COMBAT ENVIRONMENT ACTIVITY TRACKING SYSTEM II For RMSS

Copyright Joel Lovell, 1999

INTRODUCTION: The Combat Environment Activity Tracking System II takes the place of the normal phase by phase order of activity in the RMSS combat system. The basic idea of this system is to have characters cross indexing current initiative with a list of basic combat actions to determine how seconds will go by before that action is resolved. Also, simultaneous activity can be tracked easily. Now the GM and the players can tell exactly when things occur for each combatant, in a smooth, more fluid manner. This system may seem complicated at first, but it is really easy. It also may seem to take too much time, but when it is used correctly it saves time by eliminating confusion and argument. Most importantly, it allows for more flexibility (realism).

HOW TO IMPLEMENT CEATS: The GM will want to photocopy the table and optional tracking form for each player to keep track of their own times. When combat begins the characters roll 2d10 and add this to their Base Initiative. On the table, you can see three sections that have modifiers to initiative: MISC. MODIFIERS, SNAP & DELIBERATE ACTIONS, & CHARGES. These things modify the Base Initiative on an action by action basis. For example: if you have an initiative of 11 and are doing a snap action with a +8 to Initiative (and a corresponding -10 to skill roll for that action), you would look up the time for that action as if you had an initiative of 19. For this example you would look down the "20" initiative column on the table to determine the time for that action. (Note that odd numbered initiatives go on the next highest even number initiative column). Once an actions "time" is determined, it is noted down or added to previous actions times. If there are other simultaneous actions, you simply note the completion times side by side. The rule structure of RMSS role playing game is still intact. Success or failure of actions attempted are determined normally. This is pretty much all there is to it! What follows are more detailed explanations of movement, attacks, and other misc.

Here are the steps again, in more detail:

1. A character takes his current initiative, looks up any modifiers to the initiative (for that particular action, such as Snap or Deliberate), cross indexes it on a table with the action being attempted, and notes down how long it will take to 'resolve' his action. Combat starts at time 0.0 seconds. (like a stop watch). Snap Actions can add to initiative for a given action being attempted as a "snap action". This results in a bonus of +8 to initiative per -10 to the skill roll, to a maximum of +32 to initiative and -40 to the skill roll. Normal actions take the listed amount of time for a given initiative. Deliberate actions take longer, but gain a bonus to the skill roll, at a -8 to initiative and +10 to activity. (Maximum -24 to Init and +30 to the skill roll).

2. The referee does the same for any NPC's or encounters in his control, making a quick note on the NPC's action and any modifiers that action may have to the NPC's die roll.

3. The referee then looks across at his NPC's and sees who is able to resolve first. He tells the players what they see, and asks if anyone finishes their action before the NPC does. Whoever is first, resolves (rolls dice, applies skills, modifiers, etc.) first, then whoever is next resolves next, in order.

4. After a PC or NPC has resolved an action, a new action is chosen, cross indexed with their initiative (which is still their base initiative for that combat) applies any modifiers to the initiative for that specific, particular action (if there are any) and then ADDS the time to the last actions time. So if a PC's first action resolved at 7.1 seconds from the beginning of the combat, and the PC's next action takes 6.8 seconds, this next action will resolve at 7.1 + 6.8, which is at 13.9 seconds after the combat began. And after this action, the next is chosen, added onto the 13.9, and so on. (Think of this total as the point in time on the stop watch that the character gets to resolve whatever he is doing.)

A Note on "Resolving" actions: By resolved, we are talking about when the player or GM rolls the dice and checks the results of an attack or other skill action, not the exact moment when the character "completes" a specific action. (Although it is an argument in semantics it is an important difference in CEATS II from the first CEATS, and for the RMSS mechanics.) The times for actions are a benchmark corresponding with the balance created with the normal RMSS mechanics. For instance, the designers of Rolemaster define an attack as a series of blows coming from a single facing in a given round (from a single opponent). So in essence, an attack is a series of smaller actions and not one single strike or blow. When the attack is resolved, you are basically determining the outcome of all of those little actions as a whole. So if a player looks at a time on the chart and says something like, "Hey, this takes too long, it doesn't seem realistic enough" you can just explain that there is more to what is going on in that block of time than a single blow, a "release" of an arrow, etc. That between exchanging blows, parrying, jockeying for position, back pedaling away from an attacker, and so on, the elapsed time goes by. Note that charges and opportunity strikes are an exception, and are discussed further along.

