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> [SR3] Alternate Initiative - need folks to tear it apart! :)
Stumps
post May 19 2015, 09:08 AM
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Hello again all,

More alternative rules (kind of my jam). (IMG:style_emoticons/default/nyahnyah.gif)

I've had this initiative system alternative for quite a while in various forms.
Now, folks I've ran it with are newer folks who don't have the deep versing Dumpshockers have of SR, so it's never properly been vetted.

I know there are issues; there just has to be.
So I'm asking folks to take a look at the below and then, do what DSFers do best...tear it apart. (IMG:style_emoticons/default/biggrin.gif)

INITIATIVE ALTERNATIVE

Abstract:
The point is to make it feel like the slow guys actually have something to do a bit more, and to create a better feeling of the fast characters moving while other slower characters are in motion, rather than feeling like the slow characters are moving at the same speed as the fast characters; just less often.

Example:
Fast:.........23, 13, 03
Medium:....15, 05
Slow:........08

................P1............P2............P3
Fast:.........23............13............03
Medium:....15a..........15b...........05
Slow:........08a...........xx............08b

[ Spoiler ]


Order goes as follows: ("/" means "or")
Pass 1
1. Fast (2 simple/1 complex)
2. Medium (1 simple/start complex)
3. Slow (1 simple/start complex)


Pass 2
1. Medium (1 simple/resolve complex)
2. Fast (2 simple/1 complex)
3. Slow (does not go)


Pass 3
1. Slow (1 simple/resolve complex)
2. Medium (2 simple/1 complex)
3. Fast (2 simple/1 complex)


==========================
  1. The Initiative Score of the character with the highest Initiative Score determines how many passes exist by subtraction of 10 until such can no longer be subtracted without proceeding into a negative value.
  2. Regardless of player choices regarding the division of their actions, all characters involved in the turn must perform an action on the final pass of the turn (in the example, this is the 3rd pass).
  3. Characters with fewer passes than the fastest character must split their actions up across multiple passes.
  4. The Player determines how their actions are split up.
  5. Complex actions which carry over from one pass to the next are rolled by the action taking character (i.e. "attacker") on their first pass, and resolved - to include the action receiving character's (i.e. "defender") rolls - on the last half of the character's second pass.
  6. For ease of headaches, no action is interruptible anymore than it already is by canon, regardless of its continuation through other passes, or character phases.
  7. If a Character who is taking a complex action which will cross over multiple passes is attacked by a melee attack, then that defending Character must choose to stop their complex action (which will leave them with a Simple Action remaining on their next pass) if they wish to engage in the melee contest rolling. If they choose to continue their complex action and not engage in melee contest rolling, then they may only perform a Soaking Roll in response to the melee attack.


Alright; rip it apart. (IMG:style_emoticons/default/grinbig.gif)

Cheers,
Stumps
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sk8bcn
post May 21 2015, 09:57 AM
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/me rolls Intelligence

...fails...

I didn't get that.



I feel like it would just bring back 2ed ed initiative with very minor differences.
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freudqo
post May 21 2015, 12:06 PM
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I think I actually got it…

I find it interesting for game balance and some sort of realism.

I'm afraid it's really too complicated for the added value. But thanks for presenting it!
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sk8bcn
post May 21 2015, 12:41 PM
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Technically it's fairly close to the 2nd ed system + declaration by reverse order.

If you got 3 passes versus a mage, you'll shoot him probbly 4 times before he casts his spell then shoot twice.

The only difference would be the mage shoots. Then, you'll shoot 2, he once, you 2, he once, you 2 again instead of you 4, he 2, you 2.

Like Freudqo says, I don't think it's worth the complexity.
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Stumps
post May 21 2015, 10:19 PM
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Thank you both!

If complexity is the only issue so far, then that's a good thing (I use a little whiteboard for Initiative, so it's not challenging to keep track at all (IMG:style_emoticons/default/smile.gif) ).

Yes, it's somewhat like 2nd, and somewhat like 3rd; it's a bit in between the two.
Is it "realistic"; I suppose, but that wasn't exactly the motivation for the design.

2nd Ed shuffled everyone to the back of the bus; 3rd Ed shuffled everyone to the front.
Neither is a really good solution to the problem of time dispersion and potential activity participation (having the ability to play or not play at any given time).
Further, the logic (not the realism) didn't follow economically in either version.

Here's my problem with either version.
"During the Combat Turn, which lasts for roughly three seconds of game time..."
p.100 SR3 (SR2 was the same)

Let's use our example setup:
Fast: 23, 13, 03
Medium: 15, 05
Slow: 08

I'll critique two facets: logical consistency and game play facilitation (engagement with as many players as frequently as possible).
We'll just call the alternative method I'm presenting "2.5" (because it's in the middle of 2 and 3 in style).

Firstly; Logical Consistency.
Why does this matter?
Because I'm imagining things happen in my head, and to draft that imagination, I am following the dictation of the outcome of actions per the dice and rules; which describe how SR's universe looks and feels.
It's not expected to be "realistic", but it is expected to be relatable and self-consistent - sensible and comprehensible (not arbitrary).

Every action will be the same - SA firearm attack on a Simple Action.

3 seconds of time is our Combat Turn.
[FAST] has 3 passes in that 3 second time frame.
That means he's firing an SA shot every half of a second.
This is true regardless of the version.

[SLOW] has 1 pass in the same time frame.
That means he's firing a few different possible answers, depending on the version:

SR2 = For the first 2 seconds, [SLOW] is doing absolutely nothing; incapable of moving because his combat speed is just too slow. In the last second, however, his acumen races to life and he can react to things going on right now (current pass) and not 2 seconds previously (2 passes ago), and whip out his shots at a neck breaking half-second per shot rate as if he were [FAST].
If this were a spaghetti western high-noon draw, it makes sense to watch [FAST] whip out his pistol and shoot 4 times at a half-second per shot rate before [SLOW] even gets a chance to react, however, it doesn't logically follow that [SLOW] would suddenly spring to life in the last second and shoot just as quickly as [FAST] or be capable of targeting where [FAST] is this pass.
The only logical resolution as you play the film in your head that you can make is that [SLOW] isn't actually slow - he just wanted [FAST] to not feel bad and so he stood there letting [FAST] take a bunch of shots at him and then at the end decided to whip into gear and show [FAST] that he's just as quick.

SR3 = [SLOW] stands only milliseconds behind the speed of [FAST] right out of the gate. Again, if this were a spaghetti western high-noon draw, then they both drew virtually at the same instant and at the same speed; both firing fractions of seconds before and after each other out of the holster and both firing at half a second per shot rate. Then [SLOW] freezes like an iguana hiding from a hawk and can't do anything for the next 2 seconds while [FAST] continues to move at a half second per shot rate - [SLOW] queerly frozen in time with his six shooter still aimed at where [FAST] was on the first pass.
(Someone hit the <freeze time> perk!)

SR2.5 - option 1 for [SLOW] = [SLOW] and [FAST] draw nearly at identical speeds initially but [FAST] gets off 4 shots in the time [SLOW] gets one shot fired and begins to make his way to his second shot, however that shot was in between those 4 shots by [FAST]. [SLOW]'s second and final shot goes off and [FAST] has a further 2 shots fractions of a second after [SLOW] fired. This means that [SLOW] is pulling an average of one shot per 1.5 seconds and [FAST] is maintaining half second shot rates.

SR2.5 - option 2 for [SLOW] = [FAST] pulls off 4 shots before [SLOW] gets his one shot fired, and then gets to fire his second shot before [FAST] shoots a further 2 shots off. This means [SLOW] is pulling an average of 1 second per shot rates, but lost a second of time due to acumen and reaction being too slow.


From a logical standpoint; it breaks entirely if you try to draw this out as a cartoon on paper using SR2 or SR3.
If you go with something like the "2.5" model, then the drawing of the event history on paper isn't hard to translate at all.



