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Pen & Paper Roleplaying Central => Pen and Paper Roleplaying Games (RPGs) Discussion => Topic started by: Theory of Games on May 17, 2020, 01:38:47 pm

Title: Is Initiative Dumb?
Post by: Theory of Games on May 17, 2020, 01:38:47 pm
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?
Title: Is Initiative Dumb?
Post by: Joey2k on May 17, 2020, 01:43:35 pm
That is actually how I do it, unless the PCs are surprised.
Title: Is Initiative Dumb?
Post by: The Exploited. on May 17, 2020, 01:53:30 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?

Depends... Are the pcs superior to the npcs in this particular scrap? What are the environmental conditions? Anyone one injured beforehand? Are they prepped (swords out)?  

Also, do you want to 'semi' simulate real combat combat? If so, then someone has to go first. Usually, the person with the highest stats/experience.

Personally, I prefer to let the pc strike first, if the conditions are right, and their foes (at that time) are inferior. But all things being equal, a roll is good, but I'd add a bonus for dex (insert the games speed attribute here).

EDIT: I should point out that, I prefer not to have group initiative. Especially, if the fighters are low in numbers. I actually, prefer PCs/NPCs to go according to their own abilities. So the slower PCs/NPCs go later, then the more speedy ones.
Title: Is Initiative Dumb?
Post by: Godfather Punk on May 17, 2020, 01:54:17 pm
I tried grouped initiative for a while with alternating all players and all opponents, but abandoned it because there was confusion/discussion over who already had his turn, and things got complicated when other combatants (ally or enemy) got reactions, opportunity attacks, free actions or other stuff triggered by the 'active' player.

Now I have my 20-to-0 initiative list and I just count down.
Title: Is Initiative Dumb?
Post by: Vidgrip on May 17, 2020, 01:57:44 pm
It depends on the system.  If you are playing with realistic damage, say a gunfight, going first might mean you never (or almost never) lose the fight.  That would be dull.  In a fantasy game with hit points where a typical fight might last five rounds ... yeah, that could work.  On the other hand, it isn't very hard to have each side throw a d20 for initiative, and things are more interesting when players must consider that possibility before choosing to risk combat.
Title: Is Initiative Dumb?
Post by: Kael on May 17, 2020, 02:06:00 pm
PCs go first, unless surprised. Fast, easy, simple and fun.
Title: Is Initiative Dumb?
Post by: Krugus on May 17, 2020, 03:21:03 pm
Initiative as a machinic is not dead.   You can have spells, abilities and magic items that interact with it in a fun way.   Shortsword of Speed was a nice item to have back in the day :)

Each table is going to handle various thing in their game differently and Initiative is one of those things.
Title: Is Initiative Dumb?
Post by: Shawn Driscoll on May 17, 2020, 03:25:00 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?

My players always say where their character is and what they are doing. If a player says nothing, then their character is doing nothing. Common sense is used instead of initiative.
Title: Is Initiative Dumb?
Post by: VisionStorm on May 17, 2020, 03:54:20 pm
Damn, I already went through this so much in the Preferred OSR initiative?  (https://www.therpgsite.com/showthread.php?41970-Preferred-OSR-initiative)thread, which is still active, I wouldn't even know where to start. Other than say...

Quote
Is Initiative Dumb?


YES!

Being frozen in place, waiting for your "turn" to come for you to finally act, was moronic decades ago when the idea was first conceived.

I prefer to just handle all actions (PCs and enemies) as happening roughly at the same time, with some adjustments made for proximity, combat readiness and positioning at the start of combat. Usually I tend to break it down into Fast Actions, Standard Actions and Delayed Actions. (Copy/Pasted from Here (https://www.therpgsite.com/showthread.php?41970-Preferred-OSR-initiative&p=1127936&viewfull=1#post1127936)).



PCs and Enemies attack at the same time. Usually I tend to handle enemy actions as PCs engage them and the enemies counter attack. And combatants killing each other is a possibility if both manage to hit and cause enough damage in the same round, since people killing each other in duels or open battle is something that happens in real life, and the idea that you should be able to avoid getting killed cuz "initiative" is strictly a game assumption, IMO.

My take is that the only way to avoid getting killed is to avoid getting hit, not to "win" some imaginary "initiative". Even to the degree that it could be argued such a thing could happen in real life, that's usually if you manage to shot someone in the head or decapitate them first. Otherwise they're still gonna let a final shot or swing before they go down.
Title: Is Initiative Dumb?
Post by: Shawn Driscoll on May 17, 2020, 04:39:14 pm
I just watched RPGPundit's video on the matter, and wanted to say that I do not use combat rounds in my games.
Title: Is Initiative Dumb?
Post by: Omega on May 17, 2020, 04:50:23 pm
So the usual idiot statements by people who have never been in actual combat and have no freaking idea what they are talking about.

Sure let the snowflakes go first every time so they stop whinning.

Oh and why even roll to hit? Thats dumb too. Get rid of it! PCs should hit every time.

And while we are at it lets do away with damage at all. Monsters just up and die if you look at them. Stupid damage getting in the way of Muh Fictiun!!!!
Title: Is Initiative Dumb?
Post by: Shasarak on May 17, 2020, 04:50:24 pm
Quote from: VisionStorm;1130330
Being frozen in place, waiting for your "turn" to come for you to finally act, was moronic decades ago when the idea was first conceived.

It is moronic except compared to everyone doing everything at the same time.
Title: Is Initiative Dumb?
Post by: VisionStorm on May 17, 2020, 05:09:03 pm
Quote from: Shasarak;1130340
It is moronic except compared to everyone doing everything at the same time.

I agree. People in every battlefield throughout history have stopped all fighting to wait while Unit-5 goes first, cuz they "won" initiative, then everything coalesces around that one fighter from Unit-5 who struck first (cuz he had the highest roll) so every other fighter in the entire engagement has to work around what that one fighter did, followed by the next fighter with highest initiative and so on (with every "tie" broken, cuz we know those are bad and people NEVER throughout history have struck at the same time), till everyone has taken their appropriate "turn" in the correct order according to the rules of initiative engagement. ;)
Title: Is Initiative Dumb?
Post by: Shasarak on May 17, 2020, 05:12:08 pm
Quote from: VisionStorm;1130346
I agree. People in every battlefield throughout history have stopped all fighting to wait while Unit-5 goes first, cuz they "won" initiative, then everything coalesces around that one fighter from Unit-5 who struck first (cuz he had the highest roll) so every other fighter in the entire engagement has to work around what that one fighter did, followed by the next fighter with highest initiative and so on (with every "tie" broken, cuz we know those are bad and people NEVER throughout history have struck at the same time), till everyone has taken their appropriate "turn" in the correct order according to the rules of initiative engagement. ;)

Does doing everything at once work well in your games?  I assume that it does because, as you say, that is how the real world works.
Title: Is Initiative Dumb?
Post by: Kael on May 17, 2020, 05:14:03 pm
if people actually want realistic combat, just roll for random casualties across the battlefield like a wargame. Or, in other words, just play a wargame.

If you'd rather emulate heroic fiction, then yeah, PCs go first unless surprised.
Title: Is Initiative Dumb?
Post by: rocksfalleverybodydies on May 17, 2020, 05:25:14 pm
I'll assume we're not taking into consideration of surprise which is a another whole kettle of fish.

Always been a fan of group initiative rather than individual rolls to speed up game-play and try to avoid the player waiting game as each person explains their actions.  It's one of the reasons I still like systems like 1e AD&D for speeding up the encounter.

The problem for me with 1e and other similar combat initiative systems has always been either the DM or the players is at a loss in declaring the actions, where one may react with a different strategy knowing the intentions stated as someone has to speak first when initiating combat.  I know 1e tried to solve this by making the DM's intentions for the NPC's secret but that may lead to players questioning the DM and if they changed things as well based on the players actions.  Not the best solution.

Been reading the recently released Dark Dungeons X pdf where the author has updated their earlier, more stringent Dark Dungeons with some of their own enhancements they deemed necessary to assist this situation.  One of the things they tackled with this statement of intent issue, breaking it up into 3 stages where the players who want to declare actions first get a bonus on their initiative die, then the monsters go and then the players who decided to see the monsters' intentions.  Of course the players who choose to go first also are at the mercy of the DM who can then adjudicate the monsters' actions based on the over-eager players.

For me, while this does break up the combat group idea it is still manageable as there are usually only 4 players on average and can be many more monsters, who still act as a group.  It keeps the players more engaged as their choice to go first or last is more of a tactical consideration rather than just waiting their turn to do something.

The pdf is free to check out more about it if this style interests anyone and they want to read more about it.
Title: Is Initiative Dumb?
Post by: VisionStorm on May 17, 2020, 05:31:11 pm
Quote from: Shasarak;1130348
Does doing everything at once work well in your games?  I assume that it does because, as you say, that is how the real world works.


Yes, adjudicating combat without rolling initiative is really simple. You just handle actions in whatever order make most sense in any given scenario, perhaps using phased-based criteria like what I listed in the rest of my original post, or just let players coordinate their actions as appropriate depending on the circumstances and their strategy, with enemies reacting to their actions (or advancing with their own strategy) in the same turn, assuming that all actions are happening at roughly the same time. You can even tell players who are ready to act in the same battle group or whatever (as opposed to those still moving into position, etc.) to roll at the same time, while you make enemy rolls, and whoever "succeeds" hits and whoever doesn't misses. You don't have to break everything down into individual initiative, which didn't even exist (AFAIK) in the earliest printing of D&D for combat not to break apart in the game.
Title: Is Initiative Dumb?
Post by: Shasarak on May 17, 2020, 05:33:52 pm
Has anyone tried Hackmaster?  It uses a count up system where every action takes a certain number of seconds so you are never really "frozen" in place.  You declare your action, act on your count, declare your next action, if something happens you can change actions, move a certain speed per second.  It really forces you to concentrate on what is going on because there is always something happening.
Title: Is Initiative Dumb?
Post by: Shrieking Banshee on May 17, 2020, 05:40:19 pm
Is using dice rolls to reflect abstract representative concepts dumb? I guess.
I fuggin hate these sorts of 'Did you know you can MAKE your OWN butter?' type clickbait threads or articles.

The answer is 'Depends on the group and the reason'.
I swear for being grognards and in theory being against storygames, everybody here is constantly arguing for dropping any game aspect and focusing on a collective storytelling experience. A drama club activity with a coinflip.

It feels even a waste to argue this point because its not a point but a loaded question.
Title: Is Initiative Dumb?
Post by: Shawn Driscoll on May 17, 2020, 05:47:47 pm
Quote from: Shasarak;1130348
Does doing everything at once work well in your games?  I assume that it does because, as you say, that is how the real world works.


It helps a lot with actions being done in real-time as well. No one wants to sit at a slowed-down game that may be at a crawl's pace.

Quote from: Shrieking Banshee;1130359

I swear for being grognards and in theory being against storygames, everybody here is constantly arguing for dropping any game aspect and focusing on a collective storytelling experience. A drama club activity with a coinflip.


You can role-play situations without story-gaming. That's role-play 101.
Title: Is Initiative Dumb?
Post by: Steven Mitchell on May 17, 2020, 05:53:30 pm
Initiative (and other grouping mechanics and rules) are a means for the GM to get a handle on the flow of combat.  Initiative that helps the GM do that is useful, and initiative that doesn't, isn't.  Since each GM will process differently the statements of players trying to do essentially simultaneous actions, then it behooves the GM to pick a system that manages that flow as efficiently as possible, given the particular players at the table.
Title: Is Initiative Dumb?
Post by: Arnwolf666 on May 17, 2020, 06:03:25 pm
I do surprise and side initiative. Individual initiative I find dumb by producing very flawed outcomes such as the wizard not being able to throw a fireball into a room because the barbarian won initiative and if he doesn't act then he will lose his turn. And other Stupid stuff.
Title: Is Initiative Dumb?
Post by: WillInNewHaven on May 17, 2020, 07:34:06 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?


