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Ditching the Speed Chart


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For most combats, I roll a d12 to see what phase we start at, so its unpredictable.

 

I really like this idea for Heroic level games (of all genres)!  I actually think the predictability of commencing in Segment 12 is spot-on/appropriate for Superheroic games (in the Superhero genre) -- primarily because it gives the Supers a phase to go at it ... and then an immediate breather/recovery ... allowing for something a bit more cinematic.

 

I am forced to note, however, that the d12 approach may contribute to a SPD race, as the impact of the outcome of the roll is inversely proportional to a character's SPD.  i.e. Lower speed characters have a lot more at stake than higher speed characters ... because unless a low-SPD character is very lucky, the roll result is more likely to require them to 'abort' their next action to defend themselves ... than it is for a high-SPD character.  (i.e. No way to hold an action, initially, and then use that held action to save one's hide or look for an opening ... as is common for low-SPD characters.)

 

I mention the SPD race and abort concern largely because the d12 approach could make the game unfun for a low-SPD character's player ... if all s/he can do is abort, abort, abort, etc.

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Probably 2d6 works even better, really, I just like how a d12 looks :)

 

Randomizing speed takes some of the predictability and pattern of combat away, but that's usually only a problem in a really long campaign or one with lots of fights.  If you take a week or two off in between each game, its not going to be terribly repetitive.

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I really like this idea for Heroic level games (of all genres)!  I actually think the predictability of commencing in Segment 12 is spot-on/appropriate for Superheroic games (in the Superhero genre) -- primarily because it gives the Supers a phase to go at it ... and then an immediate breather/recovery ... allowing for something a bit more cinematic.

 

I am forced to note, however, that the d12 approach may contribute to a SPD race, as the impact of the outcome of the roll is inversely proportional to a character's SPD.  i.e. Lower speed characters have a lot more at stake than higher speed characters ... because unless a low-SPD character is very lucky, the roll result is more likely to require them to 'abort' their next action to defend themselves ... than it is for a high-SPD character.  (i.e. No way to hold an action, initially, and then use that held action to save one's hide or look for an opening ... as is common for low-SPD characters.)

 

I mention the SPD race and abort concern largely because the d12 approach could make the game unfun for a low-SPD character's player ... if all s/he can do is abort, abort, abort, etc.

I'm not sure I get this - Wouldn't using 2d6 mean that, for example, a SPEED 2 character would only move an average of every 36 segments, and a SPEED 1 character, never?

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I'm not sure I get this - Wouldn't using 2d6 mean that, for example, a SPEED 2 character would only move an average of every 36 segments, and a SPEED 1 character, never?

 

Narf,

Not sure why you quoted me, as I can't answer the 2d6 question;  Christopher would have to answer that, since he was indicating he should use 2d6.  I didn't follow it either, if it makes you feel any better, so I'd like an explanation, too. :)

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Segment 1 is really only useful for things like Bleeding anyway. Just ditch Segment 1 and go straight to 2. Much less messy that way. Ever try to get blood out of a Speed Chart?  :P

 

Okay, snark aside, rolling a d12 (or 2d6) seems like a really neat way to randomize initiative without ditching the Speed Chart or enforcing a mandatory Speed rating.

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Okay, snark aside, rolling a d12 (or 2d6) seems like a really neat way to randomize initiative without ditching the Speed Chart or enforcing a mandatory Speed rating.

It is neat, but it still has undue and likely unfair impact on slower speed characters.  With exception of SPD 1 characters, per RAW everyone gets an action on Segment 12 -- which basically ensures in most games that even low-speed characters get to do -something- other than abort.  It also helps allow for a held action among slower speed characters as the combat unfolds/commences -- so they can look for an opening or burn the held action (instead of going into perma-abort mode) when dealing with higher speed characters.

 

The ability to hold that action and use it when an opening presents itself ... is part/parcel of how low and high speed characters balance out, as not everyone with low speed is a brick (examples: normals ... and paranormals with non-brick abilities that simply aren't fast).  ​How fun would it be to be SPD 2 and find yourself usually in an abort cycle in combat -- because 1d12 or 2d6 often came up as something other than 6 or 12?  Not very... 