Now for the other issue, game play facilitation (I would like to stress that this is what I consider BY FAR to be the FAR more important consideration):
Take a look back over the above and consider for a moment that in either version of SR2 or SR3, [SLOW] has 2 passes where they are twiddling their thumbs and looking over their character sheet, or playing with their smartphone.
The only difference between the two is whether this player is just sitting around and waiting at the top or bottom of the Combat Turn.

Neither SR2 or SR3 is a good solution to neglect or inactivity; neither successfully accomplishes representing variable character speeds while keeping players engaged as frequently as possible with as few passes as possible existing of players sitting around inactive.


Let's walk through Initiative from a player level of consideration - not a character level consideration:

We'll just say that the average Simple Action takes about 30 seconds in real time (I know it can easily go beyond this, but 30 seconds of time is a very easy reference point to scale in your head to whatever length of time you want to imagine).

In SR2, that means that 3 minutes has elapsed by the time [SLOW] gets to do anything (if we're including [MEDIUM]'s phase in the tally), and then another 2 minutes after he went waiting for [FAST] and [MEDIUM] to finish.

In SR3, that means that 2 minutes has elapsed by the time [SLOW] gets to do anything, and then [SLOW] fiddles with his phone for 3 minutes while [FAST] and [MEDIUM] finish out the Turn.

In SR2.5 option 1, that means that 1.5 minutes has elapsed by the time [SLOW] gets to do anything, a further 1.5 minutes before [SLOW] can do anything again, and then finally waiting 2 minutes for [FAST] and [MEDIUM] to finish up.

In SR2.5 option 2 (in the spoiler tag), that means that 3 minutes has elapsed by the time [SLOW] gets to do anything, a 30 second wait until [SLOW] gets to play again, and a final 1.5 minutes while [SLOW] and [FAST] finish up.



Engagement just in pass count is remarkably different.
In SR3 and 2, [SLOW] is only involved in one pass, however in either version of the SR2.5 options, [SLOW] is involved in 2 passes rather than one.
[Medium] is involved in 3 passes instead of just 2 in both optional variations.


Another consideration that is not quite so obvious on first glance, is the individual pass order.
Their Initiative score stays the same, but they are involved on more passes now.
So...

In SR2, [SLOW] only beat [MEDIUM] and [FAST] once.
In SR3, [SLOW] never beats [MEDIUM] and [FAST].

In SR2.5 option 1, [SLOW] beats [MEDIUM] and [FAST] once.
In SR2.5 option 2 (spoiler tag version), [SLOW] beats [MEDIUM] twice and [FAST] once.


---

So I'm going to lump the play time and pass order considerations in line with each other...take a look at the differences:

In SR2, that means that 3 minutes has elapsed by the time [SLOW] gets to do anything, and then another 2 minutes after he went waiting for [FAST] and [MEDIUM] to finish.
In SR2, [SLOW] only beat [MEDIUM] and [FAST] once.

In SR3, that means that 2 minutes has elapsed by the time [SLOW] gets to do anything, and then [SLOW] fiddles with his phone for 3 minutes while [FAST] and [MEDIUM] finish out the Turn.
In SR3, [SLOW] never beats [MEDIUM] and [FAST].

In SR2.5 option 1, that means that 1.5 minutes has elapsed by the time [SLOW] gets to do anything, a further 1.5 minutes before [SLOW] can do anything again, and then finally waiting 2 minutes for [FAST] and [MEDIUM] to finish up.
In SR2.5 option 1, [SLOW] beats [MEDIUM] and [FAST] once.

In SR2.5 option 2 (in the spoiler tag), that means that 3 minutes has elapsed by the time [SLOW] gets to do anything, a 30 second wait until [SLOW] gets to play again, and a final 1.5 minutes while [SLOW] and [FAST] finish up.
In SR2.5 option 2 (spoiler tag version), [SLOW] beats [MEDIUM] twice and [FAST] once.


---

That is a VERY different mechanic when we're talking about the ability for fair chances at causing damage or performing combat actions, as being capable of BEATING another character to the punch can often times be the life-saving moment.
The 2.5 variation allows slower characters more opportunities to become engaged in those moments, rather than sitting on the sidelines.

Cheers,
Stumps
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sk8bcn
post May 22 2015, 07:50 AM
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What truly was disppointing in 2nd ed was the long time taken before mage could do something. This comes back with your system. That's IMO the biggest issue of it.
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Cochise
post May 22 2015, 08:56 AM
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The problems with your suggestion - beyond complexity issues of determining action sequence and kind of action that can be taken during a particular Combat Phase once more than just 2 PC or NPC are involved - lie here:

  1. Just as the systems you try to "fix" your system simply cannot overcome the inherent flaws of any sequential resolution mechanism that tries to model events that occur as a fluctuating mix of parallel and sequential actions/reactions that may or may not be directly linked by cause and effect. => Your system still will create situations where taking actions or reactions will appear as having absurdly long or absurdly short time frames for decision making and execution. So - despite you obviously thinking so - you won't actually get a "more realistic' model overall ... at least not to a degree that justifies the additional complexity.
  2. In terms of "game balance" you're merely replacing one condition that creates an arms race concerning initiative modification with another one: Instead of facing multiple actions against oneself prior to one's first action you now still see "only" one action made by someone else prior to your first action but force splitting that first own action and additionally make it vulnerable to interruption ... including decision based automatic failure that is virtually guaranteed regardless of which decision you make:

    Just look at a low initiative spell caster who has to split his casting action over two separated Combat Phases in your model and is being attacked by a high initiative character who "notices" the casting action between start (first Combat Phase of the caster) and actual resolution (second Combat Phase of caster). If the caster decides to interrupt the casting action in order to defend his spell fails automatically (what about drain in that situation?) and - due to casters not necessarily being good melee combatants - is likely to be harmed. If he however decides to maintain his casting action - due to general melee resolution mechanics - he'll more than likely suffer severe damage (with very high K.O. potentials) and then simply fail to successfully cast due to TN modifiers based on the sustained damage. => The player's reactions to such pressures will cause the meta shift towards stacking initiative just as it happened in SR2 ... and that will transfer to NSC as well, because otherwise they won't pose reasonably high threat. No actual balance gain compared to SR2.


Since I haven't quite time to go into a deeper analysis I'd also like to see you a detailed example for the following initiative scores for P1, P2 and P3 under the condition that P2 takes S level damage due to P1's action after the initial action sequence has been established:

P1: 23, 13, 03
P2: 11, 01 -> 8 after P1's action during IP1
P3: 9

TL;DR: Personally I don't think that your system provides noticable advantages in terms of "realism" or "balance".
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Stumps
post May 22 2015, 11:02 PM
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Hello Cochise,

Nice! Thank you for really digging in there and gnashing at it. (IMG:style_emoticons/default/smile.gif)
Alright, so let's see what can be done here - if anything.

QUOTE (Cochise @ May 21 2015, 11:56 PM) *
Just as the systems you try to "fix" your system simply cannot overcome the inherent flaws of any sequential resolution mechanism that tries to model events that occur as a fluctuating mix of parallel and sequential actions/reactions that may or may not be directly linked by cause and effect. => Your system still will create situations where taking actions or reactions will appear as having absurdly long or absurdly short time frames for decision making and execution. So - despite you obviously thinking so - you won't actually get a "more realistic' model overall ... at least not to a degree that justifies the additional complexity.

OK, so firstly I want to be clear that I am not chasing after "realistic".
That has an entirely different approach to what this is.
Instead, I'm looking at logical consistency and comprehension.
SR is inherenly cinematic in its combat, and this alteration does not address that issue (nor do I really want that, as doing so requires a lot of very slow mechanics which look something like Diplomacy slamming into Shadowrun, and that greatly increases the time it takes to resolve ... everything, and radically changes the entire approach to combat - it's not just an initiative alternative, but an entire multifaceted combat system overhaul).

