( ⇪ House Rules )
As normal, using an immediate action consumes the swift action you would normally have the following round. You can downgrade a standard action to get an extra swift action (regardless of whether you’ve already consumed your original swift action that round). You can’t downgrade a move action to a swift action in this way. Realize that per the Complete Arcane book and the SRD, “quicken” effects are a swift action (instead of a free action, as stated in the Quicken Spell feat description in the Player’s Handbook).
Clarifications on Free Actions
(Rules Compendium page 71)
In a surprise round where you are not surprised, because you can take free actions, you can take a swift action (or an immediate action) since those are each essentially a free action with certain restrictions.
Clarifications on Item Activation
Contrary to several wordings of the RAW rules in numerous locations, the per-round and activation times of an item are ALWAYS the same as the effect they copy. For example, activating a wand of wraithstrike is a swift action to use (because the wraithstrike spell is a swift action to cast). This is backed up in the Rules Compendium p85:
“Activating a spell trigger item takes the same amount of time as the casting time of the spell that the item stores, but activating the item doesn’t provoke attacks of opportunity.“ (This applies to power trigger items as well.)
The same goes for spell completion items. From the same Rules Compendium page:
“Activating a scroll takes the same amount of time as the casting time of the spell stored on the scroll and provokes attacks of opportunity as spellcasting does.” (This applies to power completion items as well.)
Improvements to the 5-foot Step
A “step” allows you to move on your turn even if you do not act to move. For example, you could load a light crossbow (a move action), fire it (a standard action), and also take a “step”. However, I consider the fact that the step normally only allows 5 feet to be really weak, so I’ve made some improvements. Assuming that you haven’t otherwise “moved” yet as part of your other actions on your turn:
- Effects that grant you extra movement (such as the Chronocharm of the Horizon Walker) have no effect on your eligibility to take a “step”.
- The “step” can be up to half your racial base land speed (round down to the next 5-foot increment, minimum 5 feet) minus any speed penalties, split up as you please before, after, or inside of (in the case of a full attack action) the other actions where you don’t “move”.
- If you move more than 5 feet in this way in your turn, you provoke AoOs after that 5 feet like any other kind of movement. However, you gain a deflection bonus to your AC against these AoOs equal to your Base Attack Bonus (BAB).
- All rules and effects which affect the original 5-foot step use the new distance for all calculations except for multiplying the distance of your step (which instead uses the original 5 feet). No effect which increases your step distance can cause it to exceed your full racial base land speed.
Improvements to the Full Attack Action
My goal is to eliminate the need for a “primary hand” term in the full attack rules, as no manufactured weapon (not even a shield bash, armor spikes, or unarmed strike) should be restricted to only being an off-hand weapon. You must declare a “full attack routine” when you make a full attack. You do not have to declare who you will be attacking, just whether you’ll be including any optional attack sequences (see below) and the changes to your BAB for each sequence. Once you’ve determined the set of weapons/penalties for your full attack routine as described below, you can do the attacks in any order or even opt not to use some of those attacks. You can choose a different weapon for an attack after the routine has started, but only if that won’t change any of the routine penalties (for example, you could change out using one light weapon in an off-hand for another light weapon in that same off-hand).
Each significant limb of a creature (except for a head, tail, or similar appendage) can be used for an additional attack in the “off-hand” sequence of a full attack routine provided that the limb hasn’t already been used in the full attack routine. The elbows, knees, hips, etc. count as part of a limb, and as-such cannot be used for an unarmed strike if that limb has already been used in the full attack routine.
If your routine only contains natural weapons:
- Optionally, you can include an “extra” attack sequence which contains any sources of “extra” attacks available to you which don’t require the use of manufactured weapons (such as unarmed strike). You apply penalties to your BAB throughout your routine as-normal. You can do the extra attacks you gain from these sources in any order, and you can change which natural weapon you use after each extra attack. If you use a secondary natural weapon in an extra attack, it takes the normal -5 penalty to BAB. The extra attack from using an action point can be inserted anywhere in your routine on the fly and can use any weapon immediately available to you (even if you’ve already used that limb).
- Then you have your “primary” attack sequence, in which you can attack with each primary natural weapon once.
- Finally you have your “secondary” attack sequence, in which you can attack with each secondary natural weapon once. Attacks with secondary natural weapons have a -5 penalty to BAB.
