Clarification on interrupting spells with a readied action.


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Starfinder Charter Superscriber
Magyar5 wrote:

Ah, I see. So you are saying the triggering event is offensive or defensive?

Also I was wondering if you would be amicable to running a little thought experiment with me.

Regardless if the triggering event is offensive or defensive, what matters is if your readied action is offensive or defensive.

Sure, go right ahead. I don’t mind a thought experiment, but please, try to keep it short.

When I have time, I want to see what they did in Pathfinder 2 and what challenges there have been in Pathfinder 1 for comparison and previous erratas. The wording from there could be useful.


We have arrived at 2 distinct hypothesis for readied actions.

Hypothesis 1: That triggering event is the same as the triggering action (ie.. one of the actions described which constitute a players turn. Standard, Move, Swift. Or even a full action.)

Hypothesis 2: That the triggering event is an event which is the occurrence of any steps necessary to complete an action (ie.. one of the actions described which constitute a players turn. Standard, Move, Swift. Or even a full action.)

I've been accused many times of ignoring context within the game. Fair enough. My suggestion is, within the context of Starfinder, that we create various scenarios and apply each hypothesis to see which one makes the most reasonable sense. (once we are done, I would like to propose a third hypothesis based on an idea you provoked which I think could be quite interesting).

In order to do that we need to set up some parameters for our scenarios and agree to them.

The first, and most significant, is that we agree with Paizo's description of the length of a combat round. They state that a combat round is approximately 6 seconds of game time. As a result, I think it's reasonable to assume that a standard action and move action each take about 3 seconds to complete. We could disseminate over which of the many standard actions took X amount of time, but to make it easy for our experiment, 3 seconds each seems fair.

Second, when we create a scenario that it (a) have a stated purpose for the acting characters and (b) is reasonable enough to assume it would occur in a normal gaming atmosphere (basically let's steer away from fringe scenarios like.. a readied action which could trigger off another readied action)

I am asking for your help with this as it would be a tremendous benefit to me to assess if my understanding of the rules as written is outside of the context of the game (as I have been accused).

I know it's a bit selfish of me, but I would appreciate it nevertheless. Thanks!


Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Hypotheses 1, seems fine as you have written it and according to the CRB.

Hypotheses 2, I am not sure I understand what you mean by this phrase: That the triggering event is an event which is the occurrence of any steps necessary to complete an action. I read it like you are breaking an action into parts - are you?

A single Combat round is 6 seconds long. We do not need to say a move action and a standard action are each 3 seconds long, but for the sake of the discussion, I will go with it :)

Lets definitely stay away from the readied actions setting off other readied actions scenarios.

Sure, lets make some scenarios:

Franky the Shirren Technomancers readies a standard action to cast Dispel Magic as a counter spell if his chosen target casts a spell. When casting Dispel magic this way, it is a defensive action so it occurs before the action that triggers it, which in this case is the chosen target casts a spell.


Nimor Starseeker wrote:
Hypotheses 2, I am not sure I understand what you mean by this phrase: That the triggering event is an event which is the occurrence of any steps necessary to complete an action. I read it like you are breaking an action into parts - are you?

Here's an example. When you attack with a weapon, say a laser rifle, how do you do it? Do you simply 'attack'. Or do you perform a series of smaller actions which constitute the entirety of the action of attacking with a weapon. In the definition for an action, it states (1b) the accomplishment of a thing usually over a period of time, in stages, or with the possibility of repetition. This definition seems most applicable for understanding how actions work in Starfinder. When you move, you don't just appear at your location. You perform a series of smaller actions to get you where you go. You could jump, hop, skip, or dance to your location. If you attack with a laser rifle, do you bring the weapon to your shoulder, aim carefully down the sights, then pull the trigger to discharge the weapon?

It seems quite clear that in Starfinder, the actions allowed in a turn (standard, move, swift) are composed of smaller actions. This is further evidenced by quite a bit of the language in the book. Paizo themselves use the term 'begins to cast'. This indicates a subset of the casting action. They didn't say 'begins the Cast a spell action'.

So in short, as far as describing a ready action trigger, then yes. A triggering event could be a subset of the actions needed to perform a standard, move, or swift action.

If I am reading the book within context, it could be easily argued that this is the case. There is further evidence that this is the case when reading the Combat Casting feat. If a spell with a casting time of a standard action couldn't be interrupted by a readied action, why would Combat casting specifically call out this possibility? We have already determined that you don't need to ready an action to interrupt a spell with a casting time greater than a standard action.


Nimor Starseeker wrote:


Franky the Shirren Technomancers readies a standard action to cast Dispel Magic as a counter spell if his chosen target casts a spell. When casting Dispel magic this way, it is a defensive action so it occurs before the action that triggers it, which in this case is the chosen target casts a spell.

Let's apply Hypothesis 1.

Franky readies a standard action to (Cast a Spell: Dispel Magic, standard action) when his target casts a spell.

In this case, by Hypothesis 1, the Dispel magic would have no effect. Since this purely defensive readied action occurs before the event(action) that triggered it, then it would resolve before the casting of the spell occurs. So the order of operations would be as follows.

Enemy uses his standard action to cast a spell. The purely defensive readied action triggers, occurs directly before the event(action) that triggered it. The event(action) that triggered it is the standard action (Cast a Spell). So if the readied action occurs before the spell is cast, it would have no effect as the spell hasn't cast or is in the process of being cast.

Hypothesis 2.

Franky readies a standard action to (Cast a Spell: Dispel Magic, standard action) when his target casts a spell.

In this case, by Hypothesis 2, the actions would happen simultaneously. The event is Casts a spell. This means the spell has been cast. Ergo, the moment that the standard action completes, the triggering event has been met and the defensive action goes off immediately before the spell is complete and occurs while the spell is being cast. Thus the possibility exists that the spell could be Dispelled.


Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
Magyar5 wrote:
Nimor Starseeker wrote:

You seem to be confusing narrative with mechanics. Mechanically it is hypothesis 1. The game rules simpley doesn't deal with minutia on the level you are describing, mostly because to so actually impedes on our ability to forge a narrative from the mechanic. Anything that isn't mechanically specified doesn't intersect with the mechanics at all. From a rules stand point the steps needed to fire a rifle don't happen. The intent is declared, the action happens without care to specifics of how (unless the rules demand those specifics, e.g movement) and then then the results are determined. We as players them ascribe narrative to those events because it is fun and creates immersion.

If the rules did require those break down into individual events (and specifies how far as after all events are nearly infinitely divisible) it would a) state that literally anywhere and b) remove narrative control from players to determine the "how" events played out in response to the mechanics. E.g if the action "shoot rifle" prescribes the individual events leading up to it we lose the ability to state things like "You don't take the time to line up your shot, firing from the hip and miss" as that would contradict some of the previously established events.


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Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
Magyar5 wrote:

[Q

Let's apply Hypothesis 1.

Franky readies a standard action to (Cast a Spell: Dispel Magic, standard action) when his target casts a spell.

In this case, by Hypothesis 1, the Dispel magic would have no effect. Since this purely defensive readied action occurs before the event(action) that triggered it, then it would resolve before the casting of the spell occurs. So the order of operations would be as follows.

Enemy uses his standard action to cast a spell. The purely defensive readied action triggers, occurs directly before the event(action) that triggered it. The event(action) that triggered it is the standard action (Cast a Spell). So if the readied action occurs before the spell is cast, it would have no effect as the spell hasn't cast or is in the process of being cast.

This outcome is precisely the reason why Dispel Magic gives expanded rules for countering of spells in this situation such that its specific rules work. If we went with your hypothesis 2 being the case they wouldn't have to devote an entire paragraph to explaining it and instead could plainly state "Preparing Dispel Magic is a defensive action."


I will use an example I used earlier because I liked it and it involves a Combat Maneuver.

Gerard the Soldier is on a series of catwalks. His enemy is on a catwalk approximately 20 feet away. To reach his enemy, Gerard would have to travel 10 feet to a Tee-intersection turn left and travel 10 more feet. The railing of the catwalk at the t-intersection has been destroyed. Gerard decides to allow his enemy to enter the intersection and then he will try and Bull rush the enemy off the catwalk. Gerard readies his action (Standard action; CM Bull Rush) with the trigger of, my enemy enters the t-intersection of the catwalk. The foe decides that he's had enough and sees a doorway on the opposite end of the catwalk he is on. He decides to travel through the t-intersection, past his enemy, and through the doorway which is 15 feet further down the catwalk from the t-intersection.

What happens?


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Starfinder Charter Superscriber
Magyar5 wrote:
Nimor Starseeker wrote:
Hypotheses 2, I am not sure I understand what you mean by this phrase: That the triggering event is an event which is the occurrence of any steps necessary to complete an action. I read it like you are breaking an action into parts - are you?

Here's an example. When you attack with a weapon, say a laser rifle, how do you do it? Do you simply 'attack'. Or do you perform a series of smaller actions which constitute the entirety of the action of attacking with a weapon. In the definition for an action, it states (1b) the accomplishment of a thing usually over a period of time, in stages, or with the possibility of repetition. This definition seems most applicable for understanding how actions work in Starfinder. When you move, you don't just appear at your location. You perform a series of smaller actions to get you where you go. You could jump, hop, skip, or dance to your location. If you attack with a laser rifle, do you bring the weapon to your shoulder, aim carefully down the sights, then pull the trigger to discharge the weapon?

It seems quite clear that in Starfinder, the actions allowed in a turn (standard, move, swift) are composed of smaller actions. This is further evidenced by quite a bit of the language in the book. Paizo themselves use the term 'begins to cast'. This indicates a subset of the casting action. They didn't say 'begins the Cast a spell action'.

So in short, as far as describing a ready action trigger, then yes. A triggering event could be a subset of the actions needed to perform a standard, move, or swift action.

If I am reading the book within context, it could be easily argued that this is the case. There is further evidence that this is the case when reading the Combat Casting feat. If a spell with a casting time of a standard action couldn't be interrupted by a readied action, why would Combat casting specifically call out this possibility? We have already determined that you don't need to ready an action to interrupt a...

Oh, I see what you mean now.

Yes, you can say: you firmly brace the heavy duty auto rifle against your shoulder, taking careful aim at your target and not any civilians, placing your finger carefully on the trigger, holding your breath just before you squeeze and take the shot. These are the kind of details I might use when game mastering in my group for flavour and details and suspense. I make up these kinds of details all the time when we are playing in my group.

Game mechanically, this is a standard action to make a ranged attack.

When you say: You perform a series of smaller actions to get you where you go. You could jump, hop, skip, or dance to your location.

Game mechanically doing a move action.

When you cast a spell here is the description I might use:
You begin to cast the spell, magical energies surge through your fingers, your eyes begin to glow, electricity sparks in the air around your, a rumbling sound grows larger into a loud thunderous clap, and you cast a jolting surge lighting shock spell, it blasts out through your fingertips electrifying the goblin monster.

Game mechanically this is a standard action to cast a spell.

When you say: It seems quite clear that in Starfinder, the actions allowed in a turn (standard, move, swift) are composed of smaller actions. You could probably say that about everything, and I think it is probably true in most cases. I call those smaller actions: details, flavour descriptions. Their function is for your storytelling, not game mechanics. If you can apply all these wonderful details to your storytelling to give your RPG group the suspense of the ultimate sci-fi adventure, then it is a good skill to have.


