You Make the Call – Questions About Rules (Part 2)

by Ameron (Derek Myers) on January 10, 2012

One of the DM’s Most important jobs is to keep the game moving. When we find ourselves in a situation where we don’t know the correct rule, we trust the DM to make the call on the fly based on his experience to ensure the game continues. Afterwards we look up the correct ruling in the usual places: PHB, DMG, Rules Compendium, online compendium and online forums. Yet from time-to-time we just can’t find a satisfactory answer to our rules questions. In these circumstances we’ve decided to turn to you, the people who read our blog and play D&D to help us make the call.

In You Make The Call (Part 1) we asked you to provide you thoughts and insights on strange situations that occur when you’re prone, and the ability to adjust the size and damage of area attacks. In this installment we want you to make the call on being dazed. These situations don’t necessarily come up often, but they can have a significant impact on the encounter so we want to get it right.

Can you spend an action point while dazed?

The summer that 4e was released I sat in on a seminar at GenCon where the Wizards R&D team answered a lot of general questions about the new rules. One of the questions that came up was “Can you spend an action point when you’re dazed?” The answer provided at the time was “No.”

In my home game we’ve stuck to that rule ever since. After all, dazed very clearly says that you can take either a standard, a move, or a minor action. Allowing a creature (PC or monster) to spend an action point while dazed doesn’t seem in keeping with the intent of the condition.

Looking at the rules as written there is nothing that explicitly states you cannot use an action point while dazed. After all, spending an action point is a free action and dazed says that you can still take free actions.

So the question remains, can you use an action point when dazed? My group has said no, but we seem to be the only who interpret dazed in this way. During public-play (LRF, D&D Encounters, GenCon) other players and the DMs are always using their action points when dazed. I continue to play that if I’m dazed I can’t (and won’t) spend an action point.

If you’ve already taken at least one action on your turn and then become dazed does your turn end or do you get one more action?

Believe it or not, this happens a lot in my games. Our Wizard has Thunderstaff, a level 5 (daily) Immediate Interrupt. The trigger is an enemy moves to within 2 squares of you. The interrupt lets the Wizard attack and if he hits, the target is deafened and dazed until the end of your next turn. So with some regularity a monster is dazed during his turn. Where we run into some debate is what happens when the daze kicks in?

The players believe that if the monster has already taken an action (which he obviously has in order to trigger the interrupt in the first place) that his turn ends as soon as he becomes dazed. The rationale is that a dazed creature can take either a standard, a move, or a minor action. Since he’s already taken an action his turn is now over.

The DM believes that any actions the monster took before the dazed condition affected him shouldn’t count towards his limit of either a standard, a move, or a minor action. Once he’s dazed he can then do one of these, assuming he has actions left.

Since we play that dazed creatures can’t use action points, the player’s interpretation becomes really powerful against solo monsters that often get multiple attacks and have multiple action points.

If you’re dazed at the beginning of your turn and you manage to remove the dazed with your one action, do you get the remaining compliment of actions?

This is sort of the flip side of getting dazed on your turn. What happens when you get rid of the dazed condition with your one action? We’ve always played that if you can grant yourself a save or use an item to snap out of the dazed condition that you then get the rest of your actions as usual.

I don’t think there’s going to be a lot of debate over how we’ve ruled this one. I think we’ve made the right call here. However, in light of the other questions above there may be some discussion required.

If we rule that getting dazed on your turn ends your turn (assuming you’ve already taken at least one action) then freeing yourself should give you back your full turn when it goes away. However, if we rule that you still get to take one action when you become dazed on your turn, should we revisit what happens when the dazed condition ends on your turn?