INITIATIVE STAT: The Quickness bonus + 2d10 roll. The roll represents the random elements of chance or fate, noradrenaline and endorphin rushes, etc. The roll is good for the entire fight, and is only rolled again if the character was able to relax from the stress of combat before having to fight again. The GM might allow for another roll if the first is particularly wimpy - especially if the combat is becoming desperate. In extremely terrifying situations, a kind and merciful referee could allow an additional 2d10 to be ADDED(face to face with a Balrog...).

THE ACTION TABLE: The Action/Time Table is a list of basic actions that most characters attempt during combat. Players will almost certainly come up with actions not listed on the table. The GM needs only to extrapolate off of the base times of the standard actions on the table so that a time could be calculated. For the curious, or in case someone has an ultra high initiative, the method that the times for actions were calculated was with the following formula: The result of 100 divided by (100+Current Total Initiative) is multiplied times the base time. On the CEATS II table this would be the times listed under the 0 initiative column. The table saves the effort of spontaneous calculating, and assumes that any current initiative in a normal game will fall within the limits of the table.

The table has been designed to allow the players and the referee to simply look up any action to determine how long it will take, needing only the characters initiative and base movement rate to track most of what a character wants to do. Remember that many actions can occur simultaneously with each other, such as moving while drawing a weapon, or standing up from a chair while drawing a weapon and making an observation, etc. Such simultaneous activity must be logically compatible. You obviously can't do things like sprinting and a careful dismount simultaneously. Naturally, it is GM discretion on what can and cannot be done simultaneously unless his players are bigger and meaner than the GM is.

The referee, dealing with more than just a single character, sometimes has to keep track of many foes at once. It is not recommended that the referee keep track of both player characters and his characters/encounters, but he may have to make a note or two to remember when certain things that players are doing take place. An optional tracking form is included for noting times and actions for NPC's, PC's and encounters.

 

Most of what follows are optional rules or more detailed guidelines for unusual situations such as charge attacks, opportunity actions, martial arts, unusual movement activity (such as swimming, climbing) and spell casting.

SURPRISE: Effects the character by -30 to initiative for the first round.

ENCUMBRANCE: Effects the characters by -3 per -10 Encumbrance Penalty.

HITS: Characters having taken more than 50% of their hits have a -8 to initiative.

CONCENTRATION: Effects the character by -30 to initiative while concentrating.

MOVEMENT NOTES: The Base Rate in RMSS is the number of feet that a character can travel at a x1 rate (walking pace) in a 10 second round. In CEATS II, your Base Rate is divided by 10 to get the number of feet traveled per second. This is useful in a variety of ways: One, using miniatures, you can increment movement with moving figures changing position according to how many feet they cover during however many seconds of time they wish to move at a given pace. If you want to see how far a figure moves after 1 second, 2, 5 or 10 you can easily do so. You can now easily see how long it takes for someone to catch up with someone else - if you have a PC 60' away running at 12' per second away from a character moving 18' per second, the faster person will be obviously gaining about 6' every second and will catch the other in 10 seconds. If using miniatures or markers you can see the one marker or figure getting closer every time a the movement is updated.

The simplest way to track movement is to have the character decide how far they want to cover at a given pace. Then divide the distance (feet) by the pace (feet per second) to get the time in seconds. For example: Take a character with a Base Rate of 50' per round. In CEATS II he has a movement base rate of 5' per second. Let's say he wants to go from point A to Point B, and it is 45'. If he wants to move at x2 pace, he will be traveling 10' per second, it will take him 4.5 seconds to cover that distance at that pace (45/10=4.5). He will also have a penalty to any actions he resolves during those three seconds equal to -20, even Moving Maneuvers. (See Below).

There is a corresponding penalty to any actions attempted depending upon the pace multiple. So anything requiring a skill roll while moving at x1 pace or higher will have the adjustment to that roll in addition to any others. This penalty is equal to the pace multiple times -10. So Base Rate x1=-10, x1.5=-15, x2=-20 and so on. There is no movement penalty for spells or attacks if the character is traveling at ½ base rate or less.

Maneuver tables work as per the normal rules.

OPTIONAL MOVEMENT NOTE: The referee might want to regulate how quickly a character can "accelerate" and "decelerate" the pace multiples. Just say that the character can change his pace multiple up or down by 1 multiple each second he is moving. So a character traveling 10'/second wanting to go to x3 pace must first spend 1 second at x1.5 and another second at x2, and then he'll be at x3 from the third second onward. A referee could rule that a successful MM is required to skip increments.

OPTIONAL MOVEMENT TIP: Use only two rates during combat: x1 and x2 base rate.