Why not have the players say what the characters are going to do (the GM knowing what the NPCs and monsters are going to do and not changing it) and then have it all happen in what I call the natural order.

Spells take effect
Missiles are fired.
Then everyone in melee range takes their attacks, parries or whatever and the results are applied.
Combatants moving into range act in order of reach. Sometimes, the character with less reach doesn't get to attack.

No initiative rolls, no PC exceptionalism.
Title: Is Initiative Dumb?
Post by: WillInNewHaven on May 17, 2020, 07:38:52 pm
Quote from: Shasarak;1130348
Does doing everything at once work well in your games?  I assume that it does because, as you say, that is how the real world works.


It works in our games, so I bet it works in theirs.
Title: Is Initiative Dumb?
Post by: Shrieking Banshee on May 17, 2020, 08:04:17 pm
Quote from: Shawn Driscoll;1130361
You can role-play situations without story-gaming. That's role-play 101.


I don't give a shit if people enjoy role-playing, roleplaying or storygaming in their personal games.

But I primarily see projection on the side of the grognards. Sort of like communists saying 'Nuh uh we have the TRUE communist will'
Title: Is Initiative Dumb?
Post by: Shasarak on May 17, 2020, 08:34:43 pm
Quote from: WillInNewHaven;1130382
It works in our games, so I bet it works in theirs.

For a certain definition of "works"
Title: Is Initiative Dumb?
Post by: Shawn Driscoll on May 17, 2020, 08:48:42 pm
Quote from: Shrieking Banshee;1130385
I don't give a shit if people enjoy role-playing, roleplaying or storygaming in their personal games.

But I primarily see projection on the side of the grognards. Sort of like communists saying 'Nuh uh we have the TRUE communist will'

Learn how to role-play.
Title: Is Initiative Dumb?
Post by: Shrieking Banshee on May 17, 2020, 08:52:08 pm
Quote from: Shawn Driscoll;1130395
Learn how to role-play.

You don't know my games. Maybe I don't even fucking use initiative but I can't stand when other people demand others not use systems just because they don't like them.

Get over yourself.
Title: Is Initiative Dumb?
Post by: Spinachcat on May 18, 2020, 12:37:46 am
Quote from: Theory of Games;1130306
Why not let the PCs go first all the time?


Because their foes might be quicker.


Quote from: Theory of Games;1130306
How does that hurt the game aspect?


It hurts immersion because it means that PC's are automatically the quickest draw in the setting.


Quote from: Theory of Games;1130306
I think rolling for initiative is archaic. It worked once but now it's dead.


Plenty of gamers have used static initiative for decades.

IIRC, Gamma World 1e determined Initiative by DEX.

Personally, I like side vs. side initiative each round because it mixes up the ebb and flow of combat with some surprise. FOR ME (and my players) it adds excitement via randomness to the battle. AKA, its scary when your side loses Initiative when you need it, and fun when you win Initiative when you need it.

Also, suddenly knowing you either win or lost Initiative often causes you to change up tactics. That's another bonus FOR ME.
Title: Is Initiative Dumb?
Post by: mAcular Chaotic on May 18, 2020, 02:14:42 am
A flaw or a blindspot came up when I did team initiative.

What do you do if PCs want to fight against each other or fight over getting some item, etc. (Like say, one of them is trying to steal the MacGuffin for their employer and another PC wants to stop them, when this happens in the middle of combat.) If they're all going at the same time...? They're not really on the same "side" anymore... but then there's the monsters too.

There's also people not coordinating and just stepping over each other, like someone wanting to fireball and everyone else just running into the melee every time and ruining it...
Title: Is Initiative Dumb?
Post by: S'mon on May 18, 2020, 03:11:51 am
Quote from: VisionStorm;1130330
Being frozen in place, waiting for your "turn" to come for you to finally act, was moronic decades ago when the idea was first conceived.

I agree, but running 1e AD&D again currently in a PBP with Segments I've been really struck by how that was not Gygax's (poorly-explained) intent. The intent of the Initiative roll as first conceived seems to be much more about resolving which (eg) sword strike is first in a melee, not which side acts while the other freezes in place. Declarations are made, actions begin more or less simultaneously, initiative roll is used more as a tie breaker. Often it's not used - Fighters with multiple attacks always go first & last; when closing to melee the longer weapon always strikes first. Init roll determines stuff like whether you get a spell off before the other guy stabs you, or whether you are casting when you got stabbed - a low init roll might be preferable then, since it may mean you are hit before you even began to cast.

Edit: It may help that I'm using OSRIC, where it's explained a lot more clearly than in the 1e DMG!
Title: Is Initiative Dumb?
Post by: mAcular Chaotic on May 18, 2020, 03:47:05 am
Quote from: S'mon;1130425
I agree, but running 1e AD&D again currently in a PBP with Segments I've been really struck by how that was not Gygax's (poorly-explained) intent. The intent of the Initiative roll as first conceived seems to be much more about resolving which (eg) sword strike is first in a melee, not which side acts while the other freezes in place. Declarations are made, actions begin more or less simultaneously, initiative roll is used more as a tie breaker. Often it's not used - Fighters with multiple attacks always go first & last; when closing to melee the longer weapon always strikes first. Init roll determines stuff like whether you get a spell off before the other guy stabs you, or whether you are casting when you got stabbed - a low init roll might be preferable then, since it may mean you are hit before you even began to cast.

Edit: It may help that I'm using OSRIC, where it's explained a lot more clearly than in the 1e DMG!

Wouldn't the phase determine if you get the spell off first? Or whether you're being attacked in melee by a fighter or something?
Title: Is Initiative Dumb?
Post by: Kyle Aaron on May 18, 2020, 04:51:03 am
Quote from: rocksfalleverybodydies;1130353
I'll assume we're not taking into consideration of surprise which is a another whole kettle of fish.
I'll never forget what a Recon GM told us years ago:

For certain interpretations of the notoriously-muddled AD&D1e surprise/initiative rules, this is an accurate description. Properly-done, surprise can thus make initiative irrelevant. However, it requires a sensible group of players with a DM who rewards smarts. I mean basic stuff like sending your thief or ranger ahead of the party so their tracking, find traps, dex bonus and so on can help surprise any foes.

If you think players hate waiting their turn, see what happens when they're muddling around unable to act while the enemy pounds on them for a few combat rounds. They seem less uncomfortable when it's the enemy not acting. But that's what tactics are for.

Most games have some mixture of choice and chance. RPGs typically add some abilities of the character, so that initiative is Player Tactics + Character Skill + Dice Roll. I generally find that players who aren't good at tactics would rather it were more character skill, and those good at tactics are annoyed that character skill or chance are involved.
Title: Is Initiative Dumb?
Post by: Spinachcat on May 18, 2020, 04:58:12 am
Quote from: mAcular Chaotic;1130424
What do you do if PCs want to fight against each other or fight over getting some item, etc. (Like say, one of them is trying to steal the MacGuffin for their employer and another PC wants to stop them, when this happens in the middle of combat.) If they're all going at the same time...? They're not really on the same "side" anymore... but then there's the monsters too.


If there's a question of individual speed within the team initiative, I usually default to DEX. Thus, during the Players Turn, two PCs might be fighting each other or fighting over something, so I default to DEX score to determine who goes when among the PCs. If that's equal, then each rolls D6. As those incidents happen rarely, its not been a problem.

Monsters act as normally on their Initiative phase.


Quote from: mAcular Chaotic;1130424
There's also people not coordinating and just stepping over each other, like someone wanting to fireball and everyone else just running into the melee every time and ruining it...


Team Initiative usually handles those problems. I tell my players that I "assume competency" of the PCs and also assume the characters chatter among each other, just like the players so much information is shared.
Title: Is Initiative Dumb?
Post by: Steven Mitchell on May 18, 2020, 07:56:26 am
Quote from: mAcular Chaotic;1130424
A flaw or a blindspot came up when I did team initiative.

What do you do if PCs want to fight against each other or fight over getting some item, etc. (Like say, one of them is trying to steal the MacGuffin for their employer and another PC wants to stop them, when this happens in the middle of combat.) If they're all going at the same time...? They're not really on the same "side" anymore... but then there's the monsters too.

There's also people not coordinating and just stepping over each other, like someone wanting to fireball and everyone else just running into the melee every time and ruining it...


As with all such issues in that arise using "sides" or any other initiative--adjudicate it according to the situation.  Nothing is stopping you from dropping into a more precise initiative system for a round or two--for the whole encounter or for just that "side" or for just those two or three contending players.  Or for that matter, nothing is stopping you from requiring a one-off Dex or Initiative or whatever roll that fits that situation. Maybe at the moment, Int or Wis makes a better proxy for who gets to go first. Maybe the person standing right next to the thing gets a bonus.  

Really, the problem with cyclic initiative is that it got built because:

A. There are some "order" situations that come up that beginning GMs don't know how to handle, including the give and take of the players intent.
B. Cyclic initiative provides "an answer" for a lot of them.
C. So  to get those advantages that we only need part of the time, cyclic initiative layers on additional handling that often isn't needed.

Worse, as with any overly complicated system in RPGs, it can be counter-productive.  It's relatively slow.  Using it vastly slows GM development of their own skills handling those issues because they don't handle them.

Whereas, if you think of cyclic initiative as a very precise tool to handle a particular set of issues--and only use it when those arise--then it is just another tool in your toolbox.  Or better, think about what it does, and use that analysis to inform your rulings.

Most people, with informed reason, don't see any need to use a precise initiative system out of combat, at least most of the time.  Going around the table or just letting the players pick what they say works fine--and that's about as efficient as you can get. If your combats are clear enough, that may work fine for those too.  The more players and monsters, the more that is going on in the game, the more complication for the GM and players to process--the more likely you are to need a "system" to manage that.  If only to tell Joe to wait a second while you finish up with what Mary is saying.  Play around with that for awhile, and you'll probably develop some modest "initiative" system that works well for your group, because it is the way you keep adjudicating anyway.
Title: Is Initiative Dumb?
Post by: nDervish on May 18, 2020, 07:59:01 am
Quote from: Shasarak;1130356
Has anyone tried Hackmaster?  It uses a count up system where every action takes a certain number of seconds so you are never really "frozen" in place.  You declare your action, act on your count, declare your next action, if something happens you can change actions, move a certain speed per second.  It really forces you to concentrate on what is going on because there is always something happening.


I've read Hackmaster, but not actually played it.  I have, however, used similar count-up initiative systems in the past, and really liked how they worked.  They also seem to run faster in my experience, despite being more complex than "conventional" initiative systems on the surface.

The main reason I don't use that style in everything I run is that most systems aren't geared for that level of flexibility in actions and I haven't felt like putting in the effort to find ways to, e.g., take a system which assumes that all actions take the same time ("one round") to complete and make some actions take less time than other actions without completely unbalancing things.
Title: Is Initiative Dumb?
Post by: Steven Mitchell on May 18, 2020, 08:04:45 am
Quote from: nDervish;1130443
I've read Hackmaster, but not actually played it.  I have, however, used similar count-up initiative systems in the past, and really liked how they worked.  They also seem to run faster in my experience, despite being more complex than "conventional" initiative systems on the surface.

The main reason I don't use that style in everything I run is that most systems aren't geared for that level of flexibility in actions and I haven't felt like putting in the effort to find ways to, e.g., take a system which assumes that all actions take the same time ("one round") to complete and make some actions take less time than other actions without completely unbalancing things.

I've also used similar systems, not in Hackmaster.  IIRC, one of the Runequest editions had such a system as an option.  In general, I avoid such system because they become a pain to manage with large numbers of combatants.  It's no big deal for the players to track a spiraling count (and some can even enjoy it), but I don't want to track it for several monsters at once, and surely not for 20 of them.  Of course, the usual tricks of putting the monsters in groups can work for that too, though it is a little more limiting when the monsters aren't all doing the same thing every round.

