AD&D weapon speed vs 5e turn based combat?

cavetroll

Explorer
One of the great things in 1e/2e was weapon speed/factor which was added to the initiative roll.
In those days you would decide what to do each round first, resolve initiative adding the weapon speed or spell casting time to the init roll and then do it on your turn.
This made for both a wonderfully chaotic battle and added depth to the decision making of choosing fast weapons and quick spells (which interrupt spell casting).

However in 5e there is something to be said for streamlining combat by not having to wait for everyone to decide on their action (before a round can start).
Each person resolves their turn then can sleep until their turn is up again.

Or did that create an environment less engaging?
I certainly remember in AD&D combat was very much a "all hands on deck" scenario with people coordinating their moves.
The downside was that it didn't really account well for a changing battle.

Do you think there is a "best of both worlds" combat sequence? If so what would it look like?
 

log in or register to remove this ad


Sir Brennen

Legend
One of the great things in 1e/2e was weapon speed/factor which was added to the initiative roll.
You and I remember those early edition combats very differently. Our group eventually ditched speed factors. We never used the weapon vs. armor charts, and I don't think Gygax actually used them either.

In those days you would decide what to do each round first, resolve initiative adding the weapon speed or spell casting time to the init roll and then do it on your turn.
This made for both a wonderfully chaotic battle and added depth to the decision making of choosing fast weapons and quick spells (which interrupt spell casting).
Which often resulted in wasted turns when the thing you decided to do at the beginning of the turn becomes irrelevant later in the round.

However in 5e there is something to be said for streamlining combat by not having to wait for everyone to decide on their action (before a round can start).
Each person resolves their turn then can sleep until their turn is up again.
Strong disagree. Players stay engaged to be aware of what's happening to their character, not just what their character is doing on their turn. Every character has a Reaction, often used for opportunity attacks, and some have special class features they can do when it's not their turn. Also, knowing what the opponents are doing helps plan your action for the next round.

And even so, how does adding in speed factors keep players from disengaging until it's their turn again? If you've got that sort of player, it just slightly moves round the point they disengage each round (assuming they're not a fighter who just swings their sword each round, so their speed factor never changes.)

You want to step player engagement up a notch? Use a "players roll all the dice" variant, so they roll to see if the bad guys hit their character, not the DM.

I certainly remember in AD&D combat was very much a "all hands on deck" scenario with people coordinating their moves.
The downside was that it didn't really account well for a changing battle.
I remember very long rounds as players, especially those with spell casters, hemmed and hawed about what to cast to minimize the chance of, again, wasting a turn or getting interrupted. And often extended group discussions about the plan/coordination of actions this round, which is not realistic in the slightest, and sometimes what a given player wanted to do go overridden by the group.

It also added another thing that had to be looked up, especially if the player was casting a spell they don't often cast. Again, the fighter and rogue, using the same weapon, already know what they're going to do for the round and their speed factor is effectively static, so they get to sit around bored while the spellcasters decide what to do.

In my experience, 5e games don't lack for co-ordination between players, anyway. If the current turn order isn't optimal for certain actions, we often ask other players to Ready an action, so someone else can do something first that benefits the Readied character or the party in general. There's also plenty of other coordination "If you do this, I can do that" scenarios beyond just someone taking a Ready action.

Do you think there is a "best of both worlds" combat sequence? If so what would it look like?
I don't. Adding in speed factors each round defeats the purpose of fixed initiative that's been with us since 3E, as the order will likely change round to round anyway. You might as well go back to rolling initiative each round, in which case you've ditched 5E initiative altogether, and not using a "best of both" mechanic.

Also, speed factors for spells were part of the balancing factor in earlier editions. The spells in 5E are already balanced against other factors. Speed factors may shift that balance in unexpected ways.

And, what about all the special actions characters can take? What about monster special actions? You'd have to assign speed factors to those as well.

I miss weapon speed. At least using a dagger had a benefit
Which is another problem with speed factors - it didn't account for reach. Sure you can get up and stab someone with a dagger repeatedly faster than they can hack you with a sword, but you have to get past the sword first. Easiest to just assume reach and speed balance each other out in that scenario and ignore it.
 
