I Do Declare! Do you? (POLL)

Does your table use a declaration phase?

  • Our table declares actions before each round begins.

    Votes: 5 4.7%
  • Our table didn't before, but now we do declare actions.

    Votes: 2 1.9%
  • Our table declared actions before, but now we don't.

    Votes: 4 3.7%
  • Our table never declares actions until your turn comes.

    Votes: 96 89.7%

  • Total voters
    107

Blue

Orcus on a bad hair day
With the exception of one system, I haven't used declaration this millennium. Back with AD&D 2nd I seem to remember declaring for casting because any damage for the round caused the spell to be lost.

The one exception was a system that had a phased system where your action decided your initiative (which phase you go in).

My experience is that declarations slowed down play - combats took longer wall clock time. Now, an individual round may be faster or slower, but invalidated actions would add more rounds so the combats as a whole would take longer.
 

Roadkill101

Villager
I use one at my table, but I run a house-ruled game, and characters only get one action per round (period, not counting iterative attacks or very minor actions such as dropping an item to pull out a small, easily accessible item for use, such as unsheathing and attacking with a dagger), so it works in that context. They declare after each party members turn in the initiative order is determined, in that order (so character x may adjust their original intended action based on character y's declaration). In the context of 4e with bonus actions and reactions, I can't imagine a declaration phase working (and I don't recall how 3.x handled the action economy in a tactical situation). The one action is concurrent with movement.
 

pming

Adventurer
Hiya!

Yes. We do that. Have done it for decades.

Reason: It allows me, the DM, the opportunity to successfully RP NPC's/Monster's that have significant Intelligence, Cunning and/or Combat Experience in a MUCH more believable manner.

The Players each state their PC's intention. It's usually enough to be 'vague'; e.g., "I'm going to attack one of the ogres", "I'm going to cast Magic Missile at the leader", "I'll shoot my bow at someone". It doesn't have to be uber-specific, unless it's a spell. I need more info for those.

Then I can solidify what the bad guys are doing based on their capabilities (mental/combat experience/attitude). It allows me to 'dumb down' the bad guys tactics...use 'average' tactics...or 'on-up' their tactics. For example, goblins might just swarm towards the closest foe...the tanked up fighter or raging barbarian who steps way out in front...because goblins aren't exactly smart or known for their tactics. Likewise, a group of orcs might divvy up their attacks and might even have one or two hang back and use missile weapons against a caster. Finally, some super-genius monster or one that is very combat savvy (say, Mind Flayer, or maybe a Type V demon [Marilith]) I could "counteract" something the PC or PC's are planning simply because it's so damn smart and/or experienced. So if a Player declares "I'm casting Lightning bolt at the Marilith", it allows me to maneuver the Marilith in such a way that the Wizard's lightning bolt would have to go through a fellow party member, or might have to contend with partial cover or something. Now *I* as a human DM wouldn't be able to deduce that the Wizard, at that particular time, in that particular location would cast that particular spell...but I'm not an immortal demon constantly tested in battle, nor do I have an IQ of at least 180. So, by making Players Declare an action, it give me and my feeble human IQ a chance at RP'ing these creatures in at least a semi-believable manner.

^_^

Paul L. Ming
 

MarkB

Hero
I've played such a system once, years ago, and loathed it. All too often, by the time the combat came round to a particular player's turn, the situation had change to a point where their chosen actions became nonsensical, redundant or even counterproductive.
 
I

Immortal Sun

Guest
No. Or at least it's not required. Some players state at the start of a round that they're doing a thing, but otherwise people wait until their turn to declare their actions. As a DM I don't declare NPC actions at the start of the turn, I don't see why the players should.

If there's a possibility that it will change, then I don't really see the point.
 

Shiroiken

Adventurer
This is a mechanic that is hard to get people to agree to. The 5E system is very simple and very efficient. It has some issues, but the pros outweigh the cons for a huge majority of players. You're only likely to get old school players and/or players of other RPGs that use that mechanic (such as the early L5R RPG's declare in reverse action order system).
 

