Now that the order of play has been established and the characters are moving in on their foes, what is it that the characters can actually DO? What defines or comprises or makes an “action” in terms of tactical play and combat?
In order for the players to take advantage of the Declaration phase of play, they must have an idea of what they can accomplish with their actions and what might be advantageous to their character in the situation at hand. When facing off against an armed opponent, some sort of Attack Action becomes the most obvious choice, but there are a great number of other options.
In defining what a character can accomplish in the time allotted by a CS, it must be stressed that the character’s whole body must be considered – or at least those parts that can be moved independently at need.
What is going on below the character’s waist may not necessarily have any bearing on what the character is doing above the waist, with his hands. One hand may wield a weapon and the other a shield or another weapon, torch, lanthorn, fencing cape, etc. The character may wield some weapon in one hand while the other is used to fish about in a belt pouch, but in any case all this might be assayed while the character’s feet carry him across the field of engagement, all in the course of one action.
An “action” can simply be movement alone, if desired, getting from point A to point B within the limits of the character’s movement rates. This may include making some sort of Acrobatic move, jumping up onto or down from one of the fixtures or architectural features of the battle site in order to take advantage of elevation bonuses, or leaping across gaps, crevasses, or chasms, simply turning or turning completely around, getting up from or dropping down to the ground, drawing a weapon, even grabbing up an object sitting or lying out in the open or it may involve shucking off a backpack and opening it up, searching through a storage bag of some sort, a pack or a box. Of these actions, those that aren’t movement-based may generally be combined with some sort of movement, and some of them that are movement-based (such as dropping and rising) may be used to start or conclude point-to-point movement, and any one of these might be combined with an attack and/or defense if the character is equipped and has a weapon or other appropriate object in hand or immediately to hand and ready with which to respond to a threatening or attacking foe.
Where a character’s weapon sits immediately to hand in a scabbard or sheath worn at his waist or belted to a limb, or openly thrust through rings by a baldric or girdle, provided it is not secured by any flaps to protect it from the weather or Warriors’ knots for courtesy and security as may be required in town, hall, and castle, the GM should allow the drawing of a weapon to be combined with any number of other actions, including a “Hurl” or “Thrust” or “Slash”, or even beginning a “Charge” attack, but especially a Parry or Block defense should be allowed in conjunction with the Draw action. The same allowance should be made when there is a candlestick within reach or some similar suitable object for such a use.
Essentially, the GM should find out what it is the player wants his character to achieve, and then the GM must decide how much of it the character may accomplish with his action, whether all or only part, or perhaps allowing him to do a bit more in addition, too, and then inform the player. When necessary, the GM must explain to the player how the desired course of action(s) must be broken up in game terms to fit the actions his character’s RoA allows, within the flow of tactical time. Often times the player will have a specific goal in mind and simply needs to know the steps to take to achieve it.
The GM must take the character’s goal and the course of action required to accomplish it and break it down into its component actions to determine how long in tactical time it will take and the level of focus and concentration each step will require. Some are compound actions of the right-hand, left-hand sort that can be accomplished simultaneously because one is only an occasional and momentary distraction from pursuing the other task, as in using a weapon for attack or defense while dedicating the off hand to some other purpose.
The GM must take the character’s goal and the course of action required to accomplish it and break it down into its component actions to determine how long in tactical time it takes and the level of focus and concentration each step will require. Some are compound actions of the right-hand, left-hand sort that can be accomplished simultaneously because one is only an occasional and momentary distraction from pursuing the other task, as in using a weapon for attack or defense while dedicating the off hand to some other purpose.
With his Action, a PC may attempt anything the player can reasonably expect his character to be able to accomplish (GM’s discretion), including picking a lock, disarming a trap, or casting a magick, in the same manner as he might during common roleplaying adventure play, or attacking a foe (most importantly), but any dice check(s) required on d100 to determine the success or failure of those actions not guaranteed success, must wait until the Resolution Phase at the end of the CS when his action is completed.
For the purposes of the game, most common actions are considered equal, and the length of time required to complete them is dictated by the limits of a CS and a character’s RoA. The RoA essentially illustrates how fast a character is, outside of simply running from point A to point B. Not ALL actions are equal, however. Some are less complicated than others and, by virtue of that fact, take less time to complete, while others take longer. In adverse conditions a character always has the option of taking double the normal amount of time required to exercise a given skill or ability in order to reduce the DV by half.
