RE: Marshmallow's Revised Revised Action Economy- play testing yields interesting developments


Homebrew and House Rules


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Recent play throughs of the system, coupled with years of fiddling and playtesting at all levels, have revealed some astonishing and interesting results with respect to the original goals of the system, some that genuinely improve and diversify the Pathfinder experience:

1) Caster/Martial Disparity in practice is defined by the action system.

This is not that big of a surprise to most of us. Generally martial characters (characters predominately spending their actions making attack rolls) are weaker than casters in practice, this boils down to the number of attacks one is capable of rolling, married to their reliance on the existence of the Full-Attack action. With this system martial characters have many more options, capable of genuinely fulfilling their mechanically baked in roles. This shines through especially on characters whose abilities or desired routine requires the expenditure of move actions, such as rogues wanting an extra action to feint, or characters that rely on two-weapon fighting who are rendered nigh inert when faced with tactical positioning. In effect, the very contrived limitations of the action system are removed all but entirely on martial characters allowing them to feel more balanced with respect to what a player feels they can accomplish in one turn compared to what a player piloting a spellcaster could equally accomplish.

On the flip side of things, spellcasters are weakened by the system, with their ability to move and cast twice in a round has been cut down to a choice of casting twice while stationary or to maintain tactical defense in constantly moving to avoid conflict. Thanks to this, casters feel slower to play, and thus weaker with respect to their previous standing against martial characters. Casters in this system genuinely are less potent than previously without having to change any of the class abilities or spells (aside from converting their time frames into the new system). Not all is bad however, as this system also facilitates more diverse character builds that can take advantage of the system. We have seen a lot more 'gish' characters who can manage the system to make spells which otherwise resolve as a standard action and prevent their own purpose in enhancing an attack, such as the spell True Strike, and many of the cleric Domain Powers which also resolve as a standard action. This also forces concentration to become a much more important aspect of the game; it forces spellcasting into a situation where much like martial characters making attack rolls, they must make a level based d20 roll to determine their ability to even resolve their desired action. This draws more mechanical parallelism between the casters and martials and while in practice the potency and narrative power of spells have not changed, but the manner in which they can be employed becomes less reliable which results in the game feeling more balanced.

2) Counterspell wars make the game better.

This one comes from a desire to test, rather than a tried and true problem with casters. Normally, martial characters reliance on attack rolls results in their effectiveness becoming less and less reliable in comparison as they progress through their levels. The chance for failure to accomplish something in a round feels like a great weakness not shared by casters. By incorporating the rules for Dueling Counters into the base system, spellcasters are threatened in their potential. (I personally gate the Dueling Counter Modifiers presented in Dueling Counters behind the Improved Counterspell feat, which also creates something of a balancing tax on spellcasters). Not only are the party casters threatened by their ability to boast one of their 'big gun spells' but enemies are also capable of bringing more 'big gun spells' of their own without fear of TPK results. It forces more dice rolling on part of the casters with a chance to fail, which results in a game that feels even more balanced.

3) Iterative Attacks suck!

After testing multiple variations of it, the current mode of Primary/Secondary attacks in the variant system has resulted in very pleasing results. With abilities like Haste, Flurry of Blows, Speed weapons, and the like all granting an extra primary attack (which all function with the same modifiers, rather than having to differentiate between the first attack in a round vs other attacks rolled at full BAB) the rules seem simpler to follow. Having all secondary attacks function at -5 gives martial characters a very small margin of raised reliability on their dice rolls, rather than less as in the original system. Flow of play is much faster, and martial characters have less attack modifiers to track on their sheets.

4) The Act system makes managing time spent dungeon crawling much easier to gauge and track.

This is a new one that is coming up in testing, but being able to track how much movement can happen, or how long a particular action can take, in the same terms as they are in combat results in streamlined timeline keeping that cannot be ignored. For future games, I am converting tasks in my dungeon to a correlating number of acts to be spent which helps track the duration of spells, and the amount of time available in the adventuring day before the book mandates forced marches. It also makes the time resource easier to track on the players, and this makes dungeon crawls engaging like combat. This makes skill monkeys feel more useful.

5) It's not perfect.

There are plenty of new problems that arise from converting the action systems. Problems with combat maneuvers, reactions that happen before your turn ends, and new problems like 'chaining counterspells' have all come up in game. Part of the reason these threads exist is to hopefully reach out to more players who want a different feeling game without having to relearn the classes and feats, which means more play test data and constructive suggestions are needed.