Last edited:

One of the great things in 1e/2e was weapon speed/factor which was added to the initiative roll.
In those days you would decide what to do each round first, resolve initiative adding the weapon speed or spell casting time to the init roll and then do it on your turn.
This made for both a wonderfully chaotic battle and added depth to the decision making of choosing fast weapons and quick spells (which interrupt spell casting).
This is true, but I'm wondering why the focus on the specific example of speed factors. Just the declare and roll individually (optional rule) each round made this the case.
However in 5e there is something to be said for streamlining combat by not having to wait for everyone to decide on their action (before a round can start).
Each person resolves their turn then can sleep until their turn is up again.
5e has reactions, limited number of reactions. Not only do you have things to do when it is not your turn, but you have to pay attention to the whole thing to decide if now (opportunity to use your reaction) is when you want to use it, or if you want to keep it in reserve. If 5e players are sleeping until their turn, it is because they aren't engaged in the fight (which certainly may be true, but isn't 5e specific and could happen in AD&D).
Or did that create an environment less engaging?
I certainly remember in AD&D combat was very much a "all hands on deck" scenario with people coordinating their moves.
The downside was that it didn't really account well for a changing battle.

Do you think there is a "best of both worlds" combat sequence? If so what would it look like?
5e too has coordinating of moves -- help actions, setting up flanks, moving a melee character into place such that the rogue will get SA damage, moving a melee character out of place such that the (non-evoker) caster can lay down AoE damage, or moving to intercept anyone who might try to rush the rear line.

I think the best of both worlds scenario is just 5e players engaged in the combat (maybe a combination of each round's contribution having greater effect, and more reaction-action options/classes which had them- many characters only regularly have a reaction if an opponent triggers an OA)
I miss weapon speed. Atleast using a dagger had a benefit
Dagger and darts taking down the enemy spellcaster's spell was definitely a treat. Or occasionally dropping a foe before they could act (a dagger's low damage kinda putting a wrench in that one). I don't recall it happening enough to justify a dagger though (although we still did, because tunnel fighting).
 

cavetroll

Explorer
This is true, but I'm wondering why the focus on the specific example of speed factors. Just the declare and roll individually (optional rule) each round made this the case.
Because you added your speed factor to your initiative roll. It was quite critical if you were facing an enemy spellcaster. You could cast cone of cold for heavy AOE damage, but which penalized your initiative roll by 5 or you could cast magic missile and have a high change of interrupting their spell.

It also added another thing that had to be looked up, especially if the player was casting a spell they don't often cast.
Yeah my group knew all their spells, and combat went 5 times faster than critical roles combat which is a lot of looking up stuff and figuring out their actions.


Which is another problem with speed factors - it didn't account for reach. Sure you can get up and stab someone with a dagger repeatedly faster than they can hack you with a sword, but you have to get past the sword first. Easiest to just assume reach and speed balance each other out in that scenario and ignore it.

Thats probably the strongest reason to ignore speed factors.
 

Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
One additional factor - because it uses fixed cyclic initiative, 5e makes frequent use of durations "until the start|end of your next turn", as a shorthand for "this will be in play for exactly one of everyone's turns". Imagine a wizard being able to extend their Shield because they picked a slow action with a worse initiative the following round and it affecting the create that started it again. Or a monk stunning someone but they pick a slow action so it goes off after the monk's initiative and they don't lose an action at all.

You can make changes and preserve the "affects everyone exactly once/X times", but you need an additional layer of bookkeeping that 5e doesn't provide because there was no need with cyclic initiative, and that worked well with their streamlining.
 

Jer

Legend
Supporter
One additional factor - because it uses fixed cyclic initiative, 5e makes frequent use of durations "until the start|end of your next turn", as a shorthand for "this will be in play for exactly one of everyone's turns". Imagine a wizard being able to extend their Shield because they picked a slow action with a worse initiative the following round and it affecting the create that started it again. Or a monk stunning someone but they pick a slow action so it goes off after the monk's initiative and they don't lose an action at all.
I mean, from a game perspective that's an interesting tactical choice if it isn't breaking anything else.

