Action Economy

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eaton eaton's picture
Action Economy

So, one of the things I've been excited about in EP2 is the clarified structure of individual turns.

In EP1, each turn allowed a character to take "a minimum of three quick actions", or "a minimum of one quick action plus one complex action" or "a minimum of one quick action and an ongoing task action." This left things far too fuzzy, IMO: quick actions were sort-of-free-actions, and their theoretically unlimited nature made it dangerous to put any really useful actions (like reloading) into the quick action category.

In EP2, Those "minimum of" bits have been nuked, and the number of actions is very explicit: Unlimited "Free" actions, 3 quick actions, or one quick and one complex action, or one quick and one ongoing task action.

I've mentioned before that I'd love to see the "two attacks per complex turn" mechanic for Semi-Auto and Burst Fire weapons turned into "A quick action can be used to take a SECOND shot with a SA or BF weapon". Not so much because I want to see double-taps nerfed, but because I hope the new clarity around free/quick/complex/task actions will lead to more interesting and valuable things to *do* with one's quick actions.

At least so far, most "interactions" (Activate object, Draw weapon, Open Door, Grab object, Take drug) and some movements (Take cover, Jump, Rise from Prone) are quick actions. All explicitly combat actions (Aim, Melee Attack, Full Defense, Reload weapon, Fire Weapon, Throw) and a few movements and interactions (Examine, operate complex device, rush, difficult movement) are complex actions. Free actions are reserved for movement and "the basics" like simple perception, dropping things, and dropping to prone.

[th]Action[/th]
[th]Duration[/th]
[th]Type[/th]
Perception Free/Automatic Interaction
Drop Objection Free/Automatic Interaction
Move Free/Automatic Movement
Full Move Free/Automatic Movement
Go Prone Free/Automatic Movement
Activate object Free/Automatic Interaction
Draw weapon Free/Automatic Interaction
Open Door Free/Automatic Interaction
Grab object Free/Automatic Interaction
Take Drug Free/Automatic Interaction
Take Cover Free/Automatic Movement
Jump Free/Automatic Movement
Stand from Prone Free/Automatic Movement
Aim Complex Attack
Melee Attack Complex Attack
Full Defense Complex Attack
Reload weapon Complex Attack
Fire weapon Complex Attack
Throw Complex Attack
Examine Complex Interaction
Operate complex device Complex Interaction
Difficult Movement Complex Movement
Rush Complex Movement

I'd still like to see a few of these clarified/streamlined, but my primary interests are: will there be gear/mods/tools that allow players to nudge certain actions from one category to another? The concealed quick-draw wristmount for handguns, for example, could nullify the "draw" action, and make the first shot with a concealed weapon a quick action instead of a complex one. (Giving the player another complex action to work with).

Hacking, in particular, could benefit from a similar set of clarifications. Although actual subversion of a system or breaking into a fully protected system are long-term task actions not well suited to combat time, most OTHER stuff involved in hacking, like triggering executables, elevating permissions, simple information, spawning off separate tasks, etc could all map cleanly to this action economy. Ultimately, coordinating mesh and physical actions on the same action clock would be a huge boon.

Any thoughts?

CordialUltimate2 CordialUltimate2's picture
Yeah clear action economy is

Yeah clear action economy is a great tool for balancing the game. For example in DnD it is pretty straightforward with each character having normal action, bonus action, movement and reaction. The most powerful class features allow different uses of these actions.

Going by similar logic I decided to try divide action turn into 4 phases for every character but with​ different available actions for different SPEED ratings in an effort to create more gradual increase in damage and effectiveness of a character.
So far I failed to do it without introducing a lot of complexity.

The closest I've got to workable system was one where you bought certain actions for Speed Points, which now that I think about it, is very similar to how Vigor Points work. The main difference was that Speed Points regenerated on a turn basis.

If I ever get it to a point where it is CLEARLY more elegant and deeper than vigor points I will present it.

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eaton eaton's picture
Yeah, D&D5e's streamlined

Yeah, D&D5e's streamlined action economy, at least to me, makes well-executed combat feel like a puzzle game rather than just a slugfest. Obviously EP is a different game, but the clarity of its free/standard/bonus/reaction actions is really useful.

I'm not sure what you mean about dividing actions into phases — do you mean the automatic/quick/complex/task breakdown that we currently have? It seems (to me at least) that we'd get a lot of interesting effects just playing with how gear, implants, and distinct weapon abilities can interact with those four as it is...

CordialUltimate2 CordialUltimate2's picture
I thought about dividing

I thought about dividing turns into arbitrary 1 seconds periods. Simpy put making Action Phase a basic unit of time passage in combat. Then every Speed Rating would have arbitrary list of actions allowed. 4 lists total. With idea of subsequent actions giving you bonuses to later actions.
Total clusterfudge. Also hard to track at the table. It bought little depth with a lot of complexity.