ROUNDS OF STUN, BLEEDING, LOST INITIATIVE, DURATION FOR SPELLS, ETC.: Treat like normal if you like. A "round" is equal to 10 seconds for duration purposes. GM's also should feel free to adjust this for unusual situations. For example: If a hasted person is stunned for 3 rounds, then the GM might rule that they are stunned for 3 half rounds or 15 seconds since they are accelerated...they bleed twice as fast as well.

OPTIONAL DURATION ROUNDS TIP: Some GM's find 10 seconds to be too long, and scale it down to 5 to 8 seconds. I personally recommend the 8 second round.

PERCEPTION takes time, and other actions may not be started during this time that are dependent upon information successfully perceived - unless the action was started independently of what is being perceived. In other words, if a character on a whim decided to draw his sword/pistol before the GM decided to make everyone roll for Detect Ambush. The time it would take for his perception roll would occur simultaneously with his action of drawing his weapon. If the GM had declared "roll for detect ambush" prior to his declared action, he would be unable to act on any knowledge based upon the perception, until he finished perceiving a threat.

(Optional) Perception time can be negated by how well the roll was made. Any amount over the required amount could be the number of 1/10ths of a second off of perception time, or some variation of this. This allows for those cases where a person can instantly react to something he notices.

SPELLS: Only 1 spell (even instantaneous) can be cast per 10 seconds (or whatever Round Duration the GM has set). A spell preparation can be begun immediately however. Preparation rounds are equal to the time shown though, not the rounds interval.

INSTANTANEOUS SPELL: Take 0 time to cast, but remember that the spell caster cannot cast again until a round elapses (which could be the default of 10 seconds or the GM alternate time for "duration's"). Preparation can be begun immediately though. Note too that even though an instantaneous spell takes 0 seconds the action / effect of that spell could take additional time. Spells such as Bladeturns, Deflections, etc. will take 0 time, but a spell such as Leap, although it takes 0 seconds to cast, still might require an orientation / perception time plus however long the leap takes in time. (I defined magical leap to be about 10'per second). You could do without the perception time and have the character leap blindly onto someone's pike...

HASTE: When hasted, Movement rate is doubled (but don't double penalty for pace multiple), and actions are simply 1/2 normal cost during the duration of the haste. Optional Note: Increase the difficulty of any moving maneuver roll by one level while hasted. This is due to the difficulty in dealing with momentum. This would be especially true for any haste brought on by "metabolism" (Adrenal Move: Speed) as opposed to alteration of time.

ADRENAL MOVES PREP TIME: These times translate directly from the % activity shown for each. I.E. 20% activity would represent a 2.0 second base time. Use any listed 2.0 base time to calculate the actual.

MELEE COMBAT: Melee attacks are resolved normally at end of the time for the attack, with the exception of charge and opportunity situations. There are a variety of modifiers for combatants attack times:

WEAPON SPEED: Strength Bonus minus weapon weight. This is a direct modifier to initiative and can result in a bonus or penalty. Example: A dagger weighing 2 lbs and a character with a Strength bonus of +4 will have a +2 initiative bonus. (4-2=2) A sword weighing 5 pounds and a character with a strength bonus of -3 will have an initiative penalty of -8. (-3-5) = -8. Two handed weapons speed is calculated by using ½ the weapons weight.

WEAPON LENGTH: The combatant with the longer weapon (1/2 again as long as the other is a good rule of thumb) gains a +3 to initiative.

WEAPON QUALITY: A +3 to Initiative per +5 Bonus. The converse is true as well. (-3 per -5 penalty).

PARRIES: take effect anywhere during the round that the weapon is drawn even if midway into an attack. However, the parry has to be declared before any attack rolls are made. So if a PC is aware of an attack and neither opponents have rolled for the attack, a parry can be declared. As in the normal rules, Parry will only affect the OB and DB of an attacker, and will not change the time of the attack. In essence, the parrying maneuver can be considered to be part of the attack move.

DRAWING: The penalty for drawing a weapon to OB applies only if an attack time is started simultaneously with the draw time. If the time to draw is completed before the attack time is started, there is no penalty to OB. If the attacker wants to count the draw time as part of the attack time, he gets the drawing weapon penalty to OB.

LONG DOOR/TELEPORT WEAPONS: A weapon that is teleported into the wielders hand is considered successfully quickdrawn. The weapon cannot appear within 10 seconds of the last time it teleported or long doored into the wielders hand. (Same interval as spells).

OPTIONAL "DYING BLOW" - SIMULTANEOUS STRIKES OR NEARLY SO: If an attacker is slightly slower (within either 1/2 or 1 second of each other, GM choice) than his foe, and is "killed", knocked down, etc., from the crit result, the attacker may get to resolve his attack.

