Generally, time in a role playing game doesn’t matter too much. A character may spend several hours searching a library, though only a minute passes as far as the players and Game Master are concerned. To keep the story line moving, sometimes it’s necessary to skip the tedious parts.
More intense scenes require more detail. In these cases, time slows to units of ﬁve seconds called rounds. Each character may take one action in the round with no penalty. Unless the character has special skills or abilities, additional actions increase the difficulty of performing each task; this concept is dealt with later, in the “Multi-action Penalty” section. Once a round ends, the next one begins, continuing until the scene ends (with the task completed, the opponent subdued, and so on).
Since all characters in a scene are making actions in the same ﬁve-second round, the actual length of game time taken up by an action is usually less than ﬁve seconds. This is obviously the case when a single character is performing multiple actions, but it is also true when one character reacts to what another character is doing. Actions in rounds are not simultaneous (actions out of rounds sometimes are).
Once rounds have been declared and depending on the situation, the Game Master applies one of three methods to determine in what order everyone goes. Determining initiative does not count as an action.
The ﬁrst method is to allow whoever makes the ﬁrst signiﬁcant action (such as those surprising other characters in an ambush) to act ﬁrst in the rounds. The characters retain the same order until the scene ends.
Methods 2 and 3
The other two ways start out the same, by requiring the characters involved to make Perception rolls to generate initiative totals. The Game Master makes one Perception roll for each character or group of characters he controls, depending on the number and how important each character is to the adventure. The character with the highest roll takes her action ﬁrst. The character with the second highest roll then takes his action, and so on. After the last character performs her action, the round ends and a new one begins. Note that a character rendered unconscious, immobile, or otherwise unable to act loses his action for that round if he hasn’t taken it already.
The Game Master may chose then to have everyone roll initiative once for the entire scene (the faster method) or roll at the beginning of each round (the more realistic yet slower way).
The Game Master and players may use Character Points, but not Fate Points, to increase their initiative rolls if they want. Spending one Character Point, for example, allows the player or Game Master to add the result of one extra Wild Die roll to the initiative roll.
In the event of ties, or if the Game Master chooses not to have the players roll to determine initiative, comparing attribute and skill die
codes can decide the order of actions. The character with the highest value in the characteristic goes ﬁrst, and so on. Once a character has a spot in the order, it doesn’t change, regardless of how other characteristics compare. Ties are broken by moving to the next factor and looking at those values. The order: (1) ability or talent that allows the character to go ﬁrst, (2) Perception, (3) search, (4) Reﬂexes, (5) dodge, (6) special equipment or situation that allows the character to go before another character.
Optional Initiative Bonus
For every 2D over the base attribute in search (round down) or 4D in Reﬂexes (round down), a character receives +1 to his initiative roll. Every six ranks in a Skill Bonus or Increased Attribute special ability that affects Reﬂexes or search provides a +1 bonus.
Performing Actions in Rounds
A character does not need to declare what she intends to do until her turn comes up in the round. Once the character decides to take her turn, she may use as many actions as she wants, but her player must decide on the total number of actions that the character wishes to take in that round, which is used to ﬁgure the multi-action penalty (see the next section for details). The character does not need to declare when determining the number of actions what she intends to do with all of them.
Note that waiting counts as an action (once per each time the character wishes to wait). The character may take no additional actions once the multi-action penalty is ﬁgured. Any actions calculated into the multi-action penalty but that the character did not use by the end of the round are lost.
A character may take a few actions, wait, take a few more, wait again, and so on, as long as the player has declared a sufficient number of actions in which to do everything she wants her character to do (including waiting).
A character may only interrupt another character’s action if she has waited and after that character has made the skill roll and spent any points but before the Game Master declares the result.
Example: A character surprises a thug. Because she got the jump on him, the Game Master decides the character may act ﬁrst in this round. The character decides to wait and see what the thug will do, choosing to take one other action this turn. The thug takes a swing at her, so the character decides to dodge. If the character has no ability that gives her extra actions, she may take only one action without penalty. She used that one action on waiting. When she makes her dodge roll, it’s at -1D, because it’s the second action she’s taking this round.
Only a few instances exist in which the Game Master may permit a character to “move up” her turn and react to another character’s actions. These include catching a thrown object, resisting certain mental attempts, and other situations that the Game Master deems appropriate. These do take the character’s action, though the player can declare that her character will perform multiple actions in the round. For the most part, having a turn later in the round than another’s simply means that another character could take advantage of the situation faster.
Characters may attempt to perform several tasks in a single round, or, if the action takes longer than one round to complete, in the same minimum time period. The more they try to do, however, the less care and concentration they can apply to each action. It becomes more difficult to succeed at all of the tasks. Thus, for most characters, for each action taken beyond the ﬁrst, the player must subtract 1D from all skill or attribute rolls (but not damage, damage resistance, or initiative rolls). Thus, trying to do four actions in one round gives the character a -3D modiﬁer to each roll. For characters with an ability that increases their base number of actions, the multi-action penalty doesn’t take effect until the character uses up his allotment of actions. For example, if a character with an action allotment of eight per round wants to do nine actions, each of the nine actions is at -1D.
