5E Alternate Initiative Rules

Nebulous

Hero
So myself and another DM were mulling over some options. We don't like the default roll d20 and add Dex. It works, but it's also boring after years of the same thing, and it puts a ton of emphasis on Dex which is already super important. So we thought about stealing Perception skill as Initiative from PF2.

That works well for PCs, but monsters don't get great Perception skills in the core MM, and most aren't even listed, or they'll have a +0 or +1 Wisdom, which in this system would be a poor Initiative. In addition, he was toying with the idea of eschewing the d20 roll completely (bear with me) and using class and monster HIT DIE to replace it, and adding Perception to that.

So, your fighter types (d12, d10) would be on average higher, but still tempered by a high or low Perception. A little more math would be involved, but it takes the onus away from Dex and swingy d20. We are going to try it next session and just see what happens.

Has anyone tried something like that and how did it work/not work for you?
 
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dave2008

Legend
We replaced d20 with d12 for initiative at it is less random and added wis together with dex to init roll.
Interesting, care to share how that has worked for your group? Has it been an improvement or made initiative more interesting or fun? Or has it been simply a roll that is calculated differently?
 

akr71

Adventurer
I miss weapon speed as a factor toward initiative. I'm not saying I would bring it back, because dex/finesse weapons are already too heavily favored, but I still miss it. Penalizing heavy weapons at this point would hurt my monsters more than my players.

Off the top of my head, if I were to homebrew something, I would use a weapon's damage dice to mimic weapon speed. Sticking with highest init goes first, then the weapon speed modifier would be subtracted from the init roll. Maybe apply the average damage as a Initiative modifier?

Spells? I don't know, but perhaps the modifier is the spell level.

I would also consider allowing Intelligence to be used as a Initiative Modifier.
 

Iry

Adventurer
We tried the Three Tier initiative system. Essentially all martial classes were Fast, all primary casters were Slow, and everyone else was Medium.

So you would say "Fast is up!" then all the Fighters, Barbarians, Paladins, etc would simultaneously resolve their turns. "Medium is up!" which was mostly NPCs and monsters the DM didn't think counted as Fast or Slow. "Slow is up!" Which is the Bards, Clerics, Wizards, etc resolving their turns last.
 

Nebulous

Hero
We tried the Three Tier initiative system. Essentially all martial classes were Fast, all primary casters were Slow, and everyone else was Medium.

So you would say "Fast is up!" then all the Fighters, Barbarians, Paladins, etc would simultaneously resolve their turns. "Medium is up!" which was mostly NPCs and monsters the DM didn't think counted as Fast or Slow. "Slow is up!" Which is the Bards, Clerics, Wizards, etc resolving their turns last.
How did the monsters move?
 

dnd4vr

Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!
So myself and another DM were mulling over some options. We don't like the default roll d20 and add Dex. It works, but it's also boring after years of the same thing, and it puts a ton of emphasis on Dex which is already super important. So we thought about stealing Perception skill as Initiative from PF2.

That works well for PCs, but monsters don't get great Perception skills in the core MM, and most aren't even listed, or they'll have a +0 or +1 Wisdom, which in this system would be a poor Initiative. In addition, he was toying with the idea of eschewing the d20 roll completely (bear with me) and using class and monster HIT DIE to replace it, and adding Perception to that.

So, your fighter types (d12, d10) would be on average higher, but still tempered by a high or low Perception. A little more math would be involved, but it takes the onus away from Dex and swingy d20. We are going to try it next session and just see what happens.

Has anyone tried something like that and how did it work/not work for you?
We use DEX, INT, or WIS (player's choice) to modify the roll. Have you used the variant speed factors and other options?

There are tons of options available that are more complex, but for our table it just slows things down too much. However, things like the Greyhawk system work well, and for a while we did a variant where you rolled 2d10, using the first die for your action or move and the other for whatever the first didn't represent. But with that system, the lower rolls go first so you have to subtract DEX (or whatever).

Another option is applying proficiency bonus since more experienced characters and powerful monsters would be better able to find their "opening" earlier.

Just how complex a system are you looking for?
 

Nebulous

Hero
We use DEX, INT, or WIS (player's choice) to modify the roll. Have you used the variant speed factors and other options?

There are tons of options available that are more complex, but for our table it just slows things down too much. However, things like the Greyhawk system work well, and for a while we did a variant where you rolled 2d10, using the first die for your action or move and the other for whatever the first didn't represent. But with that system, the lower rolls go first so you have to subtract DEX (or whatever).

Another option is applying proficiency bonus since more experienced characters and powerful monsters would be better able to find their "opening" earlier.

Just how complex a system are you looking for?
Not too complex. We have new players, and too much stuff will overwhelm them. I wish weapon speed factor and segment casting (remember that??) were doable, but it would just slow stuff down too much. I don't want ANY subtraction, just simple math. And I need something viable for monsters too that is easy to calculate on the fly.
 

Nebulous

Hero
The DM would decide beforehand if a monster was Fast or Slow, like a Fey Assassin was probably Fast and an Earth Titan was probably Slow. And if it didn't thematically fit either, then they went on Medium.
Did it ever get redundant with initiatives the same all the time?

I used to use a card system for Initiative based on Dex (there's a long thread on Enworld somewhere years back) and it worked great, but I would like to try something else now.
 

dnd4vr

Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!
Not too complex. We have new players, and too much stuff will overwhelm them. I wish weapon speed factor and segment casting (remember that??) were doable, but it would just slow stuff down too much. I don't want ANY subtraction, just simple math. And I need something viable for monsters too that is easy to calculate on the fly.
Fair enough. So, you mention in the OP you don't like the swingy d20, but when you go to smaller dice you get more ties.