Malk_Content wrote:
"Preparing Dispel Magic is a defensive action."

I apologize, I don't quite understand what you mean. Spells aren't prepared in Starfinder. Classes choose spells from a list and have those spells available to them at all times. The counter section of Dispel magic specifies how it works in relation to the ready action specifically because of Hypothesis 2. If the Dispel Magic was used to counter a spell and it was an offensive action (which is debatable and I am sure WAS debated as the rules were written) according to hypothesis 2 it would be useless as it would occur after the spell has been cast and would be pointless. The spell and it's possible effect (instantaneous) would have occurred.


Nimor Starseeker wrote:
Magyar5 wrote:
Nimor Starseeker wrote:
Hypotheses 2, I am not sure I understand what you mean by this phrase: That the triggering event is an event which is the occurrence of any steps necessary to complete an action. I read it like you are breaking an action into parts - are you?

Here's an example. When you attack with a weapon, say a laser rifle, how do you do it? Do you simply 'attack'. Or do you perform a series of smaller actions which constitute the entirety of the action of attacking with a weapon. In the definition for an action, it states (1b) the accomplishment of a thing usually over a period of time, in stages, or with the possibility of repetition. This definition seems most applicable for understanding how actions work in Starfinder. When you move, you don't just appear at your location. You perform a series of smaller actions to get you where you go. You could jump, hop, skip, or dance to your location. If you attack with a laser rifle, do you bring the weapon to your shoulder, aim carefully down the sights, then pull the trigger to discharge the weapon?

It seems quite clear that in Starfinder, the actions allowed in a turn (standard, move, swift) are composed of smaller actions. This is further evidenced by quite a bit of the language in the book. Paizo themselves use the term 'begins to cast'. This indicates a subset of the casting action. They didn't say 'begins the Cast a spell action'.

So in short, as far as describing a ready action trigger, then yes. A triggering event could be a subset of the actions needed to perform a standard, move, or swift action.

If I am reading the book within context, it could be easily argued that this is the case. There is further evidence that this is the case when reading the Combat Casting feat. If a spell with a casting time of a standard action couldn't be interrupted by a readied action, why would Combat casting specifically call out this possibility? We have already determined that you don't need to ready

...

This is why I use the definition of an occurrence for an event. Let's do a few more examples. See where things land.

And I don't disagree with you about those details. In the case of a readied action, I think those details matter. And matter a lot.

A few more examples, casting and non casting, should help us see where the readied action is within the context of these 2 hypothesis.


Starfinder Charter Superscriber
Magyar5 wrote:

I will use an example I used earlier because I liked it and it involves a Combat Maneuver.

Gerard the Soldier is on a series of catwalks. His enemy is on a catwalk approximately 20 feet away. To reach his enemy, Gerard would have to travel 10 feet to a Tee-intersection turn left and travel 10 more feet. The railing of the catwalk at the t-intersection has been destroyed. Gerard decides to allow his enemy to enter the intersection and then he will try and Bull rush the enemy off the catwalk. Gerard readies his action (Standard action; CM Bull Rush) with the trigger of, my enemy enters the t-intersection of the catwalk. The foe decides that he's had enough and sees a doorway on the opposite end of the catwalk he is on. He decides to travel through the t-intersection, past his enemy, and through the doorway which is 15 feet further down the catwalk from the t-intersection.

What happens?

I do not know.

-If it was a surprise round, yes, he can pull off the manuever when his unaware target is walking at the intersection.

-I am inclined to let readied actions such as a bullrush interrupt someone in the middle of their movement, so you can push someone off the catwalk like in the example. (I might be wrong.)

-If the target of the bullrush was someone using the shot on the run feat to move forward to shoot you and then go back for cover, then your offensice manuever goes second, and you might lose the readied action, because your target was able to move away. (Shot on the run is a full action with both movement and offensive shooting.)(I might be wrong)

-If someone readied an action to shoot a spell caster when the spell caster casts a spell, then the spell caster gets to resolve his spell first (as long as the casting time is a full action or less.) You would still get to shoot them, just not disrupt their spell casting.


We can apply both hypothesis to the scenario.

Hypothesis 1: A CM is an offensive action and would therefore occur after the triggering event/action. (Agreed?)

Gerard gets ready (I am gonna amend the scenario slightly by saying that on his turn Gerard moved 5 feet closer to the t-intersection but not into it. That way the enemy will be in melee range as he moves into the intersection). The enemy takes his turn, flips off Gerard, and moves into the T-intersection, through it, and into the doorway. Since the trigger occurred. Gerard may now take his readied action since the foe triggered the readied action by moving into the t-intersection. Unfortunately, the CM is wasted as there's no valid target in range.

Hypothesis 2:
Gerard gets ready (see above). The enemy takes his turn, flips off Gerard, and moves into the t-intersection. Since the triggering event has occurred, the readied action now resolves. Gerard makes his Bull Rush Combat maneuver and rolls a 1 (oooops). The enemy completes his movement as he moves through the doorway.


How about another scenario?

Walkin and his team are in an old ruin. They have come down a hallway which has a floor pit with a lever which drops the floor away into the pit. The team decide it could be helpful to them if this trap were reset and used against a ksarik that their operative detected in a room further down the hallway (they hope that if they can drop it into the put, they can easily destroy it with ranged attacks while it is trapped). They reset the trap and Walkin is tasked with pulling the lever when the Ksarik is directly over the floor trap.

The operative sneaks up to the Ksarik, while it is unaware, and throws a furtive ice needle into the flank of the unaware creature. The ksarik roars to life and gives chase.

