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Jason T
Jason T's picture
Rethinking action sequence turn order
action sequence, actions

I'm a player in a group that just had its second session today. One of the other players was very annoyed at how turn order works during action sequences, and has suggested changing the rules to fix what he sees as a bug. I'm wondering if other folks have thought about this too, and if there's any problem with the change as suggested that we are overlooking.

The problem: Sometimes, you end up with an action sequence in which some players just have way more raises than others. If those players take actions by spending just 1 raise at a time, they end up going back and forth for multiple actions before anybody else gets to do anything at all. 

The proposed solution: Have turn order work such that everybody at the table takes one turn before anybody gets a second turn. So, even if I have 6 raises and you have 3, I'll go and spend a raise, then you'll go and spend a raise, before it comes back to me. I'll still go BEFORE you because I have more raises than you, but you don't have to wait for me to spend 3 raises before you get to do anything at all.

Any problems with this house rule? Or anything I should be saying to reassure my friend that the system as written is great as-is? (I actually like it the way it is, but nobody wants players sitting around feeling bored...)

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Harliquinn Whit...
Harliquinn Whiteshadow's picture

There's nothing inherently wrong with your house rule. It's similar to what Shadowrun did between some of their editions. Early on, those with high initiative got to go several times before others. Now they just get more actions at the end.

Your solution puts the 'feeling bored' at the end of the Round instead of the beginning and is likely harder to track than just "Whoever has the most, goes next'.  I'd try it out with a few games and see. We've generally found that over an entire Action Sequence, the number of Raises in each Round varies. One round, someone may have a lot less Raises, and the next they are near the top. 

Where your system may have trouble is in combat and Duels with the 'proposed changes' by the Devs. In those changes, defensive maneuvers come immediately after the attack. In this way, the defensive person can spend raises "out of turn" to defend (such as reducing damage, Parry, Riposte). Do you consider these expenditures as "Spending Raises" for initiative order or are they free?

In the current system, at the end of an exchange, you just track who has the most Raises and they go. With your system, you'd have to count how many each person spent and then do you allow others not in that exchange to spend the same amount in a row? 

Example (3 Combatants)

Hero A (Duelist): 6 Raises

Hero B: 3 Raises

Villain (Duelist): 5 Raises

----

Action Sequence (assuming new dueling rules but also could be for negating Wounds out of turn)

Hero A: Slash (1 Raise) at Villain

Villain: (out of turn) Riposte (1 Raise) at Hero A

Hero A: (out of turn) Parry (1 Raise) at Villain

Status: Hero A (4 Raises), Villain (5 Raises), and Hero B (3 Raises) - Normally the Villain would go next

Who goes next? Hero B (Because he hasn't used a Raise) or Villain (Has the most Raises, but Is he considered to have used a Raise already?)

 

John

Jason T
Jason T's picture

Good points – thanks!

Donovan Morningfire
Donovan Morningfire's picture

It's not a bad idea of a house rule, though it also depends on your party and how the players spend their Raises.  In a fair number of the games I've played in, a lot of players tend to spend their Raises all in one go, especially if they're not Duelists and they're attacking a Brute Squad or Villain.

As Harlequin noted, you may just wind up putting the "bored now" aspect that you're trying to avert at the end of the Round when those players that rolled low have now spent all their Raises while the other players that rolled lots of Raises still get to do cool stuff.

While it may cut down on the amount of cool stuff that some Heroes (or Villains) can do in a Round, you may want to consider simply removing the "Raises determine the number of times you can act in a Round" aspect, and simply say that each character (Hero and Villain) simply gets a number of actions equal to some set value, probably based off a Trait (1e used Panache to determine the number of times a character could act in a round), and that the Raises rolled is simply the character's initiative value in each Round.  If the Hero wants to increase the effect of their actions in a Round, they can spend Raises to do so, making that particular Action more effective, but at the cost of going later in subsequent Rounds.  Not sure how well that'd work, but might be something to consider as an alternative option should your initial idea not pan out to the liking of you or your players.

Dono's Gaming & Etc Blog
http://jedimorningfire.blogspot.com/

Jason T
Jason T's picture

After chatting with our group some more, it seems the person who's bothered by the rules as written isn't concerned with disparity in the number of raises, but with how soon he gets to go, and having nothing "important" left to do by the time it's his turn. Like, if we have an action sequence where there's not much to do, and the people acting first in the action sequence eliminate all the things he had planned to deal with, he doesn't have much left to do by the time it's his turn.

Personally, I think we just need more objectives/consequences in action scenes so there's more to do, and I think this player should probably shuffle some character points around so he doesn't have so few raises in action scenes, or at least so he can go a little sooner. (He made a slow, elderly man who flies under the radar but isn't particularly sneaky, so he has no reputation, is not quick enough to jump up in turn order, and has little skill in combat, which ... I think maybe isn't a very good 7th Sea character.) He's not inclined to change anything, though, so we'll see what the GM can come up with, but we just wanted to check whether we're likely to break anything before we change a fundamental rule of the game to help him have fun.