This is nice, and I'm currently running it by my players to see if it's something they'd be interested in using. My only point of differentiation would be to handle natural attacks differently. (Option to treat them as normal weapons, made at the start of the turn, with Multiattack acting as TWF, and 'improved multiattack' as Improved TWF)

I'm curious to know how the Magus' Spell combat works in this system. As written it would convert to a tripple action that would allow the offhand spell to be cast, (potentially with spellstrike's additional free attack) then one primary, and two secondary attacks made with the main hand. By contrast, a unarmed strike warpriest could cast a spell as a double action, then make two primary TWF attacks as a single action. Suddenly spell combat doesn't seem so special; it's either even or in favor of the warpriest, exception being the warpriest has a TWF as a feat.

With haste or additional actions per turn, the magus could potentially use unarmed strike TWF, same as the warpriest, with secondary attacks, so nothing changes. (to say nothing of the warpriest's better damage potential in such an attack)

I see three options to deal with this:
1. Nothing. The magus loses a lot of his ability. (I don't like this one)
2. When using the triple action spell combat, let the magus make two primary attacks, one secondary attack with his main hand. (this seems more in line with getting an extra action through Magus-ery, and is the middle-power route)
3. Reduce spellstrike to a double action, and allow only a single attack primary attack. It still lets the magus get his additional attack in, and allows him the same tactical benefit of other martial classes in this system.
3B. If we add haste, the magus can now perform spell combat twice; he gets two spells (each with a potential free main hand attack via spellstrike) a primary, and a secondary attack.
You could disallow this by treating spellstrike like cleave: you only allow single action attacks for the rest of the turn, or cast a second spell.

I like option 3B, as it is more haste friendly and tactical. What are your opinions?

I'm going to keep a watchful eye on this thread in the hopes of growth and document improvements.


Magi were one of the classes that happily fell into the clause written in: "things that function like TWF" where I completely nixed the revision in Pathfinder: Unchained proper and defer back to the rules of thumb when it comes to converting actions.

Because it works like TWF, it gets broken down into one act, but it counts as your cast for the turn. In order to continue casting spells, one would have to Quicken.

It's caused relatively few problems for us.


Are you able to say anything more about your experiences with counterspelling?

My group brought in something very similar using the normal action economy. In our house rules, a counterspell worked the same way as yours, but cost an immediate action and the following standard action.

We found this was a complete fun killer. Opponents (who are usually ganged up on, and therefore behind in terms of the overall action economy) really suffered - particularly things like outsiders, who lost a lot of their interest by not being able to teleport. Also, rather than the exciting cut-and-thrust of magical duelling, it devolved mostly to two sides just looking at each other, having counterspelled each others' actions away.

You point out that it makes the game fairer in comparison to martials at high levels, but was it still fun for everyone?


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Schadenfreude wrote:

Are you able to say anything more about your experiences with counterspelling?

My group brought in something very similar using the normal action economy. In our house rules, a counterspell worked the same way as yours, but cost an immediate action and the following standard action.

We found this was a complete fun killer. Opponents (who are usually ganged up on, and therefore behind in terms of the overall action economy) really suffered - particularly things like outsiders, who lost a lot of their interest by not being able to teleport. Also, rather than the exciting cut-and-thrust of magical duelling, it devolved mostly to two sides just looking at each other, having counterspelled each others' actions away.

You point out that it makes the game fairer in comparison to martials at high levels, but was it still fun for everyone?

I understand the concern with respect to the spellcasting players. What I've found is turning counterspells into a regular mechanic should also force dice rolling, and with that there's variation. Often I have had players fail to counter spells and had to deal with them anyway, and I think properly scaled encounters will result in a non-optimized counterspell caster succeeding roughly 50% of the time. Variation is good, it makes the game more interesting for everyone even if it's harder.

I've also seen my players start having to plan different strategies with regards to spellcasting for this reason. Very rarely do characters (even enemies) just end up sitting there, but that also comes from the more active system.

As to the counterspelling mechanics themselves (I could go on all day) I really like the new DCs based on CL and gating all the bonuses behind the Improved Counterspell feat. It becomes the power attack of spellcasting. It takes some getting used to, but having spellcasters be less powerful makes the fights longer and makes the players more engaged as they have to learn to bait the enemy counters with big offensive magic to make sure they have the opportunity to resolve more important support or healing magic. I cannot stress how much counterspelling hindering the reliability of spellcasters makes the game feel more balanced.


master_marshmallow wrote:
Because it works like TWF, it gets broken down into one act, but it counts as your cast for the turn. In order to continue casting spells, one would have to Quicken.

In your rules document, you do not state that you can only cast once per turn, since casting is not an attack action.

master_marshmallow wrote:
their ability to move and cast twice in a round has been cut down to a choice of casting twice while stationary or to maintain tactical defense

You yourself state you can cast twice in a round, not mentioning quicken.

Pseudos wrote:
If we add haste,

My example of an additional cast used haste; are you saying the additional action gained from haste can't be used as I see fit? If this is the case, what is your ruling for haste?

Please enlighten me, why would the Magus be limited to casting a quickened spell?