The operative has a good lead and crosses the trap. Walkin has his action readied (swift action) to pull the lever with the trigger of the Ksarik is directly over the trap. What happens?


Starfinder Charter Superscriber

When a foe moves through your threatened area, they provoke and attack of opportunity. This reaction happens in the middle of their movement. This we know for sure.

I think the question is: Can you ready an action to trigger in the middle of someones else's movement?

If anyone else has some input here, please feel free to throw in your experiences.

I think BNW had an example where the readied action was to shoot when the target got closer to you so to avoid a -2 penalty to the range increment but also before the target reached you to avoid getting an AoO against yourself.


Nimor Starseeker wrote:

I think BNW had an example where the readied action was to shoot when the target got closer to you so to avoid a -2 penalty to the range increment but also before the target reached you to avoid getting an AoO against yourself.

Eyup. I believe that movement is divisible most other actions are not. Going from square 1 to square 2 to square 3 is something we have a lot of rules for and doesn't break anything else. Something like an attack doesn't have that sort of granularity.


Starfinder Charter Superscriber
BigNorseWolf wrote:
Nimor Starseeker wrote:

I think BNW had an example where the readied action was to shoot when the target got closer to you so to avoid a -2 penalty to the range increment but also before the target reached you to avoid getting an AoO against yourself.

Eyup. I believe that movement is divisible most other actions are not. Going from square 1 to square 2 to square 3 is something we have a lot of rules for and doesn't break anything else. Something like an attack doesn't have that sort of granularity.

If this is the case, and I hope it is- then it clears things up pretty well.


Nimor Starseeker wrote:
BigNorseWolf wrote:
Nimor Starseeker wrote:

I think BNW had an example where the readied action was to shoot when the target got closer to you so to avoid a -2 penalty to the range increment but also before the target reached you to avoid getting an AoO against yourself.

Eyup. I believe that movement is divisible most other actions are not. Going from square 1 to square 2 to square 3 is something we have a lot of rules for and doesn't break anything else. Something like an attack doesn't have that sort of granularity.

If this is the case, and I hope it is- then it clears things up pretty well.

It could. If that were the rules as written. I fully agree that movement has granularity that is recognized by fiat in the CRB. However the readied action doesn't recognize that granularity.

Of course, Hypothesis 2 wouldn't require that sort of recognition. It allows for that granularity with the rules as written.

Let's see if we can break hypothesis 2. I think we can all agree that hypothesis 1 doesn't work with the context of the game. It basically makes readied actions unusable for anything that is a meaningful action. The window of opportunity slips past or never occurs when the readied action would be triggered if we allow that the developers meant 'action' instead of event.

So now it remains to see how far we can push hypothesis 2? At what point does this 'break' the game? If we can break the game easily then we can evaluate which of the 2 hypothesis is better to use.

Is it better to amend what is written and stultify the ready action to the point it's unusable in normal game play (hypothesis 1) in order to keep the game from experiencing an action that breaks the spirit and fairness of the game (hypothesis 2 if we can push it that far). Or is it better to apply the rules as written (hypothesis 2) and let the GM's arbitrate what triggers are suitable for the readied action so that it doesn't break the game (again, assuming we can push hypothesis 2 to the breaking point).

I think we have some very intelligent folks here. This is a tough challenge. I think we can do it! So, Nimor, BNW let's break hypothesis 2!


Nimor Starseeker wrote:


If this is the case, and I hope it is- then it clears things up pretty well.

If you can read the rules in such a way that they make everything work perfectly well enough for state work its VERY rarely like that on accident...


I think the first place I want to start is the idea context.

When I say context I mean the context of whatever game is currently happening. When a player, in attempting to define a trigger, is able to take what most would be a considered an offensive action and word it in a way as to make it a defensive action (or vice versa).

In an earlier post I glibly stated 'I want to ready an action to defend myself by firing at anyone when they fire at me.' This is an example of what I mean.

Let me see what I can come up with.

After I go down this line I think I will start looking down the line of spell casting, with the idea of readying a spell to deny a player the remainder of a turn. (Going down this line later is of more benefit if I explore my first line as misused context could be at play with this line in readying the action).


BigNorseWolf wrote:
Nimor Starseeker wrote:


If this is the case, and I hope it is- then it clears things up pretty well.

If you can read the rules in such a way that they make everything work perfectly well enough for state work its VERY rarely like that on accident...

Yes. I agree. That's why hypothesis 2 needs to be pushed to the breaking point. It's a reading that allows a readied action to work in most cases.


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Magyar5 wrote:
When a player, in attempting to define a trigger, is able to take what most would be a considered an offensive action and word it in a way as to make it a defensive action (or vice versa).

So your interpretation is that the RAW distinction between defensive and offensive readied actions/reactions should be ignored, despite how very intentionally it's obviously spelled out?

Uh... what's it there for, then?


Super Zero wrote:
Magyar5 wrote:
When a player, in attempting to define a trigger, is able to take what most would be a considered an offensive action and word it in a way as to make it a defensive action (or vice versa).

So your interpretation is that the RAW distinction between defensive and offensive readied actions/reactions should be ignored, despite how very intentionally it's obviously spelled out?

Uh... what's it there for, then?

Well, there's no list of offensive and defensive actions. A creative player could glibly disguise an offensive action as a defensive action.

For example, you could assume that a Combat Maneuver is an offensive action (however this isn't stated in the rules). If a player said, I ready an action to re-position my ally when a target X shoots at them.

This is clearly an attempt deny a foe an attack against an ally with a ready action. If you say I am doing this to defend my ally, then it's reasonable to say this is a defensive action and would resolve before the event that triggers it.

So if a foe shoots at your ally, your readied action would resolve before the shot, and you could move the ally behind a wall, or into a safer position.


