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Rules Questions

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Liberty's Edge

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TheAlicornSage wrote:

A character is considered in combat at any time they expect or are otherwise prepared for combat.

Thus, characters that are ready for a shady meeting to devolve into combat will not be flat footed when some folks start attacking others, because they were prepared for it in combat, and past their first round in combat, even if the round wasn't played out as a structured round of play by the players. Likewise, in an arena or a duel, the characters are in combat before the first attack because they are ready and expecting it.

If I were the GM and you were saying "I enter the meeting ready for combat, so that I can't be surprised" I would give you huge penalties to any attempt at diplomacy (not at intimidate) as you are obviously ready to attack. Even worse if you were using total defense while parleying as someone suggested, that is an active use of an ability, so you are constantly dodging while speaking.

In that kind of tense situation I would call for Sense motive checks (possibly with a bonus) to see if you are surprised or not when violence start.

PRD wrote:

Surprise

...
Determining awareness may call for Perception checks or other checks.

About duels: what kind of duel?

European style with sword where you start at a few feet from each other and salute before beginning?
Initiative start at the salute, it is a standard act, so no surprise.

European style with pistols, move 20 paces, turn and fire?
The initiative start when you start moving.

Cowboy style with pistol and whoever draw fist shoot first?
At least judging from the movies you can get the opponent flat footed.

Japanese style with swords and jajitsu?
The fast draw and attack an opponent that is not ready is the core of the idea.

You can be aware of the existence of the other person, aware that violence can stat at any moment, but the exact second at which it will start isn't always so clear.

Several of the problems I have seen cited before your post (mostly "ready an action before combat begin") are related to setting up an ambush. from what I recall there was a rule about that in the D&D 3 rulebook, but it seem that there isn't one in Pathfinder.

"We are ready to attack anyone bursting through the door"/"We kick down the door and fire our bows/cast our spells against the occupant of the door" are typical ambush situations where, if the ambush work, one side is flatfooted while the other benefit from a surprise round.
That kind of thing require a lot of GM adjudication. What is more important, the orcs in the room waiting for the attackers that have killed their comrades making a lot of noise or the the adventurers thinking that behind the door there will be some hostile creature?
How fast they can analyze what they see and react?

If both sides aspect mayhem and are ready I would have them roll initiative when the door is opened, the order in which they act show who was faster in analyzing the situation and reacting, I wouldn't allow them to say "I have a ready action, so go first automatically!".
In other situations that could be possible, but it would never be "I declare a ready action so I am never surprised".


You count as flat footed during the first full round of combat, not just the surprise round.

Further, you neither need to predict exact timing, nor be obviously semihostile to be prepared for an attack. I have seen a few such arguements before, but think about the difference betwern round 1 and all following rounds.

The idea behind flat footed is that you have no clue the attack is coming. If you take that to mean that you don't know the exact second, then the same would apply to every attack. There is only one typical case where an attack has a greater chance of striking you than other attacks (not including helplessness obviously), and that is when you do not foresee the attack.

Further, people don't need to be comfortable to conduct business. Look at the movies during a drug deal or something. Both sides are cautious and ready for a betrayal, yet both sides usually just want to complete the deal and move on. Being prepared in such case certainly does not detract from them completing their business and possibly arranging future exchanges. It isn't until they get some trust built up that they start meeting without all the henchmen ready to react.

Also, total defense doesn't involve random dodging (unless you are facing guns.), it is just a focus on identifying and avoiding attacks without looking for opportunities to strike nor making feints and similar to keep the enemy focused on their defense.

As for your homebrew solutions, they work, but are homebrew solutions, needed because the official are incapable of handling it. They left it undefined, therefore, even a rookie GM is expected to adjudicate a solution from the very first and simplist encounter. Not even a suggestion is granted. This is bad because the "obvious" choices likely to be chosen by a rookie have problems not likely to be understood or even noticed by the rookie, and if a rookie does notice or has it pointed out, it just make them think "what am I supposed to do?" The rules either need to give an answer, or to give explicit encouragement to create a solution with some ideas and considerations to help the rookie along.

Houserules should come after the rookie has some at least rudimentary system mastery, never before.


