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

cavetroll

Explorer
Doing some more research, the professor dungeoncraft dude did a video about no initiative

but in the comments said he changed it to a d6 initiative system, but I can't find any info on that.
 

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Li Shenron

Legend
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?
Unfortunately I never got to play AD&D, all the editions I have played (BECMI, 3e, 4e, 5e and some OSR) had cyclic initiative. I only had a glimpse at speed factor in some D&D-based CRPG like Baldur's Gate, or at least I think they used speed factor...

Anyway I find the idea interesting. Did you know that the 5e DMG actually has Speed Factor as a variant initiative rules module? I wonder how many groups actually tried that out.
 

cavetroll

Explorer
Did you know that the 5e DMG actually has Speed Factor as a variant initiative rules module? I wonder how many groups actually tried that out.
I didn't know that! Interesting, reading a little write up on it


it didn't really speak to how it affects spell durations but its interesting.
 


Mannahnin

Scion of Murgen (He/Him)
Doing some more research, the professor dungeoncraft dude did a video about no initiative

but in the comments said he changed it to a d6 initiative system, but I can't find any info on that.
The concept of not rolling initiative at all is an interesting one. I've been playing in an online OD&D game for a year or so and since OD&D had no rule for rolling initiative, neither do we. The DM adjudicates it first based on weapon reach/length when closing to combat, and then generally shorter/faster weapon goes first in subsequent rounds. With room for judgement calls based on circumstance.

Professor DM has since talked in other videos about having reverted to d6 side-based initiative, like in 1980s Basic D&D. He's said that he likes the unpredictability and swinginess of it, and how it creates this unifying, dramatic moment at the start of each combat round when ALL the players are focused on this one roll and what it portends for the whole group.
 

cavetroll

Explorer
Professor DM has since talked in other videos about having reverted to d6 side-based initiative, like in 1980s Basic D&D. He's said that he likes the unpredictability and swinginess of it, and how it creates this unifying, dramatic moment at the start of each combat round when ALL the players are focused on this one roll and what it portends for the whole group.
Right, I was trying to find some specifics on his implementation, now I found this video:


This is what I like, everyone decides their action first, d6 per side, (loaded bows go first), spellcasters con check if hit, etc

I think this better translates the chaotic nature of everyone attacking at the same time and it creates more of a team atmosphere, and it makes all decision making occur at the same time, reducing the combat time. In the 2e days each round was fast (though there would be more than the 4/5 rounds of 5e) and it just felt more exciting than 5e combat.
 

Sir Brennen

Legend
The concept of not rolling initiative at all is an interesting one. I've been playing in an online OD&D game for a year or so and since OD&D had no rule for rolling initiative, neither do we. The DM adjudicates it first based on weapon reach/length when closing to combat, and then generally shorter/faster weapon goes first in subsequent rounds. With room for judgement calls based on circumstance.

Professor DM has since talked in other videos about having reverted to d6 side-based initiative, like in 1980s Basic D&D. He's said that he likes the unpredictability and swinginess of it, and how it creates this unifying, dramatic moment at the start of each combat round when ALL the players are focused on this one roll and what it portends for the whole group.
Group initiative seems to me of having the drawback of ALL the players having to sit and wait while the DM goes through the actions of all of the NPCs. Players may make some reactive rolls, like a save, but mostly it's just marking off hit points if a blow lands.

If the problem is players disengaging when it's not their turn, this seems to me like it would just compound it. Especially if it's a game where the DM has to reference/roll on tables or look stuff up in the rules.

And on the players' turn, who goes first really doesn't matter as much, as the entire other side are now just sitting ducks. Not much is going to change in combat during the players' turn except maybe one or your allies kills your target before you. If the goal is to increase strategizing, this seems like it would do the opposite.

Of course, it would also depend on other factors in the system how smoothly it'd work. A game where the PCs rarely face a number of opponents greater than party size, and usually fewer, or the system supports robust solo creatures, should go faster during the DM's turn.

Pointing to The Fantasy Trip again, it uses a group initiative roll, with the winning side getting the option to move first (meaning they can allow the other side to move and then respond to it.) After that, however, actions occur in Dexterity order, with ties going to those on the side that won initiative (ties on the same side roll a die, or the GM adjudicates.) A couple of exceptions include polearms striking first due to reach. But overall, the turn order is more interwoven, requiring more attention and strategy on the players' part.
 