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Another contextual misrepresentation would be; a spell caster who readied the teleport spell on his melee soldier ally with the trigger that 'an enemy begins to cast Y spell at ally Z'

This could easily be considered a defensive action to move the target out of the path of the spell. However, the player doesn't tell you that he's teleporting the melee soldier adjacent to the spell caster.

So the spell caster begins to cast his spell. The readied action triggers right before the event. So the soldier is teleported beside the spell caster who then begins to cast a spell, provoking an attack of opportunity.

This is an indirect way of making a defensive action into an offensive action in conjunction with the readied action.


BigNorseWolf wrote:
Nimor Starseeker wrote:

I think BNW had an example where the readied action was to shoot when the target got closer to you so to avoid a -2 penalty to the range increment but also before the target reached you to avoid getting an AoO against yourself.

Eyup. I believe that movement is divisible most other actions are not. Going from square 1 to square 2 to square 3 is something we have a lot of rules for and doesn't break anything else. Something like an attack doesn't have that sort of granularity.

As a guideline, look to other reactions besides the readied action for what may or may not count as a trigger if that trigger is not a defined action in combat. Leaving a square is most likely enough of a trigger. A person's heart beating is typically not a clearly defined trigger.

Anything that triggers an AoO can probably be a trigger (but, the defensive vs offensive rule is applied unlike AoO's, specific (AoO) vs general (reaction) rule.)

Fly 1 (featherfall) if you had a chance to ready an action for when the bridge you are on collapses that should work as you expect.

Regarding that second example, traps and environmental changes should almost always work on their own initiative count anyway, and therefore are clear and defined triggers for readied actions to start with, and move initiative around just like for readying vs a creature's actions.


Garretmander wrote:
Regarding that second example, traps and environmental changes should almost always work on their own initiative count anyway,

Could you please explain? I am unclear what you mean by this.


You don't have to ready level 1 flight--it can already be cast as a reaction.


Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Magyar5 wrote,

This is why I use the definition of an occurrence for an event. Let's do a few more examples. See where things land.

And I don't disagree with you about those details. In the case of a readied action, I think those details matter. And matter a lot.

My response:
What do you mean by the following statement: This is why I use the definition of an occurrence for an event.


Magyar5 wrote:
Garretmander wrote:
Regarding that second example, traps and environmental changes should almost always work on their own initiative count anyway,
Could you please explain? I am unclear what you mean by this.

If during combat, a GM wants something environmental to happen, that should be on a set initiative count.

If the bridge collapses after 1d4 rounds of fighting, typically a GM would have it happen at the top or bottom of the initiative order. If a player readied for it, their initiative count should change to match. Many delayed traps in pre-written adventures have an initiative modifier. That's good writing, it lets the GM know when during a round it happens.

Super Zero wrote:


You don't have to ready level 1 flight--it can already be cast as a reaction.

I should have been clearer. The situation where you would cast flight as a reaction (you or someone else starts falling), should be a perfectly good trigger for a readied action, such as reaching out to catch them, or casting some sort telekinesis to shove them away so they can't grab on.


Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Magyar5 quote;

Let's apply Hypothesis 1.

Franky readies a standard action to (Cast a Spell: Dispel Magic, standard action) when his target casts a spell.

In this case, by Hypothesis 1, the Dispel magic would have no effect. Since this purely defensive readied action occurs before the event(action) that triggered it, then it would resolve before the casting of the spell occurs. So the order of operations would be as follows.

Enemy uses his standard action to cast a spell. The purely defensive readied action triggers, occurs directly before the event(action) that triggered it. The event(action) that triggered it is the standard action (Cast a Spell). So if the readied action occurs before the spell is cast, it would have no effect as the spell hasn't cast or is in the process of being cast.

My response:
In the spell discription for Dispel Magic counter action, the target is in the process of casting the spell, so he has actually started his action, but he does not get to complete that spell if your counter spell is successful.

Game mechanically: You are thinking: how can you counter a spell with the dispel magic action before the triggering spell gets cast? Counter spells resolve first, as we know from the rules. Read the spell, you are casting at the same time.

-Despite taking turns in a round of combat, you are in fact acting at the same initiative and at the same time as the target spell caster.


Starfinder Charter Superscriber
Magyar5 wrote:

Another contextual misrepresentation would be; a spell caster who readied the teleport spell on his melee soldier ally with the trigger that 'an enemy begins to cast Y spell at ally Z'

This could easily be considered a defensive action to move the target out of the path of the spell. However, the player doesn't tell you that he's teleporting the melee soldier adjacent to the spell caster.

So the spell caster begins to cast his spell. The readied action triggers right before the event. So the soldier is teleported beside the spell caster who then begins to cast a spell, provoking an attack of opportunity.

This is an indirect way of making a defensive action into an offensive action in conjunction with the readied action.

What a sneaky player that would be, not telling you his cunning littloe secret plan! Fortunetly my players are still new to SF, and are not trying this sort of thing... yet!

This is not a purely defensive action when deliberately used to put the beat-stick soldier next to the caster in an attempt to trigger an AoO. Personally, I would rule this as an offensive. If the caster was just going to teleport the soldier away into safety, it would be defensive.
I am judging how the teleport spell is being used, and I will go either way depending on the intent.


Nimor Starseeker wrote:

What a sneaky player that would be, not telling you his cunning littloe secret plan! Fortunetly my players are still new to SF, and are not trying this sort of thing... yet!

Players trying arguments like that are why i dont mind that the covers fall off and need to be replaced with duct tape. That way they only do non lethal damage.


Garretmander wrote:
Magyar5 wrote:
Garretmander wrote:
Regarding that second example, traps and environmental changes should almost always work on their own initiative count anyway,
Could you please explain? I am unclear what you mean by this.

