When the action starts, you’ll want to use something to track the time that the characters use when they take their actions. Here is a simple Time Tracking Sheet for you to use, but you could come up with your own solutions. (If you do, please let us know! We’ll publish them on this site.)
Notice that the Time Tracking Sheet starts in negative numbers, and then proceeds past 0 and into positive numbers.
The moment that the action starts in a scene is always Time Unit 0 – the ‘Zero Instant’. This is a moment pre-decided by the GM based on the story. This is when the sniper firs his first shot at the Mayor, or when the the villain loads his captives onto a truck, or when the bomb goes off in the bank vault. It should be the first event that the heroes might be able to interact with, depending on how quickly theu arrive to the scene. The negative numbers are on the Tracking sheet exist because each Hero’s Initiative gives that Hero some amount of time to react prior to that first event, or in some cases, take a few actions before that 1st event can happen.
The action can start in one of three ways:
- The heroes have to travel to the scene,
- The action is started by the heroes,
- The action is started by someone else where the heroes are.
When the heroes have to travel to the action:
Most frequently, the Heroes will have to travel to get to the action. They have heard about a bank robbery in process, or they hear a scream down a dark alley. In these cases, it is important that whatever alerted the heroes (a scream, a police radio report, etc.) is something that could happen well ahead of the ‘Zero Instant’ event. Each of the heroes rolls dice equal to their Initiative scores and totals the results. This is the amount of time that the Hero has once he arrives at the scene before the ‘zero event’ resolves. Speedsters and other heroes with high Initiative scores might get to the scene a long time before the slower heroes. Sometimes, a hero can carry another with them, or has a vehicle. In that case, both heroes use same Initiative Score: they get there at the same time. Place each hero’s marker on the negative space equal to their roll. They might have time for a lot of actions before whatever event the GM has planned occurs. Do they have time to find the bomb hidden in the bank vault? Do they have time to stop the villain from driving off with his captives?
When the heroes START the action:
Sometimes, the Heroes will be ones to start the action themselves. In these cases, the ‘Zero Moment’ is the moment that the very first hero’s action resolves. If, for instance, that first action is a punch (a Targeted Action), that punch happens at Time Unit 0, which means the hero started the punch 7 Time Units earlier, at -7. Everyone else in the scene has a number of Time Units equal to their Initiative score to react to that punch, even the bad-guys!
When the action is started by someone else, but the heroes are already there:
Sometimes, the action will start wherever the heroes happen to be. The heroes don’t need to go anywhere – the action has come to them! Perhaps they are guarding the Mayor, and the ‘Zero Instant’ is when the unseen sniper takes his shot. In these cases, each Hero gains their Initiative score as Time Units before the Zero Moment. If Hearthfire’s Initiative is 3, then her marker is placed at the -3 space on the Time Tracker, and she has 3 Time Units to react to the event.