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Let's the turn order is:

20, Player A

15, Player B

10, Player C

Can Player C delay until after Player A's next turn? This is a point of contention in a current game.

Argument Against

Delay By choosing to delay, you take no action and then act normally on whatever initiative count you decide to act. When you delay, you voluntarily reduce your own initiative result for the rest of the combat. When your new, lower initiative count comes up later in the same round, you can act normally. You can specify this new initiative result or just wait until some time later in the round and act then, thus fixing your new initiative count at that point.

The argument against is that since you're last, reducing your initiative result any lower will never put you after the person with the highest initiative result.

Argument For

Initiative Consequences of Delaying Your initiative result becomes the count on which you took the delayed action. If you come to your next action and have not yet performed an action, you don’t get to take a delayed action (though you can delay again).

If you take a delayed action in the next round, before your regular turn comes up, your initiative count rises to that new point in the order of battle, and you do not get your regular action that round.

This argument hinges on the fact that you should be able to delay into the next round and then take your turn, otherwise this entry is meaningless. It interprets the previous entry as intending to allow the player to delay until a later point in the combat, being after any future turn, not just ones with lower initiative values.

Is there someone with a better understanding of the delay mechanic who can weigh in on this?

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    \$\begingroup\$ Mathematically speaking, the trick to reading the rules as stated, is to treat "21 next round" as a smaller number than "10 this round". Then C can "reduce" their initiative as stated in the first quote, but nevertheless their next "regular turn" is in the following round, as in the last paragraph. Of course that's not what the text actually says: basically the first paragraph doesn't cover all options. \$\endgroup\$ – Steve Jessop Apr 21 '17 at 15:58
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Yes, you can.

But the cost of being able to brag that you now act before others, is that, tecnically, you might lose an action if you delay constantly.

Once the combat has started and everybody had their turn to act, who acts first does not really matter, because turns are a flowing system, you will get to act again exactly after everybody has acted again. So if you wait your turn until you act before others, are you really acting before them, or are you simply acting when you should have acted before delaying?

Ignore the number of initiative, and consider the order of actions. Unless you actually manage to go back in time and act before others, you are always "delaying" when you will actually act, even if it may seem like you suddenly now act before others.

Let's say you are player D, on a group with 4 players against one enemy.

Initiative order

Player A

Player B

Enemy

Player C

Player D (you)

Player A (second turn)

If you delay your action until the next round so you can act before player A, how does that make you actually act any sooner than player A's second turn? You were already going to act before them.

The more you delay, like if you desire to act before player C, the more you will be actually losing on time you could be acting. And if you delay more than once, you might even lose an action in the course of the entire combat.

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    \$\begingroup\$ This becomes was more clear when you use the cards system for initiative rather than calling each time "who's next?": take a card for everyone, mark the name of the protagonists on it, sort them by initiative in a pile. Take the first one: it's the turn of the guy whose name is written on it. If he delays, put the card back in the pile at the place he wants, if not he plays his turn, and at the end put his card at the bottom of the pile. \$\endgroup\$ – Anne Aunyme Apr 21 '17 at 8:10
  • \$\begingroup\$ "If you delay your action until the next round so you can act before player A, how does that make you actually act any sooner than player A" -- of course it doesn't, but if something happens by definition at the end (or start) of a round, then it matters whether or not you're allowed to delay until after it has happened. And you might want to act after A but before B and the enemy, so again it's significant. \$\endgroup\$ – Steve Jessop Apr 21 '17 at 15:50
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The Round Must End

This sounds a bit like Zeno's Paradox of Achilles and the Tortise, where he can't ever overtake the tortoise.


The rules you reference are all part of the same rules section, Delay, and the second part is the one that shows how delaying works in detail. The first part of the delay section is not separate rules from the second; they go together to form the complete rules regarding the Delay action.

So, yes, as shown by the rest of the Delay section, a character can delay past the end of the round, all the way until its next initiative, whence it can delay again, doing nothing for as many initiative counts as it likes. But it's able to stop delaying at the end of any initiative count too. That is it can act on any initiative count, but not interrupt any other actions by doing so.

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