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Perhaps this seems unfair to you because of the system you are using. I use GURPS in which each turn is 1 second long. If you don't know which enemy you are attacking in a second by second interval, then you can't attack it. For example, even drawing a bow and shooting requires 1 action to ready (possibly eliminated by fast draw), a possible turn to aim if you want a good chance to hit and then you can roll to hit and damage. It's possible of course to buy extra attacks with your bow, but it's so expensive to try and fire two arrows accurately in a single second that it really isn't worth it (and the price is respective to the fact of how unrealistic that actually is). If you were to AIM at a target and he just happened to get back-stabbed by the rouge, then you don't have another chance to aim that turn (normally, not without spending more points to increase your actions per turn). You could say "not fire" at him and save the arrow (which you can declare in your post "if he is injured I save the arrow"), but you could not aim again at another target without using another action to aim again. It's part of the calamity of combat (which if you've ever been in a fight you know it's disorienting, speaking as former US Army). Sometimes your buddy hits the same guy you are attacking a split second before you in an open warfield and the target is functionally dead before you hit him in the face with your axe. It happens. It's completely realistic as well, watch the Braveheart for examples of what a line battle looks like for fantasy weapons. It's not exactly something you can "plan out" during (hence the art of war by Sun Tzu).

This is completely fair though. If the player chooses to post out of order, THEY ARE OPTING TO DO THIS. They can still wait and post in order, that is their right. By posting out of order they are sacrificing that privilege (to have their actions work out in real time) and truly I've never had a player complain about this because they know risk associated with it because it's clearly defined in the wording. By all rights that is COMPLETELY fair, and it speeds up the game. No one is required to post out of order and in my games there is a post every 2 days rule after which they are put on Passive GM control, so if you don't post you may "hesitate" in combat (if there is not an obvious course of action), or complete an obvious goal (if they were aiming with a bow I might control the character and make them shoot the target, etc.). All in all though, after everyone posts the actions still go off in the order they were supposed to according to initiative.

This system keeps combat smooth and I've never seen anyone complain in any games where these rules are applied, if anything players (including myself in the games I play in) are happy that combat doesn't mean the death of a game because everyone is waiting forever and by the time the combat is over we forget what the plot was because we've been in combat for 2 months IRL.

Of course this isn't a perfect or mandatory system, but I've yet to see one I considered better.

Arguments for "Them's the breaks" style of rules:

I understand the "them's the breaks" idea isn't appealing to you personally, but it is fair, and it is realistic and it does speed along combat. Further, if you're always the guy hitting the dead thing, it might be time train up your speed with a few points (to increase initiative because you're sick of always missing the glory shots because the other characters are always stealing his combat thunder, which makes for a nice RP reason to do so, and that's good RP fuel.

Other examples of dice rolls feeding RP:

I had a character in one of my games where every time he used his "zen wild talent" skill, the dice always made something horrible happen to him or someone else. As a result he came to be afraid to use it except in dire circumstances. Had nothing to do with the rules but had everything to do with RPing the character. As a result he became more of a calm and reserved "master" monk that exercised conservation, rather than a brash and head strong character that whipped his talents out whenever it would make his life easier.

Another example was a battle cleric that kept having people die in her hands (due to dice rolls) and she made it her personal mission to become exceptionally good at saving others so she wouldn't have to watch them die anymore, even though that really wasn't the initial concept for her character (though she was considered compassionate, and that's why that development occurred). Again, great RP, but all because of unfortunate circumstances.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Greyfeld View Post
Obviously you seem to have success with this rule, but as a player who's never run into a DM that uses this sort of rule, I have to say that it seems extremely limiting and unintuitive.

As it stands, PBP is slow and cumbersome. To make it go by quicker, many DMs have rules in place to facilitate interactions, especially combat. These rules usually encourage out-of-order posting, for the sake of speeding things up, then reordering them properly by initiative when he updates the scene.

A lot of players are aware of the stress DMs go through to keep a coherent game running that they are willing to put situational text in their combat messages (Use maneuver A, unless the target dies, then use maneuver B.), but sometimes it's just not possible to map out every possibility. And punishing them for that really isn't fair.

