Friday, November 23, 2012

Initiative Rolls

This is for my own record as much as it is for anyone else's.  Instead of listing different types of initiative, I'll just ramble about different types of "toggles".

Persistant Initiative vs Turn-by-Turn Initiative

Persistant Initiative results in faster play, but it takes randomness out of combat since everyone only rolls once for initiative.  It also gives more of an advantage to the rules-minded players who may choose to delay their actions.  Enough delayed actions usually result with the PCs acting in a "clump"

Turn-by-Turn Initiative is slower, but prevents metagame lawyering.  It ensures a constant injection of randomness every turn, and adds a lot of swinginess, since the dragon might get two turns in a row and pulp someone.

Initiative Modifiers

Using initiative modifiers adds a layer of complexity without necessarily removing the randomness.  Whether it is based on dex or actions or whatever, it would appeal to players who want to see their character sheets having more of an effect on the in-game world.

Initiative modifiers based on action (or weapon, ugh) might serve as a way of balancing really slow weapons with faster ones, or as a way to make it more likely that spellcasters go last.  (But see the last paragraph below.)

Group Initiative vs Individual Initiative vs No Initiative

Group initiative is more streamlined.  It is more swingy, since it isn't based on anyone's stats and if one side may get two turns in a row (if you are doing turn-by-turn initiative).

Individual initiative is takes longer at the table.  It might appeal to those who desire more simulation--who want quicker characters to act first.  I suppose it is fairer, since one side rarely gets a huge advantage over the other because of an initiative roll.  It makes the players a little less active, since they aren't discussing what order they want to act in; the DM is telling them when it is their turn.

No initiative is when turns go in a Ranged-Movement-Melee-Spell turn order (or some other alternative).  These have the advantage of being fair and balanced, but take a lot of the randomness out of a combat.  I think a large degree of randomness is a good thing to have in combat.  It keeps it chaotic.  And chaos ensures that the more powerful side (usually the PCs) still run a lot of risk.  This also may serve as a nerf to spellcasting, since spellcasting (usually) always goes last and therefor has a greater chance to be disrupted.


  1. This is the most worthless blogpost that anyone has ever written.

    1. So just coming a bit late with a reply to a (nearly) four-year-old comment on a(n almost) eight-year-old post, just wanted to say that this post has value to me!

      I read this last year because I was curious about where you began, a bit like getting into a band and then checking out their back catalogue? So it was interesting for that reason.

      Secondly, initiative is interesting, because it's the only time in old school rpgs that the players are mechanically regulated: I mean, when people get to speak (this is ignoring D&D approaches that have callers, and I was never sure how that was supposed to work), even in side based initiative thereis some sequence (based on action or going around the table in order).

      Thirdly, it's you thinking out loud and just pondering stuff and it's not massively insightful and proves THAT YOU ARE A MORTAL HUMAN LIKE THE REST OF US HA! and I have linked it in a recent post to justify my own even cooler take on an established feature of games.

      So it is far from the most worthless blogpost that anyone has ever written. That honour befalls

    2. Huh. I may have already written a comment to that effect last year that is also awaiting approval.

      This could all be very embarrassing.