By logical consistency, it means there is a continuity more often than not; that play flow is not sharp stop and start points with massive gaps and bursts of activity.
I am having a difficult time thinking of a moment where '2.5' has inconsistent flows of actions which would produce as drastically of an odd picture in the minds eye as SR2 or SR3.
Perhaps you could paint an image of one?

That said, I think we both agree that this is rather not the important aspect of the consideration (but it shouldn't be ignored entirely either).


QUOTE
In terms of "game balance" you're merely replacing one condition that creates an arms race concerning initiative modification with another one: Instead of facing multiple actions against oneself prior to one's first action you now still see "only" one action made by someone else prior to your first action but force splitting that first own action..

That doesn't seem to be a minor gain to me; granted, your point about its minor value is dependent on the part about interruption, but if interruption wasn't an issue and we were just looking at these direct two comparisons in this segmented comment...that doesn't seem to be a bad result at all.
Your action isn't split, however. It is simply that everything is now simple action in timeline, set by the standard of the fastest character's rate of 2 simple actions per pass.

If you perform a simple action, it's not split - your traditional phase (2 simple/1 complex) was, however, split.

QUOTE
and additionally make it vulnerable to interruption ... including decision based automatic failure that is virtually guaranteed regardless of which decision you make

Quite: this is the weak point of the alternative and I was hoping someone would peg it and nail it.
Now, personally, I have an entirely different way of employing this system alternative, but I didn't want to post that as it radically changes a wide range of factors in SR and that would complicate the examination far too much, as well as make the alternative far more alien (see spoiler for how I do things personally).

[ Spoiler ]


Now as a solution to the way rules 5-7 read in the above; that puzzles me.
I have been thinking on that for a while and I can't really figure out a solution.
I'm not sure if this only works with the only-simple-action augmentation, or if it just that rule 7 must be stripped (which would make the flow of actions' less logically consistent).

This is the one facet I'm most interested in; I get by with my house rules, but that's not a typical setup for SR which many would have.

QUOTE
Since I haven't quite time to go into a deeper analysis I'd also like to see you a detailed example for the following initiative scores for P1, P2 and P3 under the condition that P2 takes S level damage due to P1's action after the initial action sequence has been established:

P1: 23, 13, 03
P2: 11, 01 -> 8 after P1's action during IP1
P3: 9


OPTION 1
................P1............P2............P3
Fast:.........23............13............03
Medium:....11a..........11b...........01
Slow:........09a...........xx............09b

OPTION 2
................P1............P2............P3
Fast:.........23............13............03
Medium:....11..........01a...........01b
Slow:........09a...........xx............09b

OPTION 3
................P1............P2............P3
Fast:.........23............13............03
Medium:....11a..........11b...........01
Slow:........xx...........09a............09b

OPTION 4
................P1............P2............P3
Fast:.........23............13............03
Medium:....11..........01a...........01b
Slow:........xx...........09a............09b


After [FAST] causes Initiative loss to [MEDIUM]
Following SR3 rules on p.102, which read:
"Note that a character only acts once per Initiative Pass,
so if a character’s Initiative Score is lowered by damage after he
has acted during a pass, he does not get to act again that pass.
In addition, a character’s Initiative Score may be lowered
enough that he loses a complete Initiative Pass.

In the example above, Dave’s character has an Initiative
of 22. In the first pass, GM Goon #2 (Initiative 19) plugs
Dave’s character for a Moderate wound. The Moderate
wound carries with it a –2 penalty, so Dave’s Initiative
Score is immediately modified to 20. While this doesn’t
affect the first pass (Dave already has gone), it means that
in the second pass Dave’s Initiative Score is 10 (not 12).
Furthermore, this means Dave will lose his action in the
third pass (10 – 10 = 0, meaning no actions).
"


Which, the above would follow in just the same manner, and following the same logic.

OPTION 1
................P1............P2............P3
Fast:.........23............13............03
Medium:....08a..........xx...........08b
Slow:........09a...........xx............09b

OPTION 2
................P1............P2............P3
Fast:.........23............13............03
Medium:....xx...........xx............08
Slow:........09a...........xx............09b

OPTION 3
................P1............P2............P3
Fast:.........23............13............03
Medium:....08a..........xx...........8b
Slow:........xx...........09a............09b

OPTION 4
................P1............P2............P3
Fast:.........23............13............03
Medium:....xx...........xx............08
Slow:........xx...........09a............09b

[corrected option 2 and 4 after Cochise pointed out error - thank you Cochise.(IMG:style_emoticons/default/smile.gif) ]
To satisfy rule 2 (last pass rule) and the rule of changing initiative on the fly on p.100 (cited above), these would be the results.

QUOTE
TL;DR: Personally I don't think that your system provides noticable advantages in terms of "realism" or "balance".

I'm not entirely looking for either of those things; just to be clear.
I was looking at - firstly - getting more players picking up dice and being involved more frequently, and - secondly - removing some awkward logical inconsistencies with the flow of actions.

Balance wasn't something I thought was really needed for address; SR3 balances out fine with initiative...more or less.
It just happens to leave people sitting around longer instead of at least touching the dice a few times in between.

Now; there is another way to go about this in regards to this question about the initiative impact bit, and this loops back to sk8bcn as well.
QUOTE (sk8bcn @ May 21 2015, 10:50 PM) *
What truly was disppointing in 2nd ed was the long time taken before mage could do something. This comes back with your system. That's IMO the biggest issue of it.


So, the other possible option is to not require anyone to exactly plant anywhere on the passes, but allow them to split them up anywhere - but requiring that they do split up if they cannot fill every pass with two simple actions.

Which would change the answer to Cochise about initiative impact to look like this:

OPTION 1
................P1............P2............P3
Fast:.........23............13............03
Medium:....11a..........11b...........01
Slow:........09a...........xx............09b

OPTION 2
................P1............P2............P3
Fast:.........23............13............03
Medium:....11..........01a...........01b
Slow:........09a...........xx............09b

OPTION 3
................P1............P2............P3
Fast:.........23............13............03
Medium:....11a..........11b...........01
Slow:........xx...........09a............09b

OPTION 4
................P1............P2............P3
Fast:.........23............13............03
Medium:....11..........01a...........01b
Slow:........xx...........09a............09b


After [FAST] causes Initiative loss to [MEDIUM]

OPTION 1
................P1............P2............P3
Fast:.........23............13............03
Medium:....08a..........08b...........xx
Slow:........09a...........xx............09b

OPTION 2
................P1............P2............P3
Fast:.........23............13............03
Medium:....08...........xx............xx
Slow:........09a...........xx............09b

OPTION 3
................P1............P2............P3
Fast:.........23............13............03
Medium:....08a..........08b...........xx
Slow:........xx...........09a............09b

OPTION 4
................P1............P2............P3
Fast:.........23............13............03
Medium:....08...........xx............xx
Slow:........xx...........09a............09b


And of course [SLOW] could be moved around and have chosen different options if rule 2 is removed.
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Cochise
post May 23 2015, 12:19 PM
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QUOTE (Stumps)
OK, so firstly I want to be clear that I am not chasing after "realistic".
That has an entirely different approach to what this is.
Instead, I'm looking at logical consistency and comprehension.


~hmm~ Let's just say that parts of what you wrote in the OP as well as other comments left me with a different impression. And even in the post that I'm now answering to you are making references to "logical consistency" with regards to a (seemingly) more continuous flow of actions vs. sudden bursts of "explosive" action within the modeled time slots of the Combat Sequence. Personally I'm considering such attempts as something that relates to the overall "realism" of the model.

QUOTE (Stumps)
By logical consistency, it means there is a continuity more often than not; that play flow is not sharp stop and start points with massive gaps and bursts of activity.
I am having a difficult time thinking of a moment where '2.5' has inconsistent flows of actions which would produce as drastically of an odd picture in the minds eye as SR2 or SR3.
Perhaps you could paint an image of one?


