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Initiative Variants

Feb 3, 2020 4:11 am
I have gone through the 5e DMG, and UA, and have found some interesting initiative systems that have the makings of bringing more engagement at the table, but the issues with some of the systems is the sheer amount of mechanics and tracking that are required. It’s a strange balancing act.

Do you know of any tools that help reduce the “crunch” of initiative mechanics?
Feb 3, 2020 4:17 am
Check out side-initiative and popcorn initiative.

Some systems use flat initiative for foes (I.e., always assume they roll a 10 on the d20), but whether you roll or not, for play by post I use this format: the players are just rolling to see if they go before the enemies. Then it's:
-Fast players
-enemies
-slow players and then fast players, i.e, all players
-enemies
-all players
...
Feb 3, 2020 5:44 am
Oddly enough, I saw this article mentioned on the GP Discord server recently. It discusses initiative and keeping combat moving:
https://theangrygm.com/manage-combat-like-a-dolphin/

TLDR, he keeps it simple. He just writes down the initiative numbers alongside the character names or monsters on a piece of paper.
Last edited February 3, 2020 5:45 am, a total of 1 time
Feb 3, 2020 5:57 am
I do something similar to what the Angry GM puts out there -- seemed fairly intuitive to me -- the biggest problem I have with it is meta-gaming by the players -- so I started having folks state their actions in reverse initiative order and then conducted them in initiative order this way those that had that high initiative were actually benefiting from it since they were sort of getting a heads up as to what everyone else was going to be doing after them --- then if an action was not do-able or the player wanted to change their action they needed to make a Dex Save or give up some part of their action Move or Attack (in systems that have that as 2 actions in a round)...

Oh and another item I threw on the table -- when fighting more than one person you randomly roll whom you are attacking unless you want to give your opponents advantage on you by ignoring them to attack a specific target -- I do this to represent the chaos of battle and someone taking the best opportunity presented to them when fighting or foregoing that to focus on an individual to their detriment --- this came about by the constant statement by players -- "I attack the one that looks the most wounded" -- which made me think wait in the chaos of battle they are stopping to check to see who seems the most wounded and then foregoes perhaps their best opening to attack that individual -- hmm just smacked of meta-gaming again so I simply removed it by making multiple targets become a random thing ... it work just fine I of course apply that to the NPCs as well when the players out number the opponents
Last edited February 3, 2020 6:00 am, a total of 2 times
Feb 3, 2020 6:24 am
IRL, I basically do it the same as the Angry GM, except less skillfully with my transitions xD

In PBP, I don't really run any games in which initiative comes up but I play in a few and I would just prefer group iniative. All enemies act together, all PCs act together. There's already enough waiting invovled in PBP and this way, you keep it to the bare minimum.
Feb 3, 2020 1:56 pm
I am going to start doing it in my games. I can see that it is needed.
Feb 3, 2020 4:03 pm
I have to concur with bowlofspinach -- in PbP group initiatives tend to work the best
Feb 3, 2020 4:10 pm
I so character initiative separately then group their foes into broad categories. if a boss or major enemy is present he gets his own as well. When players are grouped they can go in any order so that they do not have to wait for one person. Now take this as I only usually have 4 or less players in my groups so a little more detail usually does not hold it up. The only other thing I do is if a battle is going on and a player does not post in a couple days. I will announce if action by said player is not by X time I will go for them. This gives a chance for the player to go but then either way moves combat forward.

A current battle right now has this as initiative.

2 players
hobgoblin
2 more players
Rest of the enemy.

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