Mannahnin

Scion of Murgen (He/Him)
Group initiative seems to me of having the drawback of ALL the players having to sit and wait while the DM goes through the actions of all of the NPCs. Players may make some reactive rolls, like a save, but mostly it's just marking off hit points if a blow lands.

If the problem is players disengaging when it's not their turn, this seems to me like it would just compound it. Especially if it's a game where the DM has to reference/roll on tables or look stuff up in the rules.

And on the players' turn, who goes first really doesn't matter as much, as the entire other side are now just sitting ducks. Not much is going to change in combat during the players' turn except maybe one or your allies kills your target before you. If the goal is to increase strategizing, this seems like it would do the opposite.
This has not historically been my experience, but certainly some players are slow no matter what system you use.

I have found that side-based initiative tends to keep my groups pretty engaged as they're all involved in coordinating actions on their turn, and they're all potential targets when I'm moving and resolving my bad guys' actions. Each of the PCs in the system I'm currently running has at least one off-turn ability they can use as well, to interrupt or respond to an enemy, so they're alert to use those. And I am normally quick in resolving the opposition's actions.

Pointing to The Fantasy Trip again, it uses a group initiative roll, with the winning side getting the option to move first (meaning they can allow the other side to move and then respond to it.) After that, however, actions occur in Dexterity order, with ties going to those on the side that won initiative (ties on the same side roll a die, or the GM adjudicates.) A couple of exceptions include polearms striking first due to reach. But overall, the turn order is more interwoven, requiring more attention and strategy on the players' part.
Yeah, I like some of the phasic systems a lot. I'm also using Dex as the required order of action on tied initiative rolls with the d6 side-based system, so one round in six the players don't get their normal coordinated turn. They have to go in the order I call out their names. Which I've found to be a fun bit of disruption to have one sixth of the time.
 

It's different but not nicer in AD&D 1E... (DMG 66)
Lowest intiative+WSF goes first.
If A faces B and A's initiative is half or less of B's, or at least 5 under, they get 2 attacks. Under by 10? 3 attacks against B. BEFORE B can attack back.

DOesn't apply when charging, tho.
Again, that's not quite right/clear. Initiative in 1E is side vs. side. Each side rolls 1d6. Side with higher roll goes first (because reading the initiative dice is "backwards" - where the higher roll YOUR side makes is indicative of the later segment in which the opponents get to attack, not when your side attacks on the earlier segment indicated by the opponent's roll). If the winning side have multiple attacks then they begin by taking all their FIRST attacks, then the opposing side takes their first attacks, and back and forth until all multiple attacks are resolved. In particular, for 1-on-1 matchups different procedures are given, essentially resolving three general modes of attack - melee, missiles, and spells - by particular procedures for each combination. For melee vs. melee, you DON'T use WSF at all unless the d6 rolls are first tied, then WSF of the weapon is used to determine who goes first - and multiple attacks are still then mostly back and forth. And then there's a big chunk of complication for what to do with timing when one side has a LOT more attacks than the opponent, getting multiple hits in before the opponents get their first/only one.

Then there's the rule of having melee weapons with significantly mis-matched WSF. That rule DOESN'T give anyone free/bonus attacks - it is still ONLY about timing of attacks you already have. In those cases it is simply permitting a significantly faster weapon to take more than one attack - if they have multiple attacks to take - before the opponent even gets their first. When both sides, for example, still only have one attack each, then that rule has no effect - the die rolls are initially tied in order to even bring WSF into consideration, and the faster weapon attacks first - but then that's all, because there aren't then additional attacks whose timing needs to be determined. It only changes the timing, and that's only when multiple attacks are even possessed by one side or the other, and ALL THAT only when the initiative die rolls are already tied.

But yes, charging disregards die rolls and wsf and all that and instead compares weapon LENGTH to determine which opponent attacks first.

All this and more is what makes BTB, detailed 1E combat so easily misinterpreted, or possible to interpret in multiple ways, and generally as obfuscatory as possible - and one of the very good reasons that so many people just disregard weapon speeds in 1E.
 

Sir Brennen

Legend
I have found that side-based initiative tends to keep my groups pretty engaged as they're all involved in coordinating actions on their turn, and they're all potential targets when I'm moving and resolving my bad guys' actions. Each of the PCs in the system I'm currently running has at least one off-turn ability they can use as well, to interrupt or respond to an enemy, so they're alert to use those. And I am normally quick in resolving the opposition's actions.
I'm just not seeing how side-based initiative actually improves 1) player engagement or 2) player strategy (or the other goals sprinkled though the thread, such as speed of combat and "realism".) Especially when bolting it onto a system like 5E - the game the OP is thinking of modifying -where individual initiative is assumed in the rules.

