Friday, February 23, 2018

Action Points

An action point (AP) describes how much action can be performed by a given creature within 1 combat round. There are many different actions that can be taken in a round, as detailed below.

Because different creatures move at different speeds, due to inherent nature, training or limitations due to encumbrance, the time necessary to perform a specific single action will differ. Therefore, rather than subdivide a round into time periods, the round is divided into the number of action points possessed by the combatant.

The majority of Player Characters, with the exception of the monk, will have FIVE action points. Monks start with SIX action points, a number that will increase as monks gain levels. Creatures of all kinds will have differing numbers of action points.

Suppose that a player character, Albert, wishes to take a certain amount of time in a single round in order to attack an opponent, circle the same opponent to the right and call out to other combatants for help. Each action, it can be presumed, will take time. We can apply these to the different actions desired: it requires 2 AP to attack with a weapon; it requires 1 AP to call for help; it requires 1 AP to move a distance of 1 hex; and there is a penalty of 1 AP for moving out of hex that is part of a melee (see link). Albert has just enough AP to achieve all his desired goals.

A faster moving humanoid, Zlakan, however, may possess 6 AP - so that each round, Zlakan is able to perform one more action than Albert can, in the same amount of time. A full round, for both parties, lasts 12 seconds; however, it is presumed that both sides are moving simultaneously, even if the order of damage done or other action continues to be turn-based.

Thus, a combatant with 5 AP requires 2.4 seconds to expend 1 AP. A creature with 6 AP would require 2 seconds to expend the same AP. In either case, it should be remembered that very little time is provided for any action.

In cases where encumbrance severely reduces the number of action points a combatant possesses, we should realize that the combatant is moving very slowly, relative to other combatants - and may not even be fast enough or flexible enough to effectively attack or even flee melee.

An attempt has been made to assign a cost in action points for any action a combatant or creature may take. Naturally, players will chafe at the time necessary, but these numbers should be firm and exceptions made only in specific pre-determined circumstances. Combatants should be reminded that they can increase the number of action points they possess by reducing the amount of armor they wear or equipment they carry.

Note that some feats do not, for game purposes, require any action points at all. These include dropping an object (including an unstrapped shield or weapon), shouting threats at an attacked opponent, changing facing and dismissing a cast spell before it is discharged. See swapping with stunned allies in circumstances where defenders are stunned.

The following table gives the cost in AP for varied choices in action. Obviously the table is not all inclusive, but nevertheless it should serve as a means to estimate actions not listed. Note that actions that clearly take more than the number of AP needed to complete in a single round will take two or more sequential rounds to finish. Many of these, once started, must begin again from scratch (such as loading a crossbow) if interrupted.


As many of these have exceptions or other rules that govern the amount of time that must be spent, and because misunderstandings can occur, I have included a series of notes below:

activate object: this can include any object, many of which are magic, that must somehow be turned on or otherwise started with a movement, voice command, etc. The time required includes the object's reshaping itself or starting up - though it does not include time necessary for the object to gather power, warm up or otherwise reach its peak of performance. The object will only be turned on. Activating an object includes opening an uncorked bottle (a corked bottle would require 5 AP) or employing a magic wand, staff, rod, ring or similar item.

adjusting a free object for use: this includes any object that, once grabbed or picked up, still needs to be turned or up righted before it can be used, such as a shield, eyeglass, compass, lantern and so on. Does not includes the crossbow.

apply poison to a weapon: before poison or any other substance can be applied to a blade for use, both weapon and substance must already be in hand. Includes applying substances to other items, such as oiling a rope or spreading glue on a comparable surface.

armoring the body:
gives a time frame for suiting up in hauberk and chausses (the padded armor that must be worn under most heavy metal armours), gorgets, breast plates, back plates, chain shirt, tassets and so on. At the cost of the AP indicated, enough of a given type of armor (say, chain mail) can be fixed in place in 25 AP (five rounds for an unencumbered player combatant) to improve armor class by 1 point. Leather armor would therefore require 50 AP to completely ready, studded leather or ring mail, 75 AP, scale mail 100 AP and so on. Take note that as more armor is added to the body, the character's AP will drop due to encumbrance, meaning that better armor classes will require more time to achieve.

Aid can be received from an attendant, enabling a reduction of total time taken to 15 AP per armor class gained.

attacking: the amount of time that must be spent by the combatant in a focused attempt to strike for an opening in the enemy's defense. It is important to realize that a combatant does not attack only once in a round because there isn't time to attack a second time - but because the combatant doesn't get another chance to see an opening. Additional attacks that are gained as combatants increase in level because less of a opening is needed in order to mount a meaningful attack - that is, more than 1 per round.

