In 3.5e there are 4 actions in a combat round.
Free Action: Free actions consume a very small amount of time
and effort, and over the span of the round, their impact is so minor
that they are considered free. You can perform one or more free
actions while taking another action normally. However, the DM
puts reasonable limits on what you can really do for free. For in-
stance, calling out to your friends for help, dropping an object, and
ceasing to concentrate on a spell are all free actions.
Move Action: A move action allows you to move your speed or
perform an action that takes a similar amount of time. You can move
your speed, climb one-quarter of your speed, draw or stow a weapon
or other item, stand up, pick up an object, or perform some
equivalent action (see Table 8–2: Actions in Combat).
You can take a move action in place of a standard action. For in-
stance, rather than moving your speed and attacking, you could
stand up and move your speed (two move actions), put away a
weapon and climb one-quarter of your speed (two move actions), or
pick up an item and stow it in your backpack (two move actions).
Standard Action: A standard action allows you to do something.
The most common type of standard action is an attack—a single
melee or ranged attack. Other common standard actions including
casting a spell, concentrating to maintain an active spell, activating a
magic item, and using a special ability. See Table 8–2: Actions in
Combat for other standard actions.
Full-Round Action: A full-round action consumes all your effort
during a round. The only movement you can take during a full-
round action is a 5-foot step before, during, or after the action. You
can also perform free actions (see below) as your DM allows. The
most common type of full-round action is a full attack, which allows
you to make multiple melee or ranged attacks in a single round.
Some full-round actions do not allow you to take a 5-foot step.
Some full-round actions can be taken as standard actions, but only
in situations when you are limited to performing only a standard
action during your round (such as in a surprise round). The
descriptions of specific actions, below, detail which actions allow
I liked the 5e methodology of actions but have not really made a hard or fast rule on this since we switched back to 3.5e.
Revisiting this post. During CabinCon i think we all played a little fast and loose with the action economy (including me, looking back on it)
So to refresh the discussion - here is a good place to get started.
The one thing i would say, is of the action types in 3.5/d20, i did like the reaction action type in 5e, as it fit the mold better for attacks of opportunity better.
Also dug up this older post around big ohms -
- Tapping a big ohm is a swift action.
- Refilling a regenable gem is a standard action.
- Refilling a normal gem is a full round action.
Action Types -
An action’s type essentially tells you how long the action takes to perform (within the framework of the 6-second combat round) and how movement is treated. There are six types of actions: standard actions, move actions, full-round actions, free actions, swift actions, and immediate actions.
In a normal round, you can perform a standard action and a move action, or you can perform a full-round action. You can also perform one or more free actions. You can always take a move action in place of a standard action.
In some situations (such as in a surprise round), you may be limited to taking only a single move action or standard action.
A standard action allows you to do something, most commonly make an attack or cast a spell. See Table: Standard Actions for other standard actions.
A move action allows you to move your speed or perform an action that takes a similar amount of time. See Table: Move Actions.
You can take a move action in place of a standard action. If you move no actual distance in a round (commonly because you have swapped your move for one or more equivalent actions), you can take one 5-foot step either before, during, or after the action.
A full-round action consumes all your effort during a round. The only movement you can take during a full-round action is a 5-foot step before, during, or after the action. You can also perform free actions (see below).
Some full-round actions do not allow you to take a 5-foot step.
Some full-round actions can be taken as standard actions, but only in situations when you are limited to performing only a standard action during your round. The descriptions of specific actions, below, detail which actions allow this option.
Free actions consume a very small amount of time and effort. You can perform one or more free actions while taking another action normally. However, there are reasonable limits on what you can really do for free.
A swift action consumes a very small amount of time, but represents a larger expenditure of effort and energy than a free action. You can perform only a single swift action per turn.
An immediate action is very similar to a swift action, but can be performed at any time — even if it’s not your turn.
Not an Action
Some activities are so minor that they are not even considered free actions. They literally don’t take any time at all to do and are considered an inherent part of doing something else.
In some situations, you may be unable to take a full round’s worth of actions. In such cases, you are restricted to taking only a single standard action or a single move action (plus free actions as normal). You can’t take a full-round action (though you can start or complete a full-round action by using a standard action; see below).
Game fighting the Air Dragon on 8/17/2022, raised some action economy questions.
Posting Actions in Combat Tables below for Reference. Not meant to be all-encompassing, but provide a set of examples to work from.
