Talking is a Paradox

Talking is a free action?

Talking is….

Talking is that thing I do when everything is typed, nobody wants to try to tag-team someone in a couple of initiative counts (if I can even do that) and the turn is dragging, dragging, and it’s either find someone to lip off to or do something else entirely.

Talking is a way to keep the action interesting. There are only so many ways you can throw a handful of small pointy things or deflect an attack with a sectional staff.

Talking may not be the only way to keep humor in the fight, but it’s certainly one of the better ones.

Talking tells me if this fight is special, not just yet another random encounter, if the opponent has anything at stake beyond “You have pointy objects, I have pointy objects, we are at odds, let us commence with the stabbing.”

Talking makes sure that my friends know what they are doing and what they should not be doing. The amount of meaning, the amount of importance, in “Youth and health and fire, people!” is staggering in the right contexts.

Talking gets me around the fact that most of the systems I play in don’t have a “You attack me now” mechanic that I can take advantage of. Or lets me insult the foe into incompetence.

Talking is a tactic, then.

If talking is not a free action, then there is more realism. If talking is not a free action, then it is less of a problem when the talking has an impact. Meaningful impacts should not be at will ad infinitum; therefore, talking as a free action and expecting results is broken.

But talking is half the fun in some games.

I can’t win, can I?


  1. UZ says:

    Just make sure each combat round has a talking phase, like the firearms phase in Wasteland but with talking instead of shooting.

  2. KreenWarrior says:

    The Doctor Who RPG actually does that. Every round has four phases, Talking, Running, Doing Stuff and Fighting. Fits the show pretty well.

  3. Ravyn says:

    UZ–sounds like a plan.

    Kreen: Oh, right! I remember liking that bit.

  4. UZ says:

    “Meaningful impacts should not be at will ad infinitum; therefore, talking as a free action and expecting results is broken.” – Ravyn

    Not sure this is the case; in D&D4E they moved a lot of the mages’ abilities from Vancian magic to at-will powers and this was not a problem for me at all, mostly because the aggressive planning-ahead requirements meant that a lot of earlier D&D mages just memorized their entire repertoire as direct damage spells.

    4E wasn’t perfect in its approach but it was an improvement because it stopped trying to calculate the costs of individual actions and just gave them to all characters instead. It wasn’t like this in every respect but I thought the magic changes were actually an improvement over my normal D&D gaming experience.

  5. Ravyn says:

    *nods* Point, but I think we’re using two different definitions; 4E’s At Will, iirc, is still technically just once a turn, but my characters will talk just about any time I’m waiting for someone else to figure out what they’re doing with their action. (That or the difference is that 4E at-will powers don’t do much, whereas I have seen people who could turn an entire battle around with a well-placed threat.)

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