We actually use Balsera initiative in our 13th age games which have a similar "end of your next turn" sorts of mechanics and it adds another tactical decision for the players when they're deciding who to throw the initiative to. It works fine for us, but I don't know how much would break in a wider playtest beyond our table.
 

cavetroll

Explorer
One additional factor - because it uses fixed cyclic initiative, 5e makes frequent use of durations "until the start|end of your next turn", as a shorthand for "this will be in play for exactly one of everyone's turns". Imagine a wizard being able to extend their Shield because they picked a slow action with a worse initiative the following round and it affecting the create that started it again. Or a monk stunning someone but they pick a slow action so it goes off after the monk's initiative and they don't lose an action at all.

You can make changes and preserve the "affects everyone exactly once/X times", but you need an additional layer of bookkeeping that 5e doesn't provide because there was no need with cyclic initiative, and that worked well with their streamlining.
Yes thats the reason it works well with 5e, but you don't have to make your durations "until your next turn'. I actually find it adds a little complexity, (until start of your turn, targets turn, end of casters turn etc) that I am trying to erase. So I am thinking making durations until the end of the next round, or maybe until end of this round for some special stuff.
 

Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
Yes thats the reason it works well with 5e, but you don't have to make your durations "until your next turn'. I actually find it adds a little complexity, (until start of your turn, targets turn, end of casters turn etc) that I am trying to erase. So I am thinking making durations until the end of the next round, or maybe until end of this round for some special stuff.
Exactly - as long as you are replacing it and not relying on the default 5e streamlining of duration it works out.

But I would be very wary of what you propose. Durations "until the end of next round" means that a character can get twice the effect if they go early in the round, making initiative even more important. Which reinforces DEX's importance, and it's already an extremely powerful ability score. I would not work out a system where foes or allies can get affected more because the originator invested in more DEX.
 

cavetroll

Explorer
Exactly - as long as you are replacing it and not relying on the default 5e streamlining of duration it works out.

But I would be very wary of what you propose. Durations "until the end of next round" means that a character can get twice the effect if they go early in the round, making initiative even more important. Which reinforces DEX's importance, and it's already an extremely powerful ability score. I would not work out a system where foes or allies can get affected more because the originator invested in more DEX.
Right good point, I'll have to think about it some more. I get your point with the tracking nbr times affected. Maybe fixed initiative and having all spells last until start of casters turn is the way to go.
 

MGibster

Legend
One of the great things in 1e/2e was weapon speed/factor which was added to the initiative roll.
I always thought weapon speeds were both cumbersome, made very little sense, and just made combat less fun. Having to factor in weapon speed every time we rolled for initiative, which was every round back then for my group at least, just slowed things down. And it just doesn't make sense. Let's take a look at two weapons and their speeds.

Halberd - WS 9
Dagger - WS 2

I know everyone might be thinking, "Of course a dagger is faster than a halberd." Okay, that might be true. But if you're armed with a halberd and I'm armed with a dagger which one of us is going to get hit first? I am because you're going to have the opportunity stab, hammer, or slice me long before I get close enough to stab you with my tiny dagger. The halberd should have a higher weapon speed to represent the advantage of reach.

WS was an interesting idea that was poorly implemented.
 

nevin

Hero
One of the great things in 1e/2e was weapon speed/factor which was added to the initiative roll.
In those days you would decide what to do each round first, resolve initiative adding the weapon speed or spell casting time to the init roll and then do it on your turn.
This made for both a wonderfully chaotic battle and added depth to the decision making of choosing fast weapons and quick spells (which interrupt spell casting).

However in 5e there is something to be said for streamlining combat by not having to wait for everyone to decide on their action (before a round can start).
Each person resolves their turn then can sleep until their turn is up again.

