Wednesday 12 April 2023

Taking Action

It was a while ago that I wrote this. Since then I'm working with a slightly different procedure. Let's look at the Oddpocrypha entry for it.



Ref: With its walls torn down, the village is now a bit of a sitting duck if the Legion decide to attack again.

Tal: We could stay and guard them but the Seer told us the Legion always comes back in greater numbers, right?

Moss: Yeah, how about we help them build some better defences? 

Ref: Right, right. That would be a Task, so it would take a phase of the day, taking you up to Night. Let me just…

Ref flips to the Taking Action Procedure to remind themselves of the steps.

Ref: Okay, Intent. So what are you actually trying to do? Get the walls back to how they were? Make them even better?

Moss: Could we make them better?

Ref: Well let’s work through the rest of the steps before we commit to that. What’s your Leverage for this? How are you actually going to make it happen?

Tal: The serfs here would be on board with helping with the work, right? Plenty of wood around too.

Ref: Yeah. I mean with the limited skill, materials, and time you have I think the Intent is really going to be limited to getting it patched up as a solid but makeshift wall.

Moss: Fair. 

Ref: Cost… I mean it’s taking up time and the work of the local serfs but they’re already inclined to help out. Stakes… now I don’t think the Legion are coming imminently, so there’s no risk of them showing up before the work is done. That means there’s no need to roll if you’re happy to spend the time on this. 

Tal: Yeah, let’s do it.

Ref: So you gather the serfs and spend the afternoon chopping wood and cobbling together a ramshackle wall. Doesn’t look like much but at least it’s a line of defence against the Legion. The sun sets as you admire your work. 

Moss: Well it’s something but we need a proper plan to beat them for good.


Here we see Ref work through the 6 steps of the Taking Action Procedure: 

Intent, Leverage, Cost, Stakes, Roll, Impact.

It would be lovely if those six words formed a mnemonic, but it wasn’t meant to be.

Even though this ends up being resolved as a Task, shorter Actions follow the same procedure and make the same considerations, except for the fact that Tasks are assumed to consume significant time.

Talking through the specific stages by name is a good way to help internalise the process, but not strictly necessary once the group is comfortable with the process.

Also notable is that Ref feels comfortable leaving the Intent somewhat loose until the group have discussed Leverage. Working through the steps in order doesn’t mean you have to lock everything in as you go. 

I’m glad Ref doesn’t get bogged down in the detail of how long it takes to build a wall, how many workers you need, how much material. No Referee can know all these things, and slowing down the game to brush up on the logistics of wall construction is unlikely to improve the game. Here we’re interested in the fact that the players want to invest time in performing this action, and the impact it has on the ongoing fiction. 

There’s more transparency from Ref than you might expect, outright telling the players that the Legion aren’t coming back today. You want the world to have mystery, but it’s also important to give players the information they need to make their decision. If it was uncertain, Ref might have said “there’s a slim chance the Legion will come back today” or “there’s a high chance the Legion will come back today”, keeping a mental note of the odds they would use on the Luck roll to determine this later.

Giving them certainty here lets them get on with making the decision instead of agonising about something that the Referee knows won’t happen.  


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  1. Bit of a goofy attempt to create a mnemonic/acronym for your procedure:

    Let's roll!

    I used ChatGPT with prompts such as "A word starting with 'Y' for Impact or Result"

  2. I have been playing your The Doomed play test doc with my family. They are having a blast with it! It's really cool how the rules support many different kinds of miniatures. I was confused by the Dash ability because it says make a move without rolling at the end of your turn. I think it would be better written " you may move without rolling as the last action of your turn".

    1. Glad you've been enjoying it! Dash actually occurs after your third action, so it's an extra action after your normal ones, and you don't need to roll to perform it.

    2. Thanks for the clarification!