Pseudo Actions

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Written by dyanryan, basic idea approved by Ethan over email, so consider this DM-approved

Attacks of Opportunity and Readied Actions both resolve, officially, before the Action that triggers them. It doesn’t actually say that specifically for Attacks of Opportunity, but that seems to be the de facto way of playing them, simply because it makes more sense to remember one way of doing things than two.

Now, the problem is, this can lead to some crazy scenarios (see below), where the rules totally break down. To fix the rules, I propose the introduction of “Pseudo Actions.” A Pseudo Action is just a logical chunk of a bona fide Action. Every square of movement in a Move Action is its own Pseudo Action. Every attack made as part of a Full Attack is its own Pseudo Action. Casting a spell is one Pseudo Action, and the spell actually going off is another. There are almost certainly other cases, but this is a good start.

Now, why do we want this? Simple. We re-write the Attack of Opportunity rules, and the Readied Action rules, to say that the interruption happens before the Pseudo Action that triggered it, rather than the entire Action. After using a Readied Action, your initiative is still set such that you go just before the character who triggered it, it is only in the Round that it is triggered that is clarified.

Readied Actions and Attacks of Opportunity are still Last In First Out (that is, resolve them in reverse trigger order, the last one triggered in a chain is resolved first).

Here are some examples of why this is needed:

Attack of Opportunity:

  • First off, if the Attack of Opportunity happens before the Action that triggered it, there are very good odds that you aren’t in range to make the attack. This is usually just silently ignored, but under the Pseudo Action rules, it does not need to be.
  • Imagine a character with a Familiar, Animal Companion, or anything else you can Share Spells with. The master casts a spell on both him/herself and the Familiar/Animal Companion. Then, the Familiar/Animal Companion moves away (ending the spell on it by being more than 5 feet away), and provokes an Attack of Opportunity. If the Attack of Opportunity happens before the Action took place, then the Familiar/Animal Companion is still officially next to the master and therefore still under the spell. If the spell in question happens to be Invisibility or Mage Armor or Cat’s Grace, craziness ensues. But under every square of motion being a Pseudo Action, this works flawlessly.

Readied Actions:

  • Assume we have Enemy A and Enemy B, and a Player Character. All three are very low on HP, like 1 or 2, and all have ranged weapons. Enemy A has Readied to shoot Player Character based on Player Character shooting Enemy B. Player Character has a high enough Base Attack Bonus to get two attacks with a Full Attack action, and does so, shooting first at Enemy A. Because the dice are cooperative, Player Character gets an 18 damage Crit, instantly killing Enemy A. Her next shot is at Enemy B. Now, since the Readied Action happens before the Action that triggered it, even though Enemy A is dead, Enemy A can take the Readied Action to shoot Player Character (because he was alive before Player Character shot, which is when the Readied Action happens). Enemy A then proceeds to also get an 18 damage Crit and kills Player Character. Since he then wasn’t killed by Player Character, Enemy A comes back to life. We do not want arrows to cause the Balefire effect, I am sorry, we just don’t. However, under Pseudo Actions, the second arrow shot is a separate entity, and so Enemy A is dead when he needs to take the Readied Action, so cannot take it.
  • A spellcaster Readies to use some large-radius spell on an enemy, based on the enemy standing on the square with the big red X on it. So, the enemy, in his infinite wisdom stupidity walks onto the big X, and the Spellcaster casts the spell, before the enemy moved. So, the spell is centered where the enemy was before he moved, and it hits all the enemy’s allies. With each square move being a separate Pseudo Action, then it all works out.
  • A caster is casting Fireball. Unbeknownst to him, an enemy has Readied to shoot the caster based on a fireball springing from the caster’s fingertips. Under the current rules, the readied action can disrupt the spell, because it happens before the spell started to be cast. However, with the spell appearing being a different Pseudo Action than the casting, such a Ready does not interrupt the spell. Note that the generic “Ready based on casting” still can interrupt spells, but if you Ready based on the effect of a spell, you cannot interrupt the casting of that spell.

Pseudo Actions

Wings of Redemption dylanryan