Harliquinn Whit...
Harliquinn Whiteshadow's picture

It's tough to make a slow, elderly man who is upset at going last :)

That said, perhaps having him use Skills he's better at in Action Sequenes would be a good idea? The number of Raises you get is dependent upon your Approach (Trait + Skill), so encourage him to use Skills he's better at so he gets more Raises. 

For instance, if he's good at Scholarship, have him use his knowledge to 'bore' the enemies until they run away. This could be done with a Wits + Scholarship approach and should net him more raises than say Brawn + Weaponry.

If that doesn't work, it sounds like he's a problem player :)

John

BluSponge
BluSponge's picture

Another problem this is going to put you at odds with is countdowns.  Because the game uses Raises as initiative in action economy, it also uses them to set deadlines ("On 2 Raises, the ship blows up – so better get to work!").  And this isn't really something you can flip.  

I think you'd be better off keeping the descending order of actions, but encourage your players to act in blocks.

If your duelist has 10 raises and everyone else only has 3, there's no reason to go raise by raise unless there is a villain matching him raise to raise.  Instead, just say, "ok Steve, you have 7 raises on everyone.  What are you going to do with them?"  He spends those 7 raises in a block ("Well Jeff, I'm going to slash, feint, slash, and then jump up on the table and kick him in the face.").  The idea is to get the outlier back down to pairity as quickly and painlessly as possible.  This is especially true with brute fights when there really isn't anything to "defend" against until the end of the round.  You just present the consequences up front and let them buy them off in their block.

I guess what I'm saying is, unless there is a deadline or a villain involved in the scene, there really isn't much reason not to let the players spend all their raises in one pass.  

Jason T
Jason T's picture

Great point about countdowns, and interesting suggestion about lumping dueling maneuvers together. The player's concern isn't really "I have to wait too much time before my turn" so much as "there's nothing left to do by the time it's my turn," but I am still looking to figure out everything that would be affected by changing turn order rules at all!

Harliquinn Whit...
Harliquinn Whiteshadow's picture

Sounds like perhaps there could be more opportunities or consequences, or other 'objectives' in the Action Sequences. Does this player always roll low? Do they always try and use skills that they are good at to generate more Raises?

Jason T
Jason T's picture

Yeah, the GM is thinking he needs to add more stuff to the sequences themselves. But no, the player does not always roll low. We've only had two sessions, and each one ended in a climactic action sequence, and one player had a hard time in those two specific action sequences (but not in other action sequences or in dramatic sequences).

If I were GMing, I'd say, hey, we're all new at this, and that's not a lot of data to go on, so let's wait and see what we can do without changing any rules. But this player (who's a longtime friend I've gamed with for years) has been very vocal about this concern and proposed solution, so I just wanted to get a sense of what it'd mean to hack it at all.

BluSponge
BluSponge's picture

Yeah, the GM is thinking he needs to add more stuff to the sequences themselves. But no, the player does not always roll low. We've only had two sessions, and each one ended in a climactic action sequence, and one player had a hard time in those two specific action sequences (but not in other action sequences or in dramatic sequences).

I've had this same issue, especially when it comes to brute fights.  When the extent of your set up is "good guys, bad guys, FIGHT!" things go fast and anticlimactic.  And unfortunately, there aren't a whole lot of resources out there to help jazz things up.  Striking the right balance is tricky.

It occurs to me, something you (or your GM) might try is instead of worrying about an Action Sequence, can the scene be resolved with a Risk?  It doesn't sound nearly as sexy, but it might help to keep things more focused.  It might even help up the tension a bit.  But yeah, for Action Sequences, the best ones are going to require a lot of moving parts.

Salamanca
Salamanca's picture

Ok, I was a player in the group that broke those Shadowrun initiative rules in horrible ways and our GM was the guy that worked up the new ones.  (one player was literally averaging 28 successes and taking 19 actions before the next player could act and he was prone to shooting plot devices)

The player has a valid point in not having anything of merit left to do by the time their turn shows up.  That was the same reason we changed the Shadowrun mechanic before 3rd edition. 

I have no problem with players taking a turn each based on TOTAL Raises rolled.  The guys with a lot can still spend several if they want at the same time.  After that, you would compare up remaining initiative and go through another round of Everyone that still has a raise gets to go in order. 

The only thing you have to decide is where in that Sequence the Brute Squad acts.  Do they go at the end of the first wave of actions or very last in the round? 

Jordi Estefa
Jordi Estefa's picture

If you want to limit the amount of actions done by a character before the others go I guess you could use the ranks in Trait or Skill. One character could only do as many actions in a row as its rank (or spend as many raises, but that will affect the game much more), and then the player with the higher raises (that is not the one that just act) goes. After that the player with the higher raises go and so on.

Jason T
Jason T's picture

Thanks for the ideas. We ended up sticking with the rules as written, and I'm pretty sure the GM has "fixed" the issue by just offering more opportunities and consequences in action sequences. When there's so much to do that we're spread out all over the place and focusing on different things, nobody really feels like "somebody else took the thing I was gonna do and there's nothing left to do." (I believe this turned out to be the main complaint the other player had, and he misidentified turn order rules as the cause and hacking those rules as the solution.)