Time For Actions

All time in the 6d6 RPG is measured using a loose, abstract time scale rather than tracking exact minutes or day or weeks. This keeps the game simple and avoids unnecessary bookkeeping.

Swing a sword; fire a gun; shout something.
About six seconds; a good sprinter can run 30 metres in this time.
A conversation; a fight; the time it takes to search a room.
A morning or afternoon; a prolonged period of work.
A whole sleep/wake cycle; a good night's sleep followed by a full working day.
Several working days followed by a rest day.
Several weeks.
A sizeable part of a year; a period of distinctive weather.
A solar year; several seasons.
Non-stop, never-ending.

No period is an exact, measurable amount of time. A round may encompass one action or a hundred actions and a scene extends as necessary to cover any number of rounds. Scenes and sessions and even days, weeks and months only finish when the Game Leader says they are over.

For each action there are two time scales to consider: how long the action takes to perform and how long the effect of the action lasts. Characters can attempt to lengthen or shorten either the action's duration or the duration of the action's effect or both. When either duration is moved up or down the time scale a situation bonus of 2d6+0 is granted. If the shift in time makes the action easier, e.g. the character takes their time performing the action or shortens the duration of its effect, the character gains a 2d6+0 bonus. However if the change in time makes the action harder, e.g. acting more quickly or extending the duration, the resistance gains the 2d6+0 bonus. Moving the time scale by more than one step doubles the dice for each step. Extending the effects from a scene to a day adds 4d6+0 to the resistance, from a scene to a week adds 8d6+0 and so on. Not all actions can be changed, e.g. one person in a tennis match cannot choose to play slower to gain situation bonuses. Players can trade off situation bonuses by shifting the time scales of both the time taken to act and the duration of the effects. The shorter effectiveness grants situation bonuses to the character offsetting the penalties for performing the action in a hurry.

Duration of Action

The duration of the action covers how long the action takes to do, not how long the effects last. For example, the duration of the action of hitting someone with a sword is very short but the duration of the effects (i.e. injuries) may be permanent.

The duration of an action is how long it takes to complete. In combat an action's duration is about a second - the time it takes to swing a sword, pull a trigger or throw a bomb, though characters are able to take actions lasting a full combat round. Narrative actions always take longer than a round because they include time for the recouping of potential but they do not have a fixed duration. It is driven by what the character is attempting to do and by common sense. A character attempting to write a book may make a single narrative action to decide its quality but the action will take months if not years. Generally, unless there are strong reasons otherwise a narrative action takes a scene, but several related actions can be completed in the same scene.

Some advantages have the Time (Specify) keyword which identifies the normal length of time it takes to use this advantage. This takes precedence over other considerations, e.g. an advantage with the Time (Session) keyword takes a minimum of a session even if the the action would normally be much shorter. If multiple Time keywords are in use in the same action, the longest one takes precedence. It is still possible to speed up or slow down actions with the Time keyword, with the normal situation bonuses. The keyword merely defines the average duration of the action.

Frequency of Use

It is always assumed characters are fit and, whether they are swinging a sword or piloting a plane, they can keep doing an activity for long periods without a break. However some actions are so physically or mentally demanding a recovery period is needed and some equipment may need to be recharged or reloaded between uses. This is called the frequency of use and exceeding it will make the action more difficult. For most actions there is no restriction and they can be done continuously. Where the character is making an extreme effort, for example lifting a massive boulder trapping a friend, the Game Leader may place a limit on how often it may be attempted without penalty.

The most common situation for limits is with specialised powers or equipment: magic spells, psionic attacks, death rays and flintlock rifles might all have limits on how often they can be used. Sometimes these limits are driven by the reality of the technology, e.g. the slow loading time of the flintlock, but generally the more powerful an effect the less often it can be used. This keeps the game fair and makes all advantages (and the CP spent on them) roughly equivalent.

The Freq. (Specify) on an advantage limits the frequency it can be used without penalty. This will be a time scale: Round, Scene, Session, Day and so on. Characters may exceed this frequency but this makes the action harder - either they are exhausted, the blaster rifle has not fully recharged or they are cutting corners in the preparation. The second time an advantage is used within its period of frequency (e.g. a Freq. (Scene) advantage being used for the second time in a single scene) a 2d6+0 situation bonus is added to the resistance. The third time it is used the bonus doubles to 4d6+0 and so on. Once an advantage has been overused the increased resistance remains and continues to double each time the ability is used even once the initial period has ended. Only by not using the advantage for an entire period will the character or equipment recover and the situation bonus reset.

Duration of Effects

The duration of the effects of an action are always permanent until something else counteracts them. That is, picked locks will not spontaneously relock themselves and wounds do not suddenly disappear after a set amount of time. This is known as the permanence of effect and the results of an action remain in place until an outside force intervenes. That force could be the body's own healing process or it could be entropy and oxidation turning the lock into a pile of rust. For most actions characters cannot alter the duration of effect to gain situation bonuses because of this permanence. For example, a character cannot pick a lock with the intention that it will relock itself in the next scene, and even if they could, it would not make the task easier.

The exceptions to this are status effects such as magic powers, technological boosters and hazards like being on fire. Status effects last a scene unless otherwise specified. For dangers such as drowning or poisoning the character may well die before the scene is over, and positive advantages such as magical spells can easily run out before they are of any use. Status effects do not break the concept of permanence of effect. The effect's duration of a scene applies a convenient way to take into account entropy, the body's healing process, the need for a fire to have fuel and countless other biological, chemical, physiological and quantum effects that control how long something lasts.

The duration of a status effect can be different from the default of a scene if an advantage has the Status (Specify) keyword. This sets the duration to the specified period. If an action involves multiple advantages with the Status keyword, the shortest duration applies.

A character can shorten or extend the duration (either the default or one set by the Status keyword) but this must be done when a status effect is applied as changing the duration changes the resistance. The character must also have sufficient control of the situation. It is reasonable for a wizard to be able to control their magic enough to set someone on fire for just a round but it seems unlikely a WW2 solider with a flame-thrower would have that level of control. Exactly what is and isn't controllable is left to the Game Leader and group to decide.

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open/mechanics/core/action_time.txt · Last modified: 2013/11/30 16:49 by tregenza
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