As mentioned in You Make The Call (Part 1) it’s important that any ruling be applied constantly to all PCs and monsters. This is a big reason why we’ve had so much debate in our gaming group about dazed. If the PCs can’t use an action point while dazed then this will affect the monsters in the same way. It makes powers that daze more appealing and arguably more powerful, especially against solo monsters. The same holds true for getting dazed during your turn. It doesn’t happen often, but it came up in a recent game when a monster (a Mind Flayer, I believe) dazed a PC on his turn. Should the PC’s turn end or should he get one more action? This PCs had an item that would negate the daze but it required an action to activate so it made a big difference. It brought the whole debate back to the forefront for our gaming group and we are still debating the correct way to rule on this one.

We want you to make the call. Where do you stand on the dazed debate? Have you experienced any of these issues with your gaming group? How did you handle them? For those who had never given these issues much thought before today, how would you rule on these situations at your gaming table?

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{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

1 BeanBag January 10, 2012 at 10:12 am

If I were to go “by the rulebook” I would say that the condition applies to the entire turn and each time you try to take an action you would check for conditions that would not allow you to take that action.
So move and take a minor action, become dazed. Can you take another action? No, you already took action, you are dazed, turn over.

What would I do as DM? I hate dazed, stunned, and dominated. They are too powerful against solo monsters and anything that denies actions to the characters makes their turn “less fun”. A PC stunned/dominated for three rounds effectively has “no fun”. A little less effect for dazed, but the same idea.

Here are my house rules:
Dominated: Take the “Dominated” attack on the monsters turn. Your turn as normal, save ends as usual. PC still has fun.
Stun/Daze: “Shake it off” take Surge Value damage (1/2 bloody value, no chance to reduce damage) to remove the effect at the beginning of your turn. PC’s and monsters have this available.

Solos dont get “overly” dazed, PC’s get their actions, controllers still have a big effect (1/4 HP that scales with monster HP).

2 Camelot January 10, 2012 at 11:08 am

1. The intent of the daze condition is to limit your actions. The intent of action points are to be able to do cool, heroic stuff. Being able to spend an action point while you’re dazed to take two actions on your turn breaks both of these intentions; it bypasses the severity of being dazed (the wizard no longer has to choose whether to attack or sustain daily), yet it is not cool or heroic (2 actions instead of 4). My rule is that you cannot spend an action point while dazed.

2. What’s the point of using Thunderstaff if it doesn’t protect the wizard from damage? I don’t know the details of the power, but it seems that with a range of 2 squares, and the fact that it is used by a class famous for having to stay clear of melee, this power is intended to daze the opponent so that it can’t continue it’s turn. For the potential fun and intensity the rule brings to combat, I say that getting dazed in the middle of your turn ends your turn if you’ve already taken actions.

3. Similarly, removing a daze in the middle of your turn allows you to continue taking actions. It’s only fair if you grant yourself an additional saving throw. We can also look to similar cases such as the warden’s Font of Life class feature, which allows you to make a saving throw at the beginning of your turn; if you succeed against stunning or dazing, you get your full compliment of actions. True, this is at the beginning of your turn instead of during it, but I think the principle carries over.

3 William January 10, 2012 at 11:45 am

1. You can spend an action point while Dazed. Spending an Action Point is a free action that allows you to take an additional standard action on your turn. This does mean though, that you cannot spend an action point while stunned.

2. I would side with the players here. It just seems correct with my gut.

3. Yes. Logically, you are no longer dazed, so there is no longer any restriction on your actions.

4 obryn January 10, 2012 at 11:53 am

Huh! I didn’t even know this was a debate. As far as I knew, RAW is…

(1) You can spend an action point while dazed. It can, in fact, be a lifesaver for PCs and Solos.
(2) If you get dazed mid-turn, you check how many actions you’ve used, much like with being slowed. (IIRC, If you get slowed mid-move, but you’ve moved more than 2 already, you stop moving.)
(3) Agreed; if you get un-dazed mid-turn, you get the rest of your actions.

That’s generally the answers I’ve seen online to all of the above.

5 Frank January 10, 2012 at 12:39 pm

I’m kinda amazed that you haven’t said anything on this blog about the big news from yesterday.