Take this combat situation: You have a party of 5 players, and they're ambushed by a large, albeit weak, group of goblins. 4 of the players roll well on initiative, but the last one rolls dead last. So every round goes like this:

Sorry, you just hit a corpse.
Sorry, you just hit a sleeping target, he is now awake.
Sorry, there is no longer a goblin in that square to target.

Simply due to being last in initiative, every post by that person boils down to "I attack a living enemy. No, I'm not going to specify which one, just pick one that's still alive when my turn comes up." Spellcasters are especially crippled, because of the potential of wasting their finite allotment of spells on hitting nothing but air.

It's a simple issue to change attacks to an appropriate target if the original target isn't viable once the player's initiative comes up. I just feel that your rule, as it stands, stifles in-combat creativity and roleplaying.
This makes me think of the battle system in Final Fantasy I, ugh

Quote:
This is completely fair though. If the player chooses to post out of order, THEY ARE OPTING TO DO THIS. They can still wait and post in order, that is their right.
Yes, they can wait to post in order. Which means you're drastically increasing the amount of time required for each round of combat. In-order posting takes the already-sluggish style of PBP, and makes it even slower. And yet, posting out of order to quicken the pace punishes the player. This is extremely counter-intuitive.

Quote:
I understand the "them's the breaks" idea isn't appealing to you personally, but it is fair, and it is realistic and it does speed along combat.
I fail to see how forcing players to wait on everybody in front of them on the initiative list to post first speeds up combat.

Quote:
Further, if you're always the guy hitting the dead thing, it might be time train up your speed with a few points (to increase initiative because you're sick of always missing the glory shots because the other characters are always stealing his combat thunder, which makes for a nice RP reason to do so, and that's good RP fuel.
You're not giving them an RP reason to work on a specific stat, you're giving them a mechanical one. This ruling you've created gives a mechanical incentive to deviate from a player's build choice in order to avoid suffering in-combat penalties.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Xegek View Post
This makes me think of the battle system in Final Fantasy I, ugh
That's actually almost exactly what I was thinking of.

If you don't like it, don't use it. If you have (what you consider) a better system, share it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by World of L_Tiene View Post
If you don't like it, don't use it. If you have (what you consider) a better system, share it.
Like I said, every game I've played in has gone off without a hitch when allowing players to post in any order. The DM simply rearranges the actions in the proper order, occasionally changing them slightly to fit the battle as it unfolds. Say, changing targets if the previous target dies, or moving to a different square than the player originally indicated, because their target moved before their initiative came up.

And if players are taking context-sensitive actions, they usually place an OOC tag, listing another action or two to be taken in the case that the first action becomes invalid.

If that's what you prefer, then do that.

I like my method better as it seems far more realistic and in my games combat is not DnD style, it's lethal and scary and players learn very quickly to avoid it whenever possible. That's my play style. It's not for everyone. My players like my games, so I assume my method is every bit as valid as the next.

When combat breaks out in my games (3.5 D&D), I break things down into initiative groups. Within each group, whichever player posts first acts first, which represents the imprecise nature of the D&D round. As WoLT said, combat is chaos. I sometimes tweak the groups a little if it's in the interest of streamlining play, so that we're not all waiting on one person to post.



Regardless of how the groups turn out, I enforce an
If a player takes too long to respond, their character takes a reasonable (but usually cautious) action. This could include fighting defensively, taking cover, a full defense action, or something similar. Casters use their lower-level spells in autopilot mode.
autopilot rule.

Yeah see, I don't mind initiative order being tweaked with (though obviously this also makes initiative feats/perks/edges far less valuable, but that's another issue altogether), as long as there isn't a rule present that actively punishes players for trying to speed along combat.

I think the problem is you need to find something that suits you.

If straight initiative posting is too slow, then you have two other options now.

While my system doesn't punish perks for characters, it does potentially punish hasty posting (which truly has never been a problem since you know META wise, that if the guy above you posted he's attacking such and such, and you know that the particular character is about to be subdued, you just don't attack the same guy unless you have a specific reason too (bloodlust or in character vendetta, etc.). On the other hand, Dalar's system seems more your speed and that's fine, but I think what you're going to find is that every system has it's merits and flaws and it's up to you to gauge what works for you.




 

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