Or did that create an environment less engaging?
I certainly remember in AD&D combat was very much a "all hands on deck" scenario with people coordinating their moves.
The downside was that it didn't really account well for a changing battle.

Do you think there is a "best of both worlds" combat sequence? If so what would it look like?
AD&D 1e the difference in initiative determined how many "FULL ROUND" melee attacks the melee types got on you. I don't remember the limit but I do remember that it was a reason a lot of rangers and rogues used light armor and weapons. three rounds of full melee in a surprise round was brutal. I've seen both DM baddies and whole parties drop in the surprise round under those rules. 2e it just gave you an initiative bonus or penalty effectively.
 

cavetroll

Explorer
AD&D 1e the difference in initiative determined how many "FULL ROUND" melee attacks the melee types got on you. I don't remember the limit but I do remember that it was a reason a lot of rangers and rogues used light armor and weapons. three rounds of full melee in a surprise round was brutal. I've seen both DM baddies and whole parties drop in the surprise round under those rules. 2e it just gave you an initiative bonus or penalty effectively.
I've never heard of that rule. 1e/2e that we played there was a surprise round with one round of attacks, though I don't recall surprise being that common.
 


TarionzCousin

Second Most Angelic Devil Ever
Initiative was a d10. If you rolled over a ten (die roll plus weapon speed) you didn't get to go in the current round; your total rolled over.

But "natural weapons" from most monsters, had a Speed Factor of plus zero.

That meant most monsters attacked more often than PC's. My players really, really didn't enjoy that.
 

cavetroll

Explorer
Initiative was a d10. If you rolled over a ten (die roll plus weapon speed) you didn't get to go in the current round; your total rolled over.

But "natural weapons" from most monsters, had a Speed Factor of plus zero.

That meant most monsters attacked more often than PC's. My players really, really didn't enjoy that.
That sounds like an evil home brew rule.
 


Sir Brennen

Legend
That sounds like an evil home brew rule.
It was actually one of the three options for initiative outlined in 2nd Edition. One option was for the group to roll a d10, so one number for everyone, then weapon and spell speed factors were added to that to determine final order. I’m not sure about the “rolling over” bit, because I don’t think there was an upper limit to init.

Another option was the more common practice of everyone rolling their own initiative (still d10) then adding speed factors.

Note speed factors were also optional in 2e.

Multiple attacks were handled a little differently. All characters get their first attacks in initiative order. Then everyone with a second attack went, still in order. Then third attacks, if any. That might be where Nevin got the impression of a “full round” being like three normal rounds for surprise.
 

cavetroll

Explorer
No. Per 2E DMG if I recall correctly.

We were teenagers; we followed all the rules.
It was actually one of the three options for initiative outlined in 2nd Edition. One option was for the group to roll a d10, so one number for everyone, then weapon and spell speed factors were added to that to determine final order. I’m not sure about the “rolling over” bit, because I don’t think there was an upper limit to init.

Another option was the more common practice of everyone rolling their own initiative (still d10) then adding speed factors.

Note speed factors were also optional in 2e.

Multiple attacks were handled a little differently. All characters get their first attacks in initiative order. Then everyone with a second attack went, still in order. Then third attacks, if any. That might be where Nevin got the impression of a “full round” being like three normal rounds for surprise.
Yeah we used d10+ speed factors, the rolling over to the next round was the piece that is not in the 2e Dmg, I would have remembered that, because that would change everything. I have a 2e handbook I don't see anything for rollover.
 

Sir Brennen

Legend
Yeah we used d10+ speed factors, the rolling over to the next round was the piece that is not in the 2e Dmg, I would have remembered that, because that would change everything. I have a 2e handbook I don't see anything for rollover.
That may have been from 1e, where rounds were further subdivided into segments, and there were only 10 segments in a round, so init + speed factor could roll over if they were higher than 10.

Also, in 1E “total surprise” (as opposed to just “surprise”) allowed missile fire to be performed at triple rate, so Nevin might not have been totally off on that.
 

Dungeon Delver's Guide

An Advertisement

Advertisement4

Top