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Friday, December 19, 2014

Casting Times - A Segment on Segments in 1e



I remember using "segments" in AD&D combat rounds, especially as it came to casting times. I don't remember if we ever used it right, but if you are going to use spell interruption in your campaign, it's kinda necessary.

I also remember that we slowly forgot to use casting times, and when we put that to the side, segments transformed into initiative order and little more. Of course, as casting times went to the side, so did casters loosing spells to interruption. I'm sure it change the game balance, but we didnt care, as it sped up play.

It went both ways. Getting the drop on an enemy caster was no longer as effective, as his spells were no longer getting interrupted either.

Maybe it was one of out earlier house rules, along with ignoring weapon speeds (as we could never make hide nor hair of it, and we tried) and weapon vs armor type adjustments (because we wanted it to apply to monsters and humanoids too, but as written it didnt.)

21 comments:

  1. Everyone rolled a D20 for initiative, aiming for a LOW result. Spell casters had to add the casting time of their spell, and then the GM would count from 1 upwards. We did not add the speed factor of the weapons (which seems kind of unfair now).

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  2. We played much the same way. We at first attempted to use casting times and weapon speed, but those were eventually discounted.

    IIRC, in 2nd Edition, casting time were changed such that the spell was started in round 1, it actually went off at the beginning of your turn in round 2 (with the exception of some "quick" spells)... such that if anyone in the initiative count jumped you before your turn came up again, you could still lose a spell.

    I don't know if we played that correctly, but we did use that variation.

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  3. Well, you know, it's a trade off. It's like playing a CRPG on a middling computer. You can turn up the resolution, add all the fancy lighting effects, etc.., but you're going to have choppiness in the display. Or you can turn that stuff down a little bit and get less chop in the display, but you lose some resolution. It's spectrum of tastes.

    I understand why a lot of people drop segments and casting times in favor of speed of play, especially at higher levels (ironically, when you need that sort of granularity the most, IMO). My home groups have never been in a hurry, and they present some interesting tactical decisions to the game, so we've kept them. However, as a DM, I've developed a feel for when they matter, and don't count out each segment when it doesn't affect the action.

    When I run one-shots or games at Cons, I generally don't use them, as you only have 4 hours or so to get through the adventure.

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  4. We have never used segments, and 35 years later I really don't even understand how they're supposed to work in relation to initiative. But since I never use them, I don't really care either.

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  5. The best way I ever saw it handled was a group whose spellcasters had poker chips. On each chip was the name of a spell and its casting time.

    On the caster's initiative they put the chip for the spell onto the table, face down unless they'd announced to the party what they were casting. Then they'd flip it up when he got to the segment it went off. This also created situations where if they couldn't coordinate we sometimes had characters move into the radius of effect for things like Fireball after the caster had started but before it went off, so the caster had to think fast on what to do with it.

    The reason I fell out of using segments in my games is that for a few years we gamed in a living room without a table. It made it hard to do things like use poker chips or a battlemat, so we went more abstract.

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  6. What is the picture from?

    It has a Paizo look about it. I'm not always a fan of this style, but I really dig this piece.

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  7. We used both casting times and weapon speeds and it was never much of a problem. Count up initiative, casters announce when the spell begins and when it goes off, weapon users announce when the attack lands. If an attack lands between the begin casting announcement and the effect the spell fizzles.
    We never used the weapon vs. armor modifiers, though sometimes when someone missed by one they would go look at that table and try to make the case for it while everyone else told them to suck it up and try again next round.

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  8. BITD -- I have no memory of how we did initiative. Around the time of 2e we adopted the roll a die and add your weapon speed, casting time, dex mod if any (though I tihnk that really was only supposed to be for surprise?), and the DM counted up from 1. I don't recall exactly how it worked but the upshot was if your factor was low enough you might get to act twice...maybe if you had under 10 you went again at 10+total?
    Now we just roll a d6 for the party and a d6 for the foes and do group initiative. The loss of tactical minutia seems worth the gain in simplicity.

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  9. In my Play-by-Post game games, here is how i do segments, hell, it's mentioned this way in the Dungeon Master's Guide:

    1 Round (1 minute) = 10 Segments (6 seconds)

    Let's say a spell takes 2 segments to cast, in this case the spell would not go off until the beginning of the 3rd segment:

    round 1 : segment 1

    Initiative Rolls:
    Party: 4
    Goblins: 5

    Party Wins Inititiative & attacks first !

    Goblin Combat Moves:

    Goblin #1: [Studded Leather Armor, Small Shield (AC 6)] [Short sword] [HP 4 / 4]
    Attacks Paladin: To Hit Roll: 1d20= 7 This is a Miss!

    Goblin #2: [Studded Leather Armor, Small Shield (AC 6)] [Small Morningstar] [HP 3 / 4] [Long Sword: 1 HP: Ranger]
    Attacks Ranger: To Hit Roll: 1d20=8 This is a miss!

