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Joined: Tue 19 Feb 2019, 17:22

[Houserule] No action economy and faster combat

Fri 29 Mar 2019, 13:58

So I've played a few sessions now and, coming from story games (mainly Powered by the Apocalypse engine), I got enamored with the concept of no turn order, no action economy. It makes everything much more dynamic and a lot simpler.

Furthermore, after a few session, I felt the combats where a bit too slow to my taste. I though they'd fast as STR score is on average 3-4 but it still required a bit too much rolls for my taste:
Roll for attack, reroll if you push, then opponent rolls for Dodge/Parry, then rolls for Armor, and repeat that for every character and NPC. You're literally throwing hundreds of dice in a single combat.

So I've come up with these rules to eliminate the action economy and speed up combat by making NPC roll only for their attack.

So here goes. If you want to comment, please do keep an open mind. What purpose will a comment like "Well then why don't you play Dungeon World then"? To that I answer : "I like cheese. And I also like bread. Have you heard of that thing called a grilled cheese?"


No action economy
Describe what you want to do on your turn, the GM will tell you what’s possible or what might take more than a turn. Rule of thumb is your character should do something interesting in his turn, and usually ends with a dice roll.

For example, if your character needs to find a rope and a grappling hook in his pack, tie them together, then run to the next room to try to throw it on the other side of the chasm, that’s fine. Way more fun than being told he can only take the rope and tie it together, then next turn he’d have to run to the next room and then two turns later only can he try to throw it.

Simpler actions
Without action economy, you don’t need to track and mechanize every single possible action a character can do in a turn. The character just describe what he wants to do, the GM determines which check it requires (if any) then narrate the result.

Since there are no action economy, when declaring a Dodge or a Parry, the character will need to spend 1 Willpower or suffer 1 Agility damage (his choice) to be able to roll.

The GM don’t roll for the NPCs Dodge or Parry. Instead, they automatically gain 1 success for each WP they spend.

Armor for NPC
Instead of rolling Gear dice for armor, divide the NPC armor value by 4 (rnd-up). This number act as a penalty to the attacker’s roll, lowering the number of dice they will roll.
1-4 : -1
5-8 : -2
9-12: -3
13+ : -4

Furthermore, armor and weapon degradation isn’t tracked for NPC.

Pushing rolls for NPCs
The GM don’t push rolls for NPCs. Instead, they can spend 1 Willpower to gain a success.
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Re: [Houserule] No action economy and faster combat

Fri 29 Mar 2019, 14:16

Pah! Grilled cheese?! Really? Philestine! Welsh Rarebit is infinitely superior to Grilled Cheese.

But, as your other points, I can be more open minded. These all look like reasonable speeding up adjustments and,  when combat isn’t an issue I am sure most FB GMs favour the approach in your first example. I have a question though. What is your idea for turn order?
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Topic Author
Posts: 59
Joined: Tue 19 Feb 2019, 17:22