Standard Action Attack of Opportunity1 Attack (melee) No Attack (ranged) Yes Attack (unarmed) Yes Activate a magic item other than a potion or oil No Aid another Maybe2 Bull rush Yes Cast a spell (1 standard action casting time) Yes Concentrate to maintain an active spell No Dismiss a spell No Draw a hidden weapon (see Sleight of Hand skill) No Drink a potion or apply an oil Yes Escape a grapple No Feint No Light a torch with a tindertwig Yes Lower spell resistance No Make a dying friend stable (see Heal skill) Yes Overrun No Read a scroll Yes Ready (triggers a standard action) No Sunder a weapon (attack) Yes Sunder an object (attack) Maybe3 Total defense No Turn or rebuke undead No Use extraordinary ability No Use skill that takes 1 action Usually Use spell-like ability Yes Use supernatural ability No Move Action Attack of Opportunity1 Move Yes Control a frightened mount Yes Direct or redirect an active spell No Draw a weapon4 No Load a hand crossbow or light crossbow Yes Open or close a door No Mount a horse or dismount No Move a heavy object Yes Pick up an item Yes Sheathe a weapon Yes Stand up from prone Yes Ready or loose a shield4 No Retrieve a stored item Yes Full-Round Action Attack of Opportunity1 Full attack No Charge5 No Deliver coup de grace Yes Escape from a net Yes Extinguish flames No Light a torch Yes Load a heavy or repeating crossbow Yes Lock or unlock weapon in locked gauntlet Yes Prepare to throw splash weapon Yes Run Yes Use skill that takes 1 round Usually Use touch spell on up to six friends Yes Withdraw5 No Free Action Attack of Opportunity1 Cast a quickened spell No Cease concentration on a spell No Drop an item No Drop to the floor No Prepare spell components to cast a spell6 No Speak No No Action Attack of Opportunity1 Delay No 5-foot step No Action Type Varies Disarm7 Yes Grapple7 Yes Trip an opponent7 Yes Use feat8 Varies Notes 1 Regardless of the action, if you move out of a threatened square, you usually provoke an attack of opportunity. This column indicates whether the action itself, not moving, provokes an attack of opportunity. 2 If you aid someone performing an action that would normally provoke an attack of opportunity, then the act of aiding another provokes an attack of opportunity as well. 3 If the object is being held, carried, or worn by a creature, yes. If not, no. 4 If you have a base attack bonus of +1 or higher, you can combine one of these actions with a regular move. If you have the Two- Weapon Fighting feat, you can draw two light or one-handed weapons in the time it would normally take you to draw one. 5 May be taken as a standard action if you are limited to taking only a single action in a round. 6 Unless the component is an extremely large or awkward item. 7 These attack forms substitute for a melee attack, not an action. As melee attacks, they can be used once in an attack or charge action, one or more times in a full attack action, or even as an attack of opportunity. 8 The description of a feat defines its effect.
Immediate Actions i have always felt in 3.5 were clunky, just didn’t seem like it fit but wedge in later.
Much like a swift action, an immediate action consumes a very small amount of time, but represents a larger expenditure of effort and energy than a free action. However, unlike a swift action, an immediate action can be performed at any time — even if it’s not your turn. Casting feather fall is an immediate action, since the spell can be cast at any time.
Using an immediate action on your turn is the same as using a swift action, and counts as your swift action for that turn. You cannot use another immediate action or a swift action until after your next turn if you have used an immediate action when it is not currently your turn (effectively, using an immediate action before your turn is equivalent to using your swift action for the coming turn). You also cannot use an immediate action if you are flat-footed.
And then separate from all that are Attacks of Opportunity (or as i like to refer to them as reactions)
Attacks Of Opportunity
Sometimes a combatant in a melee lets her guard down. In this case, combatants near her can take advantage of her lapse in defense to attack her for free. These free attacks are called attacks of opportunity.
You threaten all squares into which you can make a melee attack, even when it is not your action. Generally, that means everything in all squares adjacent to your space (including diagonally). An enemy that takes certain actions while in a threatened square provokes an attack of opportunity from you. If you’re unarmed, you don’t normally threaten any squares and thus can’t make attacks of opportunity.
Most creatures of Medium or smaller size have a reach of only 5 feet. This means that they can make melee attacks only against creatures up to 5 feet (1 square) away. However, Small and Medium creatures wielding reach weapons threaten more squares than a typical creature. In addition, most creatures larger than Medium have a natural reach of 10 feet or more.
Note: Small and Medium creatures wielding reach weapons threaten all squares 10 feet (2 squares) away, even diagonally. (This is an exception to the rule that 2 squares of diagonal distance is measured as 15 feet.)
Provoking an Attack of Opportunity
Two kinds of actions can provoke attacks of opportunity: moving out of a threatened square and performing an action within a threatened square.
Moving out of a threatened square usually provokes an attack of opportunity from the threatening opponent. There are two common methods of avoiding such an attack—the 5-foot step and the withdraw action.
Performing a Distracting Act
Some actions, when performed in a threatened square, provoke attacks of opportunity as you divert your attention from the battle. Actions in Combat notes many of the actions that provoke attacks of opportunity.
Remember that even actions that normally provoke attacks of opportunity may have exceptions to this rule.
Making an Attack of Opportunity
An attack of opportunity is a single melee attack, and you can only make one per round. You don’t have to make an attack of opportunity if you don’t want to.
An experienced character gets additional regular melee attacks (by using the full attack action), but at a lower attack bonus. You make your attack of opportunity, however, at your normal attack bonus—even if you’ve already attacked in the round.
An attack of opportunity “interrupts” the normal flow of actions in the round. If an attack of opportunity is provoked, immediately resolve the attack of opportunity, then continue with the next character’s turn (or complete the current turn, if the attack of opportunity was provoked in the midst of a character’s turn).
Combat Reflexes and Additional Attacks of Opportunity
If you have the Combat Reflexes feat you can add your Dexterity modifier to the number of attacks of opportunity you can make in a round. This feat does not let you make more than one attack for a given opportunity, but if the same opponent provokes two attacks of opportunity from you, you could make two separate attacks of opportunity (since each one represents a different opportunity). Moving out of more than one square threatened by the same opponent in the same round doesn’t count as more than one opportunity for that opponent. All these attacks are at your full normal attack bonus.
Another thread on the action economy