

    By RAW its, imo, black and white, but conceptually kind of silly. The problem is we get into the gray area which comes from lack of precise units of time. If one round is ok, how about two? Three? Four? Ten? A hundred? Where do you draw the line? Likewise, just how many spells should you be able to cast in the "pre-buff" phase?

    Quote Originally Posted by Atranen View Post
    I'd rule against "constantly hiding during the day" in the first place. If they have time to prepare for an encounter, they can hide. Otherwise, no dice.

    Similarly, if they can prebuff directly prior to an encounter (e.g. because the enemies don't see/hear them), I'd allow it. Otherwise, no.
    Yeah. I have no problem with allowing pre-buffing before an ambush. The problem is that to count as an ambush, I would need to roll perception tests for the enemies, and if the enemies succeeded, they are going to take preparations of their own to counter the PCs.

    Quote Originally Posted by tyckspoon View Post
    In the one specific case of 'I want to do this thing right before we begin this encounter', I would rule that is -already in the encounter- and the other side just doesn't know they're in one yet, necessarily - the party is effectively making use of something similar to a surprise round or initiating an ambush (and presumably if you were going to have somebody ambush the party, you'd see no issue with having them prebuff, apply enhancement oils to their weapons, etc before launching the first arrow?) And yes, that would mean whatever is on the other side of the door would have a chance to hear the party casting, tossing their bags/backpacks to the ground with loud thumps so they're not encumbered during combat, loudly arguing with each over other whether or not it's worth spending extra spells to buff somebody, etc and prepare or react accordingly. Same as your players would reasonably expect to get to test their perception skills to have a chance to detect attackers before they begin combat.
    If the enemy is pre-buffing, I would absolutely require them to use medium duration spells, as that is RAW. Likewise, I would not allow them to declare 1 round actions like inspire, defend, or hide unless they had specific targets to use them against.

    Quote Originally Posted by tyckspoon View Post
    In the more general case about taking combat-relevant actions outside of combat as a long term thing I'm inclined to say no, you cannot/should not do that. One case is, I suppose, an appeal to reality, in that doing that would be mentally and physically exhausting. Even if the game rules permit it people cannot actually spend every moment of their waking life being 100% alert for attacks, trying to defend against things that don't exist, ensuring they are making no sound or trying to always be standing in a shadow, or spend 2-3 seconds out of every 6 doing a small ritual action that requires their full attention and doesn't let them do anything else while performing it (people who try to do this are considered mentally ill and encouraged to get treatment for it because you can't have a normal life while doing this.) In much the same way you should not let people get away with 'but the rules don't actually say I ever have to sleep or eat' or 'there's no rules about excreting biological waste, so my character just never has to find a bathroom.'
    I personally don't like the binary of games like D&D where conditions like total cover or invisibility make stealth automatic. It's not much fun for gameplay to have one side unopposed, nor is it realistic; there are plenty of times I hear someone moving about in another room without seeing them, and plenty of times someone walks right up to me while I was distracted and startles the heck out of me.

    So, in my system, cover, concealment, etc. all give you bonuses to your stealth roll, and if you succeed by 20 or more, you can hide as a quick (free) action.

    A properly built stealth character who takes care can reliably succeed by 20 or more; but that isn't good enough for Bob because the chance of him botching the roll and missing out on a turn of combat just isn't good enough.

    Quote Originally Posted by Telok View Post
    If the pcs are set to open a door and pull off a set of actions, like a SWAT team entry, then if they would get a surprise round... well, it all works in the order they want. You know, teamwork and planning and stuff. Regular "initative" (in rolled & i-go-u-go games) takes place after that, I don't worry about rules absolutisim.

    Your instance described... if they were set and preparing to start a fight on their own timing, where they control when it starts, then I'd allow the sort of "cast/hide right before initative" stuff. If its not somewhere they control when the fight starts then no. I just realized, a sort of boxing match style thing where everyone is ready and just waiting for a trigger you know is coming in the next 30 sec to a minute then I'd also allow a pre-buff.
    The SWAT team example was brought up at my table, the thing is it assumes perfect and asymmetrical knowledge.

    I talked to my co-worker (a Navy veteran) about this, and he said that the thing is, if there are armed targets in the building and waiting for you, they have a tremendous advantage because they can be hiding all over the house, but can hear you coming in the door, thus they have a much easier time knowing where to shoot, to the point where the Navies standard assumption is that the first person into a room will get shot while his squad-mates are trying to pick out targets, and after that it all comes down to chance.

    My system tries to model this already by having initiative rolled the moment the door is opened, but with all sorts of modifiers for awareness and readied actions, but again it seems like my players don't want to risk failure.

    Quote Originally Posted by Wintermoot View Post
    snip.
    I don't really care about placing blame, I want to find a solution to the problem.

    This has happened to me with multiple systems, at multiple tables, with multiple players, and multiple game masters. And I have read stories about it on the forums without being personally involved at all. To me that indicates its a conceptual problem with turn-based initiative systems rather than the fault of any one person or rule.

    Quote Originally Posted by Zombimode View Post
    You actually can't ready actions outside of combat. Ready and Delay are Special Initiative Actions. If there is no initiative order there there is nothing these actions could modify.
    While AFAICT it doesn't explicitly say that, I agree that is a good common sense ruling.

    Of course, people still don't accept it, because it isn't "realistic" or fair, or they will do what my players tried to do last night and claimed that they rolled initiative before the fight even started while they were out in the hallway.

    Heck, I remember one time when I was on the opposite side of the argument, when the villain was giving a monologue and I reacted by pulling out my bow and shooting him mid-speech Harrison Ford style, and the GM ruled that I couldn't do so because initiative hadn't been rolled yet, and when initiative would be rolled I would receive no advantage for doing so.