A number of the more mundane tasks that characters may find themselves in need of accomplishing under pressure have been assessed for the purposes of play and compiled in table 4-1. Actions players wish their characters to make that do not appear on the table should be compared to those that ARE there, so the GM may make a fair evaluation and ruling as to how many actions they require to complete in tactical play, if they even require a whole action at all. With this as a reference, the GM can judge them according to a consistent standard and add them to this list, and the players are provided with a benchmark so they know what to expect.
Any number of actions can certainly be attempted in a tactical situation in addition to those few enumerated on table 4-1., especially those governed by the formal skills defined for use in all phases of game play, most notably casting cantrips and spells, picking locks, disarming traps, cutting purses/picking sleeves, and the like, and while scaling a wall or walking a tight-wire are movement-based skills, the character’s AV will govern how quickly the distance involved may be crossed (translated to Pulse Movement), and will also require d100 checks to determine the success or failure, the same as any of the previously mentioned skill-based actions. Almost all of these have directions in their notes for determining the time required to exercise/complete them, quoted in CS’s.
The GM must pay attention to how the exercise of some skills affects the Pulse-duration of the character’s action. When the task is particularly difficult, such as attempting to pick a very intricate lock or disarm a very cunning trap, or in the case of a practitioner of magick gathering more power to make a particularly powerful casting, the time required to complete the action is very likely to be greater than the character could normally complete in a CS, sometimes far in excess. The GM must take this into account when marking his record sheet for the contest or battle when highlighting the CS in which the Resolution Phase for that action occurs.
Time Requirements for
Common/Basic Character Actions
|Action||Time to Complete|
|Cut Purse, Pick Sleeve||1 action|
|Dismount Steed||1/4 action|
|Don/Doff Clothing or Armor †|
|Plate Armor (any type)
(per limb, must be performed by another)
|Boot, shoe, each||1 action|
|Cloak or Mantle||1/2 action|
|Hat or Cap||1/4 action|
|Glove, each hand||1 action|
|Sleeve *, each||2 actions|
|Slippers or Sandals (pair)||1 action|
|Draw missile from pouch or quiver (at hand)||1/2 Action|
|Drop Object in Hand or
Grab Object Adjacent to Character
|with ready flame||1/4 action|
|with flint & fire iron||3 actions|
|Mount own Steed||1/2 action|
|Mount a strange Steed||1 action|
|Nock & draw or place and ready missile||1/2 Action|
|Ready Mount for Riding
with bit, bridle, blanket & :
|own saddle on own mount||10 actions|
|own saddle on stranger’s mount||14 actions|
|another’s saddle on own mount||12 actions|
|another’s saddle on a stranger’s mount||16 actions|
|Retrieve item from belt pouch, shoulder sack/wallet worn, other adjacent easily accessed bag, box, pack, sack, basket, etc.||
|String Bow||1/2 action **|
|Tie Common Knot||1 action|
|Turn (up to 1/4)||1/4 action|
|Turn (up to 1/2 or 180°)||1/2 action|
|Untie Knot||(variable) †††|
† The times quoted are for donning the clothing indicated. To pull the same article of clothing off will take half the time quoted, to a minimum of 1/4 action.
* For the sake of argument, it should always be assumed that a character keeps his sleeves always tied onto his Jerkin or other sleeveless base-garment, if he has them with him, so they can be donned together in the same manner and time as a coat. This should NOT be assumed if the character keeps and carries in his baggage more than one pair of sleeves of different types of armor, UNLESS the player has taken the time to specify to the GM, preferably in writing, which are kept tied to the base garment, and similar notice when the character changes them. Otherwise the GM should assume that the sleeves are removed, cleaned, and put away after each battle. The pairs of points require two hands to tie, and so the sleeves will either have to be tied on before the base garment is donned, or they will have to be tied on by another afterwards as the character stands and waits.
†† This will take a number of actions equal to the number of objects in the receptacle in which the character is rummaging, plus one (1).
** This time requirement does NOT take into account the possibility of a character trying to string a bow rated for a STR score greater than his own. When attempting to do so, a STR check vs. the STR of the bow is required, and each attempt will take 1 full action.
|The DV for this check is Progressive in nature, based on the difference in points of STR, per point of difference.|
††† This takes a number of CS’s equal to the (STR ÷ 10) of the one who tied it OR his [(trade SL) ÷ 10] as a Huntsman, Woodsman, Guide or Mariner (as applicable, whichever is greater), minus the untying character’s CRD att. mod. and the amount by which his STR is greater than the one who tied the knot (as applicable).