Correct me if I'm wrong, and I apologize if this has been posed before, but in this system, no creature, without the use of abilities like Flurry of Blows, can make more than 3 attacks per round.

How have you found that this affects the threat posed be creatures that normally get many more attacks per round? (IE: Larger dragons can make 6 melee attacks per round: Bite, 2 claws, 2 wings & tail)

Other than that one question, I really like this system and am already looking for an opportunity to try it out!


Rawhead wrote:

Correct me if I'm wrong, and I apologize if this has been posed before, but in this system, no creature, without the use of abilities like Flurry of Blows, can make more than 3 attacks per round.

How have you found that this affects the threat posed be creatures that normally get many more attacks per round? (IE: Larger dragons can make 6 melee attacks per round: Bite, 2 claws, 2 wings & tail)

Other than that one question, I really like this system and am already looking for an opportunity to try it out!

I can actually answer this one. If you read the google doc on the original post:

"A creature that is using only its natural attacks can make all its natural attacks with this(a triple) action instead of making separate attacks with single-act attack actions."

Creatures can make more than 3 attacks per round as a triple action.


Pseudos wrote:
master_marshmallow wrote:
Because it works like TWF, it gets broken down into one act, but it counts as your cast for the turn. In order to continue casting spells, one would have to Quicken.

In your rules document, you do not state that you can only cast once per turn, since casting is not an attack action.

master_marshmallow wrote:
their ability to move and cast twice in a round has been cut down to a choice of casting twice while stationary or to maintain tactical defense

You yourself state you can cast twice in a round, not mentioning quicken.

Pseudos wrote:
If we add haste,

My example of an additional cast used haste; are you saying the additional action gained from haste can't be used as I see fit? If this is the case, what is your ruling for haste?

Please enlighten me, why would the Magus be limited to casting a quickened spell?

It's a hard rule in the game that only 1 spell and 1 quickened spell can be cast per turn. This I believe is in the Magic Chapter of the CRB.

Dark Archive

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master_marshmallow wrote:
Pseudos wrote:
master_marshmallow wrote:
Because it works like TWF, it gets broken down into one act, but it counts as your cast for the turn. In order to continue casting spells, one would have to Quicken.

In your rules document, you do not state that you can only cast once per turn, since casting is not an attack action.

master_marshmallow wrote:
their ability to move and cast twice in a round has been cut down to a choice of casting twice while stationary or to maintain tactical defense

You yourself state you can cast twice in a round, not mentioning quicken.

Pseudos wrote:
If we add haste,

My example of an additional cast used haste; are you saying the additional action gained from haste can't be used as I see fit? If this is the case, what is your ruling for haste?

Please enlighten me, why would the Magus be limited to casting a quickened spell?

It's a hard rule in the game that only 1 spell and 1 quickened spell can be cast per turn. This I believe is in the Magic Chapter of the CRB.

From the Casting Time description in the Magic section under Spell Descriptions:

CRB wrote:
A spell with a casting time of 1 swift action doesn't count against your normal limit of one spell per round. However, you may cast such a spell only once per round.

Based on this text, a player is limited to one spell per turn plus one Quickened spell and can never cast more spells in a turn than that.


LuniasM wrote:
CRB wrote:
A spell with a casting time of 1 swift action doesn't count against your normal limit of one spell per round. However, you may cast such a spell only once per round.
Based on this text, a player is limited to one spell per turn plus one Quickened spell and can never cast more spells in a turn than that.

What about immediate action spells?

Scenerio: During a turn, I cast Fireball, Quickened Fireball, then move by something with grab, provoking. Can I still cast Liberating Command and then maybe finish my movement?


miscdebris wrote:
LuniasM wrote:
CRB wrote:
A spell with a casting time of 1 swift action doesn't count against your normal limit of one spell per round. However, you may cast such a spell only once per round.
Based on this text, a player is limited to one spell per turn plus one Quickened spell and can never cast more spells in a turn than that.

What about immediate action spells?

Scenerio: During a turn, I cast Fireball, Quickened Fireball, then move by something with grab, provoking. Can I still cast Liberating Command and then maybe finish my movement?

In the normal action system, an Immediate Action spell consumes your swift action on the following turn.

In mine, it does not, and you can effectively cast 3 spells per turn which makes counterspelling much more effective and interesting to see spells go off like seeing martials land a big hit.


Rawhead wrote:

Correct me if I'm wrong, and I apologize if this has been posed before, but in this system, no creature, without the use of abilities like Flurry of Blows, can make more than 3 attacks per round.

How have you found that this affects the threat posed be creatures that normally get many more attacks per round? (IE: Larger dragons can make 6 melee attacks per round: Bite, 2 claws, 2 wings & tail)

Other than that one question, I really like this system and am already looking for an opportunity to try it out!

Flurry of Blows is called out specifically as functioning like Two-Weapon Fighting.


Cue my existential crisis.

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