I posted something more workable in Homebrew section.

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eaton eaton's picture
Quote:Total clusterfudge.

Quote:
Total clusterfudge. Also hard to track at the table. It bought little depth with a lot of complexity.

Yeah, that's what I was *thinking* although it has a raw simulationist appeal. :D

The one-action-affects-the-cost-of-the-next idea is interesting, though I'm curious if it could be handled by specific gear/trait/mod/weapon conventions rather than explicit costing. If you do X, then you can do Y as a quick action instead of a complex action. Or if you have A, then B can be done (with severe penalties) as a complex action rather than a task action.

The reason I've been thinking about this a lot is that mesh equipment quality in EP1 is explicitly restricted to bonuses or penalties, unless you get into homebrew scenarios. For hacking in particular I think there's a lot of potential in limited-use zero-day exploits that can automate subversion or breakin tasks (aka reduce speed to a complex action), but the exploits then become "known" and can no longer be used. Keeping a military-grade breaker on hand for dire emergencies, knowing that it cost you an arm and a leg and a few year's worth of favors? Interesting stuff.

swordchucks swordchucks's picture
CordialUltimate2 wrote:Total

CordialUltimate2 wrote:
Total clusterfudge. Also hard to track at the table. It bought little depth with a lot of complexity.

This sounds like how HERO system does turns. It is complicated, but kind of interesting if you're regularly seeing folks moving at vastly different speeds.
CordialUltimate2 CordialUltimate2's picture
After reading some of the

After reading some of the Hero 5th edition I guess their speed system is actually one of the simpler things in it.

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ThatWhichNeverWas ThatWhichNeverWas's picture
Context is important.

I really agree with the OP, except I want armslides to not be a thing anymore because they're boring and should be replaced with wearable gun mounts.

My biggest worry is that the Quick action list will only have a few token actions in it, with all the interesting stuff being in the Complex category. Action economies work at their best when there are are basic options in every category, so each character uses every available action in their turn.

These don't need to be huge things, but small bonuses from aiming, staying behind cover or other options to represent the 'manner' the complex action is performed can add real richness to the gameplay.

In the past we've had to compensate for weaknesses, finding quick solutions that only benefit a few.
But what if we never need to feel weak or morally conflicted again?

o11o1 o11o1's picture
Yeah, if I'm in a straight up

Yeah, if I'm in a straight up firefight, having to pick what I do with my quick action "Do I want to protect myself and attack from cover for the extra bonus to my Fray tests, do I want to just do gynastics to avoid getting hit, maybe I need to use the quick action to give pre-set command orders to my army of servitors.

A slight smell of ions....

ThatWhichNeverWas ThatWhichNeverWas's picture
Hmmm...

I'm still working through the newest version, and I'm a tad worried.
That said, I can already see some things which could be productively made into quick actions, mostly those which involve a small skill penalty – making them a quick action instead of applying the penalty makes the math easier whilst preserving an effective cost.

- Examples:
Upgrade Base Move to Full Move.
Calling a Shot.
Making an Aggressive melee attack.

And now back to the Game Mechanics section...

In the past we've had to compensate for weaknesses, finding quick solutions that only benefit a few.
But what if we never need to feel weak or morally conflicted again?

eaton eaton's picture
Quote:That said, I can

Quote:
That said, I can already see some things which could be productively made into quick actions, mostly those which involve a small skill penalty – making them a quick action instead of applying the penalty makes the math easier whilst preserving an effective cost.

This is my thinking as well — quick action vs skill check penalty feels (to me at least) more manageable, since most situations already have a pile of stacked penalties and bonuses due to environmental, situational, and equipment modifiers.
o11o1 o11o1's picture
As a general matter, there

As a general matter, there need to be more things that count as quick actions and which are worth doing. Reloading most weapons seems like Quick Action speed, for instance.

A slight smell of ions....

UnitOmega UnitOmega's picture
I'd personally be a little

I'd personally be a little opposed to the idea that a character can normally completely reload three different guns in the same 3 seconds, that kind of eats into my verisimilitude.

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http://ephrep.blogspot.com/

o11o1 o11o1's picture
UnitOmega wrote:I'd

UnitOmega wrote:
I'd personally be a little opposed to the idea that a character can normally completely reload three different guns in the same 3 seconds, that kind of eats into my verisimilitude.

What's the normal action to swap weapons?

A slight smell of ions....

eaton eaton's picture
Quote:What's the normal

Quote:
What's the normal action to swap weapons?

Drawing and dropping are both free actions, but there's no explicit "swapping" listed. I think changing the action type needed for reloading probably deserves to be treated as part of the "reload mechanic" discussion happening in the broader Action And Combat thread. Reloading feels (to me at least) like a way to forcibly "pace" high damage-output weapons, forcing characters to do something other than pour on as many hits as possible. A quick action wouldn't serve that purpose — it would only decrease a player's *other* options while they hose bullets.