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If both sides are tense and expecting trouble, then both sides are eating penalties to their Diplomacy rolls, simple as that. There's examples in history and literature of some tense negotiation going wrong when one guy on a hair trigger goes off and triggers a huge melee when everyone else reacts on him. (It's why I would never want to be an offensive lineman in gridiron football -- I couldn't stand having to be that still while watching a large person opposite me preparing his or her Overrun manoeuvre to get past me and to the squishy I'm blocking for.)

The only time I've ever considered a 'this is combat' rule for an RPG was fiddling with another more 'realistic' game and turning some combats into special cinematic pieces rather than, say, letting people die from an awkward roll on a piledriver. Other than that, freeform probably works better, with checks around to evaluate what's going on, and initiative coming out only when needed as judged.

As far as a duel? Like said, both people are expecting it if it's an actual duel. Standard initiative, no surprise round, no flat-foot unless exceptional circumstances play in (like a sneak attack just before the bell).

And one lovely tactic against the 'kick in the door' ambush is for the enemy to ready their own actions: 'When the door comes down we shoot.' Mwahaha.


No flatfoot is houseruling a change to the existing rules.

It works, but not the point of the thread.

Also, PFS is supposed to be hardcore following the rules, but this simple and basic thing remains undefined by the rules. Which means you must houserule it, ahich defeats the desire to have no houserules in PFS.


The rules answer to this question is black and white. There are no clarifications being made, simply people wanting to change the rules. Flagged to be moved to suggestions.


If you would please reread, you might notice that this thread was intended as a rules question, though I appearently needed to clarify in my second post.

Just because a bunch of posters gave opinions and homebrews instead of focusing on the official side of things, doesn't change the opening question about the rules.

Edit,

Me wrote:


What I'm looking for is if there are any rules support I missed, errata, faq I missed, or perhaps plans to officially address the issue in the future.


TheAlicornSage wrote:
What I'm looking for is if there are any rules support I missed

Nope.

TheAlicornSage wrote:
errata

Nope.

TheAlicornSage wrote:
faq I missed

Nope.

TheAlicornSage wrote:
perhaps plans to officially address the issue in the future.

Nope.

Glad we could help.


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Just two points to add...

There is a very good reason for initiative to start the combat in the "and" triggering ranged attack situation above. If players get an advantage every time they say they are acting first, then you will never get to deliver that great roleplaying BBEG speech. Players are not as patient as film/tv/book characters and you would lose important story information and cinematography. Any player (or NPC) can decide to stop the talk, but we shouldn't incentivise them to do so.

Secondly, being flat footed on the first round/surprise round allows rogues to use their abilities. If you take this away by allowing people to use total defence/readied attacks etc before combat then rogue characters might as well give up (and rogue NPCs). If I had a rogue player I would be much more careful to allow situations where they could get the jump on people.

I agree wholeheartedly that the DM has a responsibility to make fights interesting and reasonable. Throwing different challenges at PCs is what being a DM is all about.


As a Dm I will put the player into combat and initiative and not tell them combat is happening. If I have a hidden bad guy I will pose the players to either roll initiative to decide their own orderwhat they want to under the guise i am giving every player a chance to do something. The surprise round the bad guy usually holds or takes a readied action. The PCs will begin exploring or doing things. Then when it is most opportune I have the bad guy strike with their readied action or cease holding.

I will also put the group in combat when the PC start splitting the types of actions they are doing to give everyone a turn to do something. I have seen people dominate tables and not sharing order so I do this to be fair and keep my secret combat less suspicious.

Any time the players want to enter combat I let them as well.


[edit: Ninjad]
You have never been at my table, so let me elaborate,

Having initiative ahead of time means we don't need to worry about that.

As for starting combat, the players don't get to just decide to be first, they still need to see the enemy first, even if they expect the enemy to be somewhere nearby. When opening doors, they usually get to go first, but in my games, the enemies move just as much and will sometimes open the door on the PCs including acting first.

Never been one for the monologue anyway, so nothing lost there. Also, I generally play smart NPCs as actually being smart, which means not telling the PCs anything. Instead, the PCs need to find out in other ways, such as a letter or journal, eavesdropping, etc.

If a player only gets sneak attack on first round, they are not utilizing the rogue's ability very well, such as getting sneak attack from actually sneaking, or flanking.