Re: [Houserule] No action economy and faster combat

Fri 29 Mar 2019, 16:15

I come from traditional games background (been playing D&D from 1st up to 5th edition). At one point I got fed up with very rigid rulings, initiative, number of actions, modifiers and such.
I know it’s kinda melted down our cortex that it is “how it works”, but discovering story games (Fate, pbta, ICRPG and many other) improved my games ten-folds.
In pbta games, the GM manages the proverbial "turn order" by simply moving the spotlight around. Much like in a movie, the camera focuses on certain parts of the action at a time.
In that model, you don't need initiative, turn order or how many action you can take in a turn, or what distance you can move and all that minutia detail.
The GM simply asks a player "What do you do?" and that player describes what he wants to do then the GM state what to roll then narrate the results.
The GM then moves the spotlight to whoever/wherever makes sense and is interesting.
In some cases, it's more interesting or makes more sense to have the same player do multiple "actions". 
If I take the example from above and put it in parallel to the classic action economy system compared to the spotlight method:
Classic (action economy+turn order)
GM: Fighter, your turn.
Fighter: Ok I need to grab my rope and tie a grappling hook to it.
GM: No problem, it’ll take your Fast action to grab the rope, but also your Slow action to tie the grappling hook. It’s now one of the enemy’s turn.
[Everybody take their turn]
GM: Back to you Fighter.
Fighter: Ok so I want to run up to the ledge and throw my grappling hook to the other side.
GM: Ok, it’s in Long range from you so it’ll take both of your actions to reach the ledge. You’ll be able to throw your rope as a fast action next turn.
Spotlight method (à la pbta)
GM: Fighter, you’re up, what do you do?
Fighter: I want to search my pack for my rope and tie a grappling hook to it.
GM: (Finding uninteresting to stop the action there) Sure, since there’s no immediate threat as your companions are keeping the enemies engaged, you do that. What do you do now?
Fighter: Ok so I want to run up to the ledge and throw my grappling hook to the other side.
GM: Great, since there’s enemies fighting with your companions between you and the ledge, it will require a MOVE check. If you fail, you’ll still reach the ledge but one of the enemy will have managed to lend a blow on you and you’ll take 1 STR damage. Roll it!
Fighter: 1 succes
GM: Great, you dodge a few blows and make a feint left and right which creates an opening that you run through to reach the ledge. You start swinging the rope above your head. Hold on to that though.
Rogue, as Fighter do that, one of the orc in from of you is swinging is huge axe, ready to land a solid blow on you, what do you do?

In that model, you don’t need action economy or turn order.
You simply go with what makes sense in the narrative and the GM’s role is to move the spotlight around players and provide exciting situations and opportunities.
Things move way faster and more organically.
P.S. I dunno what a Philestine! Welsh Rarebit is but it sound incredible and I want one :P
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Re: [Houserule] No action economy and faster combat

Sun 31 Mar 2019, 18:12

I like this, but would like to add that the action order and dice rolling isn't quite as strict in Forbidden Lands as in your examples. At least it doesn't need to be. :)
  • The rulebook clearly states that you shouldn't roll dice unless really needed. This applies to tracking actions as well. As long as the stakes are low, don't roll dice or track actions - just let the players do what they want.
  • NPCs don't need to push rolls, and they don't need to parry. In fact, I'd save that for important NPCs, to keep the dice rolling down.
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Re: [Houserule] No action economy and faster combat

Wed 12 Jun 2019, 05:53

If I might make a suggestion.

Instead of removing action economy entirely you should open it up with soft caps instead of the games current hard caps.

The game as written has hard caps. You get one slow action and one fast action or 2 fast actions and that is it. You are actually INCAPABLE of doing anything else.

Instead, you get 1 slow and 1 fast (or 2 fast). Each additional slow action you attempt comes with a cumulative -2 difficulty penalty and each additional fast comes with a -1 difficulty penalty.

So for example: I want to move forward and attack twice!

Move action (fast), 1rst attack (Slow), 2nd attack (slow -2 skill dice).

The opponent attacks you back. You attempt to parry (fast -3 skill dice (This turn you take the -2 from the second slow action and a -1 from the second fast action)).

Order of operations would be important. "I want to move twice and attack!" Move (fast), move (fast), attack (slow -2 as your first additional action).

As far as I can tell this would not negatively impact any of the Talents currently in the game as those talents give you additional actions for free or at no penalty for spending a WP. So those would still be super useful for getting more actions without penalty while still letting players attempt to defend themselves.

You don't NEED to spend WP OR suffer damage, but with the reduction of skill dice the chance of having to Push or spend WP for other perks is significantly increased and the more someone attacks you the more likely you are to fail/take damage anyway. Penalties continue to accumulate until the beginning of your next turn at which point they reset to zero. It's more interesting to give the players the choice with the risk and gamble then it is to draw a hard line in the sand or give them no other option but to pay.

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