11/11
2009

Alternity, WotC’s late, lamented sci-fi RPG, has a pretty interesting way of doing “initiative” (known as action checks): You make a roll against your action check score, and get an Amazing result, a Good, an Ordinary, or a Marginal. That represents the first phase, out of four, that you’ll be able to act.

Your next action comes on the following phase, and if you have three actions, your third is on the phase after that — assuming that you rolled high enough on the action check. A hero with 3 actions needs to get a Good result on the action check to use all of her available actions in a given round.

So, it can get kind of complex, and you roll an action check each round — which means this all needs to be tracked. Back in the day, ten years ago, I would use a whiteboard on a wall, with columns drawn representing each of the phases and rows representing each hero or enemy. I’d place a checkmark in the appropriate square to represent their action on that phase, and then erase it when they acted.

Alternity Action Checks: Amazing, Good, Ordinary, Marginal

Now that I’ve started up Alternity, I figured there must be a better way — and there is! I have a lot of craft-foam tokens and markers that I use in 4e D&D, and they’re in a variety of colors. (Most are 1-inch square, although some are 1-inch-diameter round.)

Each hero gets to choose a color, like pink or yellow or blue or green, that will represent them on the action check tracker. I have them give me one token for each action they can (theoretically) take in a round.

When combat starts, I choose another color (or colors) for their opponents, usually something like brown or black or white or tan. I ask the players for their action check results, and then place their colored action token in the appropriate phase on a my action check tracker, and do the same for their opponents.

Then it’s just a simple case of going through the phases and removing each token as the action is taken, and setting it aside. At the end of the round, I’ve got an empty action check tracker, and a pile of tokens — ready for next round’s action checks!

If you play Alternity and would like to download a copy of my action check tracker, here’s a link; it also includes a tracker for the current round of combat. Of course, a piece of paper with four phases written on it is pretty easy for you to make up youreself; I created the prototype of the action check tracker with two 3-by-5 cards and a Sharpie!

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