OPTIONAL MARTIAL ARTIST NOTE: A GM might allow a Martial Artist to gain a greater bonus to snap actions than a normal combatant.

CHARGE ATTACKS: If an attacker is moving at running pace or higher into a foe for an attack, the attack is considered a charge, it is resolved as soon as the distance closes to within melee range. However, in a charge attack, the person with the highest initiative resolves first, regardless of attack time, and movement penalties will apply to anyone moving. Before the combatants can start another action again an interval equal to ½ their normal attack time must pass, this is basically a charge recovery time to keep charges in balance.

Creature Note: Some creatures will have a natural charge attack (ram / butt) and do not suffer movement penalties with their attack.

Weapon Length: In a charge, the combatant with the longer weapon gains a +7 to his initiative. Note that the weapon must be at least ½ again as long. Ranged weapons are considered the longer weapon when utilized against non ranged weapons.

Charge Example: A pikeman, with a base initiative of 11 for this combat, is being charged by an orc with an initiative of 15 armed with a sword. The pikeman, having the longer weapon, gains a +7 to his initiative giving him a total initiative of 18. The pikeman resolves his attack first, then the orc. The orc must make his attack at -40 because of his x4 pace. Before either can attack again, an interval equal to ½ their normal attack time must pass.

RANGED MISSILE WEAPONS: The table shows a time for loading the missile weapon and another time for the attack. The loading time is separate so that you can do a 'Snap' reload, or just want to get a weapon ready for attack without attacking immediately. The total time between consecutive shots may seem overly long, but this correlates with the RMSS % activity.

 

GM's, the following are a number of optional rules you may or may not want to have included in here. The climbing speed I would definitely leave as part of the CEATS II system though.

OPTIONAL CLIMBING SPEED RULES: Climbing speed is determined by taking the Base Rate of the character, and making an appropriate moving maneuver roll. The MM result is a % of the movement rate the character is moving. The actual resulting percentage of the Base Rate is listed below is modified by the following conditions:

 
MM DifficultyOverall Mod
TerrainColumnTo MM Result
Stairs, Walk/Climb UphillRoutine40%
Ladder, pile of rubbleEasy30%
Wall with good handholdsLight25%
Wall with adequate handholdsMedium25%
Wall with poor handholdsHard10%
Mountain climbing with equipmentHard10%
Mountain climbing, bare hands/ftVery Hard5%
Wall with no proper handholdsExtremely Hard10%
Sheer obtuse angled wall w/ equipHard10%
Sheer obtuse angled wall w/o equip  Sheer Folly10%
Using secured ropeLight10%
ICY, Slippery, Oily, Wet+1 difficulty each
 
To make things simple, the first result can apply for 1/4 or 1/10th the total distance of the climb, to reduce the number or rolls to be made. Also remember to subtract from the climb roll the pace multiple penalty, if the climber is going faster than a x1 rate.

On an F result where the climber is using safety equipment, the GM may simply have the climber roll for breakage, make another mm roll using rappelling skill, etc., depending upon the situation. If in a tree, the climber may have a chance to catch another branch to stop his fall, again depending upon the circumstances.

Example: Climbing a 50' wall, with good handholds is a light maneuver. Bill the cat burglar has a Base Rate of 5' per second. He's kind of in a hurry, so he decides to try climbing at x2 his normal rate giving him a normal moving rate of 10' per second. His climbing skill added to his roll, and then - 20 (the penalty for the multiple of pace) made the moving maneuver under the Light column give a result of 75. 75% of 10' per second is roughly equal to 8' per second. The climb walls with good handholds has an overall modifier of 25%. 25% of 8 = 2. He can climb 2' per second. The referee felt that was good enough for the entire climb, and so it takes about 25 seconds for Bill to complete the 50'.

OPTIONAL SURFACE SWIMMING RULES: Swim rate is determined by taking the Base Rate and dividing by 30. This result is the base per second swimming speed, and is modified by skill in swimming as a percentage of this swimming base rate. For example, a person with a 60' BR would have a swimming base rate of 2 feet per second swimming speed (at x1 pace). His skill total in swimming is +55 (great swimmer...) so he adds 55% of 2 added to 2 getting his new base swimming rate of 3 feet per second. Trying to swim with armor on requires a maneuver roll with an added penalty of the max maneuver penalty for the type of armor applied. So wearing AT 20 would only give you a -165 penalty (adjusted by Str and Agil) to swimming and NOT sinking..(Fat chance with an AT 20).