 

IMPACT:

Unfortunately, this kind of randomization is prone to causing an artificial SPD escalation during character creation.  As players build characters for the game I would expect to see the PC's buy as much SPD as they can in order to handle the randomization better ... or buy SPDs similar to one another (as they find the balance point between what they can afford and how fast they can be).  In either case, I think the artificial introduction of chance into the action sequence has the unfortunate effect of dis-incenting a healthy mix of both slow and fast PC's.  But hey, if a GM wants to incent higher speeds and/or a homogenous set of speeds in the game ... by dis-incenting slower speeds through randomization ... it's his/her game.

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Actually, it doesn't.  The average roll is around 6, where the speed 2 guy goes.  If its a 7, nobody but someone with outrageous speed goes, then its phase 8 where speed 3 guys go.  

 

Around 6 is -not- 6.  You'll have to demonstrate to me that it doesn't have undue impact on lower speeds (potentially resulting in homogenous speeds and/or a speed escalation) -- for me to accept your assertion.  Right now, RAW helps ensure that in most (clearly not all) cases involving SPD 2 or higher, everyone tends to get a non-abort action and/or a chance to hold an action to avoid aborting -- in most combats.  That's what helps balance slow/fast speeds.

 

​Please show me how that balance isn't tipped/skewed toward higher speed characters via randomization.

 

I'm willing to bet that if Christopher takes a close look at his PC's speeds, they're all pretty close to one another (i.e. homogeneous) rather than heterogeneous as is common for many games.  Of course he can answer however he likes, but I'm willing to assume he'll give us accurate intel.

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Around 6 is -not- 6.  You'll have to demonstrate to me that it doesn't have undue impact on lower speeds

I guess that depends on your definition of "undue."  I showed that the average roll gives the low-speed character no detriment on average.  And honestly, having a lower speed is by design supposed to be detrimental in any case.  Don't use the system if you don't like it, its just something I've found is interesting and fun.

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Surrealalone, you are making the assertion, can you demonstrate that randomisation has the effect you claim? I don't see how it would happen.

 

Sure.  I'll use 2d6 to do so since people are leaning that way...

 

Using 2d6, there are 36 combinations and 11 possible outcomes when rolling 2d6.  The probabilities (rounded to the nearest hundredth of a percent) of those outcomes across thousands of throws are well-documented as follows:

  • Outcome = 2 .... (2.77% probability per throw)
  • Outcome = 3 .....(5.55% probability per throw)
  • ​Outcome = 4 .....(8.33% probability per throw)
  • Outcome = 5 .....(11.11% probability per throw)
  • Outcome = 6 .....(13.88% probability per throw)
  • Outcome = 7 .....(16.66% probability per throw)
  • Outcome = 8 .....(13.88% probability per throw)
  • Outcome = 9 .....(11.11% probability per throw)
  • Outcome = 10 ...(8.33% probability per throw)
  • Outcome = 11 ...(5.55% probability per throw)
  • Outcome = 12 ...(2.77% probability per throw)

If the outcome of the throw determines the segment on which combat starts, then each probability, above, can be assigned to its corresponding segment, and the probabilities for each segment on which a character has a phase can be added to one another to yield the probability of an outcome corresponding to when a character of a certain speed has a phase.  Likewise, the probabilities for each segment on which a character does NOT have a phase can be added together to yield the probability of an outcome NOT corresponding to an off-segment (as opposed to a phase).  (And the two, when summed, would equal 100% if not for rounding as noted, above.)  Doing so results in the following table:

 