    Quote Originally Posted by Anonymouswizard View Post
    For the pre-buffing, I'm waffling a bit on this but landing on the player's side if it's just one spell. This is why the various World of Darkness games mention that a 'scene' should be roughly a quarter of an hour of in-world time, and essentially has GMs ask 'does the next scene start a substantial amount of time after the last one did'.
    I am also waffling. By RAW is clear, but conceptually I think I should make an exception. But then, it seems like a slippery slope to being nickel and dimed into all the prep-time in the world.


    Quote Originally Posted by Anonymouswizard View Post
    Assuming the party doesn't get ambushed I would probably rule on the rogue being allowed to attempt to hide before initiative is rolled. It's reasonable they might be used to positioning themselves in order to use the first few moments of combat to slip out of sight and be under the enemy's radar. In a point buy system that might be worth charging for, in D&D I believe it's expected of non-flanking rogues in order to get their SA at least once a combat.
    Yeah, but again he doesn't want to wait or position himself, I would be fine with that. He wants to charge in with the group and start in the thick of combat undetected and able to start the fight with a backstab.

    Quote Originally Posted by KorvinStarmast View Post
    Does your game have a "passive hiding" or "passive stealth" score? If yes, then your player is at least partially correct.
    If not then the player is not.
    Not really no, although I can give the D&D rules a re-read for inspiration.

    But if you achieve a +20 on your stealth test (which is fairly easy to do if you make sure to place yourself outside of direct line of sight) you can hide as a free action, which is more or less the same thing. But, again, the player doesn't want to risk failing the roll (man, I am starting to sound like a broken record).

    Quote Originally Posted by icefractal View Post
    On a more general level, what's the system purpose of not allowing buff actions when one side has an ambush situation? Because I could see wanting to de-emphasize ambushes in a system that was more narrative / heroic - "There should be no disadvantage to kicking in the door, announcing your name, and formally challenging the enemies to a fight" as a design principle. But from what you've said previously, HoD seems very tactical, very "manage your resources carefully and fight as smart as possible" - and to me that strongly implies "ambushes are good and you should try to be the one doing the ambushing".
    Ambuses are absolutely fine and do work like that.

    This isn't an ambush, they aren't sneaking, and the monsters aren't rolling to detect them. This is kick in the door combat as sport.

    I told the players that we can switch to the other way if they like, but I am going to rule it both ways, to which they responded with some (IMO highly hypocritical) rhetoric about how both sides using the same rules is unfair to the players.

    Quote Originally Posted by icefractal View Post
    This is why I'm not a fan of things explicitly being based on encounters, as opposed to time-spans generally equivalent to an encounter (two minutes, say) - it creates weirdness around "exactly when does a battle start" that wouldn't otherwise matter.
    Gray areas about where one encounter begins and the other begins are definitely the downside of doing things this way, but I much prefer it to having to keep track of more concrete time measurements.

    Besides, it's not like real units of time don't also cause weird arguments about realism and fairness, heck how many times have you seen someone argue about how unrealistic it is that someone gets X attacks in Y seconds or that movement speed and weapon ranges don't line up to real life, or that people can sprint at full speed without worrying about exhaustion or acceleration, or (for us AD&D fans) that everyone sat around for an entire minute after attacking waiting for the wizard's to finish casting their spells!

    Quote Originally Posted by Kane0 View Post
    He's casting a spell in direct preparation for that encounter he knows will happen because the party is initiating it. It's for that encounter. Its fine.
    Yeah. I think I agree.

    It's the follow-up assertion that this means he automatically wins initiative that I am taking exception to.

    Quote Originally Posted by MoiMagnus View Post
    I think the main solution to your problem is "just because it's technically free doesn't mean it's actually free"

    Swinging your sword and turning around doesn't cost you anything. But that doesn't mean a player can say "well, my character is constantly turning around and swinging its sword to fend off potential invisible assassins" without getting some exhaustion level or something similar.

    Similarly, while "hiding" and "readying an action" are free, that doesn't mean the GM shouldn't add a cost to them when done for prolonged period of times.

    As a rule of thumb, our table applies "every game feature that is intended to be used mostly within combat encounters cannot be maintained for more than 5 minutes without the character being exhausted". EDIT: hiding is kind of in a grey area so it's usually allowed for more than 5 minutes, but "hiding all day" would still be too much.

    (And we don't always rely on the exhaustion methods included in the rules. It's often a "you cannot do that unless you really want to" with some improvised consequences if you do. A constitution skill check might help.)
    Yeah. But honestly, the type of player who is going to do that in the first place isn't going to be too receptive to the GM coming up with seemingly arbitrary penalties.

    Heck, my group thought it was unfair when I responded by telling the rogue if he was hiding 24/7 the guards were going full defensive 24/7.


    IMO the bigger issue is not being aware of your opponent's and wanting to do these actions without a "target". Its less "You'er exhausted from hiding / defending" and more "You're hiding / defending from what?"

    Quote Originally Posted by gbaji View Post
    Yeah. Trying to do something like "hide" all day, constantly, is absurd. So no, you can't do that.

    However, I'm going to second the idea that this could be the rogue player being frustrated by some combination of rules/rulings that effectively nullify some of his abilities. If the rogue is never able to backstab (or whatever) because he has to be hidden from the target to do so, and is never allowed to hide prior to an encounter, and can't hide once an encounter begins in most cases (enemies are alert and aware of him and we're in combat now), then that's going to be pretty frustrating to the player.
    I don't think it's that. My system is pretty liberal about such things, and his build was good enough that he can *usually* hide while being observed as a free action.

    The rogue was, imo, absolutely the MVP of the campaign, and I think most of the other players would agree.

    But, Bob was unhappy unless he was A: un-targetable, B: getting a sneak attack, and C: going first every single round.

    Quote Originally Posted by gbaji View Post
    And this is the meat of the issue (and could resolve the issue above as well). IMO, an "encounter" starts for one "side" the moment that they become aware of an enemy and make the decision to encounter/engage them. Period. This absolutely means that for the side that detected the other first and decides to attack, their "encounter" may start many rounds earlier than the encounter does for the other side. The other side's encounter only starts once they are attacked and decide to attack back (which, usually will be pretty much simultaneous). It seems like you are trying to rule that the encounter only starts once an offesive action is taken such that both sides are now aware of and engaged in the conflict, and that said encounter starts at the exact same time for both "sides".