If during combat, a GM wants something environmental to happen, that should be on a set initiative count.

If the bridge collapses after 1d4 rounds of fighting, typically a GM would have it happen at the top or bottom of the initiative order. If a player readied for it, their initiative count should change to match. Many delayed traps in pre-written adventures have an initiative modifier. That's good writing, it lets the GM know when during a round it happens.

Super Zero wrote:


You don't have to ready level 1 flight--it can already be cast as a reaction.
I should have been clearer. The situation where you would cast flight as a reaction (you or someone else starts falling), should be a perfectly good trigger for a readied action, such as reaching out to catch them, or casting some sort telekinesis to shove them away so they can't grab on.

If these types of traps require player interaction, how would you allow for the player using the trap against an enemy if the player and trap are on a different initiative count from the enemy they want to trap?

So, in the above example, if Walkin and the trap share the same initiative, how could the trap effectively be used to capture the Ksarik? It's feasible that, based on initiative count and movement, the Ksarik will either be before or after the trap. How could that be resolved in a meaningful manner for the players?


Nimor Starseeker wrote:

Magyar5 wrote,

This is why I use the definition of an occurrence for an event. Let's do a few more examples. See where things land.

And I don't disagree with you about those details. In the case of a readied action, I think those details matter. And matter a lot.

My response:
What do you mean by the following statement: This is why I use the definition of an occurrence for an event.

Since the CRB doesn't define an event, nor an action (as it relates to the game) specifically we are called upon to turn to the dictionary to see which of the different definitions are most accurately plausible in the context of the game.

Using the examples that Paizo gave for some triggering events, it looks like the definition most applicable in the game for an event is a very specific occurrence in the game. ie.. begins to cast a spell is a VERY specific occurrence which happens during the Cast a Spell action. Since casting a spell can be very variable in length, the begins to cast terminology denotes a very specific occurrence in that sequence. The meaningful events for a Cast a Spell action are Begins to cast, is casting, has cast(s).


Nimor Starseeker wrote:
Magyar5 wrote:

Another contextual misrepresentation would be; a spell caster who readied the teleport spell on his melee soldier ally with the trigger that 'an enemy begins to cast Y spell at ally Z'

This could easily be considered a defensive action to move the target out of the path of the spell. However, the player doesn't tell you that he's teleporting the melee soldier adjacent to the spell caster.

So the spell caster begins to cast his spell. The readied action triggers right before the event. So the soldier is teleported beside the spell caster who then begins to cast a spell, provoking an attack of opportunity.

This is an indirect way of making a defensive action into an offensive action in conjunction with the readied action.

What a sneaky player that would be, not telling you his cunning littloe secret plan! Fortunetly my players are still new to SF, and are not trying this sort of thing... yet!

This is not a purely defensive action when deliberately used to put the beat-stick soldier next to the caster in an attempt to trigger an AoO. Personally, I would rule this as an offensive. If the caster was just going to teleport the soldier away into safety, it would be defensive.
I am judging how the teleport spell is being used, and I will go either way depending on the intent.

I agree 100%. The responsibility would be on the GM to arbitrate if it's offensive or defensive, but unless they dive down a little deeper, it's an entirely reasonable reading of the rules.

If the GM failed to garner the intent of the gamer, then technically this causes hypothesis 2 to do MORE than what I think the game masters intended, despite it being very creative. In this case, as I said before, the GM must arbitrate. I don't know if it breaks the game but it's definitely not how the developers intended the offensive/defensive action interpretation to be abused. It's not like they are getting more than a single reaction per round. But they are doing something dastardly to your enemies. (If I were the GM for such a thing.. I would allow it once or twice.. then I would use it against them.. only with more devastating consequences).

GM: "You walk into the room. You see 8 men in robes along a dais turning towards you. Roll initiative."
GM: "Ohh.. looks like my side goes first. THey each fan out from one another 10 feet... and watch you intently." hehe.. good luck players!!


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I have to imagine that Magyar's game sessions tend to look more like WH40k tabletop than D&D, with more time spent arguing over rules and details and edge cases than actually progressing the game.

Don't get me wrong, I spent many hours in high school enjoying that style of play, but now... I have trouble seeing the point.


Samantha DeWinter wrote:

I have to imagine that Magyar's game sessions tend to look more like WH40k tabletop than D&D, with more time spent arguing over rules and details and edge cases than actually progressing the game.

Don't get me wrong, I spent many hours in high school enjoying that style of play, but now... I have trouble seeing the point.

Another person who would rather cast dispersion at someone they don't know, doing so while under the veil of anonymity, instead of furthering a discussion.

It is precisely the opposite. We tend to more theater of the mind in our game sessions than rule mongering. It's only when someone attempts to rig the rules in a way that is patently absurd or outside of the spirit of the games intent that we have any discussion at all about the rules. (This case bears discussion as hypothesis 1 breaks the readied action completely and makes it utterly useless. If a player or GM uses this method of resolving readied actions then the game doesn't work well in practice.) As I stated earlier, most players at our table, aren't even aware of the actions they can take in a turn. It rarely comes up, as we tend towards reasonable interaction.

That being said, this discussion IS about understanding the interactions of the readied action and spell casting and if you would like to contribute, I, along with many others, would be interested in your point of view.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

This is an awfully long argument about something that looks pretty clear cut. Readied actions are interrupts that take place a moment before the action they are prepared for.

Example:

Player declares they are readying a ranged attack in case Monster casts a spell.

On its turn, Monster starts casting a spell.

This triggers an interrupt and allows Player to attack before the Spell action of Monster.

This attack hits and causes damage, thus causing spell failure.


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Shar Tahl wrote:

This is an awfully long argument about something that looks pretty clear cut. Readied actions are interrupts that take place a moment before the action they are prepared for.

