Rules they can’t remember are bad… rules they dislike are worse

Based on last night’s Argh! playtest that means we have two rules to change:

Non-simultaneous Actions – the original rule was you had to specify all your actions in your Turn at once, without pausing to assess what was going on.  The reason for the rule was to try to avoid the situation where because one player has a lot more actions than the others, that player ends up taking up most of the combat time as he does an action, assesses what’s going on as a result, does another action, and so on.  The problem is that the players, Wendy in particular, hate this… her character only has two Actions per turn, but she always wants to see if her first attack takes out the target before committing to another action.  So the new rule will just drop the restriction: if you want to take an action, and then decide what action to take next, that’s your prerogative. I still think that simultaneous actions are desirable (I throw a bar-stool at the first vampire, while I ward off the second one with my cross) both for game-play and for genre, so I’m considering encouraging people to use them by saying that if you describe the actions as simultaneous then the villains can’t react until you’ve resolved them all, whereas if you choose to go sequentially it’s possible for the villains to react after your initial action(s) and before you start your next.

What counts as an Action? The other thing that people had trouble with is what constitutes an action.  This surprises me, because I thought the rule was truly simple: using an active Power counts as an Action. Nothing else does, not moving, not talking, not grabbing something…  but for some reason this doesn’t seem to click with people.  Not just the players: both of the other folks who’ve GMed (Russell is the GM for Argh! and Mike GMed a Danger Room scenario in Kapow!)  charge players for actions for doing things like climbing ladders or opening doors, and players spontaneously charge themselves for things like kicking a gun out of reach even though it doesn’t require a power to do so.  I’m a bit reluctant to change this to something that’s (to me) a lot less cut-and-dried, and will tend to encourage a lot more asking questions of the GM (would X count as one of my Actions?  what about Y?)… but according to my principles I ought to…

7 thoughts on “Rules they can’t remember are bad… rules they dislike are worse

  1. I think we need a broader rules discussion for Argh!
    I guess we need to disseminate the rules a little more,
    in any case, now that they are almost final.

    I really didn’t understand your second point, and I think it’s stated in the opposite way in the current edition of Argh! rules: that Actions can be spent to do movement, pick up objects, and so on. This seemed clear to me from the movement powers: if moving is free, why do you need a special category of powers with the perk that they allow movement for free? There may be a distinction in a superhero game between placing yourself “on the board” and using a movement power to move a different category of distance (from Gotham City to Metropolis say), but that’s not going to come up in Argh! very often. (Of course, intimate interludes in a Paris bistro are an exception).

  2. Actions is the number of distinct actions you can take during a Round. No matter how many Actions you have, you can only use each Power once a round. Automatic Powers can be used many times and do not require an Action to use. Movement Powers can be used once per round for movement without spending an Action, but take an Action for any other use, and can only be used once a round total. Sometimes, when you use a Power, success is automatic, rather than a matter of dice rolling, e.g., using your Telekinesis to shut an unguarded door. That still uses the Power, and still counts as an Action. Moving or manipulating objects is usually an Action, even if it doesn’t use a Power. For example, pressing the self-destruct button on the base control display is an Action. Assisting a Hindered Ally takes one Action. Think of an Action as a single panel in a comic book, or a single shot in a movie. During your Turn, you may use some or all of your Actions in a row, but need to state in advance what the Actions you will take will be. So you cannot wait for the results of one Action before deciding on the next. You can use your unspent Actions in other people’s turns, in one of the following ways: to defend yourself from an attack, to Combine your power with that of the character whose turn it is, to use a Readied action, or to Interrupt an Action.

    [That’s] the text on Actions from the current version of Argh! Note the line, “Moving or manipulating objects is usually an Action, even if it doesn’t use a Power. ”.

  3. “Moving or manipulating objects is usually an Action, even if it doesn’t use a Power.” is the opposite of the way it works in Kapow!

    In Kapow! Actions are only spent to use ACTIVE Powers (that means not Automatic and not Movement), or to un-Hinder yourself. Picking something up is not an Action, unless you’re using a power like Telekinesis to do so. The point of making Movement powers their own category is make it clear that even though they’re a Power, they don’t take an Action. It’s not a special freebie so that if you move with your Fly power you don’t spend an action, while if you move by walking across the room you do.

    I think we should make the rules consistent, and since people are having trouble grokking the Kapow! way, I’m willing to go with the way you’ve been doing it in Argh! I do think that there shouldn’t be a difference between using a Movement power and moving by walking or whatever… and I think that movement should be free, because that fits better with the abstract nature of distance and position in the system. If movement of any sort is going to cost you an action, then it’s going to matter a lot more exactly where you are, what the range is, and whether you have to move and there’s going to need to be a lot more discussion during your turn of what you can accomplish from where you’re standing versus needing to spend that Action. Plus Characters with only 1 Action aren’t viable. Bleh to that. If you can move around for free then it doesn’t really matter whether you’ve described your power as being ranged or not, except under unusual circumstances (villain hovering 50 feet in the air, and you with a sword and no flight…) and even then you are supposed to be able to get around it by coming up with something like throwing your sword or cutting a rope that causes a crate suspended from a pulley to swing out and smack the villain.

  4. Hello,

    I am reading this in a vacuum, not knowing the rules of Argh!, but if it is a diced game, what if the definition of an Action is ‘only events that require a Die-Roll to resolve.’ That seems like it ought to:

    1). Clearly define an Action

    2). make for a lot less die rolling in the game.

    If I am completely off base, please forgive my uninformed intrusion.


    1. Not off-base at all, but Kapow! actually lets you use powers without rolling a lot of the time (most unopposed actions unless they’re pushing the limits of your power, e.g. catching a baby falling off a ledge with your telekinesis doesn’t require a roll), but we’d still like that to use up one of your Actions for the turn….

  5. Hey, your proposed rule is a lot closer to what I had in mind than what the players seem to actually want…or at least grok. I appreciate your input; while I want to satisfy my players, I don’t want to tailor the game completely to their idiosyncrasies, since I’d like to release it for a general audience.

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