Why simultaneous action?
There are multiple things that simultaneous action does better than the alternative (turn-based combat):
- It’s more realistic. In real combat, everything happens at once. Gamers often mock turn-based combat for the lack of realism it portrays. In Pythòs, a combatant can be killed in the same moments as its slain opponent.
- It’s more intense. In the uncertainty and chaos of battle, making decisions simultaneously limits the amount of knowledge players have about the outcomes of their actions.
- It saves time. With everyone at the table making their decisions at the same time, there is no waiting for the GM and each player (one-at-a-time) to analyze the situation, look up spells or abilities, and finally make up their mind.
- It keeps everyone engaged. During each player’s turn in a turn-based game, what is everyone else doing? Some players wait patiently for their next turn, while others get distracted or become a distraction for others. With simultaneous action, there is almost no downtime for any one player.
The combat mechanics were designed to be simple and easy to learn, but simplicity doesn’t mean it gets dull. With so many possible combat situations and tactical options, simultaneous combat can be a challenge to master. It’s one of the reasons Pythòs has been praised by both brand-new RPG gamers as well as long-time masters of tabletop gaming.
How it works (3Ds and an R)
Each round of combat is divided into 4 steps:
Step 1: Describe
The GM describes the scene to the players, and the players can ask any questions they’d like, sometimes making checks to figure stuff out or spot things. If the situation hasn’t changed much between rounds, this step can be very brief.
Step 2: Decide
Everyone, including the GM, decides what actions their characters will be taking this round. Everyone places their chosen action and/or maneuver cards face down on the table.
Step 3: Declare
Everyone flips their cards face up. Then, going around the table, each player briefly describes the actions their taking. The GM should also state the actions of the non-player characters and other creatures under their control, though some information may be hidden from the players.
Step 4: Resolve
Actions are resolved in phases based on the type of action:
- Defense Phase
- Attack Phase
- Utility Phase
- Move Phase
- Other Effects Phase
This process can take a bit of getting used to at first, but soon you’ll be zipping through it like a pro.
How do you resolve conflicting actions?
Most of the time, there are no conflicts. The actions and their phases are set up to avoid these issues.
For example, attack actions don’t interfere with each other. If Character A and Character B are both attacking each other, then they both attack. Even if one of them is killed, their attack still resolves. Simple and realistic.
The most common conflicts you will see are movement conflicts. If two characters’ movements would conflict with each other (i.e. one is attempting to get in the way of the other), then the character with the most movement remaining at that point gets priority.
If a rare situation results in a conflict that isn’t addressed in the rules, the GM has final say on how it is resolved, perhaps with an opposed check.