  • SPD=1, Phase on Segment(s)=7
    • Probability of outcome on a phase= 16.66%
    • Probability of outcome on an off-segment: 83.28%
  • SPD=2, Phase on Segment(s)=6,12
    • Probability of outcome on a phase= 16.65%
    • Probability of outcome on an off-segment: 83.29%
  • SPD=3, Phase on Segment(s)=4,8,12
    • Probability of outcome on a phase= 24.98%
    • Probability of outcome on an off-segment: 74.96%
  • SPD=4, Phase on Segment(s)=3,6,9,12
    • Probability of outcome on a phase= 33.31%
    • Probability of outcome on an off-segment: 66.63%
  • SPD=5, Phase on Segment(s)=3,5,8,10,12
    • Probability of outcome on a phase= 41.64%
    • Probability of outcome on an off-segment: 58.30%
  • SPD=6, Phase on Segment(s)=2,4,6,8,10,12
    • Probability of outcome on a phase= 49.96%
    • Probability of outcome on an off-segment: 49.98%
  • SPD=7, Phase on Segment(s)=2,4,6,7,9,11,12
    • Probability of outcome on a phase= 61.07%
    • Probability of outcome on an off-segment: 38.87%
  • SPD=8, Phase on Segment(s)=2,3,5,6,8,9,11,12
    • Probability of outcome on a phase= 66.62%
    • Probability of outcome on an off-segment: 33.32%
  • SPD=9, Phase on Segment(s)=2,3,4,6,7,8,10,11,12
    • Probability of outcome on a phase= 73.89%
    • Probability of outcome on an off-segment: 22.22%
  • SPD=10, Phase on Segment(s)=2,3,4,5,6,8,9,10,11,12
    • Probability of outcome on a phase= 83.28%
    • Probability of outcome on an off-segment: 16.66%
  • SPD=11, Phase on Segment(s)=2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12
    • Probability of outcome on a phase= 99.94%
    • Probability of outcome on an off-segment: 0%
  • SPD=12, Phase on Segment(s)=ALL
    • Probability of outcome on a phase= 99.94%
    • Probability of outcome on an off-segment: 0%

 

 

One would expect an even delta in probability between each step on the speed chart if the outcome were to be fair, but as we can see, it's anything but an even distribution, as the probability gap between individual steps on the speed chart tends to widen as we increase speed.  Right up until we hit SPD 7, where the gap between 7 and 8 shrinks again ... and then starts growing as you climb the speed chart, some more.

 

In general, it's absolutely skewed toward the high end of the speed chart.  Clearly if I can afford SPD 7, it's the sweet spot in terms of performance (probability) to cost ratio.  Obviously, most characters can't ... but the math, above, shows that there's real, tangible incentive to pushing faster speeds ... which has the effect of dis-incenting slower ones (something that would NOT happen if the probability distribution were even across all speeds on the speed chart).  Looking at this carefully, the best breakpoints I see all involve speeds that entail phases on segment 7 ... something driven by 7 being the highest probability outcome among the 11 possible outcomes on a 2d6 throw.  That is until you hit SPD 12.. as the inability for 2d6 to produce 1 as an outcome means combat will never begin on segment 1, which is what SPD12 gets you when you buy it, so there's no sense buying SPD12. 

 

SPD 11 is effectively the new SPD 12 in a 2d6-driven system like this ... and that's more evidence of skew toward the top end.  You make SPD11 the new SPD12 ... and no one uses SPD12 because a throw can't result in 1 ... but probability-wise, SPD2 becomes the new SPD1 despite SPD1's phase (7) still being a potential outcome on 2d6. 

 

It really doesn't help that the probability of an outcome selecting for SPD 2 is a mere hundredth of a percent off from SPD 1 ... basically horribly dis-incenting anyone being the speed of an average human being ... even in heroic games.  In fact, in Christopher's game he should probably give SPD 2 characters an automatic 35pt PHYSICAL COMPLICATION (All the time, Fully [by 76-100%]) defined as follows: 'As likely to be able to act without aborting in the first segment of combat as a toddler'.  Note: I chose 'fully' because the probability of 2d6 outcome on an off-segment for SPD 2 is: 83.29% ... which falls into the 76%-100% range.  I also chose a physical complication because the cause of this is, indeed, purely physical -- namely, the GM's choice of mechanics that render the probability for SPD 2 and SPD 1 within 0.01% of one another -- something that's certainly not the character's fault.  Whether you wish to acknowledge it or not, this is the sort of thing that will cause someone with a SPD2 vision of his/her character ... to make it SPD3, instead.

 

I've shown my math.  Now it's tour turn, Doc.  In fact, I requested supporting evidence first, so it was your turn even before I did this, I think...

 

P.S. Please feel free to check my math.  I spot-checked it, but I am human...

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Yeah I think having people roll to act ends up with some people either never moving or clustering all their movement at the end of the turn, depending on the structure.

 

In general, it's absolutely skewed toward the high end of the speed chart.

So what you're saying is that having a higher speed lets you move more often and gives you an advantage?  Yes.  Yes, that is true.