I do not compensate for player idiocy. If you charge into the waiting maw of an elder dragon, expect to be hurt badly. If you want to sneak up on someone, then you need to actually sneak around. Don't expect me to go "he doesn't see you charging at him" just because you have sneak attack.

Strategy, preparation, timing, using the environment to your advantage, actually thinking about tactics are all important in my games, particularly because that is exactly what the NPCs will be doing.

You ever hear of Tucker's kobalds? I may not be as devious, but my NPCs are very much like that in terms of being smart and actually trying to win. They never just charge straight in attacking the guy in heavy armor, well the 6 int thugs might.

Combats thus start either in ambush, both sides scrambling to grab weapons and get behind cover, or far enough away that both sides need to move up before they can really attack. Or guerilla tactics and harassment. Goblins won't go for a straight fight if they can avoid it, and if they do, it is because they outnumber the PCs by 20 or 30 to one.

Combats are never so simple as "encounter time! you are facing some orcs today." Nope. Never.


I think you read quite a bit more into my two points than was intended and from your answers you assumed quite a lot about my games. Certainly don't make pre-combat-roleplay a monologue, neither do I prevent rogues sneak attacking in later rounds.

It's sounds like you have it all in hand, not sure why you think you need to explain yourself. Perhaps remember that you're not talking to the paperboy (not that even the paperboy should be spoken down to). Lots of us also know what we are doing mate.

Chill.


Crimeo wrote:
A classic example that comes up on these forums all the time, as well as in game, is "I want to ready an action to shoot anyone on the other side of this door if I see any"

Slight thread derail before going to OP:

This quoted situation will never work, anyway. When you ready an action, the action occurs immediately before the triggering action. In the case mentioned, his readied action "to shoot anyone" would happen before the triggering action "if I see any," meaning he would shoot someone before he sees them, which is obviously impossible. This is why readied actions can only be used in response to an action taken by another player/npc/creature and not in response to your own actions. I have other issues with the "readied actions" outside of combat thing that aren't rules based, but won't get into them here.

To the OP:

For your question, there is nothing in any rules I've read so far that gives a definitive indication as to when to move into combat rounds. Personally, I haven't had any serious issue with that in the 5+ years I've been acting as GM for my Pathfinder group, but maybe I'm just lucky. It is, unfortunately, something you're going to have to work out for yourself and your group.


@ the sword
I was not trying to talk down to anyone. I am sorry it came across that way. I was just elaborating how I avoid the issues you mentioned. It is also how I avoid other issues I get irritated over, so I guess some of that may have leaked through accidently.


No worries. I love that we get passionate about the game. Paizo forums are definitely a lot more interesting than others I have seen, partly because there are experienced players like yourself that question. I may have a tendency to get defensive only because other posters sometimes post opinion as fact. I have read with interest a lot of the ways you do things at your table.


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TheAlicornSage wrote:

There are rules attached to a concept that remains undefined, a contingency with an undefined trigger. I'd call that a major hole in system design (it'd be different if none of the rules relied on it.).

The GM can fix anything, so that isn't exactly helpful.

It's undefined to make it flexible. If there was a defined "initiative begins the moment player X does Y" then players would do everything they could to exploit that and get pre-initiative actions underway. "He didn't X so we can still cast this spell and I'm prepping that because initiative can't start yet." Players are devious like that.

The start of initiative is for the GM to use a mix of common sense and tactics in play to make that determination. Any GM worth their salt can figure this out. It's not a hole in the system. It's a hole in the GM if he can't run it.


This question usually arises because it is difficult to get your head around being flatfooted until you act when your character was anticipating a fight. Bottom line in that situation is "tough noogies". if you were anticipating a fight, but roll lower than you opponent on initiative you are flat footed. Doesn't matter how ready you thought you were, you just weren't ready enough. Maybe you were distracted, maybe startled by a cheap tick like your foe stamping his foot, doesn't matter. Anticipating a fight just means your opponents aren't very likely to get a surprise round against you.

For my games, initiative is rolled as soon as someone declares a hostile action. If the person declaring rolls poorly on init, they got caught with their pants down - sword got stuck in the scabbard, fumbling for the bat guano that you swore you last saw right next to the rusty nail - doesn't matter that your action started things, you are still flatfooted until we get to you.


