Sunday, April 4, 2010

Playing in Real-Time

One of the things I've been considering with Emprise!™ is doing things in real units of time. That is, rather than segments, rounds, and turns, things would actually be listed in seconds, minutes, and hours.

With spell-casting, this presents little problem. It's simplicity itself to say that a spell takes 36 seconds to cast, rather than 6 segments.

In combat, on the other hand, things get a little dicey (heh... no pun intended). Initiative is a pain in the butt enough already without having to time things down to the second, which I'm afraid this conversion might lead to.

One solution might just be to round everything to 10-second increments, so that there are 6 possible points of action within any given minute. But that has me wondering if it's all that different from the current AD&D system of 6-second segments, 1-minute rounds, and 10-minute turns. I don't want to change things just for the sake of changing them; any changes I make are going to be done with the intention of making things either easier or more fun.

Thoughts?

15 comments:

Flynn said...

Personally, I would suggest that you go with six-second combat rounds, with ten rounds to the minute. I find it fits my experiences with live action soft weapon medieval combat societies moreso than the one minute rounds. However, I must admit that this is a personal preference and may not meet everyone else's needs. Still, it's a comment in support of a specific resolution: I vote for six second combat rounds.

Hope This Helps,
Flynn

Brandon said...

Perhaps the best solution isn't to abandon rounds or give up on real-time approximations, but rather do both. As Flynn suggests, for compatibility it would probably be best to go with 6 second rounds, with a turn being 10 rounds, also known as a minute. What you can do is add real-time parentheticals.

If a spell takes 2 rounds to cast, notate it thus.

Casting Time: 2 rounds (12 seconds)

UWS guy said...

Problem is spells no longer become usefull outside of combat, or last too long in combat.

fly: 1 round per level? If a round is 1 min in combat and out of combat then it's a usefull spell. If 1 round is 10 seconds, then it sucks.

Dungeon exploration happens too quickly now as well, you can clear a dungeon in an hour instead of a day, so why bother bringing provisions and extra torches?...

UWS guy said...

People just never learned 1E initiative correctly so they shouldn't be listened to when devising a new one.

If a poster can't tell you the BtB method of of what happens when with a fighter with a 4 initiative wielding a short sword attacking a magic-user casting lightning bolt. Then their opinion to me means jack squat!

Take DMPrata's pdf initiative primer from dragonsfoot and call it a day.

Rob Conley said...

You should look at Hackmaster Basic. They don't use round and it works quite well although it feel weird at first.

Basically everything has a speed rated in seconds. You initiative determines what second you go off on. If your swords has a weapons speed of 6 and your initiative roll is a 3 you swing on the second 3 and can't swing again until second 9. Then you can swing on second 15 and so on. The same for spells. If a spell take 6 second to cast and your initiative is 4, it doesn't go off until 10 at which point you can start casting again.

Movement is calculated on a per second basis.

Rob Conley said...

Oh magic and higher level in Hackmaster can reduce weapons giving the same effect as multiple attacks per round.

Also Hackmaster has defenses like GURPS and Runequest. I am not suggesting you adopt the defense roll. Pointing out that not everything Hackmaster does is D&Dish. However their initiative system

You use the roundless system to make a more D&Dish version of what Hackmaster does.

@UWS Guy it took the ADDCIT 20 pages to make the D&D initiative/combat system intelligible. Gary Gygax did not do a good job with that section.

Adam Thornton said...

I second Rob. I liked the Hackmaster Basic rules when I read them, and, watching them at GaryCon, they looked like they worked in actual play.

TimmyD said...

I personally like the 1-minute round. It's simple, easy to explain, and it helps with the abstraction of combat and hit points (one quality "chance/strike" per minute, and hit points represent exhaustion as well as blood & guts).

Will Mistretta said...

"I personally like the 1-minute round. It's simple, easy to explain, and it helps with the abstraction of combat and hit points (one quality "chance/strike" per minute, and hit points represent exhaustion as well as blood & guts)."

Seriously. I just tell the players to take the fight scene at the end of Empire Strike's Back. Luke dings Vader in the shoulder. Vader cuts Luke's hand off. In-between, they swing back and fourth at each other for several minutes.

Seriously: THAT FIGHT IS TWO ROUNDS LONG.

Something to think about.

Will Mistretta said...

Another point: Keeping original terminology will highten an Emprise inductee's ability to later go back and learn the earlier games if he or she so chooses. Not an insignificant boon, I think. If anything, one of the best arguments for "tradition for tradition's sake."

JoseFreitas said...

Personally, I have used 10, 12 or 15 sec rounds since at least 1986, and never had any real problem with them.

UWS said:
"fly: 1 round per level? If a round is 1 min in combat and out of combat then it's a usefull spell. If 1 round is 10 seconds, then it sucks."