For game purposes, a weapon that is thrown at a cost of 2 AP must first be in hand or drawn, otherwise it will require additional time for the attack to occur. A weapon that is fired must be aimed and the target concentrated on - so that missile weapons also require 2 AP to fire.

If a combatant employs two weapons in their attack, then a 2 AP cost must be accepted for each attack that is made. However, if the combatant is a fighter of 4th level or above, and thus potentially receives 2 attacks in a given round, then each of these attacks has only a 1 AP cost. Both attacks are considered to be lightning quick.

This is meant to indicate the faster speed with which an experience fighter can see an opening in the enemy's defense and strike at it. Many players assume that because it only requires 2 AP to make an attack, and they have 4 or 5 AP available per round, they ought to be able to make two attacks per round. This is not so (except in the case of using two weapons). The limitation on attacks per round is not based on the time needed to make an attack. The limitation is on the number of opportunities for attack that the combatant is able to see. Thus the second attack made by the skilled fighter comes from the recognition of seeing more gaps in the enemy's defenses. A low-level fighter, on the other hand, or a combatant from any other class, would only see one useful attack opportunity per round, regardless of how long the actual attack would take. See Attacking in Combat.

awaken other: this rule has been adjusted. See Rouse Sleeping Creatures.

awaken self: this rule no longer applies. See awaken other, above.

change form: describes shape-changing due to spell, magical influence or inherent ability. If the combatant has less than 4 AP due to encumbrance, the process takes longer than one round not because of the actual time to physically alter one's form, but due to the additional effort to free oneself from armor or other accouterments. Note that changing form into something larger while wearing armor should include the likelihood of that armor being damaged beyond use (but not beyond repair), meaning a saving throw vs. crushing blow.

closing a saddle bag or back pack: includes the time needed to close a buckle or drawstring, to ensure that things do not fall out. The AP indicated could also be applied to locking a box or a door, barring a door (if the bar is at hand), tying closed the top of a scroll case and so on.

discharging a cast spell: once a spell has been cast, it must be discharged during the round after casting; prior to discharging, however, the spellcaster must continue to concentrate on the spell without being distracted or their concentration broken. As such, spells are usually discharged with the first AP a spellcaster has available in a given round. However, as a spellcaster is permitted to move 5 feet (1 hex) while retaining concentration (see Movement in Combat), it is common for a spellcaster to move one hex in order to get into a better position before discharging a spell.

dismount animal:
describes mounts where the distance between the saddle and the ground does not require the animal to bend (horses, mules, donkeys, pegasi, hippogriffs, hippocampus or garuda). Dismounting from an elephant or camel requires 4 AP, to permit the animal to kneel. Dismounting from the howdah high atop the back of an elephant requires 6 AP, as the howdah must be vacated before the combatant can climb down. Climbing down from an oliphant, from the driving harness located above the neck, requires 9 AP, including the time (2 AP) necessary to free oneself from the harness that disallows falling - the oliphant does not kneel down for this purpose. Climbing down from the howdah of an oliphant will require 15 AP, as the ladder must be first unfurled through the trap, which must be opened, and the combatant then climbing down. It should be remembered that the howdah for an oliphant is 19 feet above the ground. See mount animal, below.

dispel active spell:
refers only to a spell of the combatant's own making, after it has been discharged (prior to discharge, a cast spell may be dispelled without a movement cost).

draw weapon, heavy one-handed: includes all weapons that can be used with a single hand, weighing more than 5 lbs, such as the broad sword, long sword, lance and trident. As some creatures with upper body strength can wield weapons up to 7.5 lbs one-handedly, the list potentially includes the battle axe, military fork and military pick.

draw weapon, light one-handed: includes all weapons weighing 5 lbs. or less. See Drawing a Weapon while Moving.

draw weapon, two-handed: includes all weapons which the combatant must use two hands in order to wield, regardless of weight. Note that all weapons longer than 6 ft. must be employed with two hands, regardless of weight or upper body strength.

drop to the ground: the actual time necessary to fall and take to the ground is 1 AP. However, a second AP penalty is added to the action because it is presumed that, having fallen to the ground, the combatant must then spend moments reorienting before deciding to do something else.

eating or drinking: shows AP cost per ounce of food consumed or per 2 ounces of liquid consumed. A potion will normally consist of 8 ounces of fluid, so quaffing a potion will require 4 AP. A healing salve typically measures 2 ounces.

extinguishing a candle: time taken is regardless of the method used to snuff the candle, either with the fingers, blowing it out or using a douter.

