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General I Do Declare! Do you? (POLL)

Does your table use a declaration phase?

  • Our table declares actions before each round begins.

    Votes: 9 5.5%
  • Our table didn't before, but now we do declare actions.

    Votes: 3 1.8%
  • Our table declared actions before, but now we don't.

    Votes: 6 3.7%
  • Our table never declares actions until your turn comes.

    Votes: 146 89.0%

  • Total voters


The Smurfiest Wizard Ever!
So, another interest of mine has popped up...

Several features seem dependent on intentions for the round, so I am wondering if people still use a declaration phase or not?

Does your table use a declaration phase?
Does the DM ask what everyone is doing before starting the turn (or rolling initiative if you re-roll each round)?
Maybe you used to but don't anymore?
Maybe you didn't but now you do?

Once again, thanks to all who participate!

For our table, we did initative each round and declared intentions (attack, spell, movement, etc) before rolling. We could change our actions to Dodge or Disengage as default, but that was it once initiative was rolled. Just recently we changed it to roll-and-repeat, and now the DM lets us choose our actions when our turn arrives.

It works fine, is faster, and the DM doesn't have to remember who is doing what. If you have a story to share, please do.
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the Jester

I have never run or played any rpg where we actually did a declaration phase, not even in systems that normally call for it. I certainly wouldn't add one in to 5e; I don't think it adds much to the game. The closest I have ever come is when I used a progressive initiative system, in which there was an initiative 'count' that just kept rising. In that system, your action started on a certain number and finished on another. But that's the closest I have come to using a declaration phase.


Magic Wordsmith
I do not use a declaration phase. D&D 5e's "How to Play" loop is very simple and easy to follow: The DM describes the environment. The player describes what he or she wants to do. The DM narrates the result of the character's actions. The loop works the same in and out of combat. I can't imagine how a declaration phase in the style of previous editions would improve that or even what sort of play experience such a rule variant is meant to support.


Limit Break Dancing
Our table never declares their actions until their turn, and I hate it. It slows the battle down to a crawl sometimes, because everyone is constantly re-evaluating their strategy on the fly. I've tried several times to suggest using a declaration phase to help speed combat up, but I am met with violent opposition every time.

Ed Laprade

First Post
Nope. I've done it back in the day, but even then it usually didn't last long. Just one more thing to keep track of.


Limit Break Dancing
Errrm, how violent? "I attack Clever with my dice bag!"
DO NOT MOCK MY PAIN. (some of those dice are really pointy.)

Seriously though, you would think I was suggesting everybody install Windows ME on their laptops or something. "Eeew, gross. No no, that would never work, let's use an egg timer and a complicated system of punishments to force everyone to speed up combat or else. Calling our actions beforehand is just crazy talk."


40th lv DM
Now & then we'll declare actions. Usually not though.
Works fine in our PF game, works a bit slower in the 5e group where there's often less experienced players.


In systems like DnD5e where you have actor-based resolution (your character does his actions in his turn) we do that. No declare thrn mish-mush together.

When we have played systems with action-based resolutions. (What is being done determines the order and so say all spells go off after all guns which go off after weapons in hand... or where talk finishes before techie before running before attacking) we did that.

When using systems eith other ways, we did those.

In a 5e based game we ran for about 18 months, we changed how the decisions of "who goes when were set (more choice, less dice) but it was still actor-based and fixed.

The key is this - use/choose a system where that basic foundation block (how actions are sequenced) is what you want or pretty close.

Way too much of the system is wrapped up in that core and radical changes are often much mirvproblem than help.


The Smurfiest Wizard Ever!
Great responses so far!

I find it very interested since in EVERY game, of ANY type (D&D, StarWars (WEG & D20), Shadowrun, Vampire being most prominent back in the day), the games I've run and played in ALWAYS used the declarations phase! Last weekend was the first time I ever played without it at all.

My reasoning was always, especially for games with quicker rounds like 5E, you need to have an idea of what you are doing before you act. Otherwise, the action is much to fast for people to react in the time alloted. Reaction/responding to a situation is fine, but when timing is so very quick and you are trying to react to it, it seems like declarations always made more sense.

But so far, the results are overwhelmingly against them! Very interesting...