Whenever I have to deal with attempts of altering initiative and time flow gets mentioned I have to think of one particular example that originates from the SR2 initiative system and then look how it turns out in the proposed system. Fair warning ... the situation is more of an edge case than the norm ... but not necessarily totally "out of the way" either:

We have a human street samurai with a deliberately maxed initiative, so we're talking a base Reaction of 11[19] and a total of 5 initiative dice. Such a character is possible as starting character in SR3 and isn't even fully maximized. Now when looking at his average initiative score you'll see him quite firmly around 36 (rounded down) and thus causing 4 initiative passes under SR2, SR3 and in your system. On the other side we'll put a non-augmented just above average human who is unlucky enough to be the guard on duty who encounters the samurai when the latter happens to come around a corner within a distance of about 6 meters. The guard's Reaction is 4 and he has 1 initiative die which will bring him to an average initiative score of 7 (rounded down as well).

Now quite obviously the first thing this situation causes is a surprise test. But I guess I don't have to go into the math of showing that - under SR3 rules for surprise - our guard will end up with the following limitations: The guard's first action (which entails either two simple or one complex action) in the Combat Turn cannot attack or take any other direct action against the samurai that would impede or counteract the samurai's actions and he cannot use Combat Pool to defend against attacks from the samurai during the first Combat Turn. In other words: The guy is pretty much toast.

When using the SR2 initiative system the situation might play out like this:

  1. In Combat Phase 36 our samurai commences with normal walk over to the guard. His quickness of 9 allows him to cover 9 meters per Combat Turn. This distance is spread out to 2,25 meters per Initiative Pass, which causes him to reach the guard during / toward the end of his third Initiative Pass. As first action(s) during the first Initiative our samurai uses two simple actions to retrieve a pack of cigarettes from his left pocket and a lighter from his right pocket. Nobody else acts during this IP.
  2. In Combat Phase 26 our samurai uses two simple actions again: One for drawing a cigarette from the pack with his lips and another one to light it right after. In a free action he then simply drops both items to the ground. Again nobody else acts during this IP
  3. In Combat Phase 16 our samurai delays his action until Phase 1 of the same Initiative Pass in order to assure that he's standing right in front our poor guard. Now things get a bit fuzzy in terms of proper rules application but I guess we can agree that it's perfectly okay to let the samurai take a "melee" test (with a +1 modifier due to him moving during the Initiative Pass) with the aim of pulling the guards own weapon from the guards holster. Since the guard may not defend with combat pool, may explicitly not take any action that would impede or counteract the samurai I'll just assume that by the end of Initiative Pass 3 the guard's weapon is firmly in the hands of our samurai.
  4. In Combat Phase 7 our guard can act for the first time but still cannot take any direct action against the samurai, since all limitations of surprise stay in place up until and during his first own action within the Combat Turn. So what's our guard left with? Let's just say he has a high degree of professionalism and thus uses a single action to pick up his walkie-talkie and another single action to radio for backup with the words "Walker here, backdoor under attack!"
  5. In Combat Phase 6 our samurai is highly annoyed with himself for being so lax and by what just happened and thus uses two single actions for shooting the guard with his own gun ... most likely with the ultimate outcome


Now with a focused look at the times of activity vs. inactivity what we're seeing here are three seconds of "action" where the boosted samurai is doing "stuff" for about 2.25 seconds before the non-boosted guard suddenly springs into action within time frames that are equal to the samurai and in a fraction of 0.75 seconds. He falls back into inactivity with the same speed and then just ends up dead during the rest of what's left of those final 0.75 seconds.

I guess this is a clear example of what you're trying to fix in terms of logic and consistent action flows (and what I consider as an attempt of getting more "realistic" over-all)?!

I could go through the sequence under SR3 initiative system as well, but the differences would be negligible, since it would only shift the guard's action that causes the annoyance of the samurai into Initiative Pass 1 but at least he'd be allowed to actually fight and use combat pool in defense against the samurai's attempt of taking his gun from him in Initiative Pass 3 ... But even if the guard somehow manages not to lose his own weapon he'd go down in the final Initiative Pass - either by a quick-drawing samurai who uses his own gun for a double-tap or simply guts the guy in a second melee attack.

But we're here for your system .. So let's have a look at the "exact" same situation under your system then and try to set it up in accordance to your initial 7 rules.

  • Rule No.1 establishes 4 Initiative Passes.
  • Rule No. 2 forces the guard to at least spend a simple action in the fourth Initiative Pass or wait for the resolution of a complex action he started during an earlier IP until this final IP in the current Combat Turn.
  • Rule No. 3 establishes that the guard must split his action over the IPs.
  • Rule No. 4 is followed by the scenario itself: The guard uses his action as two simple actions - One for picking up the walkie-talkie and one for making his distress call
  • Rule No. 5 to 7 do not apply


Now the possible "choices" for when our guard is picking up his walkie-Talkie (which he must take during IPs 1 to 3 in order to conform to rule No. 3) are:

  1. During IP 1 after the samurai has started his movement and taken out his cigarettes and lighter. Time frame somewhere in the first 0.75 seconds of the whole Combat Turn. The non-boosted guard still performs his pick up action at the same speeds as the samurai. Surprise rules still apply for the second simple action. By the time we reach the final IP we'll have seen another roughly 1.5 to 2 seconds during which the guard was condemned to "inactivity" before making his final words in yet another "blitz" like action and then being gunned down.
  2. During IP 2 after the samurai has started smoking ... Still a burst action within a time window of 0.75 seconds which leaves us with guard inactivity of about 1 second into the turn and another 1+ seconds before his final burst action and death
  3. During IP 3 after our samurai has taken the gun from the guard. Roughly 2 seconds before he does his burst action of grabbing the walkie-talkie and half a second before speaking and then dying.


Now variant 1 certainly doesn't strike me as much of an improvement over the original situation. And while I'd agree that variants 2 and 3 do provide a slightly better flow, the actual gain still doesn't convince me with regards to the associated complexity. And logically or in terms of realism the whole sequential resolution is still "awkward".

QUOTE (Stumps)
If you perform a simple action, it's not split - your traditional phase (2 simple/1 complex) was, however, split.


Two simple actions that are otherwise subjected to the original rules that treat them as being part of one combined action during a specific Combat Phase certainly are a forced "split" ... and my main point there was about the arms race concerning initiative boosts created by that. The standard reaction of players to any such forced splittings will be the attempt of at least having as many IPs as the person with the highest initiative score in order to be able to execute two simple actions to maximum benefit without anyone acting in between and - with regards to complex actions - avoiding outside interference that could lead to interruption. Any archetype with a higher affinity to complex actions (magicians, melee characters, riggers) is likely to engage in this arms race ... and in the long run you as GM will have to do so with your NPCs as well in order to maintain challenging threat levels.

Melee as a complex action by default poses an additional problem when being "split" as described. Let's take a situation where a "slow" but highly competent character engages in melee during the first IP against a "fast" but less proficient character who created a Combat Turn with 3 Initiative Passes but either didn't attack the "slow" character or failed to harm him. Now assume that the "slow" character is actually the one who wins the melee test. As per your rules the resolution - including damage - will not occur before the final IP => The attacked "fast" character will now have at least 2 and up to 4 additional simple action during which he can act as if unharmed with a rather limited "engaged in melee" modifier. Is that really "more logical" or "more coherent"?

QUOTE (Stumps)
Quite: this is the weak point of the alternative and I was hoping someone would peg it and nail it.
Now, personally, I have an entirely different way of employing this system alternative, but I didn't want to post that as it radically changes a wide range of factors in SR and that would complicate the examination far too much, as well as make the alternative far more alien (see spoiler for how I do things personally).

[ Spoiler ]


Now as a solution to the way rules 5-7 read in the above; that puzzles me.
I have been thinking on that for a while and I can't really figure out a solution.
I'm not sure if this only works with the only-simple-action augmentation, or if it just that rule 7 must be stripped (which would make the flow of actions' less logically consistent).