We've also frequently played where there are a lot of young children running around being supervised by the players.  A system that requires constant engagement to keep moving isn't always an option for us. :D
Title: Is Initiative Dumb?
Post by: VisionStorm on May 18, 2020, 11:18:51 am
Quote from: mAcular Chaotic;1130424
A flaw or a blindspot came up when I did team initiative.

What do you do if PCs want to fight against each other or fight over getting some item, etc. (Like say, one of them is trying to steal the MacGuffin for their employer and another PC wants to stop them, when this happens in the middle of combat.) If they're all going at the same time...? They're not really on the same "side" anymore... but then there's the monsters too.


To add one more consideration I don't think I saw mentioned in replies to this, one thing to keep in mind is that while group initiative is often framed in terms of two "sides" competing against each other there's no real limit to the number of sides that can take part of an engagement. Let's say, for example, that the PCs are chasing a group of bandits who stole something from the lord the PCs serve, then fled to a cave hideout located within the lands of an enemy kingdom. The PCs chase the bandits down, but when they finally confront them the enemy king's guards show up to settle their own score with the bandits as well, only to find allies of their sworn enemy in their lands. Now the PCs have deal not only with the bandits, but with the enemy king's guards as well.

In confrontations where more than two sides exist each side has their own separate initiative competing for order of actions against the rest. In the above example the PCs would roll initiative, and so would the bandits and the king's guards, with each of the three groups taking turns separately. Similarly, if one or more of the PCs were to turn against the rest of the party in the middle of combat against another enemy force, then the traitor PCs would be treated as a separate "side" in the confrontation, with their own initiative separate from their original party.

Quote from: mAcular Chaotic;1130424
There's also people not coordinating and just stepping over each other, like someone wanting to fireball and everyone else just running into the melee every time and ruining it...


A good fireball blast killing off half the party is always a good tutor in teaching players how to cooperate. You can take the horse to the water but you can't force it to drink. Players insisting on not cooperating with each other is not so much an issue of group initiative or any other type of initiative system. Even when using individual initiative you'll still run into this type of problem if players refuse to cooperate with each other. Best you can do is try to reason with them, but if they insist on going down a path that would get them killed, let them have it.
Title: Is Initiative Dumb?
Post by: VisionStorm on May 18, 2020, 11:24:04 am
Quote from: Shrieking Banshee;1130396
You don't know my games. Maybe I don't even fucking use initiative but I can't stand when other people demand others not use systems just because they don't like them.

Get over yourself.


I hereby decree that initiative should no longer be rolled in any RPG. Ever!

Don't let me see you rolling them dice at the start of combat if I ever pass by your house in the middle of a game session or there will be consequences to pay! :mad:
Title: Is Initiative Dumb?
Post by: S'mon on May 18, 2020, 11:28:36 am
Quote from: mAcular Chaotic;1130432
Wouldn't the phase determine if you get the spell off first? Or whether you're being attacked in melee by a fighter or something?


1e/OSRIC doesn't use phases - are you thinking of BX & BECMI?

Determine Initiative: After any surprise segments are
resolved and spell casting is declared, the first combat
round begins. At the beginning of a combat round, each
side rolls initiative on a d6. The roll represents the six second
segment of the round in which the OTHER group will
be able to act; hence, the higher roll is the better roll (as the
other party will act later). If the party rolls a 6 for initiative,
and the monsters roll a 1, this means that the party will be
acting in segment 1, and the monsters will not act until the
sixth segment of the 10-segment round. Since a combat
round is 10 segments long, and the initiative roll only covers
the first six segments of the round, there are four remaining
segments in the round after the two sides have already
taken their actions: these remaining four segments are still
important because spells may take effect during this time,
and some combatants might "hold" (choose to delay) their
actions, waiting to act until these later segments.
The dexterity bonus for surprise is not added to an individual's
initiative for melee attacks, but if a character has a
missile weapon in hand, he or she applies his or her missile
attack bonus as a bonus to his or her initiative (as well as
to the attack roll).
Initiative rolls may result in a tie. When this happens, both
sides are considered to be acting simultaneously. The GM
may handle this situation in any way he or she chooses--
with one caveat. The damage inflicted by combatants during
simultaneous initiative is inflicted even if one of the
combatants dies during the round. It is possible for two
combatants to kill each other during a simultaneous initiative
round! Under any other circumstance, of course, the
effects of damage inflicted during that segment will take
effect immediately--a goblin killed in the first segment of
the round will be dead (and thus unable to attack) by the
time the fifth segment of the round arrives.
Some characters (and creatures) may have more than one
attack routine. This does not refer to a monster that normally
makes multiple attacks in a round--all of these attacks
are considered to be part of one attack routine. However,
a fighter whose level grants him an additional attack is
considered to be making a second entire attack routine.
This is perhaps most clearly seen if the reader envisions a
fighter who uses a sword in one hand and a dagger in the
other. These two attacks are part of an attack routine--and
if the fighter is of high enough level or under the influence
of a haste spell, he or she may also gain an entire additional
attack routine. A creature or character with multiple attack
routines cannot use the second attack routine until after
the other side's initiative segment has been resolved.
Once the party with initiative has acted, the party that lost
initiative may then take action.
Note about spells: Spells have a casting time, the number
of segments (or rounds, turns, etc.) required to cast the
spell. The spell caster does not actually begin casting the
spell until his or her initiative segment. That segment is the
first segment of the casting time. The spell does not "go
off" until the casting has been completed
.
Title: Is Initiative Dumb?
Post by: WillInNewHaven on May 18, 2020, 11:48:58 am
Quote from: Kael;1130349
if people actually want realistic combat, just roll for random casualties across the battlefield like a wargame. Or, in other words, just play a wargame.

If you'd rather emulate heroic fiction, then yeah, PCs go first unless surprised.


If you prefer heroic fiction where the plot armor and deus ex machine is so prevalent and visible that the heroes have accomplished nothing, sure.
Title: Is Initiative Dumb?
Post by: WillInNewHaven on May 18, 2020, 11:51:08 am
Quote from: Shasarak;1130393
For a certain definition of "works"


It doesn't slow things down.
It's fun.
The players feel that their characters have accomplished something difficult, even though the fatality level is low.
Title: Is Initiative Dumb?
Post by: VisionStorm on May 18, 2020, 11:56:30 am
Quote from: S'mon;1130425
I agree, but running 1e AD&D again currently in a PBP with Segments I've been really struck by how that was not Gygax's (poorly-explained) intent. The intent of the Initiative roll as first conceived seems to be much more about resolving which (eg) sword strike is first in a melee, not which side acts while the other freezes in place. Declarations are made, actions begin more or less simultaneously, initiative roll is used more as a tie breaker. Often it's not used - Fighters with multiple attacks always go first & last; when closing to melee the longer weapon always strikes first. Init roll determines stuff like whether you get a spell off before the other guy stabs you, or whether you are casting when you got stabbed - a low init roll might be preferable then, since it may mean you are hit before you even began to cast.

Edit: It may help that I'm using OSRIC, where it's explained a lot more clearly than in the 1e DMG!


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.

If actions where truly simultaneous and initiative was simply a tool to facilitate the GM managing actions in combat both characters would have been fried. But they didn't because individual initiative does tend to work like characters frozen in time in practice. And not simply as a matter of perception, but as a matter of demonstrable fact.

I often get the impression that initiative came up as an experimental means to manage combat, with multiple versions (group vs individual) available since early on, but it eventually took on a life of its own till it became its own game convention at odds with the reality it was attempting to emulate. With people more focused on demanding their "turn" or trying to attack their enemies before they had the chance to attack them, than analyzing whether any of it made sense or was even necessary to handle combat effectively.
Title: Is Initiative Dumb?
Post by: Altheus on May 18, 2020, 12:24:30 pm
I like the idea ao sitting everyone down in initiative order and going around asking what people are going to do from low to high and then resolving things from high to low. I'm not sure how effective or fun this would be.

I would probably have to telegraph npc actions in this system so faster characters have the chance to act and interrupt or adapt to them.

Next time I have an actual table of players I'll give this a go.
Title: Is Initiative Dumb?
Post by: Steven Mitchell on May 18, 2020, 12:53:36 pm
Quote from: Altheus;1130472
I like the idea ao sitting everyone down in initiative order and going around asking what people are going to do from low to high and then resolving things from high to low. I'm not sure how effective or fun this would be.

I would probably have to telegraph npc actions in this system so faster characters have the chance to act and interrupt or adapt to them.

Next time I have an actual table of players I'll give this a go.

Make sure they can't throw anything at you during the experiment. I went through a long series of experiments with initiative to determine empirically what works and what doesn't with my typical group.  Early on, I tried the seating thing.  There's only been two times in several decades where the group refused to give an experiment a fair shake.  I explained, they looked at me, then each other, then in unison:  'NO!".  Some people like their chairs! :D
Title: Is Initiative Dumb?
Post by: Steven Mitchell on May 18, 2020, 01:08:34 pm
Quote from: VisionStorm;1130470


If actions where truly simultaneous and initiative was simply a tool to facilitate the GM managing actions in combat both characters would have been fried. But they didn't because individual initiative does tend to work like characters frozen in time in practice. And not simply as a matter of perception, but as a matter of demonstrable fact.


You are skipping several logical and empirical steps there.  For one thing, not all such initiative systems claim to represent simultaneous actions.  So those systems aren't doing what you think they are.  Second, an approximation of "simultaneous" is always going to have edge cases and areas where it works better or worse, because it has to make compromises same as any other system.  if nothing else, it has to deal with the problem that the GM is one person processing the actions of multiple players and creatures.  Plus, when talking about people, measuring a thing changes it.  That is, the initiative system itself has feedback on player behavior.  (Thus the rabbit hole of "written orders" that some systems will delve into.)  

All that said, some systems will produce a feeling of simultaneous actions better than others, and better for some groups than others.  There is a tension between "having details" and "moving fast" that has to be balanced, and not always the same way for different groups.  "Sides" versus cyclic initiative is only one aspect of that.  For example, "sides" won't help at all in a game that is so intricate that it moves slow anyway.  Likewise, cyclic will generally work better the simpler the "action economy" of the game.  Which is another reason why with a simple game, it really doesn't matter how you do it.  

One thing that surprised me in my experiments was that tolerance for the moderate complexity I wanted went up vastly if I adopted a flow that encouraged a "stop and go, stop and go" type of pacing.  Such systems are fast for me, too.  That is, too frantic combat can cause players to stop paying attention almost as badly as too slow combat can. You need that "stuff happens, narrate, more stuff happens, narrate some more" in there to give the flow, but there has to be the Goldilocks amount of "stuff happens" each time.   Too little, (e.g. extreme cyclic) and the big picture is lost.  Too much, the players can't process it.
Title: Is Initiative Dumb?
Post by: NeonAce on May 18, 2020, 05:39:49 pm
Is initiative dumb? No. It's just a type of mechanic that can be used poorly or well or be unaddressed. Asking if initiative is dumb strikes me like asking if 12 sided dice are dumb. There is no one standard best practice, perfect set of mechanics that makes the best game. There are a variety of games that are entertaining in different ways, for different reasons, including the way in which their mechanics interact and how they shape the play experience.

Quote from: Theory of Games;1130306
Why not let the PCs go first all the time?

What are the goals of the game design, and does letting PCs go first all the time serve those goals, run counter to them, or just not matter? I fully would expect this to vary based on the game. Like, an Old West game where players got to go first all of the time would take some of the edge off a gunfight, where the Westerns themselves make a big deal out of the contest and the protagonist doesn't always get the shot off first. On the other hand, if you were playing Vampire or some Demi-God style game (Godbound, Exalted), and decided PCs always went before mortals... that wouldn't seem crazy. It would reinforce their inherent superiority. So, my answer to "Why not let PCs go first all of the time?" is that there are times it would undermine the vibe. Not in every game, but certainly in some.

