The default action economy is intricate—full of exceptions, nonactions, and strange actions. This revised action economy streamlines the process of combat encounters. In many ways, it’s a more active system that allows lower-level characters more options in a round while slightly limiting how much higher-level characters can do during their turns.
In this system, a character can commit up to 3 acts on her turn; these can be committed individually as simple actions, or combined into advanced actions. When it’s not her turn, a character can take a single reaction per round. Iterative attacks have been discarded in this action economy. Instead, any character can make multiple attacks during her turn simply by taking multiple actions to do so.
To illustrate this system, we start at the initiative check and go though the turns and rounds of an encounter.
When combat starts, if some but not all of the participants are aware of their opponents, a surprise round occurs before the first round of combat. Those who are aware can commit up to 2 acts during the surprise round, and gain a reaction when that round is over. If all combatants are aware of their opponents, skip the surprise round.
When your turn comes up in the initiative order, you can commit up to 3 acts. Sometimes, acts are committed discretely as simple actions, while other times 2 or more acts can be committed together as an advanced action. You can take these simple and advanced actions in any order you choose, except when the rules for individual actions state otherwise. You can also take a number of free actions your GM deems appropriate. Your turn ends once you have committed all 3 acts and any free actions you wish to take. Once your turn is over, you gain the ability to take one reaction before the start of your next turn. (Some abilities grant additional reactions; see the sidebar.)
When your turn comes up in the initiative order, you can choose to delay instead. When you do, you can’t commit acts. You keep any reactions you haven’t used since your previous turn, but don’t gain any more. At any point after another combatant has taken its turn, you can choose to end your delay and reenter the initiative order. When you do so, your initiative changes to the point in the initiative order directly after the last acting creature’s turn.
Reactions are like actions, but can be taken only when they are triggered, and only during other characters’ turns. Usually, reactions are triggered by actions taken by other combatants. For instance, the most common reaction you’ll likely take is the attack of opportunity: an attack you can make when a foe in your threatened area drops his guard (typically by moving, making a ranged attack, or attempting a complicated attack for which he lacks the proper training). Some reactions may provoke attacks of opportunity—the reaction’s subtype, if any, determines whether it provokes attacks of opportunity.
Other times, something that happens to you might grant you the ability to take a reaction. Spells and abilities that are used as immediate actions in the default action economy are reactions in this system. For example, the spell feather fall is cast an immediate action in the default action economy—in this system, it’s a reaction.
Converting Other Actions
While the list of actions in this section is long and covers most of the major actions in the game, it’s not exhaustive.
There are many actions that are not covered in these pages.
The following are guidelines for converting such actions from the default action economy to this one.
Free Actions Are Always Free Actions: A free action in the default action economy is a free action in this one. Free actions typically don’t have a subtype, and thus don’t provoke attacks of opportunity. Keep in mind that some free actions are used in conjunction with other actions—that’s still true in this system. To use such a free action, you must take the other action it supports.
Swift Actions Are Always Simple Actions: A swift action in the default action economy is always a simple action in this system. You need commit only 1 act to take that action. In rare cases, a GM might want to limit a given swift action to only once per turn.
Move Actions Are Always Simple Actions: A move action in the default action economy is always a simple action in this system.
Standard-Action Attacks Are Typically Simple Actions: Most actions that involve an attack roll or a combat maneuver check as a standard action in the standard economy are simple actions in this system. For combat maneuvers that can’t be substituted for one attack in a full-attack action and other complicated attacks, consider making them attack actions that require further consecutive acts to complete. Look at combat maneuvers such as drag, grapple, and reposition for examples of such actions.
Standard-Action Supernatural and Spell-Like Abilities Are Advanced Actions: Typically, these actions are advanced actions that require 2 acts. Supernatural abilities tend not to have a subtype (unless they involve movement or attacking, in which case it might be fitting to grant them those subtypes), and spell-like abilities typically have the complex subtype.
Full-Round Actions Are Advanced Actions: Full-round actions are nearly always advanced actions that require a consecutive 3-act commitment. (See the charge advanced action for an example of one that doesn’t require 3 acts.)
This section describes the various actions in the game, their costs within this system, and new rules on how each one works. The sidebars throughout highlight exceptions and help you adjudicate situations that are not addressed directly in this section.
There are a number of different simple actions, free actions, and advanced actions you can take during your turn. Taking a simple action requires 1 act. Free actions don’t cost any acts; you just say you want to take them, though some must be taken alongside other simple or advanced actions. In addition, the GM may limit the number of free actions you’re allowed during your turn.
Advanced actions are more complicated; you must commit 2 or more acts to perform them. Some advanced actions require more acts than you can possibly commit during a single turn. In this case, you must continue committing acts toward that advanced action over multiple turns until the advanced action is complete. To take most advanced actions, you must commit all of their requisite acts consecutively. If you stop committing acts toward such an advanced action, it never comes to completion, and it must be started all over again in order to have a chance of success. Other advanced actions can be completed after committing the total requisite number of acts, which can be split up over time. In both cases, any roll attempted to determine whether an advanced action is successful is attempted after the appropriate number of acts are committed to that advanced action by the creature committing the final act. If an advanced action doesn’t say whether it requires consecutive or nonconsecutive acts, all its acts must be consecutive.