The problem with that arguement is that it applies to every round, not just the first. How is being ready for an opponant's attack different between the first and last rounds? There is no difference. Either you are ready to defend yourself, or you are not. That is experience speaking.


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TheAlicornSage wrote:
The problem with that arguement is that it applies to every round, not just the first. How is being ready for an opponant's attack different between the first and last rounds? There is no difference. Either you are ready to defend yourself, or you are not. That is experience speaking.
Initiative wrote:

Flat-Footed

At the start of a battle, before you have had a chance to act (specifically, before your first regular turn in the initiative order), you are flat-footed. You can't use your Dexterity bonus to AC (if any) while flat-footed. Barbarians and rogues of high enough level have the uncanny dodge extraordinary ability, which means that they cannot be caught flat-footed. Characters with uncanny dodge retain their Dexterity bonus to their AC and can make attacks of opportunity before they have acted in the first round of combat. A flat-footed character can't make attacks of opportunity, unless he has the Combat Reflexes feat.

If you don't like it, houserule it.

Personally in my games if the party is having a standoff with the enemies while there is playful banter going on, I don't treat anybody as flat footed (against the opponents they can see) as they're basically all ready to fight and all holding their actions until negotiations turn south. But as soon as somebody actually takes a hostile action (casting a spell, attacking) then I will have them "roll" their initiative that they were all technically already in. Since everybody was delaying and they all try to act at once, they simply act in their normal initiative order rolled. IMO the rogue shouldn't get to sneak attack the guy he was just having a 30 second staring contest with who was holding up his weapon and ready to fight and completely aware of the rogue.

But that's just my interpretation. My personal fiat. Which is the answer to all of your questions. GM fiat.


Exactly, my houserules give a similar result. It is just a gaping glaring hole in the rules and I thought maybe it had been fixed without me knowing just yet.


Saldiven wrote:
Crimeo wrote:
A classic example that comes up on these forums all the time, as well as in game, is "I want to ready an action to shoot anyone on the other side of this door if I see any"

Slight thread derail before going to OP:

This quoted situation will never work, anyway. When you ready an action, the action occurs immediately before the triggering action. In the case mentioned, his readied action "to shoot anyone" would happen before the triggering action "if I see any," meaning he would shoot someone before he sees them, which is obviously impossible.

Whatever, "If the barbarian does anything after kicking down this door, shoot somebody on the other side of it." Then he just makes sure to whisper a word or change his grip or whatever free action afterward, and I go before that but after door.


IMO that's not even a houserule, it's just a logical interpretation of the initiative rules.

The party and a band of pirates notice each other. Everybody draws and readies their weapons, staring at each other and ready to fight while the paladin tries to talk to the pirate captain. Then the pirate captain roars and lowers his pistol to attack. Roll initiative. Nobody is flat footed because everybody has basically already been in initiative, delaying until negotiations turned sour. I suppose to be more rules accurate you could roll initiative when negotiations start, but I consider that a little distracting to the flow of combat.


CampinCarl9127 wrote:

IMO that's not even a houserule, it's just a logical interpretation of the initiative rules.

The party and a band of pirates notice each other. Everybody draws and readies their weapons, staring at each other and ready to fight while the paladin tries to talk to the pirate captain. Then the pirate captain roars and lowers his pistol to attack. Roll initiative. Nobody is flat footed because everybody has basically already been in initiative, delaying until negotiations turned sour. I suppose to be more rules accurate you could roll initiative when negotiations start, but I consider that a little distracting to the flow of combat.

Not only that, to some players it'd imply combat. Which is awkward if there's a chance for a noncombat solution, and that's the point of the hurried negotiations.

Liberty's Edge

This problem stems from GMs allowing the player(s) to "ready" an action as a way to cheat the initiative rules. Just because a player declared that their archer was readying his bow to shoot the goblin if it draws a sword/takes a step/picks it's nose/whatever, doesn't mean that that player can automatically shoot the goblin before it completes its desired task. That is literally what the initiative roll determines: who gets to go first?


Yup. And it's all subjective to the situation. It is possible for you to get a surprise round off, but you either need to sneak up on the enemy or trick them. Simply being the first one to declare an action does not mean you will get a surprise round.

But it's all subjective to the situation. It's hard to come up with general guidelines because of the infinite number of scenarios.