Quote
How does that hurt the game aspect?

Again, this varies greatly, depending on the game. I'm Mr. "Street Fighter", and I can tell you that game is about beating people up like in the video game, but with crazy adventures along the way. The initiative rules are core to how the combat functions, tactics, guessing what your opponent is up to and that makes it enjoyable. If you remove it, you destroy the "Game", and are just left with a mediocre incarnation of the Storyteller system. It would be like removing Sheep from Settlers of Catan. On the other hand, where games aren't about that, other initiative approaches make more sense, even as loose as Apocalypse World-like, "just decide what makes sense and kinda work it out as you go".


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

Initiative regards the determination of who gets to act, when, and how often. Even, "Players always go first" is an initiative system. Rolling for initiative is only one of the ways initiative can be determined. For the most part I'm not a fan of individual rolled initiative, but it's not the worst thing in the world. (That would be individual initiative, rolled every round, bleh). Overall, though, my point of view is that there is no inherently "dumb" or "archaic", divorced from the context of the rest of the game. An initiative system can just be someone's cargo cult-like afterthought tossed onto their system, without them thinking about why they're adding this particular amount of overhead and tracking. In that case, it could very well be dumb and archaic. But... it's not something I can judge in isolation from seeing how the rest of the game works with it.
Title: Is Initiative Dumb?
Post by: ffilz on May 18, 2020, 06:02:18 pm
I've played a variety of games with a variety of initiative systems, everything from "mostly simultaneous" to individual initiative rolled each round. The one general system I don't think I've really played is a continuous action point system without rounds.

I'm not thinking of any initiative system I didn't like except a free from game (no rounds or initiative of any sort) where my character was left taking no action while others ran up and down stairs and took multiple actions, because I wasn't as deft at shouting out into the fray to get the GM's attention.

I enjoyed the initiative in D&D 3.x. I enjoyed games with a mostly simultaneous action. I love RuneQuest's strike rank system. I'm liking rolling group initiative each round in OD&D. I like Burning Wheel's system. In each system, the initiative system is part of the deal.

Oh, one more I didn't like, but I was just observing and not playing, and I'm not sure it was being run right. I watched a couple people playing Melee, where the faster guy always got to run around his opponent and attack him from behind. That seemed really absurd (given that it wasn't some kind of super hero or super martial arts game).

My personal preference does tend towards simultaneous (which of course can't be purely simultaneous unless everyone including the GM is writing detailed orders) with GM arbitration to handle "yea, that doesn't make sense" reactions after declarations. In such systems I generally get a mind for what the NPCs will do before calling for player declarations, then I start arbitrating.
Title: Is Initiative Dumb?
Post by: Mishihari on May 18, 2020, 07:27:03 pm
No, initiative is not dumb.  That question, on the other hand ...

Yes you can function without initiative, but you lose some realism, verisimilitude, and tactical depth in your game.  Knowing who goes first is important: there are many situations where going first means winning.  Han shot first, so he won.  At the range neither he nor Greedo would miss, and neither had armor or ability to dodge that would allow them to avoid being fried.  That instance can arguably be resolved by surprise rules, but there are plenty of similar situations where it doesn't make sense to do that.

I don't accept the argument that everything is simultaneous anyway.  For game purposes, simultaneous means that one character can attack another after he has received an attack that will disable him.  With swords and one minute simultaneity is expected.  With guns and one minute rounds, not so much.  If a character gets a head shot and is even a tiny bit faster than his enemy there is no opportunity for a counter attack.  Simultaneous attacks can happen in this case, but I would expect them to be rare, which won't be the case of you use everything is simultaneous rules.

I prefer systems where initiative order can be different every round; I often find the other way repetitive and a bit boring.
Title: Is Initiative Dumb?
Post by: Kuroth on May 18, 2020, 08:23:27 pm
For some that feel the initiative step is stale or whatever they change the artifacts used.  So, in savage worlds playing cards are used, with wild cards and all that sort of thing to change it up.

I use a diceless or cardless priority of action method for initiative in my D&D type game.

I would ask your players first, before you go throwing out the step all together.

I read an interesting article once about how the writer took renewed favor for the group dice rolled step, after observing how focused the whole group becomes at the step. Even when it is not anticipation, though it often is such, there is a group focus, rather than everyone focusing on there own thing.  Sort of a game huddle, before the the individual focused rest of the process.  The article was by Zak Smith I believe, some time ago.
Title: Is Initiative Dumb?
Post by: Kyle Aaron on May 18, 2020, 08:23:32 pm
Thinking on this, it occurs to me there's an argument for making initiative based on... hit points.

The way I understand hit points in AD&D1e is that they abstract two other things not dealt with much in the rules: general fatigue and parrying. If you've ever been a young guy who gets humiliated by an older guy on the squash court you'll know what I mean about people experienced in a kind of movement knowing how to conserve their energy, while the inexperienced ones lurch about. And of course, the experienced guys know a few tricky movements the newbies won't.

Now, you can represent this in a few ways. For example, you can have a fighter's level be a bonus to hit, a malus to their foe hitting, and also be the number of rounds they can fight before they get a -2 to everything. Or you can let them split their fighting skill between hitting and parrying, and so on.

Or you can just use hit points. Dodging a big blow fatigues them ("you were "hit" for 6 points"), and parrying a heavy blow fatigues them, too ("hit for 4 points"). Eventually the fatigue accumulates and the next blow gets through and does actual damage.

Hit points can also be taken to abstract the finer details of combat. For example, if a fighter is in a corner, most systems don't account for their having less room to dodge or swing. Movement is typically accounted for at a scale of not smaller than a couple of yards. Backed into a corner and barely able to swing their sword, or standing in the middle of the room and able to move freely - they're not accounted for. Obviously, a more experienced fighter will make better use of the space they do have. So hit points can be taken to abstract this, too. The 30HP fighter knocked down to 10HP? Maybe they've parried blow after blow, they're puffing and backed into a corner. A newbie fighter on 10HP to start with? "Damnit, my teacher told me: never get cornered!"

With this view, hit points could also be used as initiative. Highest current hit points goes first, and as that 30HP fighter gets battered down by the four 10HP fighters, eventually maybe they go first. And this, by the by, makes big high hit point creatures scarier - not only are they tougher, but they'll probably have the initiative!
Title: Is Initiative Dumb?
Post by: Kuroth on May 18, 2020, 08:38:28 pm
This type of thinking is one of the reasons I switched to a priority of action method Kyle.  So, At first, priority is more or less based upon weapon/action choice, terrain advantage or such things, but as combat progresses, priority can shift for such affects.  It does require a little ref judgement, though.

Some games use a character's status to set 'who goes first', which is similar to what you are talking about using hit points.  I think a hit point method would be ok for a real world type setting, where men and women are your choices of adversaries and perhaps a fairly narrow level spectrum.
Title: Is Initiative Dumb?
Post by: jhkim on May 18, 2020, 09:04:51 pm
Quote from: Mishihari;1130513
Yes you can function without initiative, but you lose some realism, verisimilitude, and tactical depth in your game.  Knowing who goes first is important: there are many situations where going first means winning.  Han shot first, so he won.  At the range neither he nor Greedo would miss, and neither had armor or ability to dodge that would allow them to avoid being fried.  That instance can arguably be resolved by surprise rules, but there are plenty of similar situations where it doesn't make sense to do that.
I think there's some talking past about different mechanics here. There are a number of different possible initiative systems

(1) Individual rolled initiative like D&D
(2) Fixed action order like HERO or GURPS, going in order of character stat
(3) Group rolled initiative like older D&D
(4) Arbitrary order like clockwise among players, usually in groups
(5) Rerolled initiative like Savage Worlds, where order is randomly determined every round
(6) Declare all actions, then resolve actions - like RuneQuest

It seems to me that the point of the first post is that there isn't much difference in practice between stat ordered initiative (#1, #2, and #3) and just going around the table clockwise. After the first round, there's no advantage to being faster -- everyone is just going around in the cycle. So especially if combat tends to go for 4+ rounds, initiative order has little effect. When using a system without rolled initiative, you can allow faster characters to get an extra action in at the start, but then go around clockwise thereafter. That eliminates the complexity of initiative order for most of the combat. Yes, going around clockwise is still technically an initiative order, but in practice, no one refers to standard boardgames like Monopoly as having an "initiative system".


I think when people talk about simultaneous action, it's usually some variant of what's done in RuneQuest - you first collect what everyone intends to do in a round. Then all those actions are resolved in some order, which can be one after the other or could be simultaneous. The point is that the actions are all declared before any are resolved.
Title: Is Initiative Dumb?
Post by: Psikerlord on May 18, 2020, 09:31:02 pm
Quote from: WillInNewHaven;1130380
Why not have the players say what the characters are going to do (the GM knowing what the NPCs and monsters are going to do and not changing it) and then have it all happen in what I call the natural order.

Spells take effect
Missiles are fired.
Then everyone in melee range takes their attacks, parries or whatever and the results are applied.
Combatants moving into range act in order of reach. Sometimes, the character with less reach doesn't get to attack.

No initiative rolls, no PC exceptionalism.


I think like this idea. GM declares first, then players declare?
Title: Is Initiative Dumb?
Post by: Kuroth on May 18, 2020, 09:35:10 pm
That is what is often called a 'phase' method.
Title: Is Initiative Dumb?
Post by: Shasarak on May 18, 2020, 10:05:09 pm
Quote from: Kyle Aaron;1130520
Or you can just use hit points. Dodging a big blow fatigues them ("you were "hit" for 6 points"), and parrying a heavy blow fatigues them, too ("hit for 4 points"). Eventually the fatigue accumulates and the next blow gets through and does actual damage.

So in this case what is the difference between blocking and taking 4 points damage and being hit and taking 4 points damage?  Does my fatigue damage return after a few minutes rest?
Title: Is Initiative Dumb?
Post by: ffilz on May 18, 2020, 10:30:24 pm
Another aspect I like about RQ strike ranks is the ability to delay your attack in exchange for the ability to move the hit location. Also, RQ handles multiple shots per round with faster missile weapons using the strike ranks. And there are some additional actions you can take in a round if your strike rank is low. It adds up to a lot of interesting options. And the chance for a first or second shot takeout is significant enough that going first has value.

I agree with the assessment that over a longer combat, any kind of ordered initiative starts to devalue advantage of the faster character.
Title: Is Initiative Dumb?
Post by: Kyle Aaron on May 18, 2020, 11:32:43 pm
Quote from: Shasarak;1130527
So in this case what is the difference between blocking and taking 4 points damage and being hit and taking 4 points damage?  Does my fatigue damage return after a few minutes rest?
That'd depend on the rules and the DM. In AD&D1e rules-as-written, absent any magical healing, proper rest somewhere comfortable gets you back 1HP a day, with the Con bonus if any each week, and in any case everything is healed after a month. This gives us the apparently odd result that the 6HP man-at-arms might recover more quickly from a fight losing half his HP than would the 30HP 5th level fighter.

I actually don't mind this. It's not widely-discussed, but an athlete is not able to repeat their effort the day after a competition, indeed many in endurance sports will have an elevated heart rate - at a level like a mild fever - for 1-2 weeks after the competition day. This is not the case for the middle-aged sedentary man who does a 5km fun run, but it is the case for someone who's been doing it for years and runs 5km and places at a national competition. Likewise, the amateur boxer can recover from a match more quickly than the professional boxer. I have competed (a long time ago) in running and weightlifting, and taken many lifters to powerlifting competitions, and everyone is exhausted immediately after meet day - but the guy who did 40% of the world record is ready to go again in a week or two, the one who did 60% might need a month before they can match their old performance, and the 80+% guy - well, he can only match or exceed that performance once a year.

