[4e] Not Your GM’s Keep on the Shadowfell: (Mostly) Minor Actions


This week’s change is short and sweet.  Which is appropriate, since it concerns Minor Actions.  Before the start of play this past week, our DM announced that if we wanted to trade all of our actions down to Minor Actions in a round, he would grant us a bonus of an additional Minor Action for our trouble.  In other words, instead of a maximum of 3 Minor Actions per round, we now potentially could use 4.  I expect this was in reaction to having a few of us unable to grab and drink potions fast enough to keep up with the beat down we had taken the week before (once our Second Winds were gone).  The increased threat level born of unbridled rules changes begins to rear its ugly head!  But nothing another rules tweak can’t fix, eh?

No one availed themselves of this option during play, and to be honest, I don’t see what effect it will have for now, other than that rare occasion when you want to be able to drink two potions in a single round.  Or 4, maybe, if you have a Potion Bandolier, which we all have.  Since it was a favorite of the DM from 3.X, and he gave us rules for the Free Action Potion belt before the official ones came out in Adventurer’s Vault 2, he has decided to keep it as a mundane item costing 50 gp, not an 8th level Waist Slot Magic item worth 3400 gp!  Which in and of itself gives us a HUGE advantage in downing those potions, but fits in with his plans for us using them more often than is supported in the standard 4E rules.  But while our Paladin complains (not entirely justly) about the lack of Minor Actions she can use, as we get more powers, Feat combinations and Magic Items, there are an increasing number of options for our Minor Actions.  So I can envision a time when this slight increase in the Actions available could prove more unbalancing.

Of course, before we had gotten into our first scene of the night, the DM had expanded this even more, declaring that on our Surprise round, we could choose to take a Standard Action or a “MoveMinor”.  In response to our questions on what he meant, he said he considered a Standard Action to be roughly equivalent to a Move and a Minor Action, so he’d let us do a combo of those instead.  He wasn’t sure he believed what I called the ‘Action Conversion Tax’ was necessary.  Again, no one took him up on it, but I find this much more troubling than a theoretical 4 Minor Action round.  Though he didn’t say so, I can see this snowballing into allowing a Standard to be traded in for a Move and a Minor during a non-surprise round as well.  Or to have an Action Point grant an extra Move plus a Minor Action.  All of which could compound to greatly expand the possibilities of unintended consequences when combined with various Feat and Power combos.  And even if we don’t take advantage of these bonus Minor Actions, we may have to content with oppents who do.

Given the fact that we had the devil of a time breaking the DM of the habit of taking the old 3.X ‘five foot step’ as a Minor Action, I see this as just the start.  I need to gather my ammo now, in case he springs further Action expansions on us.


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6 Responses to “[4e] Not Your GM’s Keep on the Shadowfell: (Mostly) Minor Actions”

  1. Bryant Says:

    He’s tipping the balance towards the PCs — most monsters don’t have a slew of useful minor actions to take. But PCs certainly do. The economy really gets teeth when you start having PCs who need to sustain conjurations and zones.

    So hypothetically: healer is sitting next to a monster. This is suboptimal for obvious reasons. Healer also has a zone going that needs sustaining, plus one person needs healing badly.

    Shift as a move, sustain (standard -> minor), heal. Done!

    But in your GM’s system: shift as a move & sustain (standard -> move-minor), heal, move away six squares behind the defensive line.

    It won’t happen all the time but it will happen.

    Move-minor in surprise rounds means paladins get to mark a bit earlier, which is a bonus. Warlocks get an extra curse laid down, which is a small bonus.

    • Jack Kessler Says:

      From what I remember, there are plenty of Minors out there for a lot of monsters to use, but they don’t really work or make sense by spamming them repeatedly in a round. So in that respect, I think you are correct. Especially as levels go up, PCs will get more and varied options other than just ‘drink a potion’.

      But what about the original idea – if you trade down to 3 Minors you get a bonus one? If restricting to JUST Minor Actions to get the extra, is there much to worry about?

      • Bryant Says:

        I don’t think so? I mean, I’d just make quaffing potions a free action (your turn only) if I were him, but that’s me.

  2. Foxtown Says:

    Potion quaffing is the single best reason to get the Quick Draw feat, whihc allows to draw an item as a free action in conjunction with using it.

    That is always how I got around that problem and only close combat characters will use this with any regularity, so I don’t think it is too steep to leave it as a feat…

    • Jack Kessler Says:

      Not a bad idea – Quick Draw is awesome if you qualify. Item grab as a Free Action PLUS +2 to Initiative? But only two of our players meet the Dex 13 prereq. My wizard will be able to take it in Paragon after the stat boost, but the others used Dex as a dump stat, so they are no where NEAR that requirement.

      • Foxtown Says:

        May have been errata’d:
        “Quick Draw
        Prerequisite: Dex 13
        Benefit: You can draw a weapon (or an object
        stored in a belt pouch, bandolier, or similar container,
        such as a potion) as part of the same action used to
        attack with the weapon or use the object.
        You also gain a +2 feat bonus to initiative checks.”

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