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I've shown my math.  Now it's your turn, Doc.  In fact, I requested supporting evidence first, so it was your turn even before I did this, I think...

 

P.S. Please feel free to check my math.  I spot-checked it, but I am human...

 

Don't think I need to check the maths.  I dont think anyone disputes the probability numbers, what I am wondering is how the numbers might change player behaviour.

 

take two players, one is speed 6 the other is speed 2.  In the system there is a huge discrepancy here, one that as a GM I have sought to discourage in groups I have GM'ed as it provides one player with a LOT more spotlight time than the other.

 

Anyway.  In the current system, both players go on 12, ONE goes again on 2, again on 4, they both go on 6, then ONE goes on 8 and again on 10.  In 12 seconds ONE has moved six times, OTHER has gone twice.  If OTHER has a higher DEX he goes first on 12 and the ONE has three unopposed actions before OTHER can go again.  That is then repeated.

 

In Christopher.s variant.  you roll the dice.  

 

If you roll 2. ONE goes on 2 and 4, then OTHER goes, then ONE goes three times unopposed.  That is then repeated.

If you roll 3 or 4. ONE goes on 4, then OTHER goes, then ONE goes three times unopposed.  That is then repeated.

If you roll 5 or 6. Both players move on 6, OTHER first, then ONE goes three times unopposed.  That is then repeated.

If you roll 7 or 8. ONE goes on 8 and 10, then OTHER goes, then ONE goes three times unopposed.  That is then repeated.

If you roll 9 or 10. ONE goes on 10, then OTHER goes, then ONE goes three times unopposed.  That is then repeated.

If you roll 11 or 12 then it is the same as the current situation.

 

There is no upside for OTHER, however In 12 seconds ONE has moved six times, OTHER has gone twice just like before,  The question is whether that is due to the system r the unfortunate effects of the pattern comparing those two speeds.  I will repeat with the same 4 speed discrepancy using speeds 5 and 9.

 

In the current system, both players go on 12, ONE goes again on 2, both go on 3 and ONE goes again on 4.  OTHER goes on 5, ONE goes on 6 and 7 then they both go on 8. Then both go again on 10, then ONE goes on 11.  In 12 seconds ONE has moved nine times, OTHER has gone five times.  If OTHER has a higher DEX he goes first on 12, 3, 10 and was unopposed on 5 and ONE has four back to back actions.  That is then repeated.

 

In Christopher.s variant.  you roll the dice.  

 

If you roll 2. ONE gets to go first.

If you roll 3. OTHER gets to go first.

If you roll 4. ONE gets to go first.

If you roll 5. OTHER gets to go first.

If you roll 6. ONE gets to go first.

If you roll 7. ONE gets to go first.

If you roll 8. OTHER gets to go first.

If you roll 9. ONE gets to go first.

If you roll 10. OTHER gets to go first.

If you roll 11. ONE gets to go first.

If you roll 12. OTHER gets to go first.

 
So OTHER gets to go first 5 times, ONE gets to go first six times which is detrimental to OTHER (the spd 5 character) as under the normal system he would get to go first every time.  However on a roll of 5 he gets to attack free before turtling which would never be possible under normal system.  It is not so black and white and provides a little bit of uncertainty about potential tactics that the current system does not allow.
 
So.  If you are SPD 2 facing SPD 6 opponents then you may indeed be incentivised to invest in some SPD but not necessarily if SPD 5 facing SPD 9 opponents.
 
If that was the case however, I would be expecting that those 40 points not spent on SPD were being used to offset the combat disadvantage you are giving up under either system.  If that is true I dont see how the random start necessarily leads to the situation you describe.
 
 
Doc
 
PS: too much work doing this kind of analysis!!!  :-)
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Yeah, its really not worth all the work, but if you were desperate to come up with an analysis, the first thing to do is to strip away any variables involving just having different speed: that is, the stuff that's the same in just counting down from phase 12 as per the book and rolling to see when you move.

 

Incidentally: that system I've only used in combat that suddenly occurs.  If everyone is waiting to act then combat begins, everyone has a held phase, so I just start it at "phase 0."  I have never started at phase 12  and given a free recovery, that just seems silly.