Which is to say, people recover quickly from a newbie level of performance, and slowly from a high level of performance. If say 100kg is your best lift, though it's the most you can do, it just doesn't take as much out of you as 200kg does for that guy. Part of the skill of sports is being able to draw on more of your reserves, so to speak. If this is the case for top sports performances and non-lethal combat sports, how much more true must it be of lethal combats? Surely even a great warrior facing half a dozen men with his life at stake - well, that's got to take a lot out of him.

Obviously we can go too far into the weeds of analysing and trying to simulate this stuff. But I do think that ordinary old hit points are a reasonable way to abstract not only physical toughness, but fatigue and parrying.

As well as being reasonable in terms of real-world challenging performances, a long recovery for a higher-level fighter fits with adventure stories - fight big, rest big, party big.
Title: Is Initiative Dumb?
Post by: Kuroth on May 18, 2020, 11:40:06 pm
I was wondering if Kyle was going to explain/describe AD&D 1's hit points!  Good work
Title: Is Initiative Dumb?
Post by: Libramarian on May 19, 2020, 12:58:58 am
Quote from: S'mon;1130425
I agree, but running 1e AD&D again currently in a PBP with Segments I've been really struck by how that was not Gygax's (poorly-explained) intent. The intent of the Initiative roll as first conceived seems to be much more about resolving which (eg) sword strike is first in a melee, not which side acts while the other freezes in place. Declarations are made, actions begin more or less simultaneously, initiative roll is used more as a tie breaker. Often it's not used - Fighters with multiple attacks always go first & last; when closing to melee the longer weapon always strikes first. Init roll determines stuff like whether you get a spell off before the other guy stabs you, or whether you are casting when you got stabbed - a low init roll might be preferable then, since it may mean you are hit before you even began to cast.

Edit: It may help that I'm using OSRIC, where it's explained a lot more clearly than in the 1e DMG!


I really like the 1e combat system, except for ranged weapons having 2+ rate of fire. It interfaces weirdly with 1e initiative (are they all fired in the same segment?) and with multiple attack routines. It also wrecks the balance of the ranged weapons and makes it too easy to disrupt spellcasters, IMO. Next 1e campaign I will simply give all ranged weapons 1 ROF.
Title: Is Initiative Dumb?
Post by: Shasarak on May 19, 2020, 01:19:56 am
Quote from: Kuroth;1130536
I was wondering if Kyle was going to explain/describe AD&D 1's hit points!  Good work

ADnD hit points claim to be a mixture of luck, magic, skill etc and then only heal as per your Constitution.
Title: Is Initiative Dumb?
Post by: Kuroth on May 19, 2020, 01:26:34 am
ha I know AD&D backwards and forwards.  Stuff you learn as a kid is like brick and mortar in the brain  It was a well intended Good Work salutation that says that is good to see a fellow AD&D DM across the way.
Title: Is Initiative Dumb?
Post by: Kyle Aaron on May 19, 2020, 02:11:34 am
Quote from: Shasarak;1130554
ADnD hit points claim to be a mixture of luck, magic, skill etc and then only heal as per your Constitution.
Incorrect. They heal at 1HP per day, and a Con bonus, if any, is added to that at the end of each week. Only fighters get more than a +2 bonus regardless of Con, and thus Con is at most 2:7 for most, or 4:7 for fighters, and many will have no Con bonus at all.

In any case it's mostly theoretical; in practice past 1st-2nd level few ever have to heal naturally, magic will do it. But it's a theory I'm comfortable with.
Title: Is Initiative Dumb?
Post by: Kuroth on May 19, 2020, 02:24:55 am
Yes. Ya, I just didn't have the....? to explain.
Title: Is Initiative Dumb?
Post by: S'mon on May 19, 2020, 02:56:15 am
Quote from: ffilz;1130505

I'm not thinking of any initiative system I didn't like except a free from game (no rounds or initiative of any sort) where my character was left taking no action while others ran up and down stairs and took multiple actions, because I wasn't as deft at shouting out into the fray to get the GM's attention.


Good point. I definitely find that individual init can be a blessing for quiet/shy players, in that there is a dependable moment of time when the GM is focused on them and they can state their action. It's an argument for 'rolling init' in any complex time-dependent scene - I was playing a game set on a ghost ship, it was pretty frustrating watching others yell & run about until the GM declared 'roll init' and we started acting in order.
Title: Is Initiative Dumb?
Post by: S'mon on May 19, 2020, 03:10:56 am
Quote from: Libramarian;1130550
I really like the 1e combat system, except for ranged weapons having 2+ rate of fire. It interfaces weirdly with 1e initiative (are they all fired in the same segment?) and with multiple attack routines. It also wrecks the balance of the ranged weapons and makes it too easy to disrupt spellcasters, IMO. Next 1e campaign I will simply give all ranged weapons 1 ROF.

I assumed it broke down proportionally rounding off to nearest segment, so eg FR 2 you'd shoot 5 segments after the first shot, FR 3 you'd shoot 3 segments & 6 segments after the first shot. One of those things not in the book that EGG probably thought 'went without saying'! :D

So eg the sides roll 2 & 6, the winning side begins acting 4 segments earlier, so winning side archers can shoot first arrow but not the second before losing side (sans Dex bonus which adds to Init for this purpose); dart men can throw two darts but not the third.

If shooting at charging foes, charging is at x2 movement so typically 18' to 24' per segment and must terminate within 10' (abstract melee range); so if the sides start 40' apart chargers with 18' charge speed need 2 segments to get into melee, which might allow a second shot.

In PBP play it works great, I can see it being fiddly for tabletop.

Edit: The high 'fire' rate for bows is a nice advantage for Fighter-class PCs. Although UA gave Thieves shortbows. :

Edit 2: With opposed d6s for init there is never more than a 5 segment gap between the sides. Which I doubt was intentional, but it does work well to keep everything within 10 notional segments, almost always. If you roll init 6-1 and beat archers by 5 segments you start acting immediately, while they shoot at you in segments 5 & 10.
Title: Is Initiative Dumb?
Post by: mAcular Chaotic on May 19, 2020, 03:20:18 am
Quote from: Kyle Aaron;1130520
Thinking on this, it occurs to me there's an argument for making initiative based on... hit points.

The way I understand hit points in AD&D1e is that they abstract two other things not dealt with much in the rules: general fatigue and parrying. If you've ever been a young guy who gets humiliated by an older guy on the squash court you'll know what I mean about people experienced in a kind of movement knowing how to conserve their energy, while the inexperienced ones lurch about. And of course, the experienced guys know a few tricky movements the newbies won't.

Now, you can represent this in a few ways. For example, you can have a fighter's level be a bonus to hit, a malus to their foe hitting, and also be the number of rounds they can fight before they get a -2 to everything. Or you can let them split their fighting skill between hitting and parrying, and so on.

Or you can just use hit points. Dodging a big blow fatigues them ("you were "hit" for 6 points"), and parrying a heavy blow fatigues them, too ("hit for 4 points"). Eventually the fatigue accumulates and the next blow gets through and does actual damage.

Hit points can also be taken to abstract the finer details of combat. For example, if a fighter is in a corner, most systems don't account for their having less room to dodge or swing. Movement is typically accounted for at a scale of not smaller than a couple of yards. Backed into a corner and barely able to swing their sword, or standing in the middle of the room and able to move freely - they're not accounted for. Obviously, a more experienced fighter will make better use of the space they do have. So hit points can be taken to abstract this, too. The 30HP fighter knocked down to 10HP? Maybe they've parried blow after blow, they're puffing and backed into a corner. A newbie fighter on 10HP to start with? "Damnit, my teacher told me: never get cornered!"

With this view, hit points could also be used as initiative. Highest current hit points goes first, and as that 30HP fighter gets battered down by the four 10HP fighters, eventually maybe they go first. And this, by the by, makes big high hit point creatures scarier - not only are they tougher, but they'll probably have the initiative!


This is an amazing idea -- but it sounds super clunky to actually run. Imagine having to constantly update everything based on everyone's changing hit points.
Title: Is Initiative Dumb?
Post by: Shasarak on May 19, 2020, 03:56:16 am
Quote from: Kyle Aaron;1130559
Incorrect. They heal at 1HP per day, and a Con bonus, if any, is added to that at the end of each week. Only fighters get more than a +2 bonus regardless of Con, and thus Con is at most 2:7 for most, or 4:7 for fighters, and many will have no Con bonus at all.

In any case it's mostly theoretical; in practice past 1st-2nd level few ever have to heal naturally, magic will do it. But it's a theory I'm comfortable with.


How can that be incorrect when you literally say that you heal 1 + your Con?

Insert obligatory "You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means." -Inigo Montoya, The Princess Bride.
Title: Is Initiative Dumb?
Post by: S'mon on May 19, 2020, 05:26:52 am
Quote from: Shasarak;1130566
How can that be incorrect when you literally say that you heal 1 + your Con?

Insert obligatory "You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means." -Inigo Montoya, The Princess Bride.

AD&D healing is 1 hp/day. In the rare case of healing for an entire week, you add CON bonus ONCE at the end of the week. Ie 1 week's healing is 7 + CON bonus.
Title: Is Initiative Dumb?
Post by: Kyle Aaron on May 19, 2020, 06:33:47 am
Quote from: Shasarak;1130566
How can that be incorrect when you literally say that you heal 1 + your Con?

Quote from: Kyle Aaron;1130534
In AD&D1e rules-as-written, absent any magical healing, proper rest somewhere comfortable gets you back 1HP a day, with the Con bonus if any each week, and in any case everything is healed after a month.

Quote from: Shasarak
Insert obligatory "You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means." -Inigo Montoya, The Princess Bride.

You keep reading my post. I do not think it means what you think it means.

Since time gives the character 7 HP a week back, and Con gives -3 to +2, or up to +4 for fighters, time is the greatest healer in every case, and Con is the smaller factor.
Title: Is Initiative Dumb?
Post by: nDervish on May 19, 2020, 08:06:31 am
Quote from: VisionStorm;1130470
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.


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...

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.

Quote from: Altheus;1130472
I like the idea ao sitting everyone down in initiative order and going around asking what people are going to do from low to high and then resolving things from high to low. I'm not sure how effective or fun this would be.


I've seen this used (both as a RAW suggestion and as a table convention) in systems with fixed initiative orders, such as the Strike/DEX Ranks in most BRP variants.  I have a hard time seeing it work well in systems with rolled initiative (unless you only roll once at the start of the session and that order holds for the entire evening's play) because you'd constantly be playing musical chairs.

Quote from: ffilz;1130505
Oh, one more I didn't like, but I was just observing and not playing, and I'm not sure it was being run right. I watched a couple people playing Melee, where the faster guy always got to run around his opponent and attack him from behind. That seemed really absurd (given that it wasn't some kind of super hero or super martial arts game).


That's a common way to not run Melee right, which usually seems to result from taking the idea of initiative from other games and apply it to Melee, which actually has two different initiative systems working side-by-side.

First, there is rolled initiative, which is a straight d6-v-d6 side initiative system.  The side that rolls higher wins initiative for the round, but that only means that they get to choose whether they want to move first or second.  As you observed, in 95% of cases, you'll want to choose to move last, so that you can flank or get behind your foes.  But this is only movement at this point.

Second, after everyone on both sides has moved, attacks are made in order of descending DEX.  So the guy with high DEX does always get to attack first, but he may or may not be in optimal position to make that attack, depending on whether his side moved first or second, which in turn depends on which side won initiative for the round.

(Another thing they did wrong is that Melee has strong engagement/ZOC, so that, once you're adjacent to an enemy and in one of that enemy's front hexes, you can only move by making a one-hex "shift", similar to the D&D3.x 5-foot step, so you can't run around to get behind your opponent at that point in any case.)

Quote from: jhkim;1130523
I think there's some talking past about different mechanics here. There are a number of different possible initiative systems

(1) Individual rolled initiative like D&D
(2) Fixed action order like HERO or GURPS, going in order of character stat
(3) Group rolled initiative like older D&D
(4) Arbitrary order like clockwise among players, usually in groups
(5) Rerolled initiative like Savage Worlds, where order is randomly determined every round
(6) Declare all actions, then resolve actions - like RuneQuest


(7) Individual initiative bids each round, like EABA2

In EABA2, at the start of each combat round, everyone secretly bids for their initiative and then acts in descending order, with ties resolved as simultaneous actions.  Anyone who makes no initiative bid goes on initiative 0.