Well, that certainly is a drastic change. The problems with that additional change once again goes straight into "balance" territory. First of all, you'd certainly have to get rid of any form of complex action to remove the problems created by combinations of 3,5,6 and 7. And while this could certainly be done I'd expect some serious trouble in general power levels when magicians start slinging combat spells twice as often as simple actions or melee combatants double their number of attacks.

QUOTE (Stumps)
OPTION 1
................P1............P2............P3
Fast:.........23............13............03
Medium:....11a..........11b...........01
Slow:........09a...........xx............09b

OPTION 2
................P1............P2............P3
Fast:.........23............13............03
Medium:....11..........01a...........01b
Slow:........09a...........xx............09b

OPTION 3
................P1............P2............P3
Fast:.........23............13............03
Medium:....11a..........11b...........01
Slow:........xx...........09a............09b

OPTION 4
................P1............P2............P3
Fast:.........23............13............03
Medium:....11..........01a...........01b
Slow:........xx...........09a............09b


After [FAST] causes Initiative loss to [MEDIUM]
Following SR3 rules on p.102, which read:
"Note that a character only acts once per Initiative Pass,
so if a character’s Initiative Score is lowered by damage after he
has acted during a pass, he does not get to act again that pass.
In addition, a character’s Initiative Score may be lowered
enough that he loses a complete Initiative Pass.

In the example above, Dave’s character has an Initiative
of 22. In the first pass, GM Goon #2 (Initiative 19) plugs
Dave’s character for a Moderate wound. The Moderate
wound carries with it a –2 penalty, so Dave’s Initiative
Score is immediately modified to 20. While this doesn’t
affect the first pass (Dave already has gone), it means that
in the second pass Dave’s Initiative Score is 10 (not 12).
Furthermore, this means Dave will lose his action in the
third pass (10 – 10 = 0, meaning no actions).
"


Which, the above would follow in just the same manner, and following the same logic.

OPTION 1
................P1............P2............P3
Fast:.........23............13............03
Medium:....08a..........xx...........08b
Slow:........09a...........xx............09b

OPTION 2
................P1............P2............P3
Fast:.........23............13............03
Medium:....08...........xx............xx
Slow:........09a...........xx............09b

OPTION 3
................P1............P2............P3
Fast:.........23............13............03
Medium:....08a..........xx...........8b
Slow:........xx...........09a............09b

OPTION 4
................P1............P2............P3
Fast:.........23............13............03
Medium:....08...........xx............xx
Slow:........xx...........09a............09b


To satisfy rule 2 (last pass rule) and the rule of changing initiative on the fly on p.100 (cited above), these would be the results.


I might be wrong, but the Options 2 and 4 do seem to violate rule 2, while Option 1 and 3 show no difference for the "medium" character who has been turned into a "slow" one because of the attack done by "fast".

QUOTE (Stumps)
I'm not entirely looking for either of those things; just to be clear.
I was looking at - firstly - getting more players picking up dice and being involved more frequently, and - secondly - removing some awkward logical inconsistencies with the flow of actions.


Those "awkward logical inconsistencies" are elements that go counter "realism" and are in some cases balancing factors. Picking up dice more frequently might appear to create more involvement but so far this is virtually the only advantage your system provides. Logic and realism is still defied on various levels. General balance doesn't increase (and some would even say "suffers") and you'd need a major system overhaul for the whole combat system to actually fix the problems ... which defacto would make it a "different game".

Yet another aspect that you should consider is this: SR3 combat can be very tedious in its normal action sequence. This is mainly caused by the rather slow resolution mechanisms and the potentially high numbers of actions (particularly when everyone is constantly using simple actions and utilizes free actions as much as possible) but one element that is neglected very often is the fact that it's also the time that it takes to shift from one player/NPC to the next that adds to the overall time consumption. Your system introduces additional shifts between players / NPCs. As a result you're likely to see even more prolonged combat times in addition to the time it takes to recalculate altered initiative values and making new decisions on how the new values are distributed over the IPs.
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Stumps
post May 23 2015, 09:54 PM
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Thank you once again, Cochise!
Boy, this is great - lots of smashing things and tearing things apart!

Alright, let's get into it! (IMG:style_emoticons/default/biggrin.gif)

QUOTE (Cochise @ May 23 2015, 04:19 AM) *
~hmm~ Let's just say that parts of what you wrote in the OP as well as other comments left me with a different impression. And even in the post that I'm now answering to you are making references to "logical consistency" with regards to a (seemingly) more continuous flow of actions vs. sudden bursts of "explosive" action within the modeled time slots of the Combat Sequence. Personally I'm considering such attempts as something that relates to the overall "realism" of the model.

Yeah, no.
I could show my version for realism - it doesn't look like this.

The points you are thinking are about "realism" are about creating a better feel that action doesn't just stop, but instead flows in a chaotic whirlwind of combat; that you are moving while others are - to remove the "turn" sensation a bit more.

"The point is to make it feel like the slow guys actually have something to do a bit more, and to create a better feeling of the fast characters moving while other slower characters are in motion, rather than feeling like the slow characters are moving at the same speed as the fast characters; just less often."

QUOTE
But we're here for your system .. So let's have a look at the "exact" same situation under your system then and try to set it up in accordance to your initial 7 rules.

Rule No.1 establishes 4 Initiative Passes.
Rule No. 2 forces the guard to at least spend a simple action in the fourth Initiative Pass or wait for the resolution of a complex action he started during an earlier IP until this final IP in the current Combat Turn.
Rule No. 3 establishes that the guard must split his action over the IPs.
Rule No. 4 is followed by the scenario itself: The guard uses his action as two simple actions - One for picking up the walkie-talkie and one for making his distress call
Rule No. 5 to 7 do not apply

2 may be dropped - I'm not sure.
5-7 are the hard part.

2 is convention - to force the actions to spread out over the whole turn so as to make it feel more like they are acting at a slower rate of motion than the faster characters, but since sk8bcn brought up the point, I've been thinking of maybe cutting rule 2 out.

5-7 remain a pickle.

QUOTE
Now the possible "choices" for when our guard is picking up his walkie-Talkie (which he must take during IPs 1 to 3 in order to conform to rule No. 3) are:

During IP 1 after the samurai has started his movement and taken out his cigarettes and lighter. Time frame somewhere in the first 0.75 seconds of the whole Combat Turn. The non-boosted guard still performs his pick up action at the same speeds as the samurai. Surprise rules still apply for the second simple action. By the time we reach the final IP we'll have seen another roughly 1.5 to 2 seconds during which the guard was condemned to "inactivity" before making his final words in yet another "blitz" like action and then being gunned down.
During IP 2 after the samurai has started smoking ... Still a burst action within a time window of 0.75 seconds which leaves us with guard inactivity of about 1 second into the turn and another 1+ seconds before his final burst action and death
During IP 3 after our samurai has taken the gun from the guard. Roughly 2 seconds before he does his burst action of grabbing the walkie-talkie and half a second before speaking and then dying.


Now variant 1 certainly doesn't strike me as much of an improvement over the original situation. And while I'd agree that variants 2 and 3 do provide a slightly better flow, the actual gain still doesn't convince me with regards to the associated complexity. And logically or in terms of realism the whole sequential resolution is still "awkward".

I follow what you're saying, but I'm not sure if I follow every detail exactly as you are thinking of them, so just to make sure we're on the same page.
Is this what you are getting at?

https://sites.google.com/site/myjunkfolders...Comparisons.png?

QUOTE
Melee as a complex action by default poses an additional problem when being "split" as described.

Melee, as a whole, poses problems in itself.
Free attacks from defenders, melee represents a series of punches, feints, kicks, etc... unless it doesn't and you are doing a specific maneuver or called shot and then somehow it equals a very specific singular action in the same compressed time...it keeps going. Melee is a giant ball of mess in SR in general.

