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As I understand it, the way Savage Worlds discourages players from doing too many things in a single turn is -2 penalties for each. You can attack normally, you can attack and run at a -2 to each, you can attack and run and taunt at -4 to each, etc. So technically you can do a bunch of stuff at once, but you'll be unlikely to succeed at any of it because you're rushing so much.

But what about non-roll actions, things that players can just do, like opening a door? If a player wanted to run to a door, open it, close it behind them, lock it, flip over an adjacent card table, and then draw their weapon all in the same turn, how do I as GM handle that? There aren't (as I understand it) any rolls necessary to open a door or flip over a card table that I could apply a -2 to, so how do I balance against people just loading up on those kinds of actions in a single turn?

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4 Answers

up vote 8 down vote accepted

One common case where this might occur is Running and attacking. Running is counted as an action, but since it isn't a Trait roll, there is no –2 penalty. However, attacking is a Trait roll and, since it is one of two actions, it suffers a –2 penalty. A similar situation happens when drawing a weapon and firing in the same round. No roll is needed for drawing, but the attack is at a –2 if done in the same round because it's one of two actions.

In other words, anything a character "does", whether attacking, running or, opening a door, is an action so long as it can't be counted as a free action (e.g. saying a few words, dropping an item, falling prone). Indeed the core rules say that "readying an item, drawing a sword, or other quick tasks usually take one action", and it later defines running as one such action. Opening a door and such seems to fall under this category.

Now what's to prevent taking lots of non-trait roll actions? Mostly the GM saying that it's highly unlikely that the character can run, open a door, eat a sandwich, reload a gun, and write a sonnet all at the same time. The GM can of course throw on some extra rolls if appropriate. For instance, the rules say that if a character tries to draw a gun from a difficult location (such as an ankle holster) and fire in the same turn, they should make an Agility (–2) check because they are trying to pull off two difficult tasks in a hurry. I could see the same thing happening if the character tried to do a lot of noncombat actions in one turn: the GM might give an additional Agility roll or another appropriate roll to pull it off. With a failure, the character just klutzes around.

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One clarification/correction: When you talk about the -2 penalties in the first paragraph, you attribute it to the roll being "the second of two actions". Multi-Action Penalties are not order-dependent. It doesn't matter whether you run, then shoot or shoot, then run, the Shooting roll is at -2 either way. The MAP applies to all Trait rolls in the round, regardless of the order that the actions are taken. –  Dave Sherohman Jan 16 at 11:49
@DaveSherohman thanks for the clarification; I've modified my answer to eliminate that source of confusion. –  Thunderforge Jan 16 at 14:49
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Technically yes, there are no limitations on the number of free actions in a round. However, this is one of the areas that Savage Worlds leaves largely up to the common sense of the GM, remembering that each round is only 6 seconds and that there is a limit as to what can be done in that time. If you are the GM ask yourself whether what the player is proposing doing makes sense and would physically possible. If you don't think so then you are within your rights to disallow it. (I'm sure I've seen an official post confirming this to be the case, but I can't find it at the moment)

It should also be noted that there are some limitations that apply to free as well as rolled actions. For example, a free action cannot be repeated within the same turn under normal circumstances.

Also, although certain actions are normally free, circumstances can be such that they require rolls to succeed. There is an example that covers this here.

This is all one of a number of good reasons why you should get your players to describe everything they want to do in a round before resolving anything, as the complexity of their actions can and will often dictate whether you ask for any rolls for things that might normally be free actions.

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When you're in a rush you make stupid mistakes.

A way to look at it is that menial tasks gain a +6 bonus by default, so high that a heavily injured (-3) Wild Card has guaranteed success, ignoring snake-eyes.

If they start abusing multiple mundane actions, have them roll tests for each action in turn. Failing one action, especially if it's opening a door, might cause a sudden end to their turn.

For example, take your six actions described earlier:

run to a door: Pace + Run. If they don't make the distance to get through (not just to) the door, the plan will fail after opening the door.

open it: Agility-6 or they run head first into it for d6 damage.

close it behind them: Technically this would require a second movement action to pass through the door, so it's illegal. Regardless, Strength-6 or it doesn't close completely.

lock it: Agility-6 or it doesn't lock. If the door isn't closed and it's a bolt lock, you may accidentally lock the door open!

flip over an adjacent card table: Strength-6 or you end your turn exposed and distracted giving attackers a +1 bonus to hit you.

then draw their weapon: Agility-6 or it is accidentally flung across the room.

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Characters get a Move and an Action each round for free.

What I do is, if a play wants to sacrifice movement for a simple action then I allow that. For example 2" is equal to drawing a weapon or opening a normal door. Flip a card table 1", a normal take would take action and a strength roll etc so could not be used as part of a move and would get multi action penalty. I normally allow people to jump on tables for 3" of move and an agility roll with no multi action penalty but if they want to move at full speed then I would require the -2 on there actions.

That is sacrifice speed for accuracy.

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