extinguishing a lantern: includes time necessary to turn down the lantern using the key. The lantern can be dimmed to half strength at 1 AP cost - or kept at a dimmed level and then extinguished entirely at a cost of 1 AP. Note, however, that keeping a lantern dimmed will greatly reduce its illumination.

extinguishing a torch: presumes the torch cannot be doused in water, which requires 1 AP. Otherwise the torch must be stamped or struck out, strangled with a cloth or otherwise smothered. Players are welcome to suggest methods requiring only 1 or 2 AP.

free a shield from the arm:
describes a situation in which the shield is strapped to the arm of the combatant. Shields that are damaged from failing saving throw must be unstrapped. Assumes the weapon is dropped (see sling a shield or bow over the shoulder).

lighting a torch:
presumes the torch and the means to light it are already in hand. If the torch is wet, the means of lighting it must be more sustained than a tinder (must be an open flame) and the process will take twice as long.

loading a bow for aiming next round:
though a bow can be loaded and fired very quickly (and videos on youtube demonstrate this fact), the time needed in combat conditions presumes that the combatant is remaining situationally aware of the battlefield and judging their next target, given that circumstances on the battlefield are continuously changing. Therefore the action indicates that 4 AP are spent loading; the bow will be ready to fire the following round.

Note: for characters with 3 AP who wish to load a bow, it is ruled that one round is sufficient in order to load the bow this round for firing the next, even if the character does not have 4 AP. The number of AP indicated is intended to restrict persons with more than 4 AP from moving far while loading; all slower persons must load the bow without moving at all. Note that the same rule applies to the firing of slings.

loading a bow without aiming:
accounts for the minimum of situational awareness (see loading a bow, above), at a cost of 2 AP. The bow can be fired immediately in the same round if the combatant desires, with a -4 to hit penalty. Remember that firing the bow also requires 2 AP. Therefore the whole act of loading and firing the bow in one round requires 4 AP.

However, if the combatant is in a round where they receive two attacks, they may, if they wish, discount the to hit penalty. Alternately, they may wish to load and fire their bow twice. In this event, loading the bow without aiming is done at a cost of 1 AP; firing the bow is also done at a cost of 1 AP - equaling 2 AP total for each attack. Firing at this speed, however, incorporates a -5 to hit penalty!

loading a heavy crossbow: this is a two-handed operation that is enabled by pointing the crossbow down, with a point that sinks into the ground and stabilizes the weapon. It is then cranked until the drawstring is tight enough to fire. The weapon is then lifted and the bolt inserted into place for firing. This process requires 11 AP, which will most likely be extended over three or even four rounds, depending on the number of AP a combatant has due to encumbrance. The weapon can be fired in the same round that the loading is completed, if the combatant yet retains 2 AP. Otherwise, firing must wait for the next round.

loading a light crossbow:
this is a two-handed operation that is enabled by pointing the crossbow down, then putting the foot into a stirrup that stabilizes the weapon. See loading a heavy crossbow, above.

mount animal: describes mounts that can be ascended with a single stirrup in which the combatant puts their foot (horses, mules, donkeys, pegasi, hippogriffs and hippocampus). Mounting an animal that must bend moderately (camels) or where the saddle must be partly climbed into (garuda) requires 5 AP. Due to the height of the animal, mounting an elephant that has bent down requires 6 AP. Climbing into the howdah of an elephant requires 8 AP. Climbing into the driving harness of an oliphant, requiring a rope ladder, plus getting harnessed (no trained rider would not harness themselves in) requires 12 AP (harnessing requires 3 AP). Climbing up to the howdah of an oliphant requires that a trap door and rope ladder be first lowered to the climber, requiring 5 AP - the process of climbing and drawing up the ladder again will require 20 AP. See dismount animal, above.

obtaining an item pocketed or tied: combatants will often fix small objects (flasks, small blades, cricket cages, tawkra balls and such) to their persons using a short leather thong. To obtain access to these things requires shifting objects already held, some digging around under cloaks or through robes, to be sure to grab the right object before breaking it free from its thong - it is always presumed the object is broken free, not untied. Reaching for a pocket and digging through it is considered the same amount of effort and time.

opening an unstuck door: describes the process of opening the latch and pressing open an ordinary door to the point where it can be moved through. If the door is shouldered open without working the latch, this requires only 1 AP - but the combatant must make a dexterity check while doing so or tumbling will occur.