Some actions and reactions have one or more of the following subtypes. The subtypes are thematic, sometimes affect other actions taken later in the turn, and are used to determine whether (and at what point) an action provokes attacks of opportunity.
Attack Actions: Actions with the attack subtype involve making at least one attack roll against an opponent or object. They typically provoke attacks of opportunity only if the attack is a ranged attack or you don’t have the appropriate feat to take that attack action without provoking attacks of opportunity, such as Improved Unarmed Strike for unarmed strikes or Improved Trip for trip attempts. In the latter case, the action provokes an attack of opportunity only from the creature you target. When an attack action provokes an attack of opportunity, the attack of opportunity is made before the provoking attack roll is made.
The first time during your turn that you take an action with this subtype, you roll the attack as normal. Each subsequent attack action taken during your turn imposes a cumulative –5 penalty on the attack roll or combat maneuver check (so the second attack action has a –5 penalty on the attack roll, the third has a –10 penalty, and so on).
Complex Actions: These actions involve intense concentration, strenuous physical manipulation of objects, or some other source of complexity. A complex action always provokes attacks of opportunity, which are made before the complex action is taken. Complex actions that occur over multiple turns (whether consecutively or not) provoke attacks of opportunity on each turn that acts are committed toward their completion.
Move Actions: These actions involve moving through the encounter area in some way. Actions with the move subtype provoke attacks of opportunity when you attempt to either leave a square in an enemy’s threatened area or stand up from a prone position in a space that has at least 1 square in a foe’s threatened area. Not all actions that allow you to move have the move subtype. For example, a step is a very slow and careful movement that doesn’t have this subtype, and thus doesn’t provoke attacks of opportunity when you take that action to leave a square in a threatened area.
Actions without a Subtype: Actions without a subtype don’t provoke attacks of opportunity.
Two-Weapon Fighting and Flurry of Blows
When you fight with a second weapon in your off hand or with a double weapon, you can make two attacks with the first attack simple action you take during your turn: one with your primary hand and another with your off hand. You take penalties on these attack rolls as listed on Table: Two-Weapon Fighting Penalties. Any other attack simple actions you take during your turn allow only one attack roll, using either the weapon in your primary hand or the one in your off hand.
If you have the Improved Two-Weapon Fighting feat, you can make two attack rolls on both the first and second attack simple actions taken during your turn; both of the attacks made on the second attack action are made at a –5 penalty. Further attack simple actions taken during the same turn allow only one attack roll, using either the weapon in your primary hand or the one in your off hand.
If you have the Greater Two-Weapon Fighting feat, you can make two attacks on each of your attack simple actions on your turn, though you take all the normal penalties for two-weapon fighting, as well as the cumulative –5 penalty per attack simple action (all attacks made as part of the same attack action have the same penalty).
The flurry of blows class feature works in a similar way. At 1st level, you can make an additional attack with a –2 penalty on your first attack simple action during a turn. At 8th level, you can make an additional attack on both your first and second attack simple actions during your turn. At 15th level, you can make an additional attack on each of your attack simple actions during your turn. You must, of course, take all the penalties associated with those attacks.
The following are some of the more common actions. To take any of them, you need to commit only 1 act (though some can be taken as free actions under special circumstances).
Aid Another: You take the aid another action. This action has all of the subtypes of the action you aid.
Appraise a Single Item: You spend time using your senses to appraise a single item that you can see. If you are holding the item, you gain a +2 bonus on the check and this action has the complex subtype.
Attack (Attack): You make one or more attacks against a single foe within your melee reach (if making a melee attack) or range (if making a ranged attack).
Bull Rush (Attack): You push a foe that is at most one size category larger than you straight back. Attempt a bull rush combat maneuver check. If you’re successful, you push the foe back 5 feet. For every 5 by which your check exceeds your foe’s CMD, you push that foe back 5 additional feet. You can choose to move along with the target if you have the necessary acts to do so. The foe’s movement doesn’t provoke attacks of opportunity unless you have the Greater Bull Rush Feat.
Control a Frightened Mount (Complex): You attempt to control a mount that’s not trained for combat in battle. If you fail the Ride check, you can’t try again until your next turn.
Crawl (Move): You crawl 5 feet while prone.
Demoralize: You shout threats at a foe within 30 feet that can see and hear you, attempting to demoralize it.
Direct or Redirect a Spell: If a spell allows you to redirect an effect to a new target, you take this action to do so.
Disarm (Attack): You attempt to disarm your foe. If your disarm combat maneuver check is successful, your foe drops one item of your choice that it’s carrying or wielding (even if it’s holding the item with two hands). If you exceed your foe’s CMD by 10 or more, the foe drops two items of your choice. If you fail your combat maneuver by 10 or more, you drop any weapon you were using to disarm your foe.