So, what's to stop you from bidding a million for initiative every round?  Because you're rushing your action, your initiative bid is applied as a penalty to all actions taken that round.  Bid 2, and you're doing everything at -2.  Most of the time, you'll want to bid 0 initiative, then, to avoid taking penalties unless you either completely outclass your opponent (making the penalties irrelevant) or you really, really need to go first (forcing you to eat the penalties), and even then, you want to bid as low as you can while still beating the opposition's bid.

EABA1 also had an interesting twist on methods #1/5/6.  You first declared the general type of action you wanted to take that round (e.g., "I'll shoot" - not who you're shooting or any other details) and then make an unmodified skill roll for the skill that will be used for your action, which functions as your initiative roll.  The logic behind this being that an expert will generally be able to act more quickly than a novice, in addition to more effectively.
Title: Is Initiative Dumb?
Post by: Steven Mitchell on May 19, 2020, 08:17:41 am
Quote from: Shasarak;1130554
ADnD hit points claim to be a mixture of luck, magic, skill etc and then only heal as per your Constitution.

As with a lot of D&D abilities, I find it helpful to not consider Constitution very literally.  Con gave you more (or less) hit points to begin with.  Therefore, whatever hit points represent in your setting, Con is related to that somewhat.  In a twisted kind of way, it even fits:  People that have a higher ability score get away with more things than mere mortals.  Con is the one that ties in your ability to not quite go down from a weapon or spell or trap that would have felled a slightly more normal person.  Sure, a high Con can represent sheer toughness to a point, but it is adding hit points every level. No one is "tough enough" to ignore a solid long sword hit even at higher levels. So even for brawny or wiry fighters, at some point it is more than toughness.  For other characters, you can start thinking of it as luck or magic even sooner.
Title: Is Initiative Dumb?
Post by: jan paparazzi on May 19, 2020, 09:35:18 am
Didn't read the entire post. Just wanted to say I like the initiative system of Savage Worlds.
Title: Is Initiative Dumb?
Post by: Alderaan Crumbs on May 19, 2020, 10:37:42 am
Quote from: Shasarak;1130340
It is moronic except compared to everyone doing everything at the same time.


You beat me to it. :D
Title: Is Initiative Dumb?
Post by: Hakdov on May 19, 2020, 10:39:48 am
Quote from: Shasarak;1130356
Has anyone tried Hackmaster?  It uses a count up system where every action takes a certain number of seconds so you are never really "frozen" in place.  You declare your action, act on your count, declare your next action, if something happens you can change actions, move a certain speed per second.  It really forces you to concentrate on what is going on because there is always something happening.


It seems cool at first but after combatants are in contact, all movement basically stops and then you're back to just waiting for your turn to swing again.  And the count up system is a serious pain in the ass to keep track of.
Title: Is Initiative Dumb?
Post by: WillInNewHaven on May 19, 2020, 11:19:08 am
Quote from: Psikerlord;1130524
I think like this idea. GM declares first, then players declare?


I have run games where the GM declared first and where the GM wrote down what the NPCs and monsters were doing, so the GM couldn't take advantage of the player's declarations. My current players trust me not to be playing against them, so I don't bother. I  should have given the option of declaring or writing down the intentions in the rules because not everyone has played together for twenty or thirty years.
Title: Is Initiative Dumb?
Post by: VisionStorm on May 19, 2020, 11:33:43 am
[
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.


How does this logic even work?

Both PC warriors are charging into a melee. No one in the PC's side would be able to know that an enemy spellcaster is casting a spell, or when or where. Even if they notice the wizard is casting something that still requires a Spellcraft (or is it called Arcana now?) check to even know what spell they're casting.

And the PC with the highest Initiative notices the wizard but the other doesn't? When did an Initiative roll become a Perception check?  And how was he able to strike at someone in the melee if he's now avoiding the spell's blast radius covering that same area? How did the other one get there first if he hasn't had time to act that round?

None of this really addresses the actual scenario. It's just jumping through hoops to justify initiative and favor characters with high initiative rolls by giving them extra abilities, like evading area effects that took effect after they were already supposed to have moved into the blast area, or interrupting casters who aren't even within melee range.
Title: Is Initiative Dumb?
Post by: Itachi on May 19, 2020, 12:08:12 pm
I don't think it's dumb, but I think it's been replicated without much thought. Lots of games adopted it as if it were an integral part of RPGs. I think from 00s onward games began to play with the concept more and the design space became better for it.
Title: Is Initiative Dumb?
Post by: estar on May 19, 2020, 12:43:40 pm
Quote from: Itachi;1130597
I don't think it's dumb, but I think it's been replicated without much thought. Lots of games adopted it as if it were an integral part of RPGs. I think from 00s onward games began to play with the concept more and the design space became better for it.
Not only that some system recognize that initiative is nuanced that a "one mechanic fit all situation" doesn't cut it.

For example in my Majestic Fantasy Rules based on Swords & Wizardry, I have the players roll 1d6+bonuses, high roll goes first.
Except when it comes to polearms, if an opponent comes into reach of your polearm you get a free attack before they can continue to move and attack you. Why? Because is how polearms work according to account and my own experience in renactnments. Now you only get one of these free attacks per round so it possible for two opponent to rush and you can only attack one of them. Which is also fits my experence trying to use a polearm to fend off multiple attackers and from what I read.

Also if fighting in confined quarters I will that initiative goes from front to back for both side. The people in the rear attack last. Why? Because when fighting that like that the action in the front is fast and furious while those in the back needs a little more time for keep up their situational awareness due to the crowding. However on the other hand they are further from the action and have a little more freedom to pick and choose how they act.
Title: Is Initiative Dumb?
Post by: Itachi on May 19, 2020, 02:41:03 pm
Quote from: estar;1130600
Not only that some system recognize that initiative is nuanced that a "one mechanic fit all situation" doesn't cut it.

For example in my Majestic Fantasy Rules based on Swords & Wizardry, I have the players roll 1d6+bonuses, high roll goes first.
Except when it comes to polearms, if an opponent comes into reach of your polearm you get a free attack before they can continue to move and attack you. Why? Because is how polearms work according to account and my own experience in renactnments. Now you only get one of these free attacks per round so it possible for two opponent to rush and you can only attack one of them. Which is also fits my experence trying to use a polearm to fend off multiple attackers and from what I read.

Also if fighting in confined quarters I will that initiative goes from front to back for both side. The people in the rear attack last. Why? Because when fighting that like that the action in the front is fast and furious while those in the back needs a little more time for keep up their situational awareness due to the crowding. However on the other hand they are further from the action and have a little more freedom to pick and choose how they act.
This is what I'm taking about, yes. You tailored the concept to fit your premise instead of blindly using what came before.
Title: Is Initiative Dumb?
Post by: estar on May 19, 2020, 04:03:58 pm
Another thing I do with my rules is allow character to hold their action if they win initiative. At any point afterwards they can interrupt and take their turn. If two combatant hold their actions and opt to take their turns then whoever had the higher initiative goes first. Which can mean they maintain their hold to see what the second person interrupting does.

Related this to this, you can do an attack and pin. Where you make a successful attack but hold the damage. You can opt to inflict the damage at any point. Until the start of your next turn. There is a risk that the attacker will suffer enough damage from a source they are not aware of that they will be taken out. But that been very rare in the decade I been using this rule.

I use it to give D&D combat some non-lethal options.
Title: Is Initiative Dumb?
Post by: Shasarak on May 19, 2020, 04:50:53 pm
Quote from: S'mon;1130571
AD&D healing is 1 hp/day. In the rare case of healing for an entire week, you add CON bonus ONCE at the end of the week. Ie 1 week's healing is 7 + CON bonus.


Quote from: Shasarak;1130554
ADnD hit points claim to be a mixture of luck, magic, skill etc and then only heal as per your Constitution.


Yeah.
Title: Is Initiative Dumb?
Post by: Trond on May 19, 2020, 05:00:34 pm
It's not so bad if done once for a conflict. Some systems ask you to do initiative every turn though.
Title: Is Initiative Dumb?
Post by: Steven Mitchell on May 19, 2020, 05:18:04 pm
Quote from: Trond;1130631
It's not so bad if done once for a conflict. Some systems ask you to do initiative every turn though.

I think part of that problem results from trying to cram too many options in a system that only does "rounds" or "turns" compared to the whole encounter.  Sure, it's simple to have "rounds" where everyone does a limited set of things, and then repeat until the encounter is over.  But if you want to include enough options, some of them don't work very well in a "round".  If nothing else, the handling time won't justify their inclusion.  Or you need to set the round to approximate time that is either too short  or too long or a compromise for all the options.

Which is why my system uses 2 levels of rounds, with the detailed stuff being 3 repeated steps in the "round", and the round being a longer unit of time where initiative can shift, major movement can happen, some accounting for fatigue, etc.  The repeat set to 3 is just an arbitrary number to give decent pacing, but still allow a combat to go for 2-4 rounds usually.
Title: Is Initiative Dumb?
Post by: ffilz on May 19, 2020, 05:29:11 pm
Quote from: estar;1130625
Another thing I do with my rules is allow character to hold their action if they win initiative. At any point afterwards they can interrupt and take their turn. If two combatant hold their actions and opt to take their turns then whoever had the higher initiative goes first. Which can mean they maintain their hold to see what the second person interrupting does.

Related this to this, you can do an attack and pin. Where you make a successful attack but hold the damage. You can opt to inflict the damage at any point. Until the start of your next turn. There is a risk that the attacker will suffer enough damage from a source they are not aware of that they will be taken out. But that been very rare in the decade I been using this rule.

I use it to give D&D combat some non-lethal options.

Do you roll the damage at the time of the hit, or when choosing to inflict the damage? How do you visualize a pin on a relatively healthy target?
Title: Is Initiative Dumb?
Post by: estar on May 20, 2020, 01:07:36 am
Quote from: ffilz;1130638
Do you roll the damage at the time of the hit, or when choosing to inflict the damage? How do you visualize a pin on a relatively healthy target?
Damage is rolled when you choose to inflict it. It visualized as either the blade positioned in a way that the target can't avoid being cut or stabbed like a sword to the throat. Or in the case of a blunt weapon the target is so badly out of position or controlled physically in a way they can't avoid being bashed.
Title: Is Initiative Dumb?
Post by: estar on May 20, 2020, 01:18:17 am
Quote from: Shasarak;1130554
ADnD hit points claim to be a mixture of luck, magic, skill etc and then only heal as per your Constitution.
Basically that is after the fact justification after hit points being criticized after D&D was released. What hit point amount too is combat endurance, having twice as many hit point on average you will last twice as long in combat. The only mention as to what they are in OD&D in Book 3. Hit point damage is called common wounds in the healing wounds section.
Title: Is Initiative Dumb?
Post by: nDervish on May 20, 2020, 06:34:14 am
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.

Quote from: VisionStorm;1130596
How does this logic even work?

Both PC warriors are charging into a melee. No one in the PC's side would be able to know that an enemy spellcaster is casting a spell, or when or where.


Both soldiers are rushing an enemy position.  No one on their side would be able to know that an enemy is preparing to throw a grenade, or when or where.

See how ridiculous that is?  If the enemy is taking physical actions to prepare an upcoming attack, you can see and respond to that, regardless of whether the actions are wild gesturing to cast a spell or the relatively more subdued act of pulling the pin on a grenade.  And we know from real-world data that people can sometimes (but not always) react to incoming grenades before they go off, so arguing that they can't have a similar possibility of reacting to spells being cast at them seems a bit off, unless you're interpreting spells as being cast instantaneously, rather than requiring some seconds of gestures and incantations before the spell takes effect (as the fluff of most RPGs says they require, even when the rules treat them as being instantaneous).