Maybe if you'd read the argument more carefully you wouldn't post entirely wrong rules summaries like this.


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Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber
Xenocrat wrote:
Shar Tahl wrote:

This is an awfully long argument about something that looks pretty clear cut. Readied actions are interrupts that take place a moment before the action they are prepared for.

Maybe if you'd read the argument more carefully you wouldn't post entirely wrong rules summaries like this.

Yeah... that would have been an accurate rules summary in Pathfinder. There were some changes in Starfinder.


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Shar Tahl wrote:


Example:

Player declares they are readying a ranged attack in case Monster casts a spell.

On its turn, Monster starts casting a spell.

This triggers an interrupt and allows Player to attack before the Spell action of Monster.

This attack hits and causes damage, thus causing spell failure.

That's the pathfinder rules. Under the starfinder rules shooting the monster is an offensive action so it goes after the monster casts a spell.


These contributors are quite correct. The discussion is entirely based on the confusion around when a readied action occurs.

We've pinpointed spell casting as it's something specifically discussed in the CRB with an example.

I think we can summarize the entirety of the confusion in this manner.

Does a readied action (standard, move, swift) occur before/after (depending on if the readied action is offensive or defensive) the action that triggered it (standard, move, swift, or full, poossibly even a reaction) or does it occur immediately before/after the specific event (specified by the player while declaring his readied action) which triggered it?

The 2 hypothesis earlier formed were put to some examples to see how they played out.

If we subscribe to hypothesis 1, then BNW's claim that readied actions are almost entirely useless is spot on. No arguments about that. Readying an action to interrupt a spell when an opponent begins to cast the spell would be utterly useless 95% of the time in the game, as most spells are a standard action, and would complete before the readied action occurs. Further, there's no point in readying an action to interrupt a spell that has a casting time longer than a standard action as you will have a chance to interrupt it during the normal course of the round or next round. So.. what would be the point. Either the readied action fails or you don't need to do it at all.

If we subscribe to hypothesis 2, then we require a little more work at our tables in forcing players to describe the triggering event very specifically and run the risk of creating an action which could potentially be exploited (we haven't fully explored this arena yet) to give players some unforeseen and powerful advantages. Otherwise hypothesis 2 seems to work in almost all cases.

What we have asked for, is some additional clarification from the developers about which of these 2 are most accurate.

There is precedent in the CRB for both understandings. You could draw precedent for hypothesis 1 from the reading of the Reaction action. It specifies actions, however, instead of triggering events. That could easily be an oversight by the developers or intended. We don't know.

Hypothesis 2 has precedent in a few places as well, most notably the Combat casting feat and the description under spell casting.

Either way I do hope we can get some clarification from the developers on this topic as it is debatable. Let me go on the record again if anyone missed this. If Hypothesis 2 is correct, I think this further hampers the spell casting system and makes it potentially worse. I don't like it. Spell casting is weak enough in Starfinder and suffers enormously under the rules. IF it is correct, I do have some ideas on some things which could be implemented by the developers OR some house rules which would shore up this difficulty.

My specific gripe is that if a foe/player can use a readied action to interrupt a spell, this is a powerful ability. It's a gamble, vs a loss. However I think the loss is greater than the risk because the caster loses the spell slot in addition to the spell failing. Yes, you have to ready an action with a specific triggering event. Yes you have to hit the foes AC. All a roll of the dice. But the spell being cast faces, often times, the exact same gamble. Do you hit a foe and can that foe save? Then you could read that you are evened up. With one specific problem. The caster loses a finite resource which can only be regained after resting for a long time. The interrupter simply loses some ammo.

Anyways.. that's just an aside to the discussion and I do hope that they sound off about what we have discussed.


Starfinder Charter Superscriber
Shar Tahl wrote:

This is an awfully long argument about something that looks pretty clear cut. Readied actions are interrupts that take place a moment before the action they are prepared for.

Example:

Player declares they are readying a ranged attack in case Monster casts a spell.

On its turn, Monster starts casting a spell.

This triggers an interrupt and allows Player to attack before the Spell action of Monster.

This attack hits and causes damage, thus causing spell failure.

Nope, that is not quiet how it works:

Readied actions are either defensive or offensive.

If you readied a defensive action you get to act just before the caster.

If you readied an offensive action against the caster and the spell has a casting time of a full action or less, the spell resolves before your action.

If you readied an offensive action against the caster and the spell has a casting time of 1 round or more, depending if you damage the caster or not the spell either fails or succeeds.

If you ready a dispell magic spell to counter the caster, you act when they begin casting and depending on your spell check, the spell either fails or succeeeds.

With that said, readying an offensive action like a ranged attack against a spell caster is a pretty pointless action when you can get a better action economy by taking you regular turn against s casters.

You can ready an an offensive action such as a combat maneuver bull rush against a caster when he moves into square 1, so you can push him off a cliff before he even gets to his standard action.


I think the actual confusion here is that the rules for readied actions specifically says it doesn’t work (readied attacks go after the trigger), but the rule for interrupting spells specifically says it does work (it’s on the list of things most likely to interrupt you).

My resolution as a GM, short of a clarification of intent, would just be to ask the players what they prefer and employ it equally against them and enemy spellcasters.
I’m not sure how likely it is to come up; Starfinder spellcasters aren’t expected to cast spells every round, so betting that they’re going to do so is gonna be a miss pretty often—and that’s assuming the enemy can’t tell what you’re doing and choose not to cast for that reason.

(I don’t believe there’s a rule one way or the other about how obvious is, but at the most opaque it’s hard to miss that they didn’t take their standard action yet.)