    That's a poor methodology IMO, especially if your game system has abilities that may only be used in encounters, and with durations defined by encounters. It also has the horrible side effect of making many abilities that may be most useful when used ahead of time (ie: outside of combat), now somewhat less useless (especially in combat). If you simply drop the assumption that "an encounter" requires activity by two or more sides at all times, then you can allow for any ability use much more freely. My encounter as a rogue may be the entire time I'm sneaking past a series of guards to get inside their fort and steal their goodies. The other "side" may actually never even become aware that I'm there in the first place (kinda the objective for a rogue, right?). But they can get perception rolls to possibly detect me, which could change things. This can allow you to make all abilities "encounter based", even for things that aren't specifically "in combat" abilities. And has the bonus that some abilities that may be useful both in and outside of combat, now use the same consistent rules system for both.

    I also tend to use the term "scene" when refering to ability use like that anyway. Takes things away from the assumption trap you may have fallen into. A Scene may be a combat. It could also be a conversation or interaction with NPCs. It could be just a series of related actions taken by one or more PCs to achieve a single (relatively immediate and right in front of them) objective. There's no requirement that anyone else be there at all in fact. I'm using my tracking skill, the "scene" is me tracking the enemy folks into the mountains. That scene could last all day long. I'm trying to get my party through a sealed entrace to some under ground complex/dungeon. The "scene" is all the stuff/skills I may use to detect and bypass traps on the entrance, pick the locks, figure out the code, whatever. Once we're inside and have passed this, the scene ends.

    Lots of ways of managing this sort of skill/ability/spell use by using more subjective time frames rather than objective measurementts of time. And I actually tend to like them (they're flexible across a range of different types of abilities). But the GM has to keep balance and gameplay and "fun" in mind when deciding where one time period ends and another begins. And yeah, in my scene system, "walking around all day doing other things" is not a scene. Once you enter the dark forest and the rogue decides to "scout ahead and see what's there", that now becomes a scene for the rogue character. But you have to allow them to do proactive stuff like this, or the system doesn't work. If you're constantly ruliing that the rogue can't be hidden because he had no reason to think he needed to hide this moment more than any other, but you are also not providing clues or perception rolls to act as "hooks" to a "new potential scene", then the rogue is going to be frustrated.

    Sure. You can't allow the rogue to be hidden all day long. But you do also have to allow the rogue character to occasionally realize that "something is up/it's too quiet/this would be a great spot for someone to ambush us", and slip into the undebrush/side passage/whatever (with some rolls needed) just before "something happens". It should not be every single time, but if this never happens at all, the rogue is going to feel like he's not playing the character he envisoned (well, unless he like dumped his perception skills, in which case it's perfectly reasonable).
    This is all very reasonable, and I think I agree with everything you are saying.

    There are a few specifics I would like to pick at, but this post is going on long enough, so perhaps I will get back to you later.
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    Default Re: Actions before Initiative is rolled.

    Quote Originally Posted by Keltest View Post
    Frankly, it sounds like you've just found a flaw in using encounters as a duration. This doesn't seem like a particular edge case to me either, because pre-buffing for a fight is a genuine and completely normal tactic.
    Quote Originally Posted by Quertus View Post
    As far as having a duration measured in encounters (really strong with the Gamist side of the Force there), why wouldn't pre-buffs count as part of that encounter? I mean, sure, you could go extreme Gamist, and have the monsters on the other side of the door notice that their actions suddenly shift to combat action logic, and hear the combat music playing in the background as the party casts their buffs... but short of the physics of the universe literally working on such logic, I don't see any reason why "I'm an assassin, I've snuck into your stronghold, I've snuck into your room, I'm prepared to stab you, but I'm silently praying to my deity of choice, but Flying Spaghetti Monster says 'sorry, the encounter hasn't started yet, you can't pray for Noodle Arms of Death and expect it to last the 3 seconds until you stab', so I have to stab you before I pray for noodle arms" would ever be a thing.
    Yes, this. What's the in-world explanation for spells having "encounters" as a duration? How does "this spell doubles your speed for a variable length of time which will always be exactly long enough to finish the fight you're in, and if you cast it when you're not actually in combat it'll last a fraction of a second" make sense to anyone in that world?

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    Default Re: Actions before Initiative is rolled.

    .. should probably try harder to separate "how do you handle the shading in between combat and non-combat timing actions" from "but if I do this completely sensible thing Bob will complain at me, and I don't have the energy to deal with him whining at me any more." They're not the same problem and you appear to be conflating them. You're not gonna make Bob happy until you manage to give him the precise power fantasy he wants in exactly the right way, and you don't appear to have any real interest in running that game (and, I suspect, some significant fraction of your -other- players aren't interested in playing it.) So.. personal opinion? Stop trying. Just.. stop freaking appeasing Bob.

    (Like, why is 'if the players halt right outside an encounter point and screw around for a bit, the enemies there might get a chance to notice them' a problem? The answer appears to be 'because Bob will whine about it if he doesn't get his perfect ambush.' That's.. not a design problem. That's a Bob problem.)
    Last edited by tyckspoon; 2023-08-02 at 05:43 PM.

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    Default Re: Actions before Initiative is rolled.

    @Talakeal: One of your premises is fundamentally flawed: this is NOT system agnostic question in the slightest. Different systems have different methods of declaring and processing long-term actions, sometimes different methods of declaring and processing different types of actions within a system.

    Just for one example: last stealth game I designed had automatic expiration for hiding by location and automatic expiration for perception by time. In practice: all attempts at hiding have to be redeclared after moving across an area where hiding is impossible and all attempts at spotting hidden things have to be redeclared every N minutes.