Dismiss a Spell: You dismiss the effects of a dismissible spell.
Escape a Grapple: You attempt to escape or gain control of a grapple by attempting either an Escape Artist check or a combat maneuver check. The second time in a turn you take this action, you take a –5 penalty on the check. The third time, you take a –10 penalty on the check.
Feint (Attack): You use Bluff to attempt a feint against an opponent. If you succeed, that opponent is denied its Dexterity bonus to AC for the next attack you make against it this turn. If you have the Improved Feint feat, this action doesn’t have the attack subtype.
Manipulate an Item (Complex): You grab an item that is in a backpack, pouch, pocket, or other similar container on your person; pick up an item; or move a heavy object. Sometimes, the GM might rule that manipulating an item is an advanced action and determine the number of acts that must be committed to succeed. Based on what you want to do, those actions may need to be committed consecutively.
Move (Move): You move up to your speed. Typically you move across the land at either a walk or a sprint, but this covers other movement modes, including burrowing, flying, jumping, and swimming.
Open or Close a Door: You open or close a door that is within your reach (not counting expanded reach from reach weapons). You must have at least one hand free to take this action.
Overrun (Attack): You move up to your speed, and over the course of this action you attempt to move through the space of a foe that is no more than one size category larger than you. When attempting to move through your foe’s space, your foe can choose to allow you to pass through and let you continue your movement. If the foe doesn’t choose to or can’t let you move past, you attempt an overrun combat maneuver check. If you succeed, you move through the target’s space. If your check exceeds your foe’s CMD by 5 or more, you move through the target’s space and the target is knocked prone. If the target has more than two legs, it gains a bonus to its CMD against overrun combat maneuvers equal to +2 for each additional leg it possesses. If you fail this check, your movement stops in the space directly in front of the opponent.
Ready a Simple Action or an Advanced Action: You ready a single simple or advanced action that you can take before the start of your next turn as a reaction. You must designate a definite trigger for that reaction (such as “if a foe attacks me,” “if a foe casts a spell,” or “if a foe moves adjacent to me”), and you must have enough acts left to complete the action you ready. Once you ready an action, your turn ends. If you don’t take the action you readied as a reaction by the start of your next turn, you lose that reaction.
Ready or Drop a Shield: You either strap a shield to your arm to gain its shield bonus to AC or unstrap and drop the shield. If you have a base attack bonus of +1 or higher, you can do either of these as a free action when you take the move simple action.
Search: You use Perception to search a room for salient hidden creatures or clues, or you make a detailed search of a 10-foot-square area to detect traps, triggers, hidden objects, or footprints. When you search an area, this action has the complex subtype.
Spell Combat (Attack, Complex): You make an attack roll with a light or one-handed melee weapon, then cast a spell on the magus spell list with a casting time of 1 standard action. You take a –2 penalty on the melee attack, but the spell is cast regardless of whether the attack hits. If you cast the spell defensively, you can subtract your Intelligence bonus from the result of the attack roll to add the same value as a circumstance bonus on the concentration check. You must have the spell combat class feature to take this action, and can take this action only once per turn. To take this action, you must have one hand free. You can’t also take the following actions this turn: cast a standard-action spell or cast a 1-round-action spell.
Stand Up (Move): You stand up from being prone.
Step: You move 5 feet.
Sunder (Attack): You try to sunder an item held or worn by your foe. Attempt a sunder combat maneuver check. If you succeed, you deal damage to the item normally. Damage that exceeds the item’s hardness is subtracted from its hit points. If an object has less than or equal to half its total hit points remaining, it gains the broken condition. If the damage you deal reduces the object to 0 or fewer hit points, you can choose to destroy the object. If you choose not to destroy it, the object is left with only 1 hit point.
Trip (Attack): You try to trip your opponent. Attempt a trip combat maneuver check against a foe that is no more than one size category larger than you. If you succeed, you knock the target prone. If you fail by 10 or more, you are knocked prone instead. If the target has more than two legs, it gains a +2 bonus to its CMD against this attempt for each additional leg it possesses.
Use a Swift Ability: You use a single ability that can be used as a swift action.
Some spells and abilities in the game grant extra actions.
The two benchmark abilities are the Combat Reflexes feat and the haste spell. The following describes how to use these in this system, which should serve as a guide for how to fit in similar abilities.
Combat Reflexes: If you have this feat, you can take a number of additional reactions between your turns equal to your Dexterity bonus, but those reactions can be used only to make attacks of opportunity. You gain all the other abilities of this feat.
Haste: When under the effects of haste, you gain 1 additional act each round, which can be used only to take an attack simple action. This doesn’t stack with any other effect that grants an increase in your number of acts per turn. If you have multiple effects that give you additional acts, you can pick only one such effect to benefit from each turn. You gain all the other benefits of the spell.