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Isn't it much simpler than that, especially in 6e where SPD is decoupled from DEX? Since combat by RAW starts in Phase 12 of "Turn 0", and everyone but the slowest (and that probably won't be a combat character anyway) gets an action on their DEX, it means that there will be situations where low SPD characters have an action that they could choose to hold, if they have high DEX, or if they're not forced to abort by the first thing someone with a higher DEX does to them. It's obvious that the certainty of this opportunity goes away with a random starting Phase.

 

However, given that 7 is the most likely starting Phase on 2D6, and SPD 3-4 the likely range of SPD in a Heroic game, it's worth noting that SPD3 goes on 8, whereas SPD4 goes on 9, so there will be times (start rolls of 4, 5, 7 or 8, whether you're using D12 or 2D6) when the slowster SPD3 bods "get the drop" on the faster SPD4 fellows.  And then they might go first in a randomly-selected Phase 12 if their DEX is higher. In some ways, given that the high SPD characters tend to have higher DEX than low SPD characters, it's even possible that the random start gives the SPD3 chaps tactical options that they otherwise might never have. The higher speed character will be able to recover from being on the back foot, Aborting, faster than the low SPD character, and that's exactly how it should be.

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If I were to go with a roll for speed, I would still maintain that everyone acts in the first phase(barring someone being completely surprised), as per the normal rules. To offset the probabilities, I would probably also allow for all speeds below 6 to have a guaranteed number of attacks a turn, so that the speed 2 people, if they never roll a two, will still be guaranteed two phases in the last two segments(assuming they never rolled their speed).

 

Alternately, I suppose this could be a good case for using a DEX roll instead of a speed roll.

 

Still, the reason I like it is that it offsets the routine of "this is a combat where everyone has either a 5 or 6 speed, or a 3 or 4 speed. Take your places!"

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So what you're saying is that having a higher speed lets you move more often and gives you an advantage?  Yes.  Yes, that is true.

 

Really?  You cherry-picked the lead sentence out of that paragraph and responded to it while ignoring what followed it?  I ask because doing so seems to be the cause of your question, here ... and your reply.  But I'll answer the question anyway by paraphrasing the rest of the paragraph you skipped in your quote -- and response:

What I was saying was that the probability of the outcome of the 2d6 roll unfairly leans toward the higher end of the speed chart due to uneven probability distribution.  With an even distribution you'd see the same delta between every step on the speed chart.  But that's not what the math shows.  The math shows larger deltas in probability on the higher end than we see on the lower end (as a generaility).  More specifically, the cause is segment 7 having the highest probability of outcome per 2d6 throw -- resulting in speeds that entail a phase on segment 7 being the best 'value' on the chart for the CP spent.  Those are, of course, all higher speeds.

 

 

Incidentally: that system I've only used in combat that suddenly occurs.  If everyone is waiting to act then combat begins, everyone has a held phase, so I just start it at "phase 0."  I have never started at phase 12  and given a free recovery, that just seems silly.

 

And what percentage of the time does combat suddenly occur in your games?  80%?  10%?  I'm asking because, again, it's an indicator of how often you knowingly and intentionally introduce skew toward higher speeds in your game.  Your players who build for your games should probably be told that, as well ... since, you know, a player with a SPD2 character vision might not like your delta effectively rendering his chance of acting without aborting on the first segment of combat ... to be the same as a SPD1.

 

If you do it 80% of the time, then he's being treated the same as SPD1 80% of the time ... which might not sit well with him.  But if you do it 10% of the time it might be ok with him. Your players should be allowed to make informed choices ... as well as adjust their character vision if your artificial and intentional skew negatively impacts that vision.

 

If I were to go with a roll for speed, I would still maintain that everyone acts in the first phase(barring someone being completely surprised), as per the normal rules. To offset the probabilities, I would probably also allow for all speeds below 6 to have a guaranteed number of attacks a turn, so that the speed 2 people, if they never roll a two, will still be guaranteed two phases in the last two segments(assuming they never rolled their speed).

 

Alternately, I suppose this could be a good case for using a DEX roll instead of a speed roll.

 

Still, the reason I like it is that it offsets the routine of "this is a combat where everyone has either a 5 or 6 speed, or a 3 or 4 speed. Take your places!"