Sword of Spirit

Adventurer
That was basically the norm for initiative before 3e switched to cyclical. Most systems since then have followed suit. I was skeptical when 3e came out, but soon converted and never looked back. The cons of action declaration far outweigh the pros for me and pretty much everyone I game with. I would try to talk sense into a 5e DM that planned to use such a variant, and consider leaving the game if he stuck with it, because I'd assume it would indicate a tendency for other playstyle elements I dislike. And this is coming from the one with the most old school sensibilities in my group.
 

Mercule

Adventurer
I've used declarations, in the past -- like the speed factors from 1E AD&D, among others. They always seem to cause more problems than they solve. Sure, it might seem a bit odd, 3/4 of the way through a six second round, to switch from drawing your greatsword and cleaving the orc to walking to the far side of the melee and laying hands on the wizard. But, that's better than having all 5 PCs declare for focusing on the ogre, killing him after the second attack is a crit, and having the rest of the group stand with their thumbs up their rears while the other two ogres eat the halfling.

Really, I struggle with even something like Savage Worlds where you have to declare all your actions at the top of your turn. In that case, I know it's the necessary trade-off for having penalties for multiple actions and it's not horrible as long as the GM isn't a jerk about things.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
Way back in the day we used declarations, but abandoned them mostly because far too often the declared action didn't make any sense by the time your init came up. Example: my declaration is that I attack the Orc I'm fighting but by the time my init comes up someone else has already killed it; my declaration has me committed so either I chop at a corpse or I do nothing, where it'd be far more logical and reasonable for me to move to another foe even if I lose my attack for the round. Unrealistic, and dropped.

Sometimes I'd love to reintroduce the concept just to speed up the on-my-turn decision-making from some players, but it would fail again for the same reason as before.

If you're casting a spell I allow you to target on resolution (we have casting times) rather than on commencement.
 

Seramus

Adventurer
I've played and run games that have a Declaration Phase. It always seems to slow things down to a crawl and make people have regrets, usually along the lines of characters wasting their actions because what they declared is no longer valid. Missing your action is usually the least fun way to play. :p
 

Harzel

Explorer
Way back in the day we used declarations, but abandoned them mostly because far too often the declared action didn't make any sense by the time your init came up. Example: my declaration is that I attack the Orc I'm fighting but by the time my init comes up someone else has already killed it; my declaration has me committed so either I chop at a corpse or I do nothing, where it'd be far more logical and reasonable for me to move to another foe even if I lose my attack for the round. Unrealistic, and dropped.
Wellll, yeah, it's 'unrealistic' if you imagine that the whole you do your entire round's worth of stuff, and then I do my entire round's worth of stuff and then the Orc does his entire round's worth of stuff is actually what is happening in the fiction, which is pretty, um, what's the word I want, oh, yeah --- unrealistic.

Don't get me wrong, there are reasonable criticisms of using declarations with you-go-I go; it just doesn't seem to me that 'unrealistic' is one of them. (Unless you meant unrealistic that anyone would have fun doing it this way.)

Sometimes I'd love to reintroduce the concept just to speed up the on-my-turn decision-making from some players, but it would fail again for the same reason as before.

If you're casting a spell I allow you to target on resolution (we have casting times) rather than on commencement.
Two questions out of (sort of) idle curiosity:
  1. So casting takes time, but physical attacks and movement are instantaneous? I'm just as much in favor of nerfing casters as anyone, but any particular reason besides that?
  2. What units are casting times measured in? That is, how does casting resolution mesh with the other things going on? (If the answer is measured in rounds, then it's reasonably clear, otherwise ?)
 