    A lot of this depends on operative units of time: that is, what amount of in-game time is covered by one player decision, AKA turn. For example, when the operative unit of time is a day, player declaring "I spend the whole day hiding" is perfectly acceptable, the game master then checks if anyone spots them during that day and returns the result. In a game where the operative unit of time is 10 minutes (such as classic D&D turn), "I spend the whole day hiding" is unacceptable because it is equivalent to asking the game master to play the entire game session for the player.

    Your specific issues with your own game system are a result of abstracting operative unit of time to things like "encounters", making it subjective when one period ends and another begins; this in itself wouldn't be much a problem, if your players could accept that such subjective matters are settled by referee's (=game master's) decision and cannot be contested. Your players, however, famously have issues with complaining about the referee because they (justly or unjustly) think you're biased, and you don't help things by letting them argue over it beyond all reason.
    Last edited by Vahnavoi; 2023-08-02 at 05:46 PM.

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    Default Re: Actions before Initiative is rolled.

    So how does this whole process dungeon crawling and door kicking work in this game? Are you playing by the standard rules of your system, or is this a modified system for the dungeon crawl? How do they know when there's a fight behind a door to prepare for? If the players get to roll something to detect noises behind the door, then the monsters should, too, that's obvious. Why would the players challenge this?

    I think it makes sense to be able to cast a buff spell seconds before entering a room and have that spell work for the encounter. However, if casting spells requires speaking out loud, then surely the occupants of the room will get a check to hear that and potentially get prepared with some sort of ambush or at least favorable positions.

    Stealth all day guy makes no sense, unless it is magic ninja invisibility style stealth. I presume this is what it is, since you can't possibly have things to hide behind literally every step of the way, especially not while traveling with a party. So he's ninja invisible'd, and needs to walk through a doorway into a room with occupants aware of the party entering, that at least should warrant a new stealth roll.

    Lastly, you could just let them have their way. All of them. Stealth at the start of every combat guy, buff before every fight, etc. Just beef up your enemies to make up for the advantages you're giving the players. So they come in buffed, and one guy gets a big sneak attack hit. Your enemies are tough enough to still put up an exciting fight. That's what's important in Combat as Sport, right? An exciting, close fight. Sports are boring when one side is just stomping the other.

    D&D up through AD&D used a surprise roll for each party before initiative to determine if one side, the other, or neither, gets a free round of actions before combat begins. Of course, in old D&D, spells also often had longer durations in precise units of time, so there's no conflict casting before testing a door.

    Here's another way you could do it. If they mull around outside a door casting spells, then the occupants get a listen check. If they kick the door down right away, they get a party surprise roll, with a chance to get a free round and the chance to get surprised themselves.

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    Default Re: Actions before Initiative is rolled.

    Quote Originally Posted by tyckspoon View Post
    .. should probably try harder to separate "how do you handle the shading in between combat and non-combat timing actions" from "but if I do this completely sensible thing Bob will complain at me, and I don't have the energy to deal with him whining at me any more." They're not the same problem and you appear to be conflating them. You're not gonna make Bob happy until you manage to give him the precise power fantasy he wants in exactly the right way, and you don't appear to have any real interest in running that game (and, I suspect, some significant fraction of your -other- players aren't interested in playing it.) So.. personal opinion? Stop trying. Just.. stop freaking appeasing Bob.
    Yeah. Honestly, it's getting really frustrating.

    I was considering starting a thread in the friendly banter section about how to deal with him.

    He does this thing where he brings up an old, sometimes years or even decades old, argument in public in a really nasty and embarrassing way and hurts my feelings (like in this specific instance, he told me that my initiative rules were the "Stupidest rules in the world, and literally everyone thinks so."

    And then if I want to discuss it, he gets really defensive and acts like I am stubbornly persecuting him and tells me he "is tired of fighting" or "doesn't want to rehash on old argument," and refuses to discuss it anymore, He will then pout / give me the silent treatment until I drop it, but that doesn't mean he has forgotten / forgiven, and will happily bring it up again in the coming months / years, repeating the cycle ad infimum.

    (As a tangent; he also keeps refuting my arguments by saying that things are only fair / logical / realistic to me, and that makes me arrogant / unreasonable. Any idea how one is supposed to argue against that? It's like, "of course I am working on my own beliefs, if you think they are wrong, please present evidence to try and change my beliefs. Are you just unable to argue against my points and want me to do it for you?")


    BUT....

    That doesn't mean that there aren't foundational issues with initiative systems. I have had very similar arguments when Bob was not at the table.

    Quote Originally Posted by Vahnavoi View Post
    Your specific issues with your own game system are a result of abstracting operative unit of time to things like "encounters", making it subjective when one period ends and another begins; this in itself wouldn't be much a problem, if your players could accept that such subjective matters are settled by referee's (=game master's) decision and cannot be contested. Your players, however, famously have issues with complaining about the referee because they (justly or unjustly) think you're biased, and you don't help things by letting them argue over it beyond all reason.
    Point.

    I suppose my only read options at this point are growing a thicker skin or kicking him out.

    Quote Originally Posted by Vahnavoi View Post
    @Talakeal: One of your premises is fundamentally flawed: this is NOT system agnostic question in the slightest. Different systems have different methods of declaring and processing long-term actions, sometimes different methods of declaring and processing different types of actions within a system.

    Just for one example: last stealth game I designed had automatic expiration for hiding by location and automatic expiration for perception by time. In practice: all attempts at hiding have to be redeclared after moving across an area where hiding is impossible and all attempts at spotting hidden things have to be redeclared every N minutes.

    A lot of this depends on operative units of time: that is, what amount of in-game time is covered by one player decision, AKA turn. For example, when the operative unit of time is a day, player declaring "I spend the whole day hiding" is perfectly acceptable, the game master then checks if anyone spots them during that day and returns the result. In a game where the operative unit of time is 10 minutes (such as classic D&D turn), "I spend the whole day hiding" is unacceptable because it is equivalent to asking the game master to play the entire game session for the player.

