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Action Economy: Time Savers

This thing all things devours:
Birds, beasts, trees, flowers;
Gnaws iron, bites steel;
Grinds hard stones to meal;
Slays king, ruins town,
And beats high mountain down!

What is it?

It couldn't have been expressed better than when Bilbo frantically said, “Time! Give me time!” as he inadvertently answered the question in his duel of wits with Gollum in The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien.

The most valuable thing in the Pathfinder system isn't gold, it isn't magic items, it's time.  Everyone gets a set amount of actions they can perform in any given round, and that doesn't change whether you
are 1st or 20th level.

As you rise in levels there are some spells, feats and magic items that can help augment this, such as haste, quicken the spell feat, or the metamagic rod of quicken spell.  However, acquiring these things
happens at mid to upper levels of the game.  What's the poor low level character supposed to do?

Well, if you scour the books you do find a few things that help make you more efficient with specific actions, let's take a look:

SPIKED GAUNTLETS (Core Rulebook) – I've mentioned these before, but I have to stress them again as a time huge saver.  These 5gp gloves with spikes on them are very handy and offer a huge number of benefits. They are time savers because they are “always on.”  You never have to draw them, they are never hinder the use of any other item, skill use, or even spellcasting, so there is never any need to take them off. You can sleep with them on (just watch out for those eye boogers), they can't be disarmed, and you are considered to be threatening adjacent squares (and thus can perform attacks of opportunity) when you have nothing else at hand.

As a further time saver tweak for you martial types.   Get two of them.  Spend +5gp on one of them to make the spikes out of cold iron. On the other spend +20gp to make the spikes on it out of silver.  This
way when some of the weirder monsters surprise you with their Damage Reduction versus cold iron or silver, you always have something on hand to deal with it, rather than dropping and switching out other weapons to get through that DR.  Sometimes time is crucial and you just need to pound it with your fists to get the job done.  At higher levels you might consider upgrading to an adamantine spiked gauntlet for +3000gp which will allow you to punch doors down and smash apart constructs with your fists, or making one magical so that you have a chance to punch ghosts in their face.

THE QUICKDRAW SHIELD (Advanced Player's Guide) – This lighter shield with some fancy straps, costing 53gp (wood) or 59gp (steel) lets you strap on/strap off with a swift action that is combined with a move action.  Once again, the highly underutilized swift action is getting some play time.  How many swift actions have gone to waste through these years of play, no one will know... but now you can show your moves with this shield.

Why would you want this?  If you have a two-weapon or two-handed style, or are a spellcaster, you can be in a default state where you have a shield readied, and if you get ambushed and are flat-footed,
this helps your AC. Then when combat begins, you can swiftly move that shield out of the way and get your game on. Likewise, if you want to be a sword and board melee combatant, but also wants some flexibility then in one round you could pull out the shield, your sword and make an attack if the enemy is close enough.

WRIST SHEATH, SPRING LOADED (Adventurer's Armory) – I think this is my favorite one.  This 5gp item truly can be a life saver.  It can hold a light weapon, a ranged weapon, or ammunition, however all of this needs to be under a pound.  Because of that the rules are a bit jumbled as there really aren't any weapons (aside from Shurikens) that are under a pound.

It's not the weapons that matter though, it's the wand that it can carry.  What the spring loaded version of the sheath does is allow you to make an immediate action to get the wand into your hand.  An
immediate action is quite potent in the system, in some ways better than a free action, because you can perform an immediate action even if it is not your turn.

If you absolutely, positively have to get that wand out and used (say a cure-light wounds wand) then it shoots into your hand.  Normally this would be a move action, which could be a real hurdle in a
desperate situation, and so similar to the Combat Scabbard, you can get it into your hand more quickly than normal.

One neat feature, is that since you can get it into your hand when it is not your turn, you can get a wand out, let an ally grab the wand from you and then let them use it before your turn arises.  This really can be a lifesaver when time is of the essence.

Just as with the Combat Scabbard, in a surprise round, when you can perform only one move or standard action.  With this sheath you can draw and use a wand in the surprise round.

HANDY HAVERSACK (Core Rulebook) – Around 3rd or 4th level this is one of the first big magic items to consider purchasing as it's utility is very handy in and outside of combat.  At 2000gp it isn't cheap, but the benefits can last you the entire career of the character.

Basically, the handy haversack is a small bag of holding, creating an extra-dimensional space where you can store up to 80lbs of gear, but it only weighs 5 lbs.  That in and of itself is very useful, however
it's the time saving aspect that is the crucial feature of this magic item.

The rule itself explains it the best, “While such storage is useful enough, the pack has an even greater power. When the wearer reaches into it for a specific item, that item is always on top. Thus, no
digging around and fumbling is ever necessary to find what a haversack contains. Retrieving any specific item from a haversack is a move action, but it does not provoke the attacks of opportunity that
retrieving a stored item usually does.”

Normally, and if the GM is being real finicky, you're supposed to classify things that are either “stored” or in “easy access” on your person.  With the handy haversack everything (up to 80 lbs at least)
is now “easy access” which means the difference between a full-round and move action.  On top of that it does not provoke attacks of opportunity.  This is huge because basically anything other than a
weapon or a wand provokes attacks of opportunity.  This basically unlocks almost all other gear from this threat.

METAMAGIC QUICKEN ROD (Core Rulebook) – For spellcasters, at around 8th level this ought to be on your shortlist of items to purchase.  At 35,000gp this is steep, but it signals the beginning of where spellcasters begin to outdistance martial characters in their overall power.  Time is now on your side as this Rod lets you cast spells of 3rd level or lower as a swift action three times a day.

Imagine you are an 8th level Wizard with this rod.  You could walk over [move action] to the Rogue, cast the spell Greater Invisibility [standard action] on the party's Rogue (allowing the Rogue to sneak
attack with impunity because he doesn't lose invisibility after an attack), AND you also get to cast a Fireball [swift action] on your enemies before said Rogue runs in to the room and start stabbing
everything in nasty soft places.  That's all in just one round!

So there you have it folks.  As in real life, time is the most precious commodity in Pathfinder.  So precious that very few items even let you tweak it.  Picking up at least a couple of these will
help you shave off crucial moments when times are desperate, lives are at stake, and you need to act quickly to out step death's unceasing grasp for one more moment.