Myzzrym

Explorer
We declare actions, but only because I use simultaneous resolution rather than sequential turns.
Same, I feel like it gives more punch to the fight when everything happens at once, with Initiative being used to show who's slightly faster (for instance during a duel to know who hits first). Players can react while I describe what's happening, but it avoids people constantly readjusting their action depending on what the previous player / monster just did. Battles become more frantic, and reactions actually feel like split of a second decisions
 

Henry

Autoexreginated
I can’t say that I’ve ever encountered any table who has done any of 3e/4e/5e or Pathfinder this way. Back in 1st ed and 2nd ed AD&D, we had declaration phases, but not since.
 

Seramus

Adventurer
Wellll, yeah, it's 'unrealistic' if you imagine that the whole you do your entire round's worth of stuff, and then I do my entire round's worth of stuff and then the Orc does his entire round's worth of stuff is actually what is happening in the fiction, which is pretty, um, what's the word I want, oh, yeah --- unrealistic.
I've got the opposite problem. Accomplishing nothing is too realistic!
My players are trying to escape their crushing depression. :D
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
Wellll, yeah, it's 'unrealistic' if you imagine that the whole you do your entire round's worth of stuff, and then I do my entire round's worth of stuff and then the Orc does his entire round's worth of stuff is actually what is happening in the fiction, which is pretty, um, what's the word I want, oh, yeah --- unrealistic.
Problem is, starting with 3e that's how the game has worked by RAW: one person does their entire round's worth of stuff, then another, then another. Movement is almost like a mini-teleport, there's no consideration given for the time it takes and where you might be when something else happens (e.g. did you just run into that lightning bolt or not).

Don't get me wrong, there are reasonable criticisms of using declarations with you-go-I go; it just doesn't seem to me that 'unrealistic' is one of them. (Unless you meant unrealistic that anyone would have fun doing it this way.)
No, unrealistic in that I can't change my action to reflect things that happen between the time I declared it and the time I would do it.

Two questions out of (sort of) idle curiosity:

So casting takes time, but physical attacks and movement are instantaneous? I'm just as much in favor of nerfing casters as anyone, but any particular reason besides that?
I'm running a 1e variant, and 1e had casting times (which serve as a wonderful rein-in to casters, as it gives more of a chance for interruption). Movement can also take time depending how far you want to go, particularly in 5e where rounds are just a few seconds long.

What units are casting times measured in? That is, how does casting resolution mesh with the other things going on? (If the answer is measured in rounds, then it's reasonably clear, otherwise ?)
Segments, of which there's 6 to a round because we use d6 initiative. Were I running 5e there'd be 20 to a round (because init is rolled on a d20).

So, in my version of 5e a 3rd-level spell might take 6 segments to cast - your init is 14 so that's when you'd start, resolving on 8 if you hadn't been interrupted. Oh, and init would be rerolled every round (which means I'd use a smaller die, for sure!).
 

Satyrn

Villager
I see that, yet again, I voted with the clear majority on a poll.

I'm just another brick in the wall.
 

Ratskinner

Adventurer
I haven't had declarations phases in quite some time. I ran a session of a game called Old School Hack that uses them to determine initiative order....and I think that is something I might try to work out for 5e. Just eliminate the initiative roll entirely. Start of each round, folks declare what they're going to try to do, then resolve as seems appropriate.
 

MechaPilot

Explorer
I used to have my players declare actions when the declared actions affected their place in the initiative order. However, that become a little too cumbersome and was abandoned at my table.
 

Sword of Spirit

Adventurer
... but it avoids people constantly readjusting their action depending on what the previous player / monster just did.
Others have also expressed this sentiment, but I don't get it. How can you adjust something that hasn't come up yet? When you don't have initiative declarations, you don't have to make any decision until your turn, and then you don't change it because it immediately happens. Are people using cyclical initiative but having the players decide what they do first and then just keep it to themselves instead of declaring it? Even if players start thinking about what they plan to do next round as soon as they finish their turn (a generally good practice), that would just mean they are paying close attention to what is going on, and might even be faster on the draw when their turn comes up again.

I kind of (not too seriously) wonder if some pro-declaration players misread the way cyclical initiative works from the very start.
 

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