So there's messy and there's too messy. That system is definitely deprecated, it was way too much for me to try to keep in my head.
Here's what I'm doing now:
Write every character's name on a portrait
index card. Not landscape.
Also put in other stuff on there about them that you care about. I just have their passive perception right now but there's room for more. Keep these cards behind your screen.
Put enemies and other combatants on their own cards (index cards or just use playing cards or paper scraps). You can track HP on them if you want — I don't because I have another method for tracking HP + I personally want the HP to be public info and the initiative to not be).
Then, dear DM, just fucking freestyle it as if were Dungeon World
. That's right, you can fiat it as you want. Now to the trick:
People and monsters who have used their "main action", turn their cards sideways as if it was like tapping lands in Magic the Gathering. Turn your questions to the people who haven't acted, and once everyone has, "untap" it all. I keep this behind the screen, one of the few things I have back there.
This freestyling is awesome, I can ask two people "As the two of you see the wasps stinging your employers, do you do anything?" and whoever speaks first can act first. It... actually worked!?! For once!!!
Weave it into the narration, never say "it's your turn", restate the situation and ask them what they do.
If-and-only-if there is actual bullshit at the table where two people (could be two players, could be a player and DM) actually argue about who's fastest, a la "we both reached for the gun", have them roll off dex to see who grabs that gun first. Weave that into the narration too. But only if neither of them is "tapped", if one of them is tapped then bam you have your answer right there.Edit:
I’m still using this but with a tweak:
I start out by announcing the monster’s actions! Like “OK, five goblins head toward [NPC friend], what do you do, [PC name?]” and then they can intercept, create a melee group with some of the goblins so that if they want to get to PC name they have to take OA etc etc. Introduces way more predicate space and choice in our game play. Now that I have cards it’s even easier to keep track of melee groups.
So a nice timing is now…
- Decide whether there can be surprise (was either side stealthy?)
- Announce some number monster actions.
- Turn to one or two PCs and ask what they do. Their actions here can intercept the announced monster actions.
- Then do monster action – they don’t have to obey what the originally announced
- PCs that haven’t acted? Ask one or two of them what they do.
etc etc keep on using monster actions reactively or proactively as you wish. The action econ truly becomes an econ. Each monster and PC has one main action and then once everyone is out, you untap it all and keep going. There’s no “New Round” announcement so keep running tab of timers like a 10-count for 1-minute-spells etc tied to that person not to the “round”, there’s not really “rounds” everyone is just untapped immediately as the last PC or monster is tapped.
PS the rule isn’t changed, this is just a way of applying that rule that I have found is good and agential.