Action Play

When we talked about dramatic play, we found it was heavily character-driven instead of action-driven. When playing action campaigns, there are ideas you must balance. The first things to consider are the action scenes of the pulp genre and tactical play; imagine your characters in action while building them. You also need to have a good grip on the rules, so you can stay up with the other Players and match the fast pace of action games. Speaking of the Players, since these games focus on goal accomplishments, it's important to remember that your missions will require teamwork.

It may seem that I am anti-action, but I'm not; I think action-based games are a great exciting challenge, and I enjoy the feeling of success. The issue though is deciding how fast and pulpy your game will be, as opposed to tactical games with miniatures, maps and rules. Both of these approaches have their place in games, and often they are intermixed within a session. Most Players develop an awareness of when to shift from the “mind's eye” of a pulp game to the tactical considerations of a mini game. Often this happens during a large combat scene, or in a life-and-death situation. You also might decide to get tactical in order to ensure a fair outcome during the big boss or sneak attack. Players will often find that they have the advantage over the GM, because they have more minds and time to think of subsequent actions; don’t waste this advantage, but don't abuse it either.

In more dramatic games, rules are often hand-waved in favor of story and character interaction. But action games, being focused on the world surrounding the Players, require a lot more interaction with the rules. They are often more like games than stories. This means as Players you should be familiar with the rules—especially those surrounding your character. If you don’t know the rules, you'll slow down play, which works against the fast pace and excitement of a good action game. In addition, action games tend to require a lot of corporation, so unfamiliarity with the rules can actually endanger your character and the party.In an action game, teamwork is very important: without it, disaster lurks around every corner. The consideration of working as a team should begin in session 0. Plan your characters well, and talk with your fellow Players about how your characters might work together. Develop a sense of trust as Players (even if your characters cannot). Agree to the goals of the adventure, and work on personal goals that will help the adventure rather than hinder it. Learn to appreciate and use each other's abilities in the midst of the adventure.

In the end, if you put the work into the rules and enjoy emulating some good old rock-em-sock-em action movies, you will find these games a lot of fun.

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