    Your specific issues with your own game system are a result of abstracting operative unit of time to things like "encounters", making it subjective when one period ends and another begins; this in itself wouldn't be much a problem, if your players could accept that such subjective matters are settled by referee's (=game master's) decision and cannot be contested.
    I suppose I could say "mostly system agnostic" then?

    I have played several editions of D&D and several White Wolf games extensively, and all of them have initiative rules, as well as time units that are listed as per scene / encounter, and in all of them I have encountered fuzzy gray areas like the above.

    Quote Originally Posted by Kish View Post
    Yes, this. What's the in-world explanation for spells having "encounters" as a duration? How does "this spell doubles your speed for a variable length of time which will always be exactly long enough to finish the fight you're in, and if you cast it when you're not actually in combat it'll last a fraction of a second" make sense to anyone in that world?
    Like most things in the game, it's an abstraction. In the fiction, spells do not last "exactly long enough to finish the fight" they last "a few minutes". One might as well ask why in Toril every suit of chainmail costs exactly 50 gold and weighs exactly 40 pounds, or why there is nobody in the world's maximum carrying capacity is divisible by 15 pounds.

    In the fiction, it's no different than if it had a randomly rolled duration. As for why, who knows? Its magic. You might as well ask a medieval philosopher how long a storm will last, or a fire will burn, or milk will stay fresh; you can make predictions and approximations, but nobody has the knowledge or equipment to tell for sure.

    Quote Originally Posted by Quertus View Post
    Sigh.

    So I've, IRL, been "in hide mode" "all day" before. It's not hard. And I'm not even "guy at the gym", I'm bloody1 Viking at a computer2. How lame are PCs in some games that the stealth experts are worse than me?

    As far as buffing right before a fight... um, it's kinda a genre trope (?), which means it's hard to be unbiased, but... why wouldn't preparing for a fight be an optimal solution? Really, which sounds more like a group of winners: combat masters who go in prepared, or idiots who blunder into the room unprepared?

    As far as having a duration measured in encounters (really strong with the Gamist side of the Force there), why wouldn't pre-buffs count as part of that encounter? I mean, sure, you could go extreme Gamist, and have the monsters on the other side of the door notice that their actions suddenly shift to combat action logic, and hear the combat music playing in the background as the party casts their buffs... but short of the physics of the universe literally working on such logic, I don't see any reason why "I'm an assassin, I've snuck into your stronghold, I've snuck into your room, I'm prepared to stab you, but I'm silently praying to my deity of choice, but Flying Spaghetti Monster says 'sorry, the encounter hasn't started yet, you can't pray for Noodle Arms of Death and expect it to last the 3 seconds until you stab', so I have to stab you before I pray for noodle arms" would ever be a thing.

    I can absolutely see "monsters notice the loud sound of the buff being cast" - but then, I can also see "monsters notice the loud sound of Knock being cast", or the loud sound of "guy in plate mail walking" or the loud sound of "guy who tanked Con breathing" (more gasping for breath, really). The party casting a buff is potentially noticeable, sure... but this should fall under general "monsters noticing the party" rules, not some special case just because it's a pre-combat buff. In other words, the psion concentrating, the silent prayers to Flying Spaghetti Monster, and the Rune Mage directing mana into her Runes do exactly nothing to attract (auditory) attention; Quertus (my signature academia mage for whom this account is named) digging through pouches for components, waving his arms around and making his robes rustle, and speaking in a strong voice, OTOH, might attract some attention from the other side of that door some of the time (although, obviously, everything except the verbal components is approximately the same "Listen DC" as the party walking up to the door / just standing there breathing / existing in the first place).

    In short, there's no way I wouldn't have given both to the players...

    ... with minor caveats. Like how loud/noticeable their version of buffs is mattering (just like how loud they are mattering in general, obviously). And the associated costs of being in stealth mode (speed, stamina, ability to perform tasks, etc).

    As for concerns about the rest of the world doing the same... um 1) the guards "watching a spot" are already doing the same - you're making the PCs lame and worse than the rest of the world if they can't play with the same toys some pathetic guards are using; 2) not everybody wants ta walk around being slow and taking penalties to all the rest of their rolls by focusing on Perception (yes, Perception - Perception is a key component of being in Stealth Mode) and Stealth. So... realistically, the town will just choose not to do that, problem solved?

    1 Literally, atm (darn water parks being slippery).
    2 And, no, it didn't look like Drax from GotG... although, for the record, at times, "just standing there, eating" can be a great form of stealth to let you fade into the background - just not the way Drax did it.
    As for spell durations, short duration spells last a few minutes, and medium duration spells last a few hours.

    In universe, casting a short duration spell and then immediately charging into battle means you risk your spell fading on you mid-fight (or, if something delays you, being wasted entirely).

    Rules wise, this is handled by saying that a pre-buff spell should have a medium duration.

    Honestly, I suppose in the fiction one could cast a short duration buff and then hope it lasts, and model it mechanically by randomly rolling to see if it fades in any given round. This might actually be a fun and dynamic rule, but probably would not actually make my players feel any happier or make my rulings feel less wicked and capricious.

    But no, the length of an encounter has very little to do with awareness.

    That's actually one of the big arguing points that I wasn't able to convey to Bob; it's not that doing "combat actions" makes the enemies aware of you. It's that:

    A: If the monsters are aware of you, they will also be doing "combat actions" to prep and
    B: A lot of combat actions need a target. You don't "hide" you hide "from something". You don't "defend" you defend against something. You don't "instruct", you instruct people to do something. Etc.

    Quote Originally Posted by King of Nowhere View Post
    that can be great characterization. have a wizard use mages hand to pick up a pen and write instead of writing wiith his own hand to show his extreme reliance on the arcane means. have one cast the ice cantrip on a wall during summer to cool the house.
    Oh sure, that's fine.