I can't remember the last time I insisted on declaration. 20 years ago? 30? Certainly not since 3E first came out. Declaration shouldn't be needed or even desired unless the particular initiative system actually REQUIRES it for solid mechanical reasons (and if THAT's the case then I'd question the usefulness of those mechanics). IF players are reasonably familiar with the system's functionality they should NOT require intricate planning or consideration to choose effective actions - unless intricate, complicated, and deeply considered action IS the form of play that the game is INTENTIONALLY aiming for. If players ARE taking what seems to be inordinate amounts of time to choose actions on their turn then prior declaration is NOT going to speed that up IMO. If anything, I'd think it would slow things even more, because then rather than looking at how things stand at the precise moment their turn begins they must contemplate the POTENTIAL actions of everyone on the battlefield at the start of every round and attempt to plan actions that are not just effective but won't actually be made useless or prevented outright because of changes to the situation before their turn can begin. And then you further get players who understandably then want to change their declared actions when those actions ARE rendered ineffective or impossible, making all the time spent in considering declarations a waste.

If declared actions are frequently hampered then players will naturally gravitate to only those actions that more consistently produce results. Combat will become dull and repetitive because experience will show players that only the dull and repetitive choices can be reliable. If players are spending excessive time planning their turn ON their turn then chances are good that it has been demonstrated to them that only careful planning produces desired results, or they are paralyzed by having TOO MANY choices.


First Post
I have been playing since D&D basic with every version of D&D in between as well as WoD, CoD and more games than I can list. The prominent game I remember this from was Vampire the Masquerade. You rolled initiative each round and declared action in order from worst initiative to the best. This gave higher initiative characters the edge as they declared last but act first. Now my thoughts on it are, it sounds like a great idea in discussion. In operation I find it to be an extra unnecessary step.

For D&D I prefer the simplicity of 5e which holds your initiative score on place as opposed to 3.5 with every delay or ready changing it. If I want to add uncertainty I will pregen a d20 initiative list of 100 rolls and have variable initiative for each character each round. Now the fog of war and flow of battle has an edge to it.

A game called Silhouette Core by Dream Pod 9 does initiative each round and if you fumble you loose the round. I find that extreme and am never in favor of players loosing a round based on initiative roll. My other current favorite initiative system is Storypath by Onyx Path Publishing. More on that in the next post.

Best regards


I do not remember ever using them with the exception of holding your action and the DM making you choose why conditions you held your actions for.

I thought they went away with things like speed factor and THAC0. :D


Mod Squad
Staff member
There was a time, way back when, that the group I played with did declarations. But, that was back in 1e, and quite frankly, too many times for both PC and NPC that led to nonsensical dud actions.

Most games these days don't have declaration like that as part of their design these days.


First Post
Here is the Storypath system by Onyx Path Publishing which I really enjoy.


In action-adventure round-by-round conflicts, the action can get pretty chaotic. Storypath uses an initiative system that’s a mix of traditional and collaborative means to make sure everyone gets their chance in the spotlight.

At the start of the scene, you roll a dice pool of d10s with the skill and attribute your character is using to react to the situation. Each roll generates a turn slot for either a player or storyguide character, with the slots placed in order of which achieved the most successes — traits (and then storyguide’s preference) break the tie if there’s a draw. This is the initiative order.

Focus or Spotlight
The player character who achieved the most successes get the Focus first and acts, then chooses which of his teammates gets the focus next, out of those who have yet to act this round. And so on, with each player picking the next to go after his or her turn is finished.

The storyguide does the same with their characters. This cycle continues every round until no characters or turns remain, at which point it resets and the player character whose turn was last picks the next player to start the next round.

Nobody can take two turns in a single round. Characters can take two simple actions in a single turn, using a mixed action, but they don’t get multiple turns.

Example Initiative Dice Pools

Example SituationExample Dice Pool
Astral BattleCunning + Occult
CombatCunning + Combat Skill
Defusing BombIntellect or Composure + Technology
Social GalaPresence + Culture
Vehicle ChaseCunning + Pilot

System Variant
•D10 + Modifier equal to dice pool


In 5e I've only ever had action declaration on your turn.

I do, however, now require players to promptly declare and expeditiously resolve their actions. Combat turns take 15-30 seconds to resolve now and I'm happy.

It works fine, is faster, and the DM doesn't have to remember who is doing what. If you have a story to share, please do.
I like declaration but my current players hate it. The thought of somehow losing an action is apparantly the most henious thing that can ever happen at the table, at least according to the reaction I got from them when we tried a couple of alternatives.


The Smurfiest Wizard Ever!
I like declaration but my current players hate it. The thought of somehow losing an action is apparantly the most henious thing that can ever happen at the table, at least according to the reaction I got from them when we tried a couple of alternatives.
Oddly enough, "losing" an action has never played in all my years of gaming with always declaring actions. At worst, character might have had to change targets for an attack or spell if the original target was dead or out of sight, but that's about it.

I don't have any issue with using declarations as it makes sense to me from playing this way for so long. Our biggest reason in trying NOT using it was to see if things sped up, which so far it seems to have done so.

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