6 Ameron (Derek Myers) January 10, 2012 at 12:58 pm

@Frank
I’m under an NDA with Wizards and not allowed to really allowed say what I know about what’s to come. It’s the down side to being “in the know.”

7 Sndwurks (David Buresh) January 10, 2012 at 12:59 pm

This has actually come up quite a bit in my games, as I am a huge proponent of the Action Economy being the key mechanic of 4th Edition combat. Here is the following rulings that I have made, which have become adopted by my larger playing community.

1) Yes. Absolutely YES. Spending an Action Point to gain a Standard Action is a Free Action you perform on your turn. Note that this is the only exception to the ‘No more than one Free Action Attack per turn’ rule, as it’s not technically a Free Action Attack. It’s a Standard Action Attack, you just have to expend a resource as a Free Action to get the Action to spend on the Attack.

A little jargony, yeah. But it works. However, you cannot spend an Action Point while Stunned or Dominated, as both of those preclude free actions. As a note, this is Rules as Written. If you check the Compendium, the Dazed condition does not stop Free Actions, and spending an Action point is clearly noted as a Free Action.

2) Similar to becoming Stunned or Dominated on your turn, or any other hard Action denial, becoming Dazed allows you to finish your current action, and then ends your turn. As Bean Bag pointed out, that is the strict, Rules as Written interpretation.

3) There are entire power and feat trees built around this, so I will say Yes. If you spend a minor action to shake your Daze, you can continue with your turn as normal.

While this does make minor actions to remove dazing more powerful, as well as Interrupt powers that daze also powerful, I feel that they are no more powerful than they should be. Regarding Thunderstaff in specific? I feel that the denial of the attack is the EXACT purpose of that power. It will deny a monster a single turn’s worth of actions, at most. It’s a high risk power (Melee 2, 3 with Staff Expertise), but also pushes 5 squares.

Is it powerful against Solos? Extremely. But that’s honestly where the Solo falls apart as a monster type. Unless it has a way of dealing with being Dazed / Stunned / Dominated (which most Solos post MM3 have), you can take their weakness (lack of Actions) and make it fatal. This is why, still, the most dangerous threat to a party is an equal number of Elites to PCs.

8 anarkeith January 10, 2012 at 1:06 pm

Bigger picture, should a player expect every turn to be fun? We deal with setbacks every day. Overcoming setbacks and difficulties in the context of a larger challenge is part of growth. If every player succeeded on every turn, combat is just a clock. Wait X rounds and the monster will be dead.

You are (usually) adventuring with a team of allies. Sometimes you will need to depend on them to bail you out. This is the risk of adventuring.

I rule that a daze ends your turn. (I like the house rule posted above to swap hp to end the daze.) In the case of the Thunderstaff, is that an encounter power? If so, as a DM I’d probably want big solos to have a chance to be aware of it.

I generally default to common sense over explicit adherence to RAW.

9 Sunyaku January 10, 2012 at 7:36 pm

Let’s take a “supply-side” approach to this…

#1) If a character starts a turn dazed, they are “supplied” with one standard action to consume. A player may spend an action point to acquire an additional standard action.

#2) If a character starts a turn not dazed, they are “supplied” with one standard, move, and minor action to consume. If a player becomes dazed on their own turn, they do not “lose” the actions they were supplied at the beginning of the turn.

#3) If a character manages to be “un-dazed” and the “action supply phase” were simultaneous events at the start of a turn (such as with the Superior Will Feat), then I would rule that the character would be supplied a full set of actions. If they spent some kind of other item or power to grant themselves a save in addition to their usual end of turn save, I would rule that they WOULD NOT receive their full supply of actions– they would have received one standard action at the start of their turn.

Sidenote:) Stun clearly states that you cannot take actions, thus, it would be moot to spend an action point and supply the character with a standard action that they are not able to spend.

10 Rico January 11, 2012 at 3:20 pm

I emailed WOTC’s customer service a while back about spending an action point while dazed. Their response was that you could.

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