OPTIONAL UNDERWATER RULES (The following information is concerned with underwater Exhaustion/Drowning, etc.) (Con+Bonus)/10 = UW Unit = Rounds can hold breath without expending exhaustion points. For each round past this unit, the character will expend 10 exhaustion points, if unencumbered and swimming at x1 rate underwater. Swimming skill modifies any maneuvers attempted, such as encumbered swimming, swimming against current, etc. For each round past the last of the exhaustion points, the character must make a static maneuver using self- discipline, to "stay determined" (keep from panicking and drowning). The first THREE SD maneuvers are Routine, the next TWO medium, then the next is hard, each becoming more difficult than the previous. Hyperventilating for a few rounds previous to the attempt will help by adding your con bonus once again to the exhaustion points total. After panicking when the exhaustion points run out, the character will be drowning, and will be taking 10 temporary concussive hits per round thereafter until unconscious, then death will follow as per the rules. These are only temporary if the character is revived (either magically or by a Medium First Aid roll), he gains these hits back at the rate of (CON+BONUS)/10 hits per hour. The following modifiers apply to exhaustion (while under water). In combat (x1.5), double pace (x2), wounded 75%, (x1.5), wounded 50% (x1.5), wounded 25% (x1.5). These modifiers are accumulative, then applied. Thus in combat, with less than 50% hits remaining, Bok the fighter is expending 45 exhaustion points per 10 seconds elapsed time. (10 x 4.5), whereas his wet opponent Shamu the warrior is not wounded/in combat, expends and only 15 exhaustion points. Not moving takes only 1 exhaustion points per 2 seconds while underwater.

Severe Encumbrance. If the character is fighting the weight of equipment or armor, trying to stay aloft, he is expending an added +x1 exhaustion points. If the character is carrying armor heavy enough, he can just walk on bottom and hope he can hold his breath long enough for the water to be shallow. Walking on the bottom like this allows is base rate x1/4, and exhaustion points spent is 1 per second.

Depth. The deeper one goes, the less "air" they have due to compression. For each 33' past the first, add a +x1 multiple to any of the above. Rate of descent is as follows: 25'/second for x2 Encumbrance or more.

DIVING FOR COVER: Diving for cover allows that last ditch heroic attempt (hah.) to dive out the window/door/behind wall, etc., to avoid getting nuked in a elemental ball type attack, riddled with machine gun fire, etc. The successful dive for cover simply gives the character the benefit of any cover, as per the normal rules. The character will invariably end up prone on the floor unless the GM allows for another roll for acrobatics. A person can dive for cover at a speed of x5 movement rate and takes 1 second base time. This is a MEDIUM moving maneuver.

Optional Charge Attack Damage Multiple Increase: With this optional rule, movement speed effects the amount of damage a target takes when hit by a foe moving at fast speeds. This rule applies to any charge attack, mounted attack, or ram / tackle type maneuver. In the case of mounted attacks, use the mounts speed. Simply take the relative velocity in feet per second (both combatants paces added together if running toward each other; subtract one from the other if one is chasing the other; use the faster of the two if moving perpendicular). This is the total speed. Divide this total by 10. This result, times 0.5, is the damage multiple added to an attack and is rounded to the nearest whole number. The referee must interpret the attack result to determine whether the slower attacker in the charge gets to finish his attack (whether with the damage multiple or not.)

 

Example: Gral the Rogue is cruising along at 45' per second (x5 pace). Gral plans to charge into Wy Lee at full speed and smash him to a pulp with his mace. 45' per second divided by 10 = 4.5, and multiplied times 0.5 = 2.25, which is rounded to two. This means that a normal x1 dmg attack has 2 added to the damage multiple, making it a x3 attack. What Gral didn't reckon with was that Wy Lee would act first in the charge (basically his Sweep/Throw is faster than the Rogue's attack even though Gral got a +7 bonus for a longer weapon), so Wy Lee's attack, if successful will be doing the x3 damage, first. Gral is going to either hit the floor or Wy Lee really hard - Wy Lee's attack is successful, and the critical indicates a fall, so the GM decides that Gral does not get to resolve his attack from the charge.


Wizard's notes: We have three versions of the CEATS-II chart as the original Excel spreadsheet proved to be a real pain to convert into something that would be printable on a single page.

  1. CEATSII-chart will print landscape (on Letter size paper) without truncating any columns
  2. CEATSII-Widechart will show the chart cleanly, but will but will only print "completely" on 8"X14" (Legal) paper or "WYSIWYG" on 8"X11" (letter) paper
  3. CEATSII in PDF format for those with access to Adobe Acrobat Reader