QUOTE
Let's take a situation where a "slow" but highly competent character engages in melee during the first IP against a "fast" but less proficient character who created a Combat Turn with 3 Initiative Passes but either didn't attack the "slow" character or failed to harm him. Now assume that the "slow" character is actually the one who wins the melee test. As per your rules the resolution - including damage - will not occur before the final IP => The attacked "fast" character will now have at least 2 and up to 4 additional simple action during which he can act as if unharmed with a rather limited "engaged in melee" modifier. Is that really "more logical" or "more coherent"?

<snip> idea of removing complex actions by Stumps</snip>

Well, that certainly is a drastic change. The problems with that additional change once again goes straight into "balance" territory. First of all, you'd certainly have to get rid of any form of complex action to remove the problems created by combinations of 3,5,6 and 7. And while this could certainly be done I'd expect some serious trouble in general power levels when magicians start slinging combat spells twice as often as simple actions or melee combatants double their number of attacks.

I haven't seen a problem with this yet (in play; I have not built an excel simulator to stress-test the numbers properly).
It takes the knuckleballers (I consider magic users in SR like knuckleball throwers in baseball; back-burner, unpredictable, usually only used as a backup plan though some teams figure out a way to make them the lead, and everyone's constantly worrying about their capability)...anyway, it takes the knuckleballers out of the bullpin and slaps them into a higher rate of play and interaction.

The power up is universal, so neither the players nor the npc's are getting a weighted favor, and magic getting a scale up (so far in personal experience) has only helped more in getting everyone involved and not leaving folks sitting around twiddling thumbs - honestly, a lot of headaches went away by just ignoring complex actions (this change was actually made prior to augmenting the initiative system).

At some point I need to take the time to build the simulator and check this over a hundred passes five times for standard and altered versions in comparison and see what the difference in result comes out to in value.

The more I look at your critiques which all fall into rule 5-7 class of issues, the more I keep coming back to this issue of how we don't bother with complex actions in general (and the more I realize what a corner the designers walked themselves into with Initiative, Magic, and Melee).

QUOTE
I might be wrong, but the Options 2 and 4 do seem to violate rule 2, while Option 1 and 3 show no difference for the "medium" character who has been turned into a "slow" one because of the attack done by "fast".

Yes; it was an error from my part in regards to Option 2 and 4 in the first run through the examples. (I went back and made the correction; sorry about that)
Those 8's should be at the back.
The second time around they are fine, as that was to show if we abandon Rule 2.

1 and 3 don't show any difference to [MEDIUM] because it's [SLOW] that changed, and not [MEDIUM].
I showed all variations so that the consideration of who beats who when is visible; so that meant showing changes that weren't just [MEDIUM]'s changes alone.

QUOTE
...which defacto would make it a "different game".

No; it's still SR.
Just yet another SR House Rules ad-hoc.
There's no wrong in tearing up a system and fiddling with its guts.
SR1 is a different game than SR5, but they share the same overall design motif.
Staying to that motif is what counts (imo, some don't even bother trying to keep in form with SR's motifs or base systems logic).

QUOTE
Yet another aspect that you should consider is this: SR3 combat can be very tedious in its normal action sequence. This is mainly caused by the rather slow resolution mechanisms and the potentially high numbers of actions (particularly when everyone is constantly using simple actions and utilizes free actions as much as possible) but one element that is neglected very often is the fact that it's also the time that it takes to shift from one player/NPC to the next that adds to the overall time consumption. Your system introduces additional shifts between players / NPCs. As a result you're likely to see even more prolonged combat times in addition to the time it takes to recalculate altered initiative values and making new decisions on how the new values are distributed over the IPs.

Not a problem for our groups - I'm sure it might be for others; this has always been one of those issues in the SR community: combat vs non-combat.

Some groups slim combat down to the point where it's only a few die rolls and then move past it.
Others explode it into two or three times the complexity (I've seen some builds for combat which involved easily twice the amount of rolls, hit location rolling if you weren't aiming, splitting the damage meter up across the body parts and tallying the damage to each body part, increased details for sniping, various [and imo, futile] attempts at more combat realism - some going really in depth into firearm calibration in SR, etc...).

The groups I tend to be involved with tend to spend most of the evening in combat (easily 75% or more), and the non-combat time is typically skirting on getting into combat at the drop of a hat if a nail hits the floor.

So while I can easily agree that this could, in count of time taken passing around who's turn it is to do something...I'm not at all sorry about that. (IMG:style_emoticons/default/nyahnyah.gif)
To me, that's like saying that it takes longer to not skip over one of four players in UNO three out of every four rounds.
True, but that also kind of sucks for the fourth player.

I'm not trying to make SR the fastest combat gameplay, so if the overall time of combat gameplay increases in exchange for more people being involved more often during that gameplay...I'm fine with that.

On a downside; it did remove our designated Coffee and Snack Maker since there's not enough spare time to walk away. (IMG:style_emoticons/default/nyahnyah.gif)

Cheers,
Stumps
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Beaumis
post May 24 2015, 08:59 AM
Post #11


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Disclaimer: I am a firm believer that game mechanics aren't meant to model the flow of time in RPGs but are instead meant to model a reasonable resolution for a given problem. It is the GMs Job to adjust and describe the actual flow of time after resolution has taken place. Therefore, this may be biased and should be read as such.

Your system takes me back to the way my old group used to play AD&D. We'd all roll a D10, add our action's speed to the result and the GM would count up starting at 0. When our dice result came up, we'd announce the start of our action and when the result + speed came up we resolved out actions. A lot of stuff could happen in between those two and being interrupted was a frequent thing. It worked well for AD&D, but we were kids and our tactics could be summed up with "kill them first".It illustrates the point tho, because that is were your main problems lie.


Player Engagement
Your stated goal is to engage players more, but I'd be willing to bet in practice, players will actually do less because players expect results from their actions. I speak from long experience when I say that announcing "I start casting" and then waiting on the edge of my seat to find out if my spell succeeds is engaging, but not fun. I didn't actually do anything except for wait and losing my spell because a goon attacked me was simply frustrating.
In practice, you are looking at one of two likely results: Either players will refrain from using split actions as much as possible (I.E., the mages will pick up guns) or players will violate rule #5 for bookkeeping alone. Who really wants to roll some dice and then wait for the result for 10 minutes while the other players get theirs immediately?

By denying a player a full set of actions, you also disallow common action combinations such as: Ready a weapon and shoot, get up and shoot, reload and shoot etc. Instead, you force players to do either/or, but you don't do so on an equal basis. A fast player's choices remain digital, but the slow player is demoted to binary choices. This will result in player's going like: "Yeah I reload, next." for their turn. (Also, you sort of introduce the "Fuck you for not choosing a full caster" kind of problem, because a player's out of character decisions demote him to a second rate citizen.)


Action Denial and Economy
At it's core, the game balance of every RPG depends on its action economy. Certain actions are more valuable than others and having more actions is almost always superior. There are multiple ways to gain more actions, but the most common one is by denying your opponent theirs. Shadowrun already has a major balance problem with it's action economy by design. Compare SRs floating number of actions to DnD: In that system, Initiative determines when you go, but not how often. All players are equal in that system. In SR, people are unequal, which basically turns out of character decisions into a gauge of how much stage time you get during combat.

In a system like DnD, action denial is generally a quid pro quo thing. You spend your action to deny the enemy theirs, usually in the form of killing him [dead is a status condition]. In Shadowrun, the value of action denial actually shifts depending on how fast you are. The "cost" of denying someone his action may be 1/3 of his action pool to a fast player while it could be the entirety of his pool to a slow one. This makes action denial *very* attractive. The big Initiative change of 3rd was entirely due to this. To reign the action economy in. [Sorry for the long winded explanation, but this really is a very important concept. I apologize if I'm preaching to the choir here.]

Your system limits the amount of actions a participant can take and therefore skewers the action economy by making denial that much more powerful. In baseline SR3, if I can't shot the mage before his turn comes up, he can mind control one of us because his turn always comes up before I go again. In your system, I get twice or more the attempts to kill him dead before he finishes his cast. Being fast becomes more powerful and being slow sucks even more. This also further underlines the problem that your system incentivizes simple actions over complex ones(or multiple simple, which is the same thing really). Not because simple ones are better, but because they are more fun.