If you told me group initiative in 5E keeps the players alert because, during the NPC-side turn, they're all potential targets and they have abilities to interrupt or respond to an enemy, well, I'd just respond "that's already true with individual initiative."

I'm not arguing that there's no place for it. But it needs to be part of a system that's built around the group initiative as one of its core assumptions, which 5E is not.

In addition to the mixed version in The Fantasy Trip, I mentioned I'm also playing Mork Borg, which is very rules light and used group/side initiative. And that worked fine. Largely in part because characters and NPCs don't have more than a couple abilities the player or DM needs to track, not a lot of enemies at once, and solo enemies scale well.
 

cavetroll

Explorer
Especially when bolting it onto a system like 5E - the game the OP is thinking of modifying -where individual initiative is assumed in the rules.
I'm not modifying 5e, I'm just grabbing everything I like from all editions and/or any game. I understand as you make one choice you may have to modify other choices. e.g. initiative order changing has implications on how you track spell duration.

If you watch the professors video it describes why group initiative is so much fun - everyone is gathered around that one roll, they must win it, DMs rolls a 4, they need a 5 or a 6... YES THEY DID IT. His experience mirrors the kinds of play I had in college.
 

Mannahnin

Scion of Murgen (He/Him)
I'm just not seeing how side-based initiative actually improves 1) player engagement or 2) player strategy (or the other goals sprinkled though the thread, such as speed of combat and "realism".) Especially when bolting it onto a system like 5E - the game the OP is thinking of modifying -where individual initiative is assumed in the rules.
I am not addressing (in this thread, so far) how it would work with 5E. This is TTRPGs General, right? As we're all aware, spell and effect durations in 5E are written with its individual initiative system in mind, so implementing group initiative in that game necessitates much broader changes.

If you don't see it, you don't see it, I guess. 🤷‍♂️

Whether side based initiative is faster... I would tend to say that the fastest system is just going around the table. One I've seen implemented is to roll side-based initiative at the start of combat, then just go around the table in the same order all fight. My system definitely involves some kibbitzing and debating at times, but it's generally all in one discussion on any given round, rather than there being debates and discussion about optimal strategy on each PC's turn, as sometimes happens with sequential individual initiative, at least with some groups.

Whether it's more realistic... I suppose it kind of depends what you're trying to simulate. If you want to give some fog of war and confusion and simulate some of the lack of perfect information you see in real combat, and in some fiction, requiring action declarations at the start of the round can definitely give you some of that.

I don't think letting my players coordinate their turns and take them in whatever order they like 5 rounds out of 6 is particularly realistic, but I think it's generally in service to fun and to letting their characters act in a heroic and coordinated manner, with good teamwork, and most of the time it runs pretty fast.


In addition to the mixed version in The Fantasy Trip, I mentioned I'm also playing Mork Borg, which is very rules light and used group/side initiative. And that worked fine. Largely in part because characters and NPCs don't have more than a couple abilities the player or DM needs to track, not a lot of enemies at once, and solo enemies scale well.
Generally this is true of the 5 Torches Deep & B/X mashup I run, as well. Though I do sometimes have a lot of enemies in play.

Speaking of Mork Borg, that reminds me of something I almost brought up in my prior post. Making the players roll defense instead of rolling attacks against them is another great way to help maintain player attention/engagement. :)
 

nevin

Hero
The issue though is that with 10 people in battle in 5e its like chess, everyone move is stopping to think about every single possibility based on positioning, and everyone is waiting on that one person.

In 2e the DM could poll everyone for their action and collect them as each person decided, all players are thinking at the same time, a much more efficient use of time.

Look at any movie with general melee, everything is happening at the same time, two people might stab the same enemy simultaneously.

But I agree 5e is more tactical/strategic, which is preferable over realism.

Perhaps a compromise is rolling a d6 for initiative (plus modifiers) and everyone that has the same initiative roll, act simultaneously, creating more chaos and confusion (potentially two combatants can kill each other on their turn).
honestly I think the push to go more tactical is in response to all the screaming for balance in modern games. It gives a structure that gives the illusion of a controlled system but in reality it just makes for a loooong fight. I hate it when it takes an hour or more to resolve large battles. It's like being trapped at a perfect baseball game waiting for someone to hit that damned ball.
 

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