Wednesday, September 13, 2023

Three Action System for Exploring Dungeons

Today on an ever-growing list of half-baked ideas from Pastel.

A couple of weeks ago I made a post about why I disliked 10-minute turns. Today, I bring you a way that I think helps alleviate some of my worse issues: implementing Pathfinder Second Edition's 3 action economy into exploration.

The idea is simple: During each dungeon turn, a party/player has 3 actions that they can spend performing actions. A simple action, one that takes 2-3 minutes, takes one action, a more complex one two actions, and a long and in-depth one takes all three actions. All actions are declared  before anything happens, and then the GM describes the results of their actions before ticking down time and checking for random encounters. If multiple players, or a player and some number of hirelings/retainers attempt the same action, only one roll is made (if necessary) but is made with some sort of advantage.

For example, a rogue might be exploring a dungeon and come into a new room with a single chest in the middle. They might spend 2 actions checking the room for traps, then 1 action unlocking the chest. That's their 10 minute turn.

It's very simple on its face, though I am not dumb enough to not see the flaws. For one, there is a bit of "mother may I" in determining the length of actions. A player might think an action simple, but the GM might think it complex. These sorts of interactions can feel bad for the player, though I don't imagine it happening on a regular basis. For two, this is going to massively increase the amount of time each turn takes. I cannot answer if that's good or bad, but it most certainly is true.

I am also not 100% sure of whether or not actions should be for each player or an entire party. On one hand it doesn't make a whole lot of sense for everyone to stand around the rogue while they lock pick, but on the other giving 4-6 players each 3 actions is going to be a lot, though I do know that hirelings and retainers likely shouldn't get actions or it all gets obscene very quickly. It needs some ironing out and perhaps someone else will have an idea worth implementing further.

Some other ideas: for using this system with the Underclock, just give the players 3 actions for each time-based roll of the clock (not for rolls from making noise or general tomfoolery). For random encounters, you can roll a d3 to determine during which action monsters appear to see where each character is currently.

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