Here is an option I am just spit-balling:

Use your DEX, INT, or WIS modifier (your choice) and roll a d6 for each point. Add them together to get your Initiative. This makes a character with good reflexes, quick thinking, or insightful to the situation/opponents more likely to act first.

Certain conditions could penalize to aid your total number of dice. For instance, Alert could still add a flat +5 or maybe it adds a die? Each level of exhaustion could remove a die? And so on. At a minimum, you always have at least 1d6 to roll.

Is that too complex?
 

BrokenTwin

Explorer
There's plenty of initiative systems out there that I prefer over D&D's initiative system. My two favorites right now would be Savage World's card-based initiative, and Shadow of the Demon Lord's fast-turn/slow-turn system.
To elaborate, in SW each round the GM deals a card to each player, and one card for each enemy/group. If you're dealt a joker, you can go whenever you want to, and get a bonus to your action. They even have their own version of the Improved Initiative feat, where you're dealt two cards instead of one, and take the better card.
SotDL's fast/slow system is a bit more free-form. Essentially, each round is split into two phases. Choosing to act in the fast round means you can either move or use an action, but not both. PCs act before NPCs, but beyond that they act in whichever order they wish. So it goes Fast Phase (PCs then NPCs) -> Slow Phase (PCs then NPCs). This system does favour the players, so as the GM you'll need to account for that when you plan your encounters.
 

Horwath

Adventurer
Interesting, care to share how that has worked for your group? Has it been an improvement or made initiative more interesting or fun? Or has it been simply a roll that is calculated differently?
it rewarded character that invested in both abilities. You would have more consistent results.

It is disappointing when you make a character that is good in ambushes and then constantly being among the last in the initiative round. While d12 is still quite a spread in number it's less random than d20 and we decided on d12 instead of d10 as it is a nicer dice and gets almost 0 usage anyway.
 

Nebulous

Hero
Fair enough. So, you mention in the OP you don't like the swingy d20, but when you go to smaller dice you get more ties.

Here is an option I am just spit-balling:

Use your DEX, INT, or WIS modifier (your choice) and roll a d6 for each point. Add them together to get your Initiative. This makes a character with good reflexes, quick thinking, or insightful to the situation/opponents more likely to act first.

Certain conditions could penalize to aid your total number of dice. For instance, Alert could still add a flat +5 or maybe it adds a die? Each level of exhaustion could remove a die? And so on. At a minimum, you always have at least 1d6 to roll.

Is that too complex?
No, that's kind of cool. I had mentioned to the other DM that our proposed system might result in too many ties, and our backup was to rely on DEX if that happened. Which would just be another complication.

Using your example, what if each class (and monster) used their Hit Die instead of a base d6? And yes, your idea would make it easy to remove from the dice pool to reflect initiative penalties.
 

Nebulous

Hero
Another idea (good lord, there's so many ways to go about this):

Average Dex/Int/Wis together and roll that many dice as your HD type. I did that with our cleric and monk, and each would roll Init 2d8 and Init 3d8 respectively.
 

BrokenTwin

Explorer
The only problem with using dice pools for initiative is that it would bog down the game. Especially if you play a combat heavy game. Initiative should be quick to resolve and get out of the way so you can get to the engaging stuff.
 

dnd4vr

Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!
No, that's kind of cool. I had mentioned to the other DM that our proposed system might result in too many ties, and our backup was to rely on DEX if that happened. Which would just be another complication.

Using your example, what if each class (and monster) used their Hit Die instead of a base d6? And yes, your idea would make it easy to remove from the dice pool to reflect initiative penalties.
I would steer away from HD type myself since a gargantuan creature with a d20 could make for some crazy results, but you can look into it and maybe it will work out fine? Like I said, I was just throwing the idea out there. :)

I was also thinking a spell like Haste could add to the pool. Maybe monks could spend a ki point to gain a bonus d6? (or whichever die type used).

Finally, I encourage again the use of INT and WIS as well as DEX. It diminishes the importance of DEX (never a bad thing IMO).
 

dnd4vr

Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!
The only problem with using dice pools for initiative is that it would bog down the game. Especially if you play a combat heavy game. Initiative should be quick to resolve and get out of the way so you can get to the engaging stuff.
We moved to the roll once and forget it default for 5E. Rolling, even just a d20, and reorganizing the order each round, slowed things down too much. I was afraid using the same order each round would make things too predictable, but it hasn't and works great IMO.
 

Nebulous

Hero
I would steer away from HD type myself since a gargantuan creature with a d20 could make for some crazy results, but you can look into it and maybe it will work out fine? Like I said, I was just throwing the idea out there. :)

I was also thinking a spell like Haste could add to the pool. Maybe monks could spend a ki point to gain a bonus d6? (or whichever die type used).

Finally, I encourage again the use of INT and WIS as well as DEX. It diminishes the importance of DEX (never a bad thing IMO).
The HD thing the other DM brought up. It would make fighter types (and monsters) more aggressive in battle by default. Which makes sense, but I would need to see it in play. And yes to the haste and ki points and (and slow!) modifying rolls. Advantage/Disadvantage? Or remove from dice pool? The dice pool will generally be small.

As for Dex, it could even be removed, and relegated to AC and Dex saves where it's already so prevalent. But averaging it in also diminishes the importance greatly.
 

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