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Author Topic: Is Initiative Dumb?  (Read 6249 times)

estar

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Is Initiative Dumb?
« Reply #90 on: May 20, 2020, 01:19:59 PM »
Quote from: ffilz;1130705
Can you lose your pin if your target gets an action and moves away from you and you don't take your damage right then?
Yes, it voluntarily letting the enemy slip from your grasp.

Quote from: ffilz;1130705
I'm guessing most folks would chose to do so since the pin is generally going to be taken with an announcement like "yield or else" or "call your men off or else". Any action the target takes to avoid the pin is going to be considered by most as a forfeit.
Yup, I encountered enough times where that made sense. So in the various systems I I I will either learn or craft a ruling handling a knife at the throat", "a sword pointed at the heart" situation. Because there is a level of abstraction it not a 100% perfect. But it generally works.

Quote from: ffilz;1130705
I'm sure most issues with the rule sort out easily by examining the fiction of the actual situation in play.
I prefer the term visualization rather than fiction but yes that the general idea.

jhkim

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Is Initiative Dumb?
« Reply #91 on: May 20, 2020, 01:26:51 PM »
Quote from: VisionStorm
The issue is that intent aside initiative (particularly individual initiative) does tend to play out like characters frozen in time in practice, despite the books saying otherwise and claiming that actions are assumed to take place simultaneously. I have seen characters evade a fireball blast because they hadn't taken their action yet so they weren't within the blast radius when the fireball went off, yet an ally standing right beside them at the beginning of the round did take the fireball blast cuz they "won" initiative so they already had time to move into melee before the fireball happened.
Quote from: nDervish;1130575
Pre-declared spellcasting resolves this:  Everyone knows that the wizard is casting Fireball at point X.  The character who beat the wizard's initiative notices this in time to move clear of the blast zone.  The character whose initiative is worse than the wizard's reacts too slowly and gets fried.

I've also seen systems which address this sort of thing by saying that whoever has the worst initiative goes first, but anyone with better initiative is able to interrupt actions by someone with worse initiative.  So, again, the wizard casts and the character with better initiative can interrupt his action to move to a safe place, while the character with worse initiative than the wizard does not have that option.  But that method is more complex and easily leads to sequencing confusion when you're four interrupts deep and have to remember who interrupted who interrupted who interrupted....
Having a special case mechanic for spellcasting doesn't address the general issue of seeming frozen in time. It's just addressing the one case of fireball.

The latter system you're describing can be handled by a statement-of-intent system -- where everyone pre-declares their action with Statement of Intent. I've seen versions where the person with the highest Awareness declares *last* -- so they know what everyone else intends to do before declaring. Only after everyone has declared their action are the actions all resolved, which allows pre-empting the attacks of others.

Statement-of-intent can allow for actions to happen simultaneously or sequentially, so different actions can interrupt others without a special case mechanic. One drawback is that it has fog-of-war effects -- where actions are wasted like shooting at an opponent that is already dead. Fog-of-war can be frustrating for players, but it happens a lot in real life.

Another illustrative case is a narrow doorway. With standard initiative, a large number of people can easily get through the doorway at the same time. There's no getting clogged or stuck where two people are trying to get through at the same time -- which in real life would inevitably happen if a group of people were trying to get through a narrow doorway within a few seconds.

estar

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Is Initiative Dumb?
« Reply #92 on: May 20, 2020, 01:55:02 PM »
Quote from: nDervish;1130575
And before you say "but none of that is simultaneous!", that objection ignores the duration of actions.  If casting a Fireball spell takes, say, 5 seconds, and moving clear of the blast zone takes 2 seconds, then there is time for someone with sufficient situational awareness to notice that you're casting (i.e., better initiative) and then move clear concurrently with the casting itself.
Except the Wizard deciding to cast also has situational awareness so pre-declared spellcasting has it issues as well.

I know you have your debate going with Visionstorm. My solution to this point is to allow player to hold their character actions until the later in the turn. They can interrupt anybody moving after them and then take their action. This preserve the situational awareness of every character involved however the players who "wins" initiative has an advantage.

Quote from: nDervish;1130575
I've also seen systems which address this sort of thing by saying that whoever has the worst initiative goes first, but anyone with better initiative is able to interrupt actions by someone with worse initiative.  
I found that sometime it better to go first and resolve your action and sometime it better to wait. After a few years of sports and renactments, I realized this was called controlling the tempo. Controlling the tempo is not just about attack, attack, or even attacking first.

The above rule along with roll high initiative, individual inititative, is the best way I found to abstract this for a RPG and accounts for more of the corner cases than the alternative including pre-declarations of various stripes.

VisionStorm

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Is Initiative Dumb?
« Reply #93 on: May 20, 2020, 03:35:48 PM »
Quote from: estar;1130723
Except the Wizard deciding to cast also has situational awareness so pre-declared spellcasting has it issues as well.