Quote from: VisionStorm;1130596
Even if they notice the wizard is casting something that still requires a Spellcraft (or is it called Arcana now?) check to even know what spell they're casting.


This part beats the hell out of me.  I haven't played D&D on the regular in decades, so I have no idea what their current rules on identifying spells look like.

Quote from: VisionStorm;1130596
And the PC with the highest Initiative notices the wizard but the other doesn't? When did an Initiative roll become a Perception check?


There's a lot more to situational awareness than just perception.  One fighter might notice the guy in robes gesturing wildly (or one soldier might notice the guy grabbing a grenade and pulling out the pin) while the guy standing next to him is too focused on something else, even if the second guy is more perceptive and keenly aware of every tiny detail of the thing he's focused on.

Quote from: VisionStorm;1130596
And how was he able to strike at someone in the melee if he's now avoiding the spell's blast radius covering that same area? How did the other one get there first if he hasn't had time to act that round?


I have no idea where you got this order of events, where one guy runs into the blast radius, takes a swing, and runs back out, while the second guy stands outside the blast radius doing nothing at all, and then the second guy gets hit.

Let me spell it out for you, step-by-step:

1) Wizard declares that he's casting a fireball at the space where two opposing fighters are currently standing and begins the process of casting it.

2) Everyone rolls initiative.  Fighter 1 gets initiative 76.  The wizard gets initiative 67.  Fighter 2 gets initiative 18.

3) On initiative 76, fighter 1, seeing that the wizard is in the process of casting a fireball in his direction, moves out of the blast radius.

4) On initiative 67, the wizard finishes casting his fireball.  Fighter 1 is not affected because he is no longer in the blast radius.  Fighter 2 is affected because he has not yet reacted to the spell being cast.

5) On initiative 18, fighter 2 does whatever, assuming he's still up and fighting.

Note that fighter 1 does not get any extra actions as you seem to have presumed ("how was he able to strike at someone in the melee if he's now avoiding the spell's blast radius covering that same area?").

Quote from: VisionStorm;1130596
None of this really addresses the actual scenario. It's just jumping through hoops to justify initiative and favor characters with high initiative rolls by giving them extra abilities, like evading area effects that took effect after they were already supposed to have moved into the blast area, or interrupting casters who aren't even within melee range.


He's not "evading area effects that took effect after they were already supposed to have moved into the blast area", he moved out of the blast area while the spell was still being cast, before it took effect (because the casting was not yet complete).  In the modern-day equivalent, he moved out of the blast area while the opponent was pulling the pin on his grenade and throwing it, not after it had already exploded.

You seem to be viewing all actions as happening instantaneously when they are declared, and my point is that some actions take time (casting a spell, or pulling the pin on a grenade, throwing it, and waiting for the fuse to run out before it goes off), which allows people to react to - or, yes, potentially interrupt - the lead-up to the final event before it happens, whether that reaction is to leave the fireball's blast radius, or trying to pick up a grenade and throw it back before it goes off.
Title: Is Initiative Dumb?
Post by: ffilz on May 20, 2020, 10:24:33 am
Quote from: estar;1130679
Damage is rolled when you choose to inflict it. It visualized as either the blade positioned in a way that the target can't avoid being cut or stabbed like a sword to the throat. Or in the case of a blunt weapon the target is so badly out of position or controlled physically in a way they can't avoid being bashed.

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? 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.

I'm sure most issues with the rule sort out easily by examining the fiction of the actual situation in play.
Title: Is Initiative Dumb?
Post by: VisionStorm on May 20, 2020, 10:54:50 am
Quote from: nDervish;1130689
Both soldiers are rushing an enemy position.  No one on their side would be able to know that an enemy is preparing to throw a grenade, or when or where.

See how ridiculous that is?  If the enemy is taking physical actions to prepare an upcoming attack, you can see and respond to that, regardless of whether the actions are wild gesturing to cast a spell or the relatively more subdued act of pulling the pin on a grenade.  And we know from real-world data that people can sometimes (but not always) react to incoming grenades before they go off, so arguing that they can't have a similar possibility of reacting to spells being cast at them seems a bit off, unless you're interpreting spells as being cast instantaneously, rather than requiring some seconds of gestures and incantations before the spell takes effect (as the fluff of most RPGs says they require, even when the rules treat them as being instantaneous).



This part beats the hell out of me.  I haven't played D&D on the regular in decades, so I have no idea what their current rules on identifying spells look like.



There's a lot more to situational awareness than just perception.  One fighter might notice the guy in robes gesturing wildly (or one soldier might notice the guy grabbing a grenade and pulling out the pin) while the guy standing next to him is too focused on something else, even if the second guy is more perceptive and keenly aware of every tiny detail of the thing he's focused on.



I have no idea where you got this order of events, where one guy runs into the blast radius, takes a swing, and runs back out, while the second guy stands outside the blast radius doing nothing at all, and then the second guy gets hit.

Let me spell it out for you, step-by-step:

1) Wizard declares that he's casting a fireball at the space where two opposing fighters are currently standing and begins the process of casting it.

2) Everyone rolls initiative.  Fighter 1 gets initiative 76.  The wizard gets initiative 67.  Fighter 2 gets initiative 18.

3) On initiative 76, fighter 1, seeing that the wizard is in the process of casting a fireball in his direction, moves out of the blast radius.

4) On initiative 67, the wizard finishes casting his fireball.  Fighter 1 is not affected because he is no longer in the blast radius.  Fighter 2 is affected because he has not yet reacted to the spell being cast.

5) On initiative 18, fighter 2 does whatever, assuming he's still up and fighting.

Note that fighter 1 does not get any extra actions as you seem to have presumed ("how was he able to strike at someone in the melee if he's now avoiding the spell's blast radius covering that same area?").



He's not "evading area effects that took effect after they were already supposed to have moved into the blast area", he moved out of the blast area while the spell was still being cast, before it took effect (because the casting was not yet complete).  In the modern-day equivalent, he moved out of the blast area while the opponent was pulling the pin on his grenade and throwing it, not after it had already exploded.

You seem to be viewing all actions as happening instantaneously when they are declared, and my point is that some actions take time (casting a spell, or pulling the pin on a grenade, throwing it, and waiting for the fuse to run out before it goes off), which allows people to react to - or, yes, potentially interrupt - the lead-up to the final event before it happens, whether that reaction is to leave the fireball's blast radius, or trying to pick up a grenade and throw it back before it goes off.


You are still not addressing the actual point or the actual scenario that I was describing and are just get me with gotcha points working backwards from your flawed set of assumptions, focused on trying to justify initiative instead of actually reading and comprehending what I wrote before replying. I mean Jesus fucking Christ, you're trying to dictate ME what the actual order of events is when I'M the one laying out the actual scenario. And you don't even get what the scenario is, but are still stuck trying to get warrior 1 to be the one who actually evades the blast for no apparent reason, like who evade the blast or doesn't is the point of the exercise. This entire discussion is pointless.
Title: Is Initiative Dumb?
Post by: estar 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.
Title: Is Initiative Dumb?
Post by: jhkim 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.
Title: Is Initiative Dumb?
Post by: estar 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.
Title: Is Initiative Dumb?
Post by: VisionStorm 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.
Title: Is Initiative Dumb?
Post by: ffilz 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...
Title: Is Initiative Dumb?
Post by: Steven Mitchell 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.
Title: Is Initiative Dumb?
Post by: VisionStorm 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.
Title: Is Initiative Dumb?
Post by: RPGPundit 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.
Title: Is Initiative Dumb?
Post by: Opaopajr 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:
Title: Is Initiative Dumb?
Post by: Trinculoisdead 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.
Title: Is Initiative Dumb?
Post by: Zalman 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).
Title: Is Initiative Dumb?
Post by: Trinculoisdead 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.
Title: Is Initiative Dumb?
Post by: Kyle Aaron on June 01, 2020, 10:09:55 pm
Ties are resolved in favour of the DM. The house always wins!
Title: Is Initiative Dumb?
Post by: Godspar Games 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.
Title: Is Initiative Dumb?
Post by: RPGPundit 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.
Title: Is Initiative Dumb?
Post by: Eric Diaz on June 13, 2020, 12:36:23 pm
The usual method of initiative is a bit outdated and useless, yes.

I tried many options, my two favorite alternatives are "old school initiative" and "no initiative":

https://methodsetmadness.blogspot.com/2018/06/old-school-initiative-is-best-initiative.html

https://methodsetmadness.blogspot.com/2020/05/minimalist-d-ii-ditch-initiative.html

Another option is just going with whatever makes sense at the moment. PCs sneaking around? They attack first. Monsters sneaking around? PCs get attacked. Etc. Two sides looking at each other? Whoever has the best range has the first attack. Etc.
Title: Is Initiative Dumb?
Post by: Eric Diaz on June 13, 2020, 12:41:04 pm
Quote from: RPGPundit;1133380
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.

This method has a lot of good things going for it... Dexterity is important, but only occasionally. Armor is important. weapons are important. The action being performed is important. I like it.
Title: Is Initiative Dumb?
Post by: Lunamancer on June 13, 2020, 11:13:09 pm
I would call it somewhat dumb. About 80% of it is just arbitrarily determining order of action so everyone isn't speaking at once. One arbitrary way of doing that is as good as any other, though I suppose it's nice if it's fair. Certainly convoluted initiative systems and/or those intricately woven into the game's core system are hardly justifiable for those cases.

However, there is the other 20% of the time. How could dagger man possibly go first when he's got to cover 30' of ground and I've got a 9 foot spear? The player may have even intentionally approached the encounter with that advantage in mind. Common sense exceptions, I call them.

My ideal initiative would be something like, each side rolls d6, highest goes first, common sense exceptions apply.
Title: Is Initiative Dumb?
Post by: FelixGamingX1 on June 14, 2020, 12:45:08 am
Dumb! Use speed to calculate order.
Title: Is Initiative Dumb?
Post by: VisionStorm on June 14, 2020, 03:54:49 am
Quote from: Lunamancer;1134040
However, there is the other 20% of the time. How could dagger man possibly go first when he's got to cover 30' of ground and I've got a 9 foot spear?


This sort of thing always eats away at me. AD&D 2e even added Weapon Speeds, which gave lighter weapons, like daggers, better initiative--except that's not how melee weapons work! Reach is generally a more important factor than weapon speed when determining who attacks first in melee combat.

The only way a dagger wielding combatant could strike a spearman first is if the spearman was surprised or unable to bring their weapon to bear (maybe it got stuck in somebody else's corpse or they're fighting in tight quarters and there are too many obstructions). Otherwise the combatant with the longer weapon always gets a chance to strike before the one with the shorter weapon.

Weapon speed IRL doesn't even help you attack "first", It helps you attack faster, improving your attack rate. Though, that's tricky to handle in TTRPGs, cuz giving light weapons an extra attack per round would be too much. Giving an attack bonus to the lighter weapon might be more appropriate, since faster attacks are more difficult to evade or parry before they reach an opening.

Order of actions by random initiative makes no sense and isn't even necessary. You could handle order of actions by GM fiat or by phases based on proximity and readiness--whoever is closest to their target and/or immediately ready to act goes first (ranged within range, melee already in melee, etc), whoever needs minor preparations goes second (move, draw/reload weapons, etc.), whoever needs lengthy preparations goes last (reload flintlocks or crossbows, etc.). PCs and enemies act at the same phase, and enemy actions get resolved at the same time as PCs attacking them, then any enemies who haven't acted yet after all PCs are done resolve their actions last in that phase.

The real reason some people want to roll initiative is cuz they've been conditioned to think in terms of wanting to "go first" so they can kill an enemy before they've had a chance to act. Which sounds reasonable, except that unless you shoot them in the head or decapitate them, a wounded (even mortally wounded) enemy should still be able to make one final attack before they succumb to their wounds, and people killing each other roughly at the same time is a plausible scenario that does happen in real life.