In terms of executing tasks as actions in game time during tactical play, many may take longer than the normal duration of one of the character’s actions. Those playing characters with magickal skills can calculate the Casting Times for their own magicks, no guesswork for them. For most other tasks, excepting the common actions recapped on table 4-1., the character has only a vague idea of how long they take.
Those skills or tasks for whom tactical time is not quoted, which can still conceivably be completed within the span of a battle (GM’s discretion) should be found described in units of time that can easily be converted to tactical time.
IF a player decides that his chosen action is taking too long, he can always choose to abort it and start a new course of action.
The actions the GM allows a PC to combine with movement should have a direct impact on the distance a character can move for the CS; a “1/4 action” should reduce movement capability by 1/4th, and “1/2 action” reduce it by half.
Depending on the nature of the action attempted while moving, the GM may even require the player to make an AGL or CRD check on d100 to determine success. While some actions may clearly and easily be made while moving, others may not (GM’s discretion).
While the character is occupied with trying to accomplish his declared action, the player can NOT use any part of the character already committed to that action for any other purpose, unless he states that he will abort the stated course of action and leave it uncompleted.
If a “passive” action such as defending should be called for out of turn (see “Acting Out of Turn”, as follows), the course of action in which the character defending has been committed to pursuing may very well limit the options available to him for defense. Being in the process of dropping the shield or buckler in hand in favor of rummaging around in a belt pouch with that hand, that shield or buckler cannot very well be used to defend against the foe who is suddenly upon him. The same is true of using a knife for his own Parry defense that he just stated was dropped in favor of offering a hand to help a damsel rise.
The actions a character can make in a tactical situation can greatly affect the outcome of that situation or battle. This chapter has been divided into two parts, the first encompassing the actions that most characters usein just about any tactical situation, and the second for those actions that facilitate the character in actually engaging in armed combat. Because certain of these actions are not complicated enough or time–consuming enough to warrant their taking a full Combat Segment to complete, many moves are discussed as to their effects when combined with other actions. A roster of these combination actions is given at the conclusion of the chapter. Attacks don’t necessarily require a formal weapon – any object that the character can pick up and strike with is good enough, especially if he skilled as a Brawler. Brawler or not, the character can always have a go with his fists.
Acting Out of Turn: “Wait” Actions
IF a player doesn’t know quite what to do with his character in any given tactical situation at the time he is supposed to state his character’s intended action, he can Pass or Wait (effectively the same for game purposes) and see what the other characters do.
This allows him to either state his intended action at any point in Initiative after his character has passed during the Declaration and Movement phase, inserting his statement between those of the others while they are still declaring their actions, OR immediately at the end of the Declaration Phase, after all of the others have stated their intentions, any time during the Movement Phase (assuming that optional rule is in use), but before the Resolution phase is begun. The player can also choose to Move in lieu of any other action and use it to time engaging an enemy on his own terms.
If the player Waits for the situation in the battle site to develop and moves his character into a position to intervene somewhere, that action should be Declared normally, so long as the character is put in a position to be able to act on the foe, normally. If the action the player wishes the character to make depends on the movement and current position of that foe, especially if that foe is moving across the battle site, the player must plot his character’s movement and end position so their paths cross so he may take an Opportunity Action (as follows) as that occurs.
The main purpose and most economical use of the Wait is tactical in nature, usually in combination with Movement, for putting the character in the best position to take advantage of his talents and maximize his contribution to the conflict at hand.
A Word about Defenses
The Block, Dodge, and Parry are not truly actions that the character is required to choose in order to exercise. They provide Defense DV’s for foes trying to hit them and cost the character nothing but END (where those optional rules are in use) to exercise.
On the other hand, if the character is sorely pressed he may exercise any of these defenses as his action for the CS. However, in so doing he surrenders any right to attempt any other action when his Initiative comes up to act.
Any accumulated penalties to exercise a given defense are disregarded when the character’s Action is dedicated to providing for his defense against a particular attack/foe for the CS.
For any Defense, however, the character must pay the END cost whether the DV it provided was sufficient to repel the attack or not. Much like a magick-wielder and a failed casting – successful or no, the character must put forth the effort in order to have a chance.