I know you have your debate going with Visionstorm. My solution to this point is to allow player to hold their character actions until the later in the turn. They can interrupt anybody moving after them and then take their action. This preserve the situational awareness of every character involved however the players who "wins" initiative has an advantage.


The issue with this is that it still assumes that the characters were aware that the wizard was casting a spell, and that that spell was specifically an aggressive area spell that could be avoided and not something else, which is not necessarily an automatic thing. The wizard could have been casting while blocked from view behind the corner of a wall when the characters started charging into melee, or he could've been casting a different spell. And even if the characters could see him and had time (and the knowledge) to figure out specifically what the wizard was doing then BOTH could have seen him and benefited from this--not just the character with the highest initiative, cuz "initiative". But that would have been a different scenario than the one I originally laid out, where the characters (both of them) managed to spot the wizard begin to cast a spell during the declaration phase and choose to do something different rather than charge into melee, which was the original plan.

But if they both opted to avoid the blast radius then WTF did they go do instead? Cuz there's NO scenario where either of them could have both: 1) charged into melee, which is also the blast point where the fireball takes place, and 2) also managed to avoid the 20 foot radius explosion that happens in that same spot around that time.

None of this was addressed in nDervish's post. It is simply assumed that the character with the highest initiative must have avoided the spell, cuz initiative, and that the character with the lowest initiative must have taken the blast, also cuz initiative. No mention of how that came to be or why the character with the lowest initiative kept changing into the blast zone when they saw the other character move way from the area or where. It is simply "initiative" therefore this character has an extra 20 feet of movement but the other character doesn't.

ffilz

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Is Initiative Dumb?
« Reply #94 on: May 20, 2020, 03:53:13 PM »
I think every initiative system (other than we all give up on RPGs and play boffer melee) creates issues. I am comfortable with making declarations with totally simultaneous or phased actions work, but I wouldn't try and use such a system for a quick draw gun fight (where rolled individual initiative is a pretty good solution). I'm comfortable with various kinds of contingent and held actions in such a system. But I've also played with D&D 3.x style initiative and find it ok. Part of it is a willingness to accept we are playing a game and not trying to perfectly simulate reality. In any case, outside of a multi-round melee, I can consider the fiction (or visualization as estar suggests) and decide how to arbitrate the situation. I think estar has a pretty good solution for the games he's running. The game that I'm running the most combat in, RuneQuest 1st edition has a declaration and phased combat system (though for phases I use the 12 strike ranks and ignore the movement/missile/magic/melee phases described in the rules, those were recently called to my attention and they sort of contradict some of the strike rank rules, so I'll stick with strike ranks as I've been playing for more than 40 years) and it works pretty good (even though it's weird that after someone gets a dagger attack on a spear man, the spear man still goes first the next round...). There are several mechanics that work with the strike rank system so just swapping it out for individual rolled initiative or some other solution would not work well. On the other hand, estar's pin rule would actually work just fine with RQ strike ranks...

Steven Mitchell

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Is Initiative Dumb?
« Reply #95 on: May 20, 2020, 04:16:51 PM »
VisionStorm, It is pretty clear from your posts that you need less theory crafting and more actual play.  There will be edge cases that don't quite make sense--NO MATTER WHICH SYSTEM YOU USE!  (Sorry, not sorry for the shouting.)  Which is what people have been trying to tell you.  Different edge cases will rub different people the wrong way, and to different extents. You pick the system that maximizes the stuff that works for you and avoid systems that keep annoying you.  The system you personally will pick for that will not be an objectively better system for everyone else.  Thus, there are very few "facts", demonstrable or otherwise about any of this stuff.  It's all about finding the best compromise.  

You keep talking about people not understanding you, but I don't see much point in trying to follow what you are saying as long as the trend above continues.  This is not a debate where someone wins.  This is a discussion exploring ideas that may or may not work for any given person.

VisionStorm

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Is Initiative Dumb?
« Reply #96 on: May 20, 2020, 06:50:20 PM »
Quote from: Steven Mitchell;1130737
VisionStorm, It is pretty clear from your posts that you need less theory crafting and more actual play.  There will be edge cases that don't quite make sense--NO MATTER WHICH SYSTEM YOU USE!  (Sorry, not sorry for the shouting.)  Which is what people have been trying to tell you.


Except that isn't what nDervish was saying. It might be what often say, but different people have different arguments or points to make. nDervish was proposing an order of actions that made no sense in the specific scenario I had mentioned or even consider the specific set of circumstances I was describing regardless of what system is used.

It wasn't a matter of personal system preference, it was that we were discussing completely different matters and talking pass each other, and I wasn't going to unpack his long set of assumptions when he seemed determined to push a particular interpretation that made no sense and didn't seem to address what I was saying.

Quote from: Steven Mitchell;1130737
Different edge cases will rub different people the wrong way, and to different extents. You pick the system that maximizes the stuff that works for you and avoid systems that keep annoying you.  The system you personally will pick for that will not be an objectively better system for everyone else.  Thus, there are very few "facts", demonstrable or otherwise about any of this stuff.  It's all about finding the best compromise.