Even if you want to go "first" to interrupt a particular enemy or make a called shot to the head you could handle "initiative" individually as an opposed test between adversaries (which used to do when I started handling order of actions by fiat or phases) without basing the order of actions of the entire combat around random initiative. OR you could skip initiative and say that if your attack succeeds by X amount (such as 4+ on a d20) AND you rolled higher than their attack or action (if applicable) you managed to strike before they could act, otherwise they still get an action before you kill or disable them.
Title: Is Initiative Dumb?
Post by: HappyDaze on June 14, 2020, 04:14:45 am
Quote from: VisionStorm;1134065
This sort of thing always eats away at me. AD&D 2e even added Weapon Speeds, which gave lighter weapons, like daggers, better initiative--except that's not how melee weapons work! Reach is generally a more important factor than weapon speed when determining who attacks first in melee combat.

The only way a dagger wielding combatant could strike a spearman first is if the spearman was surprised or unable to bring their weapon to bear (maybe it got stuck in somebody else's corpse or they're fighting in tight quarters and there are too many obstructions). Otherwise the combatant with the longer weapon always gets a chance to strike before the one with the shorter weapon.

Weapon speed IRL doesn't even help you attack "first", It helps you attack faster, improving your attack rate. Though, that's tricky to handle in TTRPGs, cuz giving light weapons an extra attack per round would be too much. Giving an attack bonus to the lighter weapon might be more appropriate, since faster attacks are more difficult to evade or parry before they reach an opening.

Order of actions by random initiative makes no sense and isn't even necessary. You could handle order of actions by GM fiat or by phases based on proximity and readiness--whoever is closest to their target and/or immediately ready to act goes first (ranged within range, melee already in melee, etc), whoever needs minor preparations goes second (move, draw/reload weapons, etc.), whoever needs lengthy preparations goes last (reload flintlocks or crossbows, etc.). PCs and enemies act at the same phase, and enemy actions get resolved at the same time as PCs attacking them, then any enemies who haven't acted yet after all PCs are done resolve their actions last in that phase.

The real reason some people want to roll initiative is cuz they've been conditioned to think in terms of wanting to "go first" so they can kill an enemy before they've had a chance to act. Which sounds reasonable, except that unless you shoot them in the head or decapitate them, a wounded (even mortally wounded) enemy should still be able to make one final attack before they succumb to their wounds, and people killing each other roughly at the same time is a plausible scenario that does happen in real life.

Even if you want to go "first" to interrupt a particular enemy or make a called shot to the head you could handle "initiative" individually as an opposed test between adversaries (which used to do when I started handling order of actions by fiat or phases) without basing the order of actions of the entire combat around random initiative. OR you could skip initiative and say that if your attack succeeds by X amount (such as 4+ on a d20) AND you rolled higher than their attack or action (if applicable) you managed to strike before they could act, otherwise they still get an action before you kill or disable them.

This weapon speed idea was implemented in Exalted (1e through a mid-line upgrade called Power Combat and then in 2e, not sure about 3e) and it was a royal pain in the ass to use for anything beyond a 1v1 duel.
Title: Is Initiative Dumb?
Post by: Zalman on June 14, 2020, 09:54:18 am
Quote from: VisionStorm;1134065
Order of actions by random initiative makes no sense and isn't even necessary. You could handle order of actions by GM fiat or by phases based on proximity and readiness--whoever is closest to their target and/or immediately ready to act goes first (ranged within range, melee already in melee, etc), whoever needs minor preparations goes second (move, draw/reload weapons, etc.), whoever needs lengthy preparations goes last (reload flintlocks or crossbows, etc.). PCs and enemies act at the same phase, and enemy actions get resolved at the same time as PCs attacking them, then any enemies who haven't acted yet after all PCs are done resolve their actions last in that phase.


Situation is a great way to determine who goes first, but sometimes the situation is a "tie" in that regard. It is those times for which rolling randomly to determine who goes first is sensical and useful. Sure, you could use GM fiat to break ties, but I prefer randomness in that case, for the sake of fairness. I agree that most people overuse initiative rolls according this theory -- at my table we roll at most 10% of the time after allowing for situational determination of attack order.
Title: Is Initiative Dumb?
Post by: RPGPundit on June 20, 2020, 06:04:06 am
Quote from: Eric Diaz;1133991
This method has a lot of good things going for it... Dexterity is important, but only occasionally. Armor is important. weapons are important. The action being performed is important. I like it.


Yes, those are all good elements and things I like about it. But the most important detail is that it's still very simple to use.
Title: Is Initiative Dumb?
Post by: Opaopajr on June 20, 2020, 04:32:29 pm
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. Worst case scenario: on a tie you just jot down what the monsters are going to be doing before you listen to the players.

There was never any problem with action declaration because the old order worked: 1) First GM decides NPC action in secret and locks it in (so as to not metagame players' declaration), 2) Next players declare action publically and locks it in (or secret to GM if interesting dynamics are in play), 3) Then Initiative is rolled, 4) Finally resolve in initiative order (meaning ties are simultaneous -- Double KOs!).

Simple, easy, no metagaming or confusion in practice. :) The GM playing the NPCs does not give up metaknowledge, players don't have metaknowledge for the round and declaration locks in action, and the dice provide the thrilling risk that it can fall in either's, OR neither's!, favor. :D Strongly recommended wise method of the past -- and easily portable discrete sub-system to other games.
Title: Is Initiative Dumb?
Post by: Zalman on June 20, 2020, 04:36:00 pm
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. Worst case scenario: on a tie you just jot down what the monsters are going to be doing before you listen to the players.


I suppose if you're not using any modifiers, and you don't want a lot of ties, you could always roll a d12 or even a d20 for initiative as well.
Title: Is Initiative Dumb?
Post by: Tom Kalbfus on June 20, 2020, 10:02:55 pm
What I do is have the PCs state their actions, and then role for individual initiative to see when those actions occur, and then we resolve the actions from highest Initiative to lowest. Some actions that were stated don't occur because their characters were killed or incapacitated before they could take those actions. Initiative simulates the chaos of battle. Any way if the PCs go first all the time, how do they know their opponents are hostile?

What do you do if you enter a room and you see ten orcs standing there? Do you attack?
Title: Is Initiative Dumb?
Post by: Slipshot762 on June 21, 2020, 11:18:31 pm
Well I use D6 Fantasy, which has many options for how to do initiative and you can change which is used from encounter to encounter or even round to round, but all options are subject to the reaction cycle built into the core game mechanics anyway so is likely not relevant to D&D. Absent surprise (which is deadly in D6 as it can mean no defensive rolls and just straight up murder) I typically have resolution go in order of highest perception or agility (use which ever of the two is best for that character) to lowest, allowing all participants to spend character points (D6 equivalent of xp) to win ties (avoiding dual simultaneous decapitations).

If your character and a goblin both have agility or perception of 3D, then whichever blows the most character points to break the tie will have their action resolved first. If neither wants to spend points or cannot for some reason then I simply have each roll a single die and higher goes first. In D6, generally, I have a combat round force all participants declare how many actions they will take at rounds start (not counting reaction rolls for dodging or parrying or counter-spelling or what have you) and then the 1st action of both sides is resolved before the second action is resolved for both sides before the third, in order of descending perception/agility.

So for example perception/agility creatures of 5D+2 resolve their first action, then 5D+1 resolves their first action, then 5D, then 4D+2 and so on. This then repeats with the second action, then the third and so on. A round in D6 is roughly 5 seconds so i place a limit of 5 actions in a round barring special circumstance or expenditure of character points or fate points. This core mechanical staggering of actions means no one will move up with one action and do a flurry of attacks before an opponent gets to react, possibly making initiative less important than in D&D. I have allowed characters to "charge", combining the move and attack into one single first action (usually at a cost of 1 fate point) but then if they fail to hit or force the opponent back with than action (dueling blades chart) their reaction rolls (parry-dodge) get penalized as if they had in fact taken two actions.

The way this all generally tends to shake out is that most first actions for "initiative winners" are movement to engage in melee or ranged attacks; and resolving first can often be a detriment. For example both you and the goblin wanted to move toward each other and melee attack but you, having higher perception or agility, resolve first, so you move...that is your first action, now he doesn't have to move and actually gets to roll attack before you since your first action was to sprint up to him, and his is to try and spear you. As you can imagine the net result of all this is that ranged attacks are the preferred method, which isn't surprising since this whole system was derived from the star wars rpg where most attacks would have been ranged attacks.
Title: Is Initiative Dumb?
Post by: deadDMwalking on June 24, 2020, 10:08:56 am
Going first offers some advantages; making it semi-random is helpful to ensure the PCs can't always rely on those advantages.

There are 'optimal strategies' if you know the PC turn order in advance.  For example, it might always make sense for the wizard to go first, casting a mass buff, then all the warriors to attack WITH that buff active.  Randomizing initiative creates costs - if the wizard is going to go last the party might have to give the enemies a free attack.  

If 'holding' is free and PCs can act at any point (even interrupting enemies) then that's what PCs will do.  

The group I play with have found that combats feel more dynamic when we roll initiative every round.  That means in round 1 the BBEG might go last, but he might go 1st in round 2, effectively getting two actions in a row (of course, he won't KNOW that he's going first in Round 2 until Round 1 is over).  The table time is minimal, and it helps keep players engaged; if you go last in round 1 and you KNOW you're going last in every other round, you have time to space out.  With rolling initiative, you're always 'checked in' at the start of the round.  We find that in addition to adding some dramatic tension because of an uncertain turn order, it also helps keep players on track, so it is well worth whatever extra time it might take in the abstract.
Title: Is Initiative Dumb?
Post by: LiferGamer on July 01, 2020, 12:57:27 pm
Is it dumb?  No, but is it accurate?  Hard to say.  

I like the doubt, the ebb-and-flow and believe that sometimes, who goes first is more important than who's the most skilled, especially if the game is lethal, ranged-focused, and 'low hit point'.


The one thing I truly liked in the FFG Star Wars games was the initiative; you basically had a 'pool' for both sides, which I easily cycled through with poker chips - a stack of red and white, alternating by rolls, so the players could decide amongst themselves who went when and I could use whichever adversary was most dramatically appropriate.

I've considered using it in all my games going forward, but haven't gotten player buy-in.
Title: Is Initiative Dumb?
Post by: S'mon on July 02, 2020, 05:33:11 am
Quote from: LiferGamer;1137408
Is it dumb?  No, but is it accurate?  Hard to say.  

I guess an accurate system would likely focus on the OODA loop and trying to operate inside the opponent's OODA loop, so eg high init would observe -orientate - decide - act while low init was still orienting, making low init constantly feel they were acting in the past.
Title: Is Initiative Dumb?
Post by: AikiGhost on July 02, 2020, 07:38:42 am
In my homebrew initiative is rolled against a dex test (something like the black hack), suceed and you go before your enemy fail and they go first, you get adavantage and other stuff like that modified by circumstance but it comes down to a simple yes/no go first or go after.
Title: Is Initiative Dumb?
Post by: CRKrueger on July 02, 2020, 09:49:44 am
Quote from: Theory of Games;1130306
Why not let the PCs go first all the time?

It's boring and childish.

Quote from: Theory of Games;1130306
How does that hurt the game aspect?

It's a mortal sin of gaming: BORING

Quote from: Theory of Games;1130306
I think rolling for initiative is archaic. It worked once but now it's dead.

Just silly.  Is this a troll post?
Title: Is Initiative Dumb?
Post by: Iron_Rain on July 03, 2020, 01:22:23 am
Answering the OP: Initiative in Exalted 3rd edition is actually a resource that increases and decreases throughout combat (so yes, turn order changes at the end of every round). So I would say, in that kind of system, yes, it obviously matters.

In D&D? If it works for your group to go first, unless they are surprised, I don't see why not.