If your routine contains a manufactured weapon:
- Optionally, you can include an “extra” attack sequence which contains any sources of “extra” attacks available to you. You apply penalties to your BAB throughout your routine as-normal. You can do the extra attacks you gain from these sources in any order (for example, a barbarian’s whirling frenzy attack can happen before, after, or in-between a chaos monk’s flailing strikes), and you can change which weapon you use after each extra attack. If you use a natural weapon in an extra attack, it takes the normal -5 penalty to BAB. The extra attack from using an action point can be inserted anywhere in your routine on the fly and can use any weapon immediately available to you (even if you’ve already used that limb).
- Then you have your “iterative” attack sequence, the attacks of which occur in order by your BAB’s iterative penalties (-0, -5, etc.). Iterative attacks can only use manufactured weapons on a forelimb or on your body (such as armor spikes). You can change which manufactured weapon you use after each iterative attack and you can use a weapon multiple times in your iterative sequence, but each weapon you use (and its limb, if any) is forbidden from being later used in the “off-hand” attack sequence.
- Optionally, you can include the “off-hand” attack sequence, which applies a penalty to BAB for your entire routine (including extra attacks) as determined by the the penalties for two-weapon fighting (which really should have been called “multiweapon fighting”). You can make an “off-hand” attack with each manufactured weapon on a forelimb or on your body (such as armor spikes) that has not already been used in your iterative attack sequence. If you happen to use up all of your potential off-hand attacks in your iterative attack sequence, you still take all the penalties for including the off-hand attack sequence but gain no off-hand attacks.
- Finally, you have the “natural” attack sequence, in which you can make all natural attacks available to you where the limb (if relevant) for that natural attack has not already been used in your iterative or off-hand attack sequences. All natural attacks in this sequence are treated as secondary and as-such have a -5 penalty to BAB.
Improvements to the Ready Action
A ready action’s trigger must specify a specific immediately-plausible event, cannot be in response to a vague event, and cannot be in response to something you could not see coming. Your character must be able to perceive the triggering event in order for the readied action to trigger, so you can’t ready an action in response to having to make a saving throw (you can however use an immediate action, if you have a relevant immediate action available).
I want players to be able to surprise me with readied actions. To ready an action, declare that you’re going to ready an action (this consumes a standard action). On a piece of paper, write down the trigger’s description and your specific triggered action, and lay it face down on the table (much like laying a “trap card”). You are not allowed to tell anyone about the contents of your ready action before it’s triggered. When you think your trigger has occurred, reveal the paper. The GM is the final arbiter for whether your trigger activates.
Communication in Combat
I ban direct player control of familiars, psicrystals, animal companions, cohorts, followers, hirelings, mercenaries, etc.
What I mean by that is that nothing in the rules says that you have them dominated. You can give them orders, but the details of how they move or act is up to me as GM. This is especially true for animal companions, and I fully enforce the handle animal rules for tricks and special purposes.
This drastically improves the speed of combat when these extra characters are involved. Other than a basic freeform statement (about the length of a twitter message) as a free action once per round (in plain English) on your initiative, you are not allowed to say anything in-character in combat. If anything I’d say this is the single most basic and obvious fix for the Leadership feat (and associated abilities).
This also counts when using telepathy, as telepathy also moves at the speed of speech. Empathic impulses however, (such as between a wizard and familiar) are faster than speech and don’t have this restriction (but are limited in what they convey).
Actions which imply speech in the process itself do not affect and are not affected by these speech limits. For example:
- “Pushing” an animal
- Making a rushed Diplomacy check
- Spell verbal components
- Spell Trigger/Completion
If you really want to say more, you can spend actions on your initiative:
- Swift action: +1 twitter message worth
- Move action: +2 twitter messages worth
- Standard action: +3 twitter messages worth
- Full-Round action: +4 twitter messages worth
Sure, this means that you can’t really have character dialogues or monologues in combat, but isn’t monologuing supposed to be a bad idea? This is why the one-round diplomacy check penalty of -10 isn’t just harsh numerically, but in fluff as well.
I also cut down on at-the-table talk by imposing this speaking restriction on the PCs as well. You’re allowed to ask the GM for any information you like about your own perceptions, and you can ask an ally anything informative about them or their abilities that you could have learned from chatting with them around the campfire or on the road, but apart from that, it’s one twitter-message-worth of speech or telepathy per round (in plain English). It’s not just realistic, it creates tension in combat other than the danger and reduces how much the players can act as a hive mind. It also makes them plan ahead and gain the meta-equivalent of teamwork benefits.