I can see certain low-powered weapons like the holdout pistol supporting mods that allow it to fire (only the first time it's used in a combat encounter) or reload using a quick action, for example. But unless reloading's purpose changes considerably making it a quick action seems like it'd be Fun For Gunners But Broken In General…

DivineWrath DivineWrath's picture
UnitOmega wrote:I'd

UnitOmega wrote:
I'd personally be a little opposed to the idea that a character can normally completely reload three different guns in the same 3 seconds, that kind of eats into my verisimilitude.

What if they had 3 pairs of arms, one pair for each weapon? Someone sleeved in an octomorph might try to be cleaver. ;)

UnitOmega UnitOmega's picture
Drawing a weapon is actually

Drawing a weapon is actually listed as a quick, but yes dropping is free. This could probably be a pro for something like ye olde arm slide or other abilities to actually automatically draw a weapon. If you're being moderately strict as a GM, it's probably two quick actions to swap (This happens even in Edge of the Empire being a fairly narrative heavy game I think it's fair play for EP still being somewhat technical). I could also see "speed load" qualities on some weapons but in addition to mechanical constraints there is also a certain element of realism - loading a gun is a process which has some steps which must be met depending on the weapon (and technically it's already a quick to get something out of a pouch) which will always take a certain minimum amount of time and you can't just make the reloading animation play faster. So I'd err on part of keeping it Complex so it feels more solid, reasonable and so this doesn't get all Call of Duty with max reload perks on.

If nothing else, a character in combat with a gun can always aim as a quick - assuming they have the right sort of weapon.

Quote:
What if they had 3 pairs of arms, one pair for each weapon? Someone sleeved in an octomorph might try to be cleaver. ;)

Well, as an extension of the multiple weapon rule, I'd probably say he can reload each weapon on the same action but probably call for some kind of REF check to pull it off smoothly simultaneously. The thing with three at once is kind of an extreme issue of say, letting empty weapons pile up and then trying to engineer a situation where they stack them all together and just wondering if that's even physically possible.

The more I think about it the more pointless it becomes though, you'd waste all the quick actions anyway on nitpicky stuff one way or the other, you might as well just keep it a Complex as above.

H-Rep: An EP Homebrew Blog
http://ephrep.blogspot.com/

Dilf_Pickle Dilf_Pickle's picture
We'll be right back after these off-topics

DivineWrath wrote:
What if they had 3 pairs of arms, one pair for each weapon? Someone sleeved in an octomorph might try to be cleaver. ;)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L4cj51Ixw7w

o11o1 o11o1's picture
Even just two arms is pretty

Even just two arms is pretty impressive compared to melee. I've been running a small dungeon crawl through Iapetus, and I've noticed that even medium pistols dual wielded with autofire throws out tremendous amounts of damage compared to what one of the groups monomolecular sword is swinging with.

Multiple arms is like entire free complex actions.

A slight smell of ions....

knasser knasser's picture
.

CordialUltimate2 wrote:
After reading some of the Hero 5th edition I guess their speed system is actually one of the simpler things in it.

I have run Hero 6e and there is a LOT of complexity in character creation and defining abilities. However, most of the complexity is front-loaded. Once you have all your numbers worked out, combat mostly runs very well. It's one of my favourite combat systems. Speed is pretty easy to understand and works like so:

  • A combat turn in Hero is 12 segments (informally each one is a second, but it's mostly kept abstract).

  • Standard speed for a character is 2. You buy up from there.

  • You divide your actions into the 12 segments. So Speed 2 means you act on segments 6 and 12. Speed 3 means you act on segments 4, 8 and 12. Speed 4 means you act on segments 3, 6, 9 and 12. This is all on a chart and your speed seldom changes in combat so if you have trouble dividing 12 by your speed, it's not a big deal. ;)

Note, Hero has something that acts as a balance to high speed which you don't have in Eclipse Phase - Endurance. Nearly every action you take in Hero is tiring (costs Endurance) so a character that can act on four segments and chooses to do so, is going to run out of Endurance much more quickly. It's an extra thing to track but we just use poker chips and just pull them from the bowl as needed. It becomes very natural very quickly and I love the tactical consequences and realism of someone having to pause to rest. Of course that isn't vital - you could use a similar system and just not bother with endurance costs if it's not a part of your rules.

The chief thing that drives people bananas with this initiative system is that it's not random. If you have the higher Speed, you're going first. It's a different paradigm, but it works well for us.

If anyone is wondering about different action lengths, most actions are either a Full Action or a Half-Action. You also have Free Actions and occasionally ones that have a duration - i.e. you perform them in your initiative phase but they don't take effect until a subsequent segment. Those are less common though.

It's a very good system but I suspect the non-random initiative is a show stopper for many. It's not unrealistic, though.

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