 

Ok, this is an interesting twist, and I can see why you'd suggest it.  That said, now you're potentially giving an action to low speed characters on a segment where they have no phase -- which basically punishes high speed characters while incenting low speed characters.

 

i.e. The high speed guy suddenly thinks, "If we're going to play this way, I should have shaved some points on speed to take advantage of the free opening actions!" ... while the low speed guy is happy he's getting an action during a segment where he has no phase.

 

I have to ask:

What, exactly, is wrong with the 'you get what you pay for' approach RAW takes?  Why this need to monkey with the probabilities in a way that hurts some and helps others based on SPD - denying people what they bought with their CP?  If avoidance of the first post-seg-12 REC is Christopher's issue, then why not do away with THAT (which no one paid for!) and let the characters receive their actions on the phases for which they paid for them with their CP???  (This, of course, entails everyone who isn't SPD1 having an action on the first segment of combat: segment 12...)

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Really?  You cherry-picked the lead sentence out of that paragraph and responded to it while ignoring what followed it?  I ask because doing so seems to be the cause of your question, here ... and your reply.  But I'll answer the question anyway by paraphrasing the rest of the paragraph you skipped in your quote -- and response:

What I was saying was that the probability of the outcome of the 2d6 roll unfairly leans toward the higher end of the speed chart due to uneven probability distribution.  With an even distribution you'd see the same delta between every step on the speed chart.  But that's not what the math shows.  The math shows larger deltas in probability on the higher end than we see on the lower end (as a generaility).  More specifically, the cause is segment 7 having the highest probability of outcome per 2d6 throw -- resulting in speeds that entail a phase on segment 7 being the best 'value' on the chart for the CP spent.  Those are, of course, all higher speeds.

 

 

 

And what percentage of the time does combat suddenly occur in your games?  80%?  10%?  I'm asking because, again, it's an indicator of how often you knowingly and intentionally introduce skew toward higher speeds in your game.  Your players who build for your games should probably be told that, as well ... since, you know, a player with a SPD2 character vision might not like your delta effectively rendering his chance of acting without aborting on the first segment of combat ... to be the same as a SPD1.

 

If you do it 80% of the time, then he's being treated the same as SPD1 80% of the time ... which might not sit well with him.  But if you do it 10% of the time it might be ok with him. Your players should be allowed to make informed choices ... as well as adjust their character vision if your artificial and intentional skew negatively impacts that vision.

 

 

Ok, this is an interesting twist, and I can see why you'd suggest it.  That said, now you're potentially giving an action to low speed characters on a segment where they have no phase -- which basically punishes high speed characters while incenting low speed characters.

 

i.e. The high speed guy suddenly thinks, "If we're going to play this way, I should have shaved some points on speed to take advantage of the free opening actions!" ... while the low speed guy is happy he's getting an action during a segment where he has no phase.

 

I have to ask:

What, exactly, is wrong with the 'you get what you pay for' approach RAW takes?  Why this need to monkey with the probabilities in a way that hurts some and helps others based on SPD - denying people what they bought with their CP?  If avoidance of the first post-seg-12 REC is Christopher's issue, then why not do away with THAT (which no one paid for!) and let the characters receive their actions on the phases for which they paid for them with their CP???  (This, of course, entails everyone who isn't SPD1 having an action on the first segment of combat: segment 12...)

Okay, I think one point of confusion is, the opening phase is one in which everyone(except the poor surprised folks) would get to act, high and low speed.

 

On your second point, why incentivize the low speeds by guaranteeing their actions, the reason is, by making it roll based, the high speeds, as you point out, are already incentivized. It is a means to mitigate the probability advantage that comes with that.

 

Third, the rationale is, having the Speed chart as a static order of combat has problems of its own. By having the opening be a phase everyone can act in is nice, because that round can certainly be a game changer. However, people who have played a long time can game the system by way of the predetermined order. And they do. If they know the phases of their opponents, they can plan their combat around that, which is more roll playing than role playing. If they do not have absolute confidence they know the order of combat, combat may have more risk and thus, more drama.

 

They are still getting an advantage for what they paid for. Those with low speeds would still be attacking less. Those with high speeds would be attacking more. There just would be no guarantee they knew which phases they would be able to act before those phases occurred.

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