HD&D: Action Types

[Index to the Combat Section]

When combat starts your character has a lot of options open to him. Do I cast a spell? Shoot an arrow? Jump on my horse and gallop to safety? Any and all of these options is considered to be an action. However, a combat round only lasts six seconds. Therefore in any given combat round there are a finite number of actions that you can perform. The rules in this section tell you how many actions, and the types of action,  you can attempt.

Not all actions are considered equal. In the hybrid game, actions are divided into six categories: standard actions, move actions, free actions, swift actions, immediate actions and those actions that are not really an action at all. Sound complicated? It’s not really. The number of actions you can take on your turn is as follows:

1 Standard + 1 Move + Free Actions


1 Move + 1 Move + Free Actions

 In addition you may be able take one Swift or one Immediate action during the round depending on circumstance. The different types of actions are summarised below:

Standard Actions: You can perform one standard action on your turn. Standard Actions are “doing” actions. If you want to pro-actively influence combat or other characters then the chances are you have to take a standard action to do it. Making an attack with a weapon, casting a spell, grabbing a foe, drinking a potion or stabilising a dying friend are all standard actions.

Move Actions: You can perform one Move action on your turn. This can be either before or after your Standard action. You always have the option to take a second Move action instead of your Standard action. Therefore you could take two Move actions in a round (but no Standard action) if you desired. A Move action normally lets you move up to a set number of feet equal to your character’s Speed. However, you can sometimes perform other quick actions (e.g. drawing a sword, mounting a horse) as a Move action. You cannot take another action within a Move action. So you can’t move a little bit, take a Standard action, and then move some more.

Free Actions: These are actions that take so little time that you can effective perform as many as you like in the course of one round. The GM has the final say on whether an action is possible or not. Free actions include dropping an item, falling prone or speaking (tossing off pithy one-liners to your foes is always encouraged). Unless explicitly stated, you may take free actions at any time during the round – not just on your own turn.

Swift Action: A swift action is an extra action that you can perform in addition to your Standard Action and Move Action during the round. You can only perform a Swift action in certain special circumstances. For example, the Haste spell lets you make one extra mêlée attack as a swift action each round. The Quickend Spell feat allows you to cast a spell as a swift action as long as you meet the prerequisites. You may only perform one Swift Action per round even if circumstances grant you more than one.

Immediate Action: These are actions triggered by external events. Immediate actions are therefore the only type of meaningful action you can take when it isn’t your turn. For example, a foe you are fighting in mêlée combat turns tail and runs from the fight. You can make an opportunity attack on that foe as an immediate action. Immediate Actions may be further categorised as Reactions (happening after the triggering event), or Interrupts (happening before the triggering event). Some talents, feats and spells are immediate actions, or let you take immediate actions in special circumstances. An immediate action counts as your Swift action for the round. So you can’t take an Immediate action and a Swift action (or two Immediate actions) in the same round.

No Action: Some actions are so insignificant that they aren’t considered actions at all. Sometimes this is because they are part of other actions. For example, the act of drawing an arrow and notching it to your bow is part of the Standard action required to attack a foe with the bow.

Next Time…

Come back on Friday for rules on Taking your Turn.

One thought on “HD&D: Action Types

  1. Critique

    In third edition players had standard actions and move actions, but they could forego both in favour of a Full Round Action. Some activities (such as attacking more than once per round) were full round actions instead of standard actions. The existence of full round actions, the rules surrounding them and how they interacted with standard actions, move actions, free actions, swift actions and partial actions (in version 3.0) could be extremely confusing.

    In fourth edition, characters had a Standard Action, a Move Action and a Minor action. The Move action was only ever used for moving, and the Minor action was to mop up every other action that was not impressive enough to be considered a standard action. This worked a lot better than third edition, but I still wondered why we needed a Move action and a Minor action. Why not just have one?

    HD&D is attempt to simplify and rationalise the actions available, without limiting the options open to players. In HD&D players only really have to worry about their Standard and Move actions. Yes we still have free, swift and immediate actions floating around but these only really come into play in specific circumstances.

    I think this is easier to remember, and will hopefully make play that fraction of a second quicker. What do you think?

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