Starfinder Charter Superscriber

I think it was the intent of the developers to almost guarantee casters casting spells with casting times of full action or less slot succeed. The only things that can potentially stop them are opportunity attacks and dispell magic.

In PF1 you could ready attacks against spell casters potentially disrupting their spelll casting regardless the casting time. In SF a single point of damage will disrupt spellcasting, but at least casters do not have to put up with ready attack action shenanigans against their spell casting.

I think this was a good choice for the development team to make.


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Nimor Starseeker wrote:

I think it was the intent of the developers to almost guarantee casters casting spells with casting times of full action or less slot succeed. The only things that can potentially stop them are opportunity attacks and dispell magic.

In PF1 you could ready attacks against spell casters potentially disrupting their spelll casting regardless the casting time. In SF a single point of damage will disrupt spellcasting, but at least casters do not have to put up with ready attack action shenanigans against their spell casting.

I think this was a good choice for the development team to make.

I don't think "the developers" had a unified intent for a lot of the things that need FAQs in the CRB. Someone wrote one rule, someone else wrote another, no one noticed the discrepancy, and no one has forged a unanimous consensus on what the rule should be.


Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Magyar5 wrote:

Hypothesis 2 has precedent in a few places as well, most notably the Combat casting feat and the description under spell casting.

My response:

Yes, it does kind of indicate that you can interrupt all spells but that does not actually have to be so. It does feel at odds with readied offensive actions.


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Starfinder Charter Superscriber
Xenocrat wrote:
Nimor Starseeker wrote:

I think it was the intent of the developers to almost guarantee casters casting spells with casting times of full action or less slot succeed. The only things that can potentially stop them are opportunity attacks and dispell magic.

In PF1 you could ready attacks against spell casters potentially disrupting their spelll casting regardless the casting time. In SF a single point of damage will disrupt spellcasting, but at least casters do not have to put up with ready attack action shenanigans against their spell casting.

I think this was a good choice for the development team to make.

I don't think "the developers" had a unified intent for a lot of the things that need FAQs in the CRB. Someone wrote one rule, someone else wrote another, no one noticed the discrepancy, and no one has forged a unanimous consensus on what the rule should be.

For a game this size, there is always going to be some errors of sorts, and eventually the developers will respond to this thread or a FAQ or something.


Super Zero wrote:

I think the actual confusion here is that the rules for readied actions specifically says it doesn’t work (readied attacks go after the trigger), but the rule for interrupting spells specifically says it does work (it’s on the list of things most likely to interrupt you).

My resolution as a GM, short of a clarification of intent, would just be to ask the players what they prefer and employ it equally against them and enemy spellcasters.
I’m not sure how likely it is to come up; Starfinder spellcasters aren’t expected to cast spells every round, so betting that they’re going to do so is gonna be a miss pretty often—and that’s assuming the enemy can’t tell what you’re doing and choose not to cast for that reason.

(I don’t believe there’s a rule one way or the other about how obvious is, but at the most opaque it’s hard to miss that they didn’t take their standard action yet.)

It depends on how you read the wording. If you read event in the context that it's a specific occurrence during the turn of an individual which you, the player, has described, then the readied action could occur during the action of the player's whose turn it is. You could simultaneously shoot a player as he casts a spell if the trigger is 'begins to cast'.

If you read that event is synonymous with action then the previous example wouldn't work. The problem with this reading is that it doesn't work for almost anything. You can't combat maneuver an enemy during their movement. You can't grapple someone who is attempting to fly away. You can't knock someone prone who is attempting to cast a spell. You can't trigger a trap or demolition charge at any time during an opponents turn and have an effect unless they end their movement or action in the area of the charge.. etc.. etc..

I think the entire idea behind a readied action is that you get to act on another players turn. However when the rubber meets the road, you start to realize.. hmmm.. readied actions kinda suck if you subscribe to the 1st hypothesis. They are fine when you subscribe to the 2nd, but can put the GM in a pickle when used creatively. I mean.. bull rushing an enemy off a catwalk, say, into some lava would be brutal. It could end an combat encounter almost immediately.

I don't think it will be resolved because, as I previously stated, both readings could be valid.

That being said.. Nimor you offered an interesting idea earlier. What if we relocated the condition of the offensive/defensive action to the triggering action itself instead of the readied action. What effect would that have on things if any?


Xenocrat wrote:
Nimor Starseeker wrote:

I think it was the intent of the developers to almost guarantee casters casting spells with casting times of full action or less slot succeed. The only things that can potentially stop them are opportunity attacks and dispell magic.

In PF1 you could ready attacks against spell casters potentially disrupting their spelll casting regardless the casting time. In SF a single point of damage will disrupt spellcasting, but at least casters do not have to put up with ready attack action shenanigans against their spell casting.

I think this was a good choice for the development team to make.

I don't think "the developers" had a unified intent for a lot of the things that need FAQs in the CRB. Someone wrote one rule, someone else wrote another, no one noticed the discrepancy, and no one has forged a unanimous consensus on what the rule should be.

Xeno's not wrong here. I work in a business which use the agile business model for completing our work. Teams need top communication skills in order for this model to work effectively and efficiently. You basically have to entrust that the piece of work done by someone else, integrates properly with your work. If you don't possess excellent communication skills (and often even when you do) things can get missed and misunderstood rather easily. Let's say BNW and I were working for Paizo. And he was tasked to work on the Reaction Action for a sprint. And I was tasked to work on the Readied Action for a sprint. And he had a clear view of how that action works and I have a clear view for mine. If we don't coordinate and communicate very, very, effectively, then we get what you have here last week.. (which is the way HE wants it.. well.... HE gets it! Anyone get this musical reference?)

Even if we are both given the same guidelines by our boss, those guidelines are open to our own personal interpretation.

Fun times!

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