Tell me if this sounds familiar: Each character gets 4 Action Points to spend on activity each round. Spells like Haste increase that number. You can spend action points to move.
That sounds much like RMu’s new action economy, but in fact it is also the system in the videogame Divinity: Original Sin 2. I am blogging about this because I think the RMu’s new action point economy sometimes gets dismissed by players before they’ve really tried it — who wants to change a system you’ve been using for decades? But I wanted to suggest that if you are on the fence about this issue and really want to experience a game with an action economy like RMu’s, you can try Divinity: Original Sin 2. (I recommend you try Divinity 2 rather than 1, because for reasons I explain below, Divinity 1 had a somewhat different system). If you liked the old isometric Baldur’s Gate games, I think you will probably like Divinity. And note that the studio that made Divinity (Larian Studios) is now busily at work making Baldur’s Gate III.
Basically, the idea behind an action point economy is that instead of actions costing a percentage of your round’s activity, they instead just cost points. This simplifies the game math because you’re never left with 17% activity remaining in your turn, trying desperately to find your calculator to figure out what 17% of your BMR of 45′ is, and whether that will get you within melee range of the orc archer over there. You either have a point left for movement or you don’t, and you either spend it to move up to your BMR or you don’t. You also don’t need separate rules for all the combinations of things you can do in a round, like ‘move-and-melee’, ‘move-and-cast-spell’, ‘react-and-attack’, ‘press-and-attack’ and all of the other combinations RM2 and RMSS tried to account for. You just spend your points and combine your actions any way you want.
I’ve learned a few lessons from playing Divinity’s Action Point system. First and foremost is that everything is easier if you just charge Action Points for movement rather than if you try to make movement some sort of different, special action that doesn’t cost points and has its own rules. Making movement a different beast creates a whole host of problems that you can already see in 5e Dungeons and Dragons, which treats movement differently than all other actions (a backwards step, IMHO, from what 4e DnD did in that regard). One problem is that you need to write entirely different rules for the different types of actions: not just normal actions vs. movement, but interactions (for opening doors, drawing weapons, etc.), bonus actions, reactions, etc. Not only does this lead to rules bloat, but these types of actions are now even less comptabile and interchangeable now than they were in 4e DnD. In 4e for example, you used to be able to spend your standard action to charge (move-and-attack), but you can no longer do that. In 5e, characters have to buy a feat in order to be able merely to charge! Similarly, our group has been playing 5e (on and off) since it was released, but it was only last month that we realized that casting a spell as a bonus action prevents you from casting another spell as your normal action in the same turn. Who knew?
Another lesson that the developers of the Divinity series learned is to resist the temptation to give quicker characters more action points. Divinity 1 actually allowed this: characters got a bonus to their number of action points dependent on their Speed stat. This was unnecessary, however, because Speed already gave boosts to distance moved and initiative. It also created balance issues. So, in DOS2, all characters get the same number of AP to spend each turn (barring spells and special abilities).
The big news recently, which I mentioned above, is that Larian Studios is now busily at work on Baldur’s Gate III, which will use the 5e DnD ruleset. I will be eager to see what they do with it. Will they try to implement the 5e DnD style movement rules, which treats movement as a separate action that has different rules than all other types of actions? Or will they try to implement a more streamlined system like the one they used for the Divinity Games? I’m guessing the former, but I will be eager to find out.
For now, if you want a preview of what the RMu action economy is like, you can get a pretty good picture by playing Divinity. I have to say, it is not only simple and intiutive, it is also a lot of fun!
Edit: I just realized I should have noted that RMu currently offers two ways of handling movement: it allows you to pay AP to move, as I explained above (it calls this ‘Sequential Movement’); but it also allows you the alternative of not paying AP and instead incurring pace penalties to your actions for how far/fast you move. So if you really want to require your players to pull out a pace chart every time they move, you do have that second option (yes, that’s sarcasm!).
Edit2: One last thing to note is that Pathfinder 2 is going the Divinity route, and making movement just another action like all other actions (and without separate rules). In Pathfinder 2, players get 3 actions per turn instead of 4, but the basic idea is much the same. The developers quite eloquently explained why they made this choice, and how it enabled them to simplify their action economy and reduce the number of special rules they needed for unique types of actions, right here: https://paizo.com/community/blog/v5748dyo5lklh?All-About-Actions