Melee and Battlefield Control
This ties in closely with the previous heading, but it does deserve it's own section I think. In SR3, melee is a bit of a gamble. You move in to engage an enemy and then you attack. However, you also risk a counterattack, the results of which can range from a simple loss of your action to your death. Similarly, being attacked in melee allows you to turn the tables on the attacker. Your system changes this dynamic up drastically and turns melee from a calculated gamble into a method of battlefield control. When attacked in melee, according to your Rule #7, I am faced with two choices:
1. Soak the damage, or
2. Interrupt my action to defend.
In the former case, melee is no longer a gamble but basically close range shooting. In the later, I have an x percent chance to take damage (and y to deal) and am denied the results of my previous action. Due to the way melee works in SR, people that engage you in melee are very likely to be good in melee, which means that x likely to be significantly larger than y. On top of that, a melee combatant can effectively shut a mage down completely, simply by engaging him in melee. The only way for the mage to disengage is to kill/ incapacitate the attacker, but the attacker denies the mage his most likely means of doing so.


To sum this up: From a game balance perspective, you are making matters worse. Fast people get even more stage time on top of getting stronger while slow people are getting their options severely limited. You mess up the action economy and change the fundamental nature of melee. I don't mean to be a dick and bash your brain child. It seems like you've put a lot of thought into it and I could always be wrong and just not get it right. But from where I am standing, the system you designed runs counter to your design goals. Basically it seems to me like you're putting the cart before the horse. You build your system around the fast people as baseline and now try to squish the slow ones in there. You're taking away from the people you want to engage more and giving to the people that are already fine. A reversed approach might be more sound. [I might get back to that in a future post, but I'm kinda low on time.]
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Stumps
post May 24 2015, 10:24 PM
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Beaumis,

Wow! Great analysis! I enjoyed reading the way that you think. (IMG:style_emoticons/default/smile.gif)
I especially appreciated the action economy angle as this was also a part of what Cochise had brought up.

I'm now quite certain that if this Initiative alternative is viable, then it is without rules 5-7 and removing 5-7 so far would require converting SR into a strictly Simple Action system without Complex Actions.
I mentioned this before to Cochise; that this is how the last group I was playing with did things (converted to SR only having Simple Actions and this Initiative alternative), and that set of playing worked fine, but then again - no one was counting, I was GMing, and I was intentionally making a softy environment because it was the same group we played Munchkin and other good-off games.

I think that I do need to do as I was saying to Cochise and sit down and build a simulator in excel to test the statistics between standard SR and SR stripped to simple actions and see if this causes a breaking point in the escalation of magical attacks or not.


Also; don't worry - this isn't my pride and joy, this initiative alternative.
This is probably at least in the teens, if not greater, in count of how many such alternatives I've come up with or augmented of other's home-brews over the decades.
This is what I do - I fiddle; it's part of the SR hobby for me. (IMG:style_emoticons/default/smile.gif)

I think most of my posts around here are game mechanic tweaks, and I loved helping out when I could with SR3r - but things kind of died down and I got distracted with doing textual analysis of early Christian writings and comparing them against anthropological demographics; working on the issue of provenance.

OK, I'm babbling.

Thanks again!
Cheers,
Stumps
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Stumps
post May 27 2015, 04:40 AM
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Update: I have the simulator mostly built - characters (street sam, weapons specialist, combat mage - these are archetypes from the core rule book) and shooting dummy target built, initiative roller, initiative charting, and action counter, dice roller, success/fail tracker, staging up calculator, and staging down calculator (from dummy target's 3D6 rolls).

Next I need to build the drain resistance tests for the two variations of the mage (standard with complex actions, and alternate with simple actions), then build the results tracker, run the sequence a bunch of times, and finally quantify the results captured in charts.

Once I have everything, I'll post the results and we'll see how damaging it is to have mages working on simple actions instead of complex actions.
So far, an interesting consideration...(and this is not data driven; this is a hunch from seeing some crude preliminary results while I've been building the simulator) it doesn't look like the output of damage by mages will be a huge issue, but what might be a problem is the doubling of drain tests...since, unlike gun-bunnies who don't have to roll to prevent taking damage from firing their weapons, the mages have to push off taking Stun damage for every spell launched...that could cause them to become more lethal to themselves more than they become an imbalance to the rest of the system.

We'll see.

Cheers,
Stumps
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Link
post May 27 2015, 07:01 AM
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First edition managed without dividing actions between simple and complex. The divide in actions probably originated with the reactive trigger from the SSC.
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Stumps
post May 27 2015, 07:11 AM
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Hello Link,

I never played 1st, only really know tid-bits I have picked up from hearsay over the decades.
Interesting...I did not know it lacked Complex actions.
There must be some other reason, though...or...I would hope, anyway, than SSC.

Hmm.

Cheers,
Stumps
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Stumps
post May 28 2015, 04:32 AM
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I got a little bit further today, buuuuut unfortunately I had a typo on the vlookup for damage codes so I logged 100 iterations of combat turn data with a bunch of Double Deadly damage logging as Deadly Damage. GAH! /bangshead.

*sigh*
I got that fixed so I'll re-run that hundred again probably tomorrow and then I'll have to run another 100 for the augmented version with the mage.

Once I have all of the data logged, a big part of the work will be in looking for a meaningful way of representing this massive amount of data without drowning out important considerations.

Currently, I'm looking at tracking:
Damage Output (pre-soak roll) by % for each Character (and variant) separately (not as a group; each character's damage spread just unto themselves)
Average Damage Output per Character (and variant) Total over 100 Combat Turns (grouped data of characters together)
Average Damage Output per Character (and variant) per Average Single Combat Turn (grouped data of characters together)

Damage Achieved (post-soak roll) by % each Character (and variant) separately
Average Damage Achieved per Character (and variant) Total over 100 Combat Turns
Average Damage Achieved per Character (and variant) per Average Single Combat Turn

Average Actions Per Combat Turn per Character (and variant) (grouped data)

And then some form of comparison regarding the mage's drain damage in standard and variant versions

Cheers,
Stumps
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Shemhazai
post May 28 2015, 05:45 AM
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Have you considered expanding that into a general purpose Shadowrun combat simulator?
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post May 28 2015, 08:27 AM
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Hello Shemhazai,

I couldn't do it with this spreadsheet, as it's statically set for dice rolls and VERY clumsy by my standards.
Although...I might be able to do something with AHK program syntax and get things a bit more functional and dynamic.

Cheers,
Stumps
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Cain
post May 28 2015, 09:32 AM
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Hey, Stumps!

I'm sure you remember my SR3 reversed initiative system. When I was developing that, I had some problems similar to what you're encountering.

Originally, the idea was that players declare actions from slowest to fastest, but then resolve from fastest to slowest. However, this became a mess when faster characters interrupted the slower ones, making a lot of actions moot. For example, let's say the slowest person says: "I get into the car", and everyone declares their action in response to that. However, Speedy Gonzales blows up the car first, before anyone can go. Now, everyone has to re-declare their actions, which becomes a big slowdown. So, from a practical standpoint, it's much easier for players to declare and act all at once, resolving any interrupts as they happen.

That's why spreading your action doesn't work, because it's the same thing. Once everyone decides what they're going to do, if the situation changes, they'll need to change their actions, or at the very least resolve everything right away.

What you're describing is also similar to the HERO system initiative chart. Your initiative is fixed, and your score tells you when and how often you go. It's much simpler and easier than what you're describing as well, since there's less to calculate on the fly.

I am contemplating combining my old SR3 idea with the SR5 shot counter system. Roll initiative as normal, but each action costs you X from your score. Since we resolve slower characters first, faster characters can spend 10 (or whatever) to interrupt someone else's action. This still fixes the problem I had, where mages would never get to act in a fight-- by going backward, they went first, but because faster characters could interrupt, they had a big advantage. And the PC's were unlikely to interrupt their own team mage, so slower PC's still got to participate.
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Stumps
post May 28 2015, 09:50 PM
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Cain!