Opening a stuck door (placeholder) can require a non-specific length of time, requiring upwards of 3 AP, depending on the degree to which the door is stuck.

picking up an object:
describes a humanoid of small or medium size picking up any object laying on the ground, up to 5 lbs. in weight. The time needed for larger objects is determined on an expanding scale: it requires 3 AP to gather an object up to 8 lbs.; 4 AP to gather an object up to 13 lbs.; 5 AP to gather an object up to 21 lbs. and so on. More time is required as weights increase to 34 lbs., 55 lbs., 89 lbs., 144 lbs., 233 lbs. and so on to the maximum weight that can be lifted. Heavier objects will require shedding of carried weight and time to breathe in preparation for very great lifts.

Obviously, large creatures would have more an easier time picking up very large objects - and arguably, there ought to be a similar scale in reverse for picking up very small objects, a pin for example. Said rule is suspended from being described at this time.

searching a back pack: describes the process of opening, then digging through the contents of a back pack in search of a specific object. Anything that should be excessively obvious - such as a rope or an immediately visible weapon - is compensated for by troubles in removing such objects without spilling the contents of the pack. Time does not include closing the pack once again; see closing a saddle bag or back pack, above.

searching a saddle bag: see searching a back pack, above. The comparatively smaller space in a saddle bag is compensated for by the chance of the player looking in the wrong side of two bags. Combatants may opt to make an intelligence check if they wish. Success indicates finding what's wanted at a cost of 3-4 AP; failure guarantees it will take 5-10 AP to find what's wanted.

sheathe a weapon into a back scabbard: time required regardless of the weight of the weapon. The back scabbard must of course be designed for the specific weapon in question.

sheathe a weapon into a belt scabbard: time required regardless of the weight of the weapon. The belt scabbard must of course be designed for the specific weapon in question.

sling a shield or bow over the shoulder:
presumes the shield is free of the arm. See free a shield from the arm, above. The shield must have a hook or mount on an over-the-shoulder belt to be slung upon the back.

speak or call instructions to friend: regarding the time frame - four words per AP - combatants intending to parley with enemies will have only 12 to 20 words they can speak, assuming they have initiative. See Negotiation & Parley (placeholder).

standing from a laying position: time needed to adopt a fighting stance.

standing from a seated position: time needed to adopt a fighting stance. Take note that characters seated on a modestly sized chair can take the chair in hand upon standing with 1 AP, using it as a club rather than taking time to draw a weapon. See Using Found Objects as Weapons.

strapping a shield to the arm: compare with the number AP necessary in armoring the body, above. Does not require aid, but assistance from an attendant able to use both hands can lower the total time taken to 9 AP.

touch friendly creature: refers to situations where discharging a spell requires touching a recipient in order to bestow bless, armor, cure light wounds, etc. Presumes the creature to be touched wants to be touched and is not actively avoiding the spellcaster.

touch unfriendly creature: differs from touch friendly creature (see above) in that the act of forcing a spell upon an enemy is an attack. Applies to cause light wounds, shocking grasp, etc.

unslinging a back pack: describes the time necessary to remove a back pack from its position between the shoulders of the combatant. Does not include time necessary to open or search the backpack's contents. See searching a back pack, above.

unslinging a shield and using it: presumes that the shield will be used without strapping it in place (see strapping a shield to the arm, above).  See Shield for using the shield without strapping it into place.

Special Note Regarding Action Points & Rounds

It is taken for granted that players who do not have enough AP to complete a given action will discard plans to do so until beginning again the following round. This is assumed because of the difficulty in keeping track, round to round, of how many AP a given player has left at a given time - not because the rules preclude this being done. If a player wishes to press the point, I would be open to accepting that many actions of 2 or 3 AP could be stretched over two rounds, just as loading a crossbow or putting on armor is over multiple rounds. Until the writing of these rules here on the wiki, however, the process for actions that required more than a round was measured in rounds and not AP. The above means to codify multi-round actions in terms of their AP, to give players more freedom.

However, some actions - such as leaving a melee hex, where 1 AP is required to reach another hex and there is a penalty of 1 AP for breaking free from combat - cannot be stretched over two rounds. I intend to make the same rule regarding spells (still measured in rounds) and cantrips, to preclude attempts for players to attempt casting and discharging a spell in one round. I prefer giving enemy combatants (on both sides) an opportunity to attack and break a spell between its casting and discharge.

See Combat

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments are welcome; however, the content on this blog is not purposed for critical evaluation. Comments are strictly limited to errors in text, need for clarification, suggested additions, link fails and other technical errors, personal accounts of how the rule as written applied in their campaign and useful suggestions for other rules pages.

All other comments will be deleted.