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I've been wondering this for a long time...

What is usualy the order things should take on the game table? Should the GM handle the cards and then players declare what they want to do and lastly proceed to rolling dies? Or should each player take card, declare, roll dies and then let next player do the same?

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The general order for a turn of combat is as follows:

  • A card (or cards if a character has an Edge such as Level Headed) is dealt to each player. It can be the GM who deals, but equally sometimes this responsibility falls to one of the players.
  • Each character takes their complete turn before the next, going in order from highest to lowest with the cards they have been dealt. Players declare all of their actions at the start of their turn, not the start of the round, and when taking their turn it is important to declare the entire turn's actions before any dice are rolled. This is because of the affect of possible Multiple Action Penalties for attempting more than one full action in a round. The turn of a player doesn't finish until all of their declared actions are resolved.
  • Once everyone has taken their turn, a new round starts and a new set of cards are dealt out.

That's the basics, but doesn't take into account things like the possibility of a character going on Hold or getting dealt a Joker. Each of these can affect the turn sequence in different ways.

Going on Hold means that you choose to delay your turn. You can come in at any point later in that round between characters, or attempt to interrupt part way through another character's turn with a successful opposed Agility roll. A character still on Hold at the end of a round does not get dealt a card in the next round, and continues to be on Hold.

Getting dealt a Joker means that the character can take their turn at any point in the round. This includes interrupting another character, which does not require an opposed Agility roll. By RAW, the benefits of having a Joker only last for the round in which it was dealt, and going on Hold until the next round means that it acts as a normal card. However, I and a number of other GM's house rule this, saying that the Joker's benefits last into subsequent rounds if the character goes on Hold.

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This doesn't actually seem to explicitly call out the answer to part of the question: Do they declare their actions during their turn, or at the beginning of the round, before all turns? You kind of touch on this in point 2, but it's left open such that either could be the case: either way, all their actions are declared before dice are rolled. – doppelgreener Aug 24 '14 at 22:15
Well spotted - edited for clarity – Wibbs Aug 24 '14 at 22:20
Perfect!! Well done, +1 – doppelgreener Aug 24 '14 at 22:29

The rules say the following about initiative:

Once the cards are dealt, the Game Master starts the round by counting down from the Ace to the Deuce, with each group resolving its actions when its card comes up.

However as you noted, there is a bit of ambiguity as to when the actions are declared. Are they declared before their card comes up or when the card comes up?

At Origins one year, I played in a game run by Shane Lacy Hensley, the creator of Savage Worlds. He did it the way that I think most players do it: when your card comes up, you declare what your action is (which may not have been the one you intended when the cards were dealt) and then resolve any rolls. In other words, your action is declared not when the cards are dealt, but when your card comes up in initiative.

Part of the reasoning behind this is especially in large battles it's hard to keep track of everyone's actions. Imagine if there were a large battle with 15 combatants. If everyone had to determine cards right as they were dealt, I'm sure that someone down the line would forget what they had intended to do (not to mention they might not be honest about it). It's much easier to just have everyone pick actions as they come up.

Given that this is how the creator of Savage Worlds does it, I think it's clear that this is definitely how the rules are intended to work.

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