This true for the most part except that there are cases where specific problems are demonstrable (even if they only apply in specific cases and/or systems), and we need to be able to point them out if we want to analyze them to come up with solutions even if they're only compromises.

Quote from: Steven Mitchell;1130737
You keep talking about people not understanding you, but I don't see much point in trying to follow what you are saying as long as the trend above continues.  This is not a debate where someone wins.  This is a discussion exploring ideas that may or may not work for any given person.


And discussing ideas is impossible when you're not even addressing what I'm actually saying.

RPGPundit

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Is Initiative Dumb?
« Reply #97 on: May 30, 2020, 04:26:56 AM »
I've always liked having a simple but concrete initiative system, like the one I use in my games.
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« Reply #98 on: May 30, 2020, 05:58:01 AM »
I like group initiative (group mod). There is something fun about the fog of war it induces. That and ties (when using group mods, leading to full on ties) are fantastic! Double K.O.s! There becomes a tension that is not present when initiative is rolled only once and then rolled in a locked cycle. Even trying to run away or change formation gains an intensity. It also tends to run fast, and works great for very large battles!, especially ones with more than two sides. Highly recommended method. :cool:
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Trinculoisdead

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« Reply #99 on: June 01, 2020, 03:21:34 AM »
Quote from: Opaopajr;1131751
I like group initiative (group mod). There is something fun about the fog of war it induces. That and ties (when using group mods, leading to full on ties) are fantastic! Double K.O.s! There becomes a tension that is not present when initiative is rolled only once and then rolled in a locked cycle. Even trying to run away or change formation gains an intensity. It also tends to run fast, and works great for very large battles!, especially ones with more than two sides. Highly recommended method. :cool:

I like this method for Basic + Expert D&D, at least. No mods required even, just a flat 1d6 vs. 1d6 roll every round.
On a tie there can be a problem of action declaration. I haven't run into it much yet but if it comes up I can usually figure out how to handle it. Worst case scenario: on a tie you just jot down what the monsters are going to be doing before you listen to the players.

Zalman

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Is Initiative Dumb?
« Reply #100 on: June 01, 2020, 10:09:18 AM »
Quote from: Trinculoisdead;1131865
I like this method for Basic + Expert D&D, at least. No mods required even, just a flat 1d6 vs. 1d6 roll every round.
On a tie there can be a problem of action declaration. I haven't run into it much yet but if it comes up I can usually figure out how to handle it.
Statistically ties will happen 1 out of every 6 initiative rolls -- that sounds pretty frequent to me. Frequent enough to warrant some rule structure for action declaration (for those that declare actions with this 1d6-each-round method).
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Trinculoisdead

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Is Initiative Dumb?
« Reply #101 on: June 01, 2020, 09:43:34 PM »
In the case of a tie, my instinct is to jot down what the monsters are doing, and then ask the players what they are going to do. Anything more than that I don't see as being necessary. That's the nice thing about a rules-light system.

Edit: if I had a player who really wanted a written-down way to handle these things, I would have the PCs perform the stickier "Who goes first?" actions like Movement first. Attacks and spells would still happen simultaneously; that's easy to do.
« Last Edit: June 01, 2020, 09:48:30 PM by Trinculoisdead »

Kyle Aaron

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Is Initiative Dumb?
« Reply #102 on: June 01, 2020, 10:09:55 PM »
Ties are resolved in favour of the DM. The house always wins!

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Is Initiative Dumb?
« Reply #103 on: June 01, 2020, 10:33:50 PM »
Quote from: Theory of Games;1130306
Why not let the PCs go first all the time?

How does that hurt the game aspect?

I think rolling for initiative is archaic. It worked once but now it's dead.

Thoughts?


I think its a fine mechanic, but with any game mechanic, the GM must be comfortable/confident enough with disregarding it in service of the story.

Also, whomever goes first forces those that follow to react, which keeps the GM/NPCs on their heels. I think if you let players go first they miss out on valuable opportunities to learn how to think quickly and react to situations out of their control.

Personally I don't like giving players too many advantages, certainly not something as systemic and powerful as always acting first. It makes the game universe that much less threatening, something that they have to take that less seriously. It lowers the stakes.

BUT! MOST IMPORTANTLY!! Its less fun for ME, the GM. And if the GM ain't havin' fun, NOBODY'S havin' fun.
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Is Initiative Dumb?
« Reply #104 on: June 10, 2020, 02:54:33 AM »
Lion & Dragon (and my other OSR games) expands on the basic d6 initiative system. Each character rolls initiative. PCs win in case of ties; if two PCs tie, the one with the higher dexterity goes first. Certain types of armor can cause penalties to Initiative. Certain weapons grant bonuses or penalties. Characters who are declaring that they'll only do movement in the round get a +2 in that round to initiative. Characters who do nothing at all on an initiative round get a +2 to their initiative next round.
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