Only equipment and weapons suited for quick multiple actions may be used several times (up to the limit of their capabilities) in a round. Some examples include semi-automatic guns or items with little or no reload time, like hands or small melee weapons.
A character may not rely on any skill or attribute reduced to zero.
Actions that Take Time
Each entry on this nonexhaustive list counts as one action taking no more than ﬁve seconds to perform. The Game Master may decide that certain types of actions offer a bonus or special effect and, thus, have requirements to perform. The suggested skill to use with each action is included at the end of the task’s description.
Bash: Hit an opponent with a blunt weapon. (melee combat)
Catch: Stop the movement of a thrown or dropped object or person. (The catcher must act later in the round than the person doing the throwing or dropping. This is one of the few cases where a character may “move up” his turn.) (throwing)
Choke: Grab a person’s neck and gripping tightly. (brawling)
Communicate: Relay plans or exchange complex ideas and information with other characters (more than a few words or one sentence). (an interaction skill or only roleplaying)
Disarm: Remove an object from an opponent’s hand. This action is treated as a called shot. (brawling, marksmanship, melee combat, missile weapons, throwing)
Dodge: Actively evade an attack. (dodge)
Entangle: Throw an entangling weapon at an opponent. (throw-ing)
Escape: Break a hold. (lifting)
Grab: Latch onto an opponent. Depending on where the opponent was grabbed, he can take other actions. (brawling)
Kick: Strike out at an opponent with a foot. (brawling)
Leap: Jump over an opponent or onto a table or any other such maneuver. (jumping)
Lunge: Stab forward with a pointed weapon, such as a sword or a knife. (melee combat)
Move: Maneuver 51% of the character’s Move or more around the area. The Game Master should call only for a roll if the terrain is challenging or the maneuvering complex. During some rounds, the Game Master may decide that existing factors dictate all movement, regardless of length, require an action. (running, swimming)
Parry: Block an opponent’s blow. (brawling, melee combat)
Pin: Trap an opponent by either holding him to the ground or tacking a piece of his clothing to a wall or other nearby object. When pinning the whole opponent, this is the same concept as tackling. Pinning prevents the victim from using the fastened part. (brawling, melee combat, missile weapons, throwing)
Punch: Strike out at an opponent with a ﬁst. (brawling)
Push: Forcibly move an opponent. (brawling)
Ready a Weapon: Draw or reload a gun or bow, unsheathe a knife, and similar actions. This generally does not require a skill roll, but the Game Master may chose to require one related to the weapon in question for particularly stressful situations.
Run Away: Flee from the scene. (running)
Shoot: Fire a missile or projectile weapon. (marksmanship, missile weapons)
Slash: Swing an edged weapon. (melee combat)
Switch a Weapon or Equipment’s Setting: Although rare, some weapons and equipment have more than one damage or effect setting. It takes an action to change the setting. This generally does not require a skill roll, but the Game Master may chose to require one related to the item in question for particularly stressful situations.
Tackle: Bodily overcome an opponent. Once tackled, the opponent can do no other physical actions other than speak or attempt to break the attacker’s grip. (brawling)
Throw a Weapon or Object: Toss something at an opponent. (throwing)
Trip: Quickly force one or both of an opponent’s legs upward. (brawling)
Use a Skill or Ability: Perform a quick action related to a special ability the character possesses or a skill he wants to use. A character may not use a special ability he does not have, though he may use a skill he has no experience in (possibly at a penalty). Note that some skills and special abilities take longer than one action or one round to perform, so trying to do them in ﬁve seconds incurs penalties.
Vehicle Maneuver: Perform a stunt in a moving vehicle. (piloting)
Waiting: Watch for a better opportunity to perform an action. This does not require a skill roll, but it does take concentration.
Free actions are anything a character can automatically perform except under the most extreme conditions. They don’t require a skill roll or much effort. If the Game Master thinks a task requires concentration (and has a possibility of failure, thus requiring a skill roll), it’s not a free action.
A few examples of free actions include:
• speaking a few words to someone nearby
• a quick glance around a room (and possibly a roll of Perception)
• moving 50% or less of the character’s Move over an easy area or up to a meter over more challenging terrain
Additionally, the following player actions do not count as character actions:
• determining initiative
• rolling to resist damage
• rolling willpower or Presence to determine the emotional effects of the environment on the character
To save time, Game Masters may chose to roll one action for a group of characters he controls. Any number can belong to the group. Each member of the group does not have to perform exactly the same maneuver, but they do need to take similar actions. A Game Master could make one roll for a pack of wolves who attack different characters, but he would have to separate the pack into those attacking and those circling if the Game Master wanted to have them perform those distinctly different activities.