Of course I remember Cain's Initiative System!
That was some very fun stuff! (IMG:style_emoticons/default/cool.gif)

Honestly; I thought that concept you are citing as a flaw was a unique character to the system itself. (IMG:style_emoticons/default/smile.gif)

Anywho - yes, so if rules 5-7 remain in, then there's multitudes of problems.
Currently I'm going through and testing the viability of Simple Actions only instead of Complex Actions (erasing Complex Actions), as this system works pretty solidly without using Complex Actions (for then rules such as 5-7 aren't needed).

Cheers,
Stumps

p.s. Great to see you again! (IMG:style_emoticons/default/biggrin.gif)
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post May 29 2015, 06:32 AM
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Update: I got all of the data correctly generated today, and started culminating that raw data into the arrangements I listed above
[ Spoiler ]
.

I haven't yet checked everything over to proof for errors, and I still need to convert into Charts, but preliminary readings seem to indicate quite radically that the least of anyone's concerns should ever be doubling a Mage's actions in combat.

I'll hopefully get everything finished and presented tomorrow, but just some basic numbers so far (this is pulled from 100 combat turns of data) show the Street Samurai throwing an average of Serious Physical x 5 per Average Combat Turn.

By comparison; the Combat Mage (1D6, WOOOO!!), raked in a whopping average of Serious Physical.
Not, 2 x or anything...just 1 x Serious Physical.

What happens over 100 passes when you allow them to cast on Simple Actions instead of taking a whole Complex Action?
Their average ends up at Serious Physical X 2.

So, yep; it doubles the damage.
I'm just not sure that it really matters when you are looking at other characters generating 4 and 5 times the damage the Mage is generating on Average.

There is, however, a glossy flaw in this assertion that I will go over tomorrow (hopefully), as well as get the rest of the data presented for full view and comparison.

Cheers,
Stumps
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post May 29 2015, 09:10 AM
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(IMG:style_emoticons/default/wink.gif)

As I recall, the problem I had with traditional initiative systems was that faster people go first, which means slower people actually have more chances to react to the situation as it unfolds. Interrupts were my solution, although going shot counter also appeals to me now. I think it'll also address your concerns.

Using a traditional, count-down system, you start from the highest and work your way down. When people act, they can subtract an amount for their action: let's say 10 for a complex, 5 for a simple, and 1 or 2 for "easy" actions, like drawing a weapon. Free actions are still free, but they're more limited now. So, when you reach Slowpoke Sorcerer, (init 18)if he casts a spell (complex action) then he won't go again until shot 8. Meanwhile, Lightning Larry can fire two Simple Action shots in the same time. The net effect is that Larry seems to accomplish more while the mage is casting his spell; but since the spell resolved back a bit, you don't run into continuity and response errors.
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post May 29 2015, 10:21 AM
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QUOTE (Stumps)
I haven't yet checked everything over to proof for errors, and I still need to convert into Charts, but preliminary readings seem to indicate quite radically that the least of anyone's concerns should ever be doubling a Mage's actions in combat.

I'll hopefully get everything finished and presented tomorrow, but just some basic numbers so far (this is pulled from 100 combat turns of data) show the Street Samurai throwing an average of Serious Physical x 5 per Average Combat Turn.

By comparison; the Combat Mage (1D6, WOOOO!!), raked in a whopping average of Serious Physical.
Not, 2 x or anything...just 1 x Serious Physical.

What happens over 100 passes when you allow them to cast on Simple Actions instead of taking a whole Complex Action?
Their average ends up at Serious Physical X 2.

So, yep; it doubles the damage.
I'm just not sure that it really matters when you are looking at other characters generating 4 and 5 times the damage the Mage is generating on Average.


Let's just say that I'm highly interested in seeing the stats for the Mage(s) that created such "average" values because I do have this "hunch" that they do not represent the "average" Player Character Mages I have witnessed over the years.

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post May 30 2015, 01:52 AM
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PHEW!
Finally done.

Due to the large scale of the data I decided to put it on a google site and link to it for everyone (easiest to see in full screen mode for your browser).

https://sites.google.com/site/stumpsshadowr...actions-testing

Now, there's one glossed over bit and that's that this doesn't count for a Mage using Deadly (or any variation) of physical attacks with their Manabolt (you know, I just realized Manabolt is spelled both Manabolt and Mana Bolt in the core rule book).
This isn't a huge issue, however, as the Mage switching up to Deadly instead of Moderate damage is just the same as non-Magical characters having the option to reach for a higher powered weapon instead of a 9M Heavy Pistol.

I made notes at the beginning about these kinds of things, but basically, everyone is attacking with the same Damage Code.
The reason for this is that, as mentioned, every character has the ability to increase the default Damage Code, so the question wasn't about which Damage Code was selected, but about the comparison of Damage in relation to each other.
As such, all settings were set to "average" values: 9M, TN4, etc...

Also, as noted; the Dummy Target is a bunch of 3's, so they were rolling 3D6 for every Damage Soak roll.
This impacts the scale of the damage in such that the damage may, to some, seem more than they have achieved on average. This is because the target was always a 3D6 defender and never higher than this.
Equally, there were no Combat Dice Pools used, so all dice for attacks thrown were always 6D6 (since non-Magical's had 6 Skill and the Mage also had a 6 Skill for casting).

That's how this test works.
It is a test of lining up everyone on equal terms at an SR firing range with the same caliber Damage Codes and then seeing if flipping a Mage to Simple Actions throws off the relative relation between damage potential relationships between character types.

From the data collected in the test, I would have to conclude that there is no specific harm in doing this.
About the only change on the average is that the Mage gets to be involved in more actions per Combat Turn instead of sitting by the sidelines and waiting more often than not.
Even the Drain Damage is relatively equal (in the charts, they show as Light Stun, but the average was actually between No Damage and Light Stun for both versions of the Mage, so I rounded that one up. All other Damage Code averages are rounded down).
This (Drain Damage) surprised me. I wasn't expecting the averages to be so close as to nearly be identical. I thought this would be where it fell apart. So that was a neat surprise.

Again, this isn't a test of min/max characters, but the same basic principles would follow logically with those characters against each other as this data, as if you place these same archetypes in min/max form by each other, the same approximate relative rates would be produced (given room for margins of error generated by the dice as a variable).

Cheers,
Stumps
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post May 30 2015, 11:47 AM
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First thoughts and questions:
  1. Base TN for a spell caster using a Manabolt against an "all 3s" dummy is 3 not 4 as the target's Willpower determines the TN
  2. That "Focus 9" entry doesn't quite compute. What kind of focus are you talking there exactly: Spell Focus, Category Focus or Power Focus?
  3. The assumption that the mage should / would cast a 9M Manabolt against the dummy for the comparison is fundamentally ill-conceived because of the outright insane opportunity cost of Drain when compared to a 5M Manabolt performed by a WIL 6 magician ... particularly if you really provide the mage with some form of focus that could add additional dice to either the sorcery test (increasing lethality significantly) or to Drain Test (thus making Drain damage "near impossible").
  4. I'm not sure either whether or not you correctly modeled difference between a standard Damage Resistance Test vs. the Spell Resistance Test under SR3 rule set.
  5. The removal of Combat and Sorcery Pool usage skews the results of both attack rolls and the Damage Resistance Test vs. the Spell Resistance Test
  6. Due to removing dice pool usage you also removed the whole Dodge mechanic on the dummy's end where the dummy gets at least one chance per Combat Turn of rolling against TN 4 instead of TN 7 against the physical attacks while still unharmed
  7. The main weakness of your simulation lies with "just one target" as the basis for your comparison. Have multiple targets and you'd see why providing mages with the opportunity of casting spells as simple action can and will pose a balance issue
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