5E Alternate Initiative Rules

Don Durito

Adventurer
I don't know why everyone thinks Greatswords and the like should be slower.

I was seeing the samething back when the Greyhawk initiative thing was being talked about.

It doesn't make any sense. Big weapons are not slower. Just try to hit the guy holding the Greatsword with your dagger before he hits you first.

If you're going to distinguish weapons by speed than the primary thing of importance is reach.
 

dnd4vr

Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!
I don't know why everyone thinks Greatswords and the like should be slower.

I was seeing the samething back when the Greyhawk initiative thing was being talked about.

It doesn't make any sense. Big weapons are not slower. Just try to hit the guy holding the Greatsword with your dagger before he hits you first.

If you're going to distinguish weapons by speed than the primary thing of importance is reach.
Good point, and what a lot of people fail to also realize with two-handed weapons is that with both hands you can apply greater leverage and thus greater speed. A quick flick of your wrists and the tip of that greatsword is moving faster than you can move a dagger in a single hand.

Each weapon was designed with a purpose in mind. As far as initiative is concerned, IMO, any possible argument for the slower speed of a larger weapon would be offset by its reach advantage and use of both hands. Thus, in terms of mechanics, I would not apply a penalty or bonus to most weapons.
 

Don Durito

Adventurer
Here's an idea, taken from Savage Worlds.

Use playing cards (oversized ones a better). Every player and every monster draws a card every round for initiative. They put the card in front of them so you can easily see at a glance who is next. The joker goes whenever they want and can interrupt anyone.

If they have the Alert feat they draw two and choose the best.

Ties are impossible.

Used cards go in a discard pile so you go through the deck.

Additional options.
Don't reshuffle deck at the end of combat. Do it during a short rest or long rest only. If the deck runs out and has to be reshuffled all players regain their short rest abilitilies (or just one if you want to be stricter).
 

Garthanos

Arcadian Knight
We use DEX, INT, or WIS (player's choice) to modify the roll. Have you used the variant speed factors and other options?
I was considering making that an option specific to the fighter others may simply react to combat.... but often build dependent the fighter plans for it and is always aware of it or eagerly awaits it (I thought why not let Charisma as spirited aggression do the thing too)

I think this idea gives initiative more implied story.

Another option is applying proficiency bonus since more experienced characters and powerful monsters would be better able to find their "opening" earlier.
And there is the other component I was considering though I was again considering if it should be certain classes or subclasses treated as proficient in initiative (Fighter, Valor Bard ,Barbarian, Ranger or Paladin might all have proficiency out of the gate.) . And others being able to acquire that proficiency as well as the attribute of choice as part of a feat
OR even better perhaps existing skills might be seen as applying to initiative. Investigation, Perception and Insight (maybe Deception?). This removes needing a special skill for it.

Initiative as a more normal attribute/action check and the variant Skills with Different Abilities we rather get what we are talking about without any additional concerns.
 
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Nebulous

Hero
Here's an idea, taken from Savage Worlds.

Use playing cards (oversized ones a better). Every player and every monster draws a card every round for initiative. They put the card in front of them so you can easily see at a glance who is next. The joker goes whenever they want and can interrupt anyone.

If they have the Alert feat they draw two and choose the best.

Ties are impossible.

Used cards go in a discard pile so you go through the deck.

Additional options.
Don't reshuffle deck at the end of combat. Do it during a short rest or long rest only. If the deck runs out and has to be reshuffled all players regain their short rest abilitilies (or just one if you want to be stricter).
I used a initiative deck for years now and really liked it. I spent 12 hours building it; art, templates, laminating, custom PC cards. Everybody got 1 card by default, and high initiatives and feats earned bonus cards, so you had higher odds of getting pulled per round. Shuffle every round. I loved and the players mostly loved it, it was fast and zero to do other than shuffle and pull card. Sometimes they didn't like it when an ability was "last until end of your next turn" and their turn came up fast and was useless, but they never complained when the wizard went twice in a row and rattled off two chain lightning spells.
 

toucanbuzz

Adventurer
I don't know why everyone thinks Greatswords and the like should be slower....
A revised edition of the AD&D Player's Handbook had a subsection explaining the rationale, which was titled "Momentum." I'm not saying it solved everything, but the explanation was that in the 1 minute (back then) that was 1 round, weapon speed wasn't completely about who got to strike first. In 1 minute, there's going to be a lot of back and forth and your attack roll represented the best attack in that minute. Rationalizing a heavy weapon took more recovery time after swinging, the lighter weapon was given an advantage.

I think the issue was more a mechanical one. Having lighter weapons tend to go first provided an incentive to use light weapons, since all weapons scaled off Strength, versus only using heavy hitter weapons. Otherwise, in AD&D there wasn't any incentive, barring class restrictions, to ever use a short sword versus a heavy mace.
 

Nebulous

Hero
A revised edition of the AD&D Player's Handbook had a subsection explaining the rationale, which was titled "Momentum." I'm not saying it solved everything, but the explanation was that in the 1 minute (back then) that was 1 round, weapon speed wasn't completely about who got to strike first. In 1 minute, there's going to be a lot of back and forth and your attack roll represented the best attack in that minute. Rationalizing a heavy weapon took more recovery time after swinging, the lighter weapon was given an advantage.

I think the issue was more a mechanical one. Having lighter weapons tend to go first provided an incentive to use light weapons, since all weapons scaled off Strength, versus only using heavy hitter weapons. Otherwise, in AD&D there wasn't any incentive, barring class restrictions, to ever use a short sword versus a heavy mace.
It would also help, maybe, in D&D if fighter based classes did more damage based on their expertise with a weapon than necessarily the die damage and strength. I think 13th Age did this with weapons all doing the same damage based on your Hit Die (maybe?). I can't remember exactly, but a fighter stabbing you in the stomach with a dagger was much worse than a wizard stabbing you.
 

Zaukrie

Adventurer
I don't know why everyone thinks Greatswords and the like should be slower.

I was seeing the samething back when the Greyhawk initiative thing was being talked about.

It doesn't make any sense. Big weapons are not slower. Just try to hit the guy holding the Greatsword with your dagger before he hits you first.

If you're going to distinguish weapons by speed than the primary thing of importance is reach.
Because we aren't necessarily trying to simulate the real world........but come up with new ways of doing initiative.

I have about 90% of a PDF written on alternative initiatives. This thread is interesting, and I'll maybe change a few things based on it. Thanks for all the interesting ideas/comments.
 

Don Durito

Adventurer
I think the issue was more a mechanical one. Having lighter weapons tend to go first provided an incentive to use light weapons, since all weapons scaled off Strength, versus only using heavy hitter weapons. Otherwise, in AD&D there wasn't any incentive, barring class restrictions, to ever use a short sword versus a heavy mace.
It is, but it becomes an issue of tactical transparency. While it's asking a lot to actually emutale real world fighting or tactical considerations I think it's a