    This wasn't that though.

    This was a guy casting a defensive buff with a duration of 1 round over and over and over again all day every day to avoid being ambushed.

    I have also seen people try create oceans by casting create water for weeks on end or clean a polluted lake by casting purify water millions of times in a row, but that's a bit different.

    Quote Originally Posted by King of Nowhere View Post
    "yes, you have a readied action to attack the opponent once moving past the door. the opponent also has a readied action to attack whoever crosses the door. that's why we roll initiative, to see which of you gets to use his readied action first.
    yes, you surprised your opponent and you have a readied action to attack them, and they don't. it's called a surprise round"
    readied actions have a purpose in combat. outside of combat, they make no sense. initiative is what we call the way to see who gets to use an action first.
    I could accept some corner case, like a sentry watching a door keeping a prepared action outside of combat, because it's an extremely focused action. but only for a few minutes, before concentration lapses.
    Yep. That's pretty much how I see it.

    But the players, mostly Bob, just don't want to leave initiative up to the dice, and any system we play they try and game to bypass initiative and automatically get the first turn (or turns).

    Quote Originally Posted by King of Nowhere View Post
    apply common sense.
    people are not always stealthed while walking a road, living their normal life. However, a party that wants to travel avoiding attention, leaving the road to pass through the undergrowth, can be always stealthed. with a reasonable penalty both to stealth and to movement speed.
    That's more or less how my system works as is.

    Of course... then I am told that the penalties are both unrealistic and unfair, and just proof that I am a killer GM who hates rogues.

    Quote Originally Posted by Thrudd View Post
    Are you playing by the standard rules of your system, or is this a modified system for the dungeon crawl? How do they know when there's a fight behind a door to prepare for? If the players get to roll something to detect noises behind the door, then the monsters should, too, that's obvious. Why would the players challenge this?
    Standard rules. Although I have mostly been hand-waiving away alertness tests on the part of the monsters for the most part and just assuming that the sides become aware of one another when the door is opened.

    Quote Originally Posted by Thrudd View Post
    How do they know when there's a fight behind a door to prepare for? If the players get to roll something to detect noises behind the door, then the monsters should, too, that's obvious. Why would the players challenge this?

    D&D up through AD&D used a surprise roll for each party before initiative to determine if one side, the other, or neither, gets a free round of actions before combat begins.

    Here's another way you could do it. If they mull around outside a door casting spells, then the occupants get a listen check. If they kick the door down right away, they get a party surprise roll, with a chance to get a free round and the chance to get surprised themselves.
    This is more or less how I see it / presented it to my players.

    Bob's exact response was "No no, i think i finally understand. you want realism and fairness. realism as you see it and fairness for your monsters" and then giving me the silent treatment.
    Last edited by Talakeal; 2023-08-02 at 06:24 PM.
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    Default Re: Actions before Initiative is rolled.

    Here is how I would handle it. Since in one case I would rule against you, applying these rulings would make you look less adversarial, which will make the other rulings more acceptable.

    1. A spell that lasts for one encounter shouldnít end until it has gone through one encounter. You will never convince the player that you didnít turn it into a zero-encounter spell unless it lasts through one encounter. He cast it specifically for the encounter of kicking open the door and dealing with whatís behind it. Until they kick open the door and deal with whatís behind it, it hasnít gone through an encounter.

    ďOur enemies are behind that door. Weíre going to cast a spell, kick down the door, and fight them.Ē In any common-sense interpretation, that is a single encounter.

    Besides, even though you said it isnít measured in real-world units of time, making a spell that is supposed to last for an entire encounter last only one action round is not logically justifiable.

    2. A rogue who is hidden is not packing up his gear in front of other PCs. He isnít talking to the party. He isnít walking on the trail; heís hiding in the bushes. He isnít eating, buying items, or any other standard action. And he needs bushes or other cover to do it. So he usually canít maintain it all day. Every time they cross a flat bridge, or go through a meadow, or go anywhere else with no cover, he canít do it. And whenever heís doing it, he should not take part in party discussions.

    And he has to make Hide checks and Move Silently checks every round. If heís moving at more than half speed, then each check is at -5.

    I spent two summers as a Philmont Ranger, guiding people through the wilderness. Iím pretty sure I couldnít hide all day without a break, while keeping up with a party. Obviously, I could stay hidden all day, but hiding and moving silently while maintaining a standard walking pace? No chance.

    Finally, if he is successfully hidden, then the party cannot see or hear him. If something successfully sees and attacks him, and he canít call out, they may never notice, and just keep going.

    3. First, letís deal with the misunderstanding of terminology. You canít keep a readied action up all day; a readied action only lasts until her next round. And in 3.5e, it doesnít ignore initiative.

    Quote Originally Posted by SRD
    You can ready a standard action, a move action, or a free action. To do so, specify the action you will take and the conditions under which you will take it. Then, any time before your next action, you may take the readied action in response to that condition. The action occurs just before the action that triggers it. If the triggered action is part of another characterís activities, you interrupt the other character. Assuming he is still capable of doing so, he continues his actions once you complete your readied action. Your initiative result changes. For the rest of the encounter, your initiative result is the count on which you took the readied action, and you act immediately ahead of the character whose action triggered your readied action. [Emphasis added]
    So it starts on your action, and continues until your next action. If triggered, it changes your initiative for the rest of the encounter.

    A readied action isnít an extra, bonus action. It replaces any other action that round. So a character with a readied action is doing nothing else. He is just waiting for the trigger. If itís a standard action, he can move, but nothing else. He isnít active in tracking, or Hiding or Moving Silently. [If you are just focused on seeing goblins, you arenít busy finding cover.]

    Yes, he can make move actions and ready a standard action. But please note that thatís readying a new standard action every round.