This is not a problem. You simply have to go over the spell list and determine whether a spoell is meant to be mostly time-related (Fly clearly is not meant only as a combat spell, so it should be 1 round equals 1 minute) and some spells are clearly meant as a tactical use, so their durations should be 1 round equals one round, whatever the length of the round is. I've never really had any problem with this, and generally the ruling can even be made the moment it shows up.

"Dungeon exploration happens too quickly now as well, you can clear a dungeon in an hour instead of a day, so why bother bringing provisions and extra torches?..."

Really? Fights take up a large amount of time in dungeon delving, but does it make a lot of difference if that particular fight lasted 9 minutes (or 14 minutes) rather than one minute or two minutes? Is fighting the main item in the duration of that "days long exploration" of a dungeon? I think not. If the exploring of the dungeon lasted 30 hours, how many hours did the fights take? Maybe six main fights, 60 rounds, one hour. Is that going to make that HUGE a difference?

Being a long time veteran of martial arts and medieval weapons training and reenactment I have a hard time reconciling fights with one minute rounds. Although there were instances of fairly long fights, they were mostly in the context of duels and jousts. In general, I would say thnat one minute is more than enough time for two experienced fighters to finish the fight decisively.

I like 12 sec rounds because there are 5 rounds per minute, an easy calculation. I think 6 sec is at the lowest end of my preferences, it's slightly too short for my preference.

And my opinion has very little to do with initiative.

Igor "Corvus Corax" Sartorato said...

I don't think that the division of rounds in segments are necessary.

I also disgust of the 6 seconds rounds, 10 seconds or 1 minute are more apropriated.

The more important thing is adjust the movement rate of characters and the duration of spells (flying must durate 1 min per level, independent of the round duration, for example) based in the chosen round duration.

UWS guy said...

Calling an dnd segment a round is just shuffling chairs around.

6 second round one = I make a full move
6 second round two = I attack

1 min round segment one = I charge
1 min round segmet two = I attack

the differece is people who think the former is more realistic are really only adding an extra initiative roll in between those two action, in addition to all the other claptrap involved with rejiggering listed move rates and spell duration.

Segments in 1e already incorporates the 6 second round.

UWS guy said...

On the point of ADDICT taking 20 pages. How many pages does it take to walk through every contingency in say, 3E? How many pages devoted to attacks of opportunites, charging, flanking, etc?

This is the simple chart I keep for 1E combat that covers 90% of all combat where WS is weapon speed and CT is casting time:

A) d6 vs d6 (melee combat takes place in the first 36 seconds of a round)
B) spells begin on segment 1 and culminate on their CT in segments

C) WS-losing initiative vs. CT = when a weapon strikes a spell caster if melee lost initiative(possibly interrupt spells)

D) d6 vs. CT when a weapon strikes a spell caster if a melee won initiative(will allways interrupt ct 7+ spells)

E) WS of 5 or more difference between melee grants extra attacks at all timesDagger vs. Pike

F) Charging begins on segment one and culminates on the segment according to the movement rate of the charger and the distance to the chargee in feet per segment.

JoseFreitas said...

"Calling an dnd segment a round is just shuffling chairs around.
6 second round one = I make a full move
6 second round two = I attack
1 min round segment one = I charge
1 min round segmet two = I attack"

That's a disingenuous comment. One round allows ONE attack so the real example would more likely something like this:

6 second round one = I make a full move
6 second round two = I attack
6 second round three = I attack again
6 second round four = ... and again!

1 min round segment one = I charge
1 min round segmet two = I attack
1 min round segment three = nothing
1 minute round segment four = erh... nothing again...

I could just as well have written:

6 second round one = I cast one spell
6 second round two = I cast my second spell. Etc... the rest being easy to deduce.

A segment is not a round, since it allows for only one attack, or one spell cast. That other actions can be taken on a segment by segment basis is 1) meaningless for this dioscussion, because spellcasting and fighting account for a disproportionately large amount of tactical activity, 2) yet another example of (I was going to say bad but it might be unfair) incoherent game designing which leads to 3) exactly the confusion that discussions over initiative and actions per round try to resolve...

It's as if there's two systems pieced togehter here: one accounts for actions on a segment by segment basis AS IF the time it takes to resolve these actions in reallife should be a good guide for its resolution in play, and another uses a totally abstract method of resolving combat which seems to have very little basis on real life time durations and actions - and when the two combine you have the problem. A DM will tell the player that it will take him a certain amount of time to get that potion, drink it, step back into the corridor, go through the passage etc... since this is how long it would take in seconds in real life. But the player is then well within his rights to tell the DM that by that rationale, he should try to get at least a few blows in one round, rather than just one, since that's how real life would go. Belive it or not, but my group and I went to the trouble of timing ourselves doing various types of activities - including the much-discussed dungeon mapping and exploration! - and we didn't like what we found.

Therein lies the problem. Two WIDELY different levels of abstraction are being used at the same time, and reducing the duration of a round remains the best solution, not ONLY because of combat and fighting reallife issues (which I think exist), but because we have to account for other actions at the same time.