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Ultimate Edition is a Real-time Game

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Ultimate Edition is a Real-time Game

Unread postby icycalm » 06 Dec 2020 17:57


D&D Ultimate Edition is not a turn-based game. Other editions are, but not this one. In Ultimate Edition, time is certainly slowed down, Max Payne-style, for the simple reason that if it weren't we wouldn't be able to run the game; but I want the DM and the players to never lose sight of the fact that turn-based mechanics are ANTI-IMMERSIVE, quite simply because reality isn't turn-based, and hence the goal, the ideal, should always be to approach real-time mechanics AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE.

This means we need a NEW approach for both role-playing and combat phases, a faster, more realistic approach to running and resolving them.

As a player, I want you to try to not take more time thinking about things than your character would have under the circumstances. Since thinking happens in your brain, without the need for dice or maps or miniatures, or even computer programs, you are perfectly capable of thinking at the same rate roughly that your character would. So if your character's being chased and needs to make a decision of which way to go, I want you to give yourself as little time to make your decision as you deem your character would have under the circumstances. And if you fail at this, and take much longer than you should, I want your DM to penalize you for it by slowing down your character, or even halting him in place, while you ponder your choices as if you were sipping tea in a country club or something.

The same principle I want both you and your DM to apply to combat. When your turn comes, you better be ready to blurt out your action in a couple of seconds, or you will lose your turn to indecisiveness. I will except cases where you need to consult the DM on rules, and this will be especially frequent for inexperienced players and DMs, but as you get better at the game, I want you to consciously try to minimize these breaks to achieve as near as possible a super-smooth real-time flow of battle. You will never fully achieve it (well, until someone makes a first-person real-time multiplayer VTT that is), but I want you to aim to get as close as possible. Do it, and see how much more thrilling and immersive your whole experience will get when you are terrified that if you don't act asap you might doom your whole group to an early grave due to inaction.

Moreover, I want to take this even further, to the sphere of communication. A round in most editions of D&D is about six seconds. So it's kind of ridiculous that players can have long-winded conversations about tactics in that vanishingly small timeframe, in the middle of mortal combat no less. If you'd been in mortal combat, you would know it's hard to so much as THINK, let alone SPEAK, let alone co-operatively author a manual on tactics, as most player groups tend to do. Instead of doing that, I want you to simulate the speed, brutality and chaos of combat by limiting yourself to A SINGLE one-sentence utterance ("I am casting fireball, hold them off!" or "Protect the princess at all costs!"), or at most TWO even briefer two-three word exclamations ("I got this!" and "Help me!", for example and so on). You can speak your utterances at any time within the round, not merely when it's your turn, but if you don't speak for e.g. three rounds, the utterances don't stack; you can't recite an epic poem in a round just because you haven't spoken in ten minutes. If you speak more than your allotment for a round, I want the DM to take away all your actions for that round (and if you've already made them, the next round's, and if you speak way too much, the round's after that too). Don't see this as a penalty, but rather a role-playing aid; your character simply invested too much time shouting instructions to his comrades, and so naturally had no time left to act. There will doubtless even be cases where foregoing an action in order to speak clearly and at length will make good tactical sense, and save your group from disaster by co-ordinating it better with superior tactics, so if you at length find that one of you has a better tactical sense than the rest (or simply knows the rules and enemies better lol), it might behove him to occasionally "lose" a round to bark directions at people, especially in larger, more complex battles, where tactics matter most. By the time especially that your group has risen to the Empire phase and is commanding armies, barking commands to troops might even take up the majority of your time in combat. But, to stick with squad tactics for the time being, the ultimate effect of these new mechanics will be to FORCE your group to learn each other's abilities and fighting styles and preferences inside and out, so that very little communication will be needed apart from the briefest of utterances. Adopt these rules, and watch as your group quickly molds itself into a closely-knit, superbly coordinated and deadly unit that appears to outsiders to communicate telepathically, as if they were a special operations unit. And when the enemies see this spartan group calmly and methodically tearing through their ranks while barely saying a word, I want the DM to morale-check them, especially if they have low morale, and make them run for their lives if they fail it, unless the adventure specifically states otherwise for some legit reason.

Add these ultrahardcore real-time mechanics to your game, even if you add nothing else you'll read about in this book, and you can pat yourselves on the back about it. You're already playing Ultimate Edition.

P.S. And, as a bonus, your game will run faster, and you'll get further than you otherwise would in every session.
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