    Adventurers Combat Moves:

    Wizard - Laucian - Half-Elf [AC 10 or 8 (Dex Bonus) : HP 12 / 12]:
    Laucian beings to cast "Ray of Enfeeblement", using verbal & somatic movements (2 segments to cast) will fire off in 3rd segment

    Paladin - Uyarak The Abandoned - [AC 1 : HP 12 / 12]
    Attacks Goblin #1: To Hit Roll: 1d20= 5 This is a Miss with his long sword!

    Ranger - Tan'Gerrliq - [AC 7 or 6 (Shield) or 2 (Dex) : HP 11 / 11]
    Attacks Goblin #2: To Hit Roll: 1d20= 17 This is a hit with his long sword for 1d8= 1

    Thief - Briden - [AC 8 or 5 (Dex Bonus) : HP 7 / 7]
    Attacks Goblin #1: To Hit Roll: 1d20= 4 This is a Miss!

    Round 1 : Segment 2:

    Initiative Rolls:
    Party: 6
    Goblins: 5

    Goblins Wins Inititiative & attacks first !

    Goblin Combat Moves:

    Goblin #1: [Studded Leather Armor, Small Shield (AC 6)] [Short sword] [HP 4 / 4]
    Attacks Paladin: To Hit Roll: 1d20= 10 This is a Miss!

    Goblin #2: [Studded Leather Armor, Small Shield (AC 6)] [Small Morningstar] [HP 3 / 4] [Long Sword: 1 HP: Ranger]
    Attacks Ranger: To Hit Roll: 1d20=19 This is a hit for 1d6= 1 Hit Point of Damage!

    Adventurers Combat Moves:

    Wizard - Laucian - Half-Elf [AC 10 or 8 (Dex Bonus) : HP 12 / 12]:
    Laucian continues to cast "Ray of Enfeeblement", using verbal & somatic movements (2nd & final segment of casting, can fire off spell in segment #3

    Paladin - Uyarak The Abandoned - [AC 1 : HP 12 / 12]
    Attacks Goblin #1: To Hit Roll: 1d20= 6 This is a Miss with his long sword!

    Ranger - Tan'Gerrliq - [AC 7 or 6 (Shield) or 2 (Dex) : HP 10 / 11] [small morningstar: 1 HP: Ranger]
    Attacks Goblin #2: To Hit Roll: 1d20= 7 This is a Miss!

    Thief - Briden - [AC 8 or 5 (Dex Bonus) : HP 7 / 7]
    Attacks Goblin #1: To Hit Roll: 1d20= 8 This is a Miss!

    Round 1 : Segment 3:

    Initiative Rolls:
    Party: 3
    Goblins: 4

    Adventurers Wins Inititiative & attacks first !

    Goblin Combat Moves:

    Goblin #1: [Studded Leather Armor, Small Shield (AC 6)] [Short sword] [HP 2 / 4] [Long Sword: 2 HP: Thief] [Ray of Enfeeblement: Strength reduced: 25%: Wizard]
    Attacks Paladin: To Hit Roll: 1d20= 10 This is a Miss!

    Goblin #2: [Studded Leather Armor, Small Shield (AC 6)] [Small Morningstar] [HP -1 / 4] [Long Sword: 1 HP: Ranger] [Long Sword: 4 HP: Ranger] [Dead]
    Gets No Attack since Ranger Drops him this segment!

    Adventurers Combat Moves:

    Wizard - Laucian - Half-Elf [AC 10 or 8 (Dex Bonus) : HP 12 / 12]:
    Laucian ready to cast "Ray of Enfeeblement" (Casting done, can fire off spell in segment #3!) He aims at Goblin #1 & fires off the spell, reducing the Goblin's strength!

    Paladin - Uyarak The Abandoned - [AC 1 : HP 12 / 12]
    Attacks Goblin #1: To Hit Roll: 1d20= 4 This is a Miss with his long sword!

    Ranger - Tan'Gerrliq - [AC 7 or 6 (Shield) or 2 (Dex) : HP 10 / 11] [small morningstar: 1 HP: Ranger]
    Attacks Goblin #2: To Hit Roll: 1d20= 18 This is a Hit for 1d8= 4 Hit Points of damage with is Long Sword!

    Thief - Briden - [AC 8 or 5 (Dex Bonus) : HP 7 / 7]
    Attacks Goblin #1: To Hit Roll: 1d20= 18 This is a Hit for 1d8= 2 Hit Points of Long Sword Damage!

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    Replies
    1. A "round" of combat actions in each segment? I've only seen that occur BtB in the segments made available during complete surprise of one party by the other.

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    2. Looks to me like this spell is taking 2 full rounds to cast, not just 2 segments.

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    3. No, the Spell is taking 2 segments (12 seconds) of 1 round (1 minute to cast), it can be fired off at the very beginning of round 1: Segment 3!

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    4. If it's all in one round, why did you reroll initiative which signifies the beginning of a new round? And how do players/mobs somehow take 10 actions over the course of two segments? I think we read different rule books. :)

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    5. OK, i did not have to re-roll Initiative for each round segment, i just did it for the example, i guess. Sometimes, I would not re-roll Initiative, really UnLess an adventurer or monster, switched to a new adversary to attack.

      The way i am doing the Round/Segment combat is the first way mentioned in the DM Guide then they switch to the simpler way some of you do the rounds. Perhaps they were mentioning both Advanced & Basic ways of doing the combat?