    To ready an action to shoot the next goblin who comes through a door requires a standard action Ė nocking the arrow and drawing the bow. Then, when she has a readied action for the next six seconds. A character with her bow drawn, ready to shoot the next goblin that comes through that door, has a readied action. The character carrying a bow and an arrow, wandering through the woods moving silently from bush to tree to rock for cover, who plans to shoot a goblin if one shows up, doesnít have a readied action; she just has a plan.
    You cannot take other actions while holding a readied action. You canít take part in a discussion, follow the tracks, eat breakfast, pack up your gear, or anything else.

    Again, based on my experience as a Philmont Ranger, Iím pretty sure I couldnít keep a readied action constantly for more than a few minutes. The closest thing Iíve come to it is having my camera out, hoping to snap a picture of wildlife. I can stay focused on doing that for only a minute or two. I can certainly hold my camera longer than that, but soon Iím distracted by the trail, or the scenery, or being thirsty, or whatever. I now have a plan, not a ďreadied actionĒ.

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    Default Re: Actions before Initiative is rolled.

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    I am also waffling. By RAW is clear, but conceptually I think I should make an exception. But then, it seems like a slippery slope to being nickel and dimed into all the prep-time in the world.
    RAW which, correct me if I'm wrong, you wrote? Which means you can make the decision that no, the rule isn't working, make a note and then rewrite it.

    You wrote the system and you're running the game, which means you get to run it exactly as you want. But it also makes hiding behind 'ir's what the rules say' a really unconvincing argument.

    Yeah, but again he doesn't want to wait or position himself, I would be fine with that. He wants to charge in with the group and start in the thick of combat undetected and able to start the fight with a backstab.
    Eh, an Eclipse Caste could almost certainly pull that off.

    Do you use minis and a battlemat? Is he a melee character? If yes to both I fully understand exactly why he might want that. If he has abilities that outright rely on hiding them the only solution might be to let them proc through some other circumstance.


    I'm kind of getting flashbacks to your heavy armour thread where, once we learnt the rules, it became clear why an entire party might choose to forgo it. I suspect part of the issues boil down to 'Talakeal has the rules exactly as they want them, and is insisting on sticking to them even when wiggle room might be required'.
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    How about a Jovian Uplift stuck in a Case morph? it makes so little sense.

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    Default Re: Actions before Initiative is rolled.

    Well, and to be honest with the whole "stealth all day" thing. I do actually allow for stealth rolls (and opposed perception rolls) for normal " traveling through the wilderness" type situations. But the abstract assumption here is that folks who are better at moving silently, or hiding, are just also normally going to be better at avoiding making really loud noises while walking/moving and/or move in ways and areas so as to avoid long sight lines (walk under the trees, take the route that puts those bushes between you and that hillside over there, etc).

    This is something I'll use when determining if/when a potential enemy group of people may just happen to spot/hear the similarly wandering around adventuring group. But the assumption isn't that anyone is "actively hiding/sneaking". They're just maybe doing little bits to avoid being super obvious to whatever degree is possible based on the conditions and terrain. And yeah, this may make the difference between "the bad guy spotted you from like 2 miles away when you crossed the ridge line" and "they just rounded this hill and you came the other way and ran smack into eachother". Or sometimes, the party will spot a group of people way off in the distance and decide to change their course and avoid them (assuming they're maybe wanting to avoid contact for some reason). Or set up an ambush maybe (which spawns a whole new set of skill rolls and checks). Of course, in situations like this, I'm never going to tell them whether the other group also saw them...

    So yeah, that's one way that I do use stealth skills while otherwise doing "normal things". But that's always more of an adjustment to when/where/if an encounter occurs in the first place, and never about whethere someone is "hidden" and therefore able to use special skills availble when hidden or something. It's more of a count of how many people made their skils, and therefore how "sneaky" the group as a whole is, relatively speaking.

    And I'll also use a similar set of rolls just to determine things like how likely (or how far away) the bad guys on the other side of that door hear the party approach said door in the first place. The party can certainly have sneaky types actively using their abilities to sneak up to said door (and will be more likely to arrive in total stealth). But if there's no specific action taken, I'll still use stealth rolls to just determine "generally" how much noise they're making, and therefore "generally" how likely the enemies are to be prepared when they come bursting through the door. Obviously, this type of method works far better in a skill focused game (where everyone has a sneak and hide skill, but some are just a lot better than others), versus a class skill/abilities/feats type system (where only sneaky types even have the skill at all).


    Oh. And Talakael. I forgot to quote, but you mentioned something about them trying to avoid making initiative rolls in the first place? That's a wholely different issue. A group can (and should) be allowed to cast up buffs ahead of a planned combat, but unless they do something which give them a surprise round, they still have to roll initiative just like their opponents. I'm not sure why one has much to do with the other. Maybe it's different in your game system though, but that would be my general assumption across any game system that has initiative rolls in the first place. There's a difference beteween being prepared for a fight, and getting the timing right to be the first to act in the fight you have preparred for.

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    Default Re: Actions before Initiative is rolled.

    Most systems that use some kind of roll initiative combat swoosh are pretty bad at handling that transition, and pretty bad at describing what happens if:
    - you try to ready an action to get in a free action / higher position in the combat initiative order
    - you declare an action that triggers a combat swoosh, and expect that declaration to get in a get in a free action / higher position in the combat initiative order
    - you want to carry an ongoing activity of some kind (often stealth or cantrip pre-spellcasting or what might be recognizable as some kind of Stance) into a combat state, saving a first turn action.

    As far as I've seen, most folks in online forums arguing about these thing assume in most of these games that the first two are some kind of cheating the system, and often the latter is also cheating for things like wanting to shave off an action to save activating an unlimited resource status effect. But they also assume you'll carry stealth forward.

    And the tension between the first two points and carrying stealth forward is always fun for rules arguments.

    For a good example of systems that tried to address the last of these three points, see PF2 exploration activities. (They also somewhat address both of the first two in the process.)

    (Edit: this post is written from the assumption you want to fix your homebrew system)

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    Default Re: Actions before Initiative is rolled.