Liberty's Edge

Qaianna wrote:
CampinCarl9127 wrote:

IMO that's not even a houserule, it's just a logical interpretation of the initiative rules.

The party and a band of pirates notice each other. Everybody draws and readies their weapons, staring at each other and ready to fight while the paladin tries to talk to the pirate captain. Then the pirate captain roars and lowers his pistol to attack. Roll initiative. Nobody is flat footed because everybody has basically already been in initiative, delaying until negotiations turned sour. I suppose to be more rules accurate you could roll initiative when negotiations start, but I consider that a little distracting to the flow of combat.

Not only that, to some players it'd imply combat. Which is awkward if there's a chance for a noncombat solution, and that's the point of the hurried negotiations.

If the pirate captain is roaring and lowering his pistol to attack, the non-combat solution has already failed.


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I'd just like to give a big +1 to much of what Coffee Demon was saying.

Knowing when and how to initiate combat is a fine art that you learn with GMing experience.

Also...
At the start of combat, if your initiative is lower, you ARE flat-footed, even if you knew combat was about to start. It's not just about the knowledge, but about reactions. Doing it any other way is a house rule.


HangarFlying wrote:
This problem stems from GMs allowing the player(s) to "ready" an action as a way to cheat the initiative rules.

I'd argue that pacing is equally important as a reason for why the rules aren't too specific. If there are bad guys in the room with a hostage and they're trying to persuade the PCs to surrender without a fight, or if the players are exploring and suspect they're being stalked by an invisible enemy, then forcing everyone into initiative order due to some RAW-mandated specification can really kill the pace.


Well, pacing is why I roll initiative at the end of an encounter.

Besides, being in combat doesn't require initiative. Initiative is for running round by round which is also separate from combat.

You'll notice that my way of handling it does not force it's use at strange or ungainly moments. It basically is just my rulese way of saying that a character unprepared for combat suffers the penalties while a prepared character does not.

When a person is set for combat, there is no difference from how many attacks came before. When a person is not expecting combat, then it takes a moment to catch up and shift mindset, this is the thing represented by being flat footed during the first round, but when the combat is foreseen, the person is already in the proper mindset, especially those experienced in combat.


Personally, the rules governing actions, such as rounds, skill checks, etc, I consider a framework, an interface. They can represent everything at every moment, but we only need to use that framework when it is helpful, so if it doesn't add to the fun of the game, we ignore the framework, but it is still there. Thus, every character makes a check for every action they take, even the minor and meaningless ones, but we make assumtons about the outcome of checks that we don't feel the need to actually roll the dice for.

Same for combat, initiative, and rounds.

Liberty's Edge

Matthew Downie wrote:
HangarFlying wrote:
This problem stems from GMs allowing the player(s) to "ready" an action as a way to cheat the initiative rules.
I'd argue that pacing is equally important as a reason for why the rules aren't too specific. If there are bad guys in the room with a hostage and they're trying to persuade the PCs to surrender without a fight, or if the players are exploring and suspect they're being stalked by an invisible enemy, then forcing everyone into initiative order due to some RAW-mandated specification can really kill the pace.

That's why you don't roll for initiative until the combat starts.

I mean, really, this whole thread is trying to make a mountain out of a molehill.


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HangarFlying wrote:
I mean, really, this whole thread is trying to make a mountain out of a molehill.

Welcome to the rules forum.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
TheAlicornSage wrote:
The problem with that arguement is that it applies to every round, not just the first. How is being ready for an opponant's attack different between the first and last rounds? There is no difference. Either you are ready to defend yourself, or you are not. That is experience speaking.

Because the rounds are a gaming construct used to resolve the actions, for the characters the actions of the other guys are happening while they are acting. It is not throw one punch, wait for the other guy to throw his, then act again. Everyone is acting at the same time.

While you are flat footed the other character has been a bit faster or has done something for which you were unprepared, so he get the drops on you, but after that initial moment both of you are doing your best to act and react before the other guy make its attack.

TheAlicornSage wrote:

Exactly, my houserules give a similar result. It is just a gaping glaring hole in the rules and I thought maybe it had been fixed without me knowing just yet.

It don't seem that much people agree with you. maybe you feel the need to have everything specified, most people seem happy with the current system where everything is strictly rules out.


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Wow, you guys need some conditioner. There are so many split hairs around here.


Ha!

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