      Anyways, it does give everyone a much better & more realistic insight into the combat actions.

      Doing it the simple way your archers are unrealistically firing One Arrow per Minute(Round) when it is their turn to fire in a segment during that round.

      In the above Advanced example Archers get 2 arrow shots per round segment.
      Meaning they could actually fire off 20 arrows in a Round(Minute),

      Keep in mind here that a professional Archer can fire off 10 arrows in a little over 10 seconds, using Medieval Bows & arrows.

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    6. Can you reference the DMG page number? What I've read (Pg61) says just the opposite. That many attacks/defenses are considered to be happening, but largely missing, dodged or parried. That only once or twice per round will an attack really have an opportunity to deal damage. And for that attack, the dice get rolled. The others may get described but are abstracted in the AC and HP numbers. He specifically says why it would be a bad idea to attempt to resolve every single thrust and parry and why D&D is not meant to be such a game. Also, the PHB specifically lists the fire rate for missile weapons and it is per melee round. Your resolution method would go far past the given numbers. The way you've set it up, you're giving your goblins half a dozen attacks per round (a round being the period of time where each combatant acts once). That contradicts all the examples I can find in the text where each combatant gets one action per round. The round is broken down into pieces, those are the segments. They are used to determine when something happens within a round, not to create entirely new rounds with new initiative orders. In your system, high level spells would be functionally useless because it would take so long to finish casting them that dozens of attack opportunities would be occurring. Many combats are finished before the 5th or 6th round (or what you're calling segments), which is when high level spells would finally be going off.

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    7. Yes i see what you mean & it's the simplified way, yes.

      I would use that for tabletop play since it's quick & easy, yes.

      Even in an example on Page 71 of DMG, The Web Spell is shown to take 2 segments within one round to cast just like my example above!

      Online the advanced way brings in more detail & is more realistic & much easier to to handle & keep track of.

      "In your system, high level spells would be functionally useless because it would take so long to finish casting them that dozens of attack opportunities would be occurring. Many combats are finished before the 5th or 6th round (or what you're calling segments), which is when high level spells would finally be going off."

      If you look those spells would be of benefit being cast later in combat as it is!
      It has been working just fine in my online games.

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    8. I'm not saying it can't work. I'm just saying it's not the way AD&D works during normal melee. If you want your high level spells to take a very long time to cast (multiple rounds), that's your choice. If your players are fine with it, then you're doing it right. It's just not the way the game was written to be played as far as I can tell. There's even an example on the page you mention on how to deal with a player who wants to do multiple actions on their initiative. It explicitly state to have those multiple actions occur over several rounds, not several segments. As another poster mentioned, the only time segments can act as rounds is during surprise.

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    9. Yes it is the way AD&D works & is written, for normal melee, the way i showed, the Advanced & the Basic way you are more inclined to are both there.

      The examples has double meaning for the Advanced & the basic.

      So during Surprise according to that very example:
      Advanced Combat:
      The 2 Segments of surprise become 2 rounds themselves (20 segments of multiple actions).

      Archers fire off from 20-40 arrows, Meleers have 20 chances to hit.

      Basic Combat:
      The 2 Surprise Segments become Basic rounds where each player simply takes a turn. Then starts over again. Then you go into regular full combat.

      If there are 2 Archers with the party, they only fire off 2 arrows total.

      If there are 4 Meleers with the party, that's only 8 chances to hit.

      I saw, Antipathy/Sympathy, takes 6 Turns, Part Water takes 1 Full turn & Permancy takes 2 full rounds.

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    10. I don't want to argue. I'll just say that I can't find anywhere in the books that say to run normal melee that way (although multiple passages say NOT to) and in 30+ years of gaming at cons and even watching people like Frank Mentzer, Larry Elmore, Ed Greenwood and RA Salvatore game, I've never seen anyone run normal melee with single segments getting a full rounds worth of action as you describe it. But I'm glad your players like it. That's all that really matters.

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  10. We would just add casting time in segments onto the initiative roll. It seemed that most casting times were similar to the spells level, so I think we just started adding spell level to the initiative roll when casting. Spell would start on original initiative number (the segment) and finish on the modified number, and if that was higher than 10, it would just go off after everything else occurred in the round. If the magic user got hit before that time, the spell failed.

    And don't forget to count the number of segments you may have gotten from the surprise roll. Our casters would use those segments to count towards their final release segment.

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  11. Ok, this would vary depending on who was DM but usually a die was rolled for initiative by each player for their character, modified by dexterity bonus/penalty. Spell segments and weapon speed were ignored for the most part. The DM would call the initiative number out loud and the player would state their character's action.

    If you wanted to interrupt a spell caster, then you hit them before their initiative number was called. Magic-users were often targeted first anyway!

    I could come up with an elegant system for casting times, taking into account spell difficulty and caster level. Would it improve the gaming experience? D&D is combat is abstract and I like it that way.

    How do I use initiative 30+ years later? Roll a d6 for each side, highest score wins initiative for that round. It encourages a party to work together and it's quicker.

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