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    As for spell durations, short duration spells last a few minutes, and medium duration spells last a few hours.

    In universe, casting a short duration spell and then immediately charging into battle means you risk your spell fading on you mid-fight (or, if something delays you, being wasted entirely).

    Rules wise, this is handled by saying that a pre-buff spell should have a medium duration.

    Honestly, I suppose in the fiction one could cast a short duration buff and then hope it lasts, and model it mechanically by randomly rolling to see if it fades in any given round. This might actually be a fun and dynamic rule, but probably would not actually make my players feel any happier or make my rulings feel less wicked and capricious.

    But no, the length of an encounter has very little to do with awareness.
    Um, what?

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    Spells in my system have durations measured in encounters rather than real world units of time,

    Square this circle, please. Are spell durations measured in minutes and hours, or in encounters?

    Flying Spaghetti Monster would like to know.

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    That's actually one of the big arguing points that I wasn't able to convey to Bob; it's not that doing "combat actions" makes the enemies aware of you. It's that:

    A: If the monsters are aware of you, they will also be doing "combat actions" to prep and
    Were the monsters aware of the party? If so, then of course they can be taking actions, too, while the party buffs. This is true whether or not the party is aware of the monsters, actually (ie, if they are buffing before opening a door just because, or because "of course there are guards behind the door to the guard post"). That said, not all monsters have good options for "before the party opened the door" actions (a Gelatenous Cube, a Mimic already hiding as a Treasure Chest, etc), so it can be a really good play to buff even if you know that the monsters are aware of you. Then again, I've had players take such actions when they should have known better, and, when they opened the door, they discovered that the monsters had fled (often "out the window", where the "monster" was a human, often (but not always) in a non-fantasy setting).

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    B: A lot of combat actions need a target. You don't "hide" you hide "from something".
    Eh, yes and no. Sometimes, you hide from something. That's why Perception is so important to being in Hide Mode. OTOH, sometimes, you just hide (camouflage & a blind, turning invisible, hiding inside a suitcase, etc). If your system only acknowledges "hide from X", your system is incomplete / unrealistic in that aspect. OTOOH, if you only roll for how well you've hidden when there's something to observe you (whether you're aware of the observer or not), then that could make some sense, while still not precluding "I'm hiding all day"-style actions.

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    Default Re: Actions before Initiative is rolled.

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    At which point the conversation just broke down into name calling.
    Putting more fun into dysfunctional ... which is another game one can play.
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    a. Malifice (paraphrased):
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    b. greenstone (paraphrased):
    Agency means that they {players} control their character's actions; you control the world's reactions to the character's actions.
    Gosh, 2D8HP, you are so very correct!
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    Default Re: Actions before Initiative is rolled.

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    During the argument, I was told that I don't allow combat actions to bypass initiative rules because I am an adversarial GM who wants to rule against the players, but IMO its the opposite; allowing people to take combat actions outside of initiative ultimately disadvantages the PCs if applied across the board and played fairly.
    Quote Originally Posted by King of Nowhere View Post
    they seem fairly easy to me. of course, they are fairly easy because i don't have adversarial players.
    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    He does this thing where he brings up an old, sometimes years or even decades old, argument in public in a really nasty and embarrassing way and hurts my feelings (like in this specific instance, he told me that my initiative rules were the "Stupidest rules in the world, and literally everyone thinks so."
    Quote Originally Posted by tyckspoon View Post
    .. should probably try harder to separate "how do you handle the shading in between combat and non-combat timing actions" from "but if I do this completely sensible thing Bob will complain at me, and I don't have the energy to deal with him whining at me any more." They're not the same problem and you appear to be conflating them. You're not gonna make Bob happy until you manage to give him the precise power fantasy he wants in exactly the right way, and you don't appear to have any real interest in running that game (and, I suspect, some significant fraction of your -other- players aren't interested in playing it.) So.. personal opinion? Stop trying. Just.. stop freaking appeasing Bob.

    (Like, why is 'if the players halt right outside an encounter point and screw around for a bit, the enemies there might get a chance to notice them' a problem? The answer appears to be 'because Bob will whine about it if he doesn't get his perfect ambush.' That's.. not a design problem. That's a Bob problem.)
    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    I don't really care about placing blame, I want to find a solution to the problem.
    My advice is this: if Bob's been your friend for literally over a decade, and if he hasn't changed his behavior re: being a jerk, then he's probably not gonna change because of a particularly good argument on your part. The two most obvious solutions are either putting up with it (your current solution) or creating firm boundaries re: his behavior and enforcing them if he violates them. This might include the painful process of cutting him out of your life, either temporarily or permanently.

    It'd be nice if he could stop, realize the harm he's doing, and change. But whether that happens or not is out of your controlóyou have control over only your actions.



    There also seems to be consensus that spells measured in encounters are problematic for reasons related to verisimilitude or ease of play. I'm gonna politely disagree with that consensus and say that encounter- or scene-duration spells are cool and make things a lot easier for both the player and the GM.

    As the player, I have a better sense of how long my spell will be useful. It's frustrating to cast a spell that lasts ten minutes and then the GM says something like: "Okay, after an hour of hiking..."

    As the GM, I can track spells less minutely. Players often want to know how much time as passed in games that have abilities that last real-world units. But I'm a GM, not a world simulator. I often don't know how much time it'd take to walk across town or row to the island of Lesbos. So I'm probably guessing or making stuff up when I give players the time.

    In contrast, Talakeal's system looks smoother. If a scene lasts the whole night, that's how long the spell lasts. If a scene lasts a minute, that's how long the spell lasts.

    There's some loss in verisimilitude, sure. Why does fly last so long in one scene and so short in another? But it makes up for that in other areas. I no longer have to worry if fly is gonna expire before we reach the top of the tower or if my buff spell is gonna run out in the middle of combat. That reduces my cognitive burden and allows me to skip the accounting nonsense to focus on other aspect of gameplay that I find more fun.

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