Players' Guide: The Action Economy

No house rules or things necessary for play live here, just additional helpful reference materials. Basically think of this section as a bonus sourcebook.

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Players' Guide: The Action Economy

Postby Kemian » Tue Jan 20, 2015 10:36 pm

The following is a discussion ported out from DM forums so players have a quick reference for how the various action types work.

As I understand the it in combat you may perform the following in a single round of combat:

A) 1 Free Action + 1 Full Round Action

B) 1 Swift action + either 2 Move actions or 1 Move action and 1 Standard action.

C) 1 Immediate action + either 2 Move actions or 1 Move action and 1 Standard action.

D) 1 Free Action or Swift action or Immediate action + either 2 Move actions or 1 Move action and 1 Standard action.

This understanding comes primarily from reading PHB Pg 135 Paragraph on Actions but it also says at the end of that section that it is DM discretion based.

Someone asked me tonight if I thought you could perform a Swift Action and a Full Round Action and I said based on my understanding of the rules that you could not. But because there is some wiggle room I am posting here to get additional thoughts.

Please comment.


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Re: Action Economy

Postby Ian » Tue Jan 20, 2015 11:04 pm

The PHB is actually an out-of-date resource on this when it comes to swift and immediate actions, since they didn't come out until later.

Free actions: There is no limit on these except up to DM discretion. They can be done at the same time as other actions are taken, including full-round actions. (All magic previously listed as being a free action is now a swift or immediate action.)

Swift and immediate actions: These are equal in terms of action economy, they only differ in when you take them. An immediate action counts as your swift action for the following round. A swift action is explicitly compared to a free action, and differs only in a 1/round maximum.

Thus, the Action Economy:

Each round, you may perform one of the following:
1. A full-round action.
2. One standard action and one move action.
3. Up to two move actions.

Simultaneously with the above, you may do any or all of these:
1. One swift action OR one immediate action (latter can be done on not-your-turn, and counts as next round's swift action)
2. One or more free actions, subject to DM discretion (can be done on not-your-turn)
3. One five-foot step IF none of your other actions involved physical movement (must be done on your turn)
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Re: Action Economy

Postby Lifeinwinter » Tue Jan 20, 2015 11:16 pm

That is how I always understood it.

Full round takes a full round.
Standard takes a little over half a round, but doesn't interfere with moving.
Moving takes half a round, can be done twice
Swift or Immediate can be used once a round Along with anything above
Free actions can be done along side everything above so long as it makes sense.

free actions reasonability: six seconds of talking is free, but you can't have multiple six seconds of talking in one round, but you can talk, spit, hip thrust, and sneeze along with everything stated above free actions.
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Re: Players' Guide: The Action Economy

Postby Ian » Thu Jan 22, 2015 3:28 pm

Personally, I'm pretty permissive on allowing speech as a free action--I like giving characters an opportunity to urge maneuvering, brief discussion with NPCs, or otherwise add to a scene with dramatic speech, but there is a limit to this.

As a very rough rule of thumb (I'm not counting, but you can use it to gauge what's appropriate), it's probably reasonable to assume you can speak up to 25 words in a given combat round (not turn) as a free action. That's in line with a sending, which lasts one round, and gives you two or three long sentences or a few quick commands to work with. If you get too excessive (trying to lay out a complex attack plan or a full Diplomacy attempt in the middle of combat, for example), as a DM I may ask you to zip your PC's lip until next round. I don't do this very often, though.

In addition to the above and Winter's notes on gesturing, Free actions also include a few mechanical options of note: you can drop stuff in your space or an adjacent one as a free action, you can shift a two-handed weapon to being held in one hand (making it unusable, but freeing one hand) and back as a free action, and you can drop prone in your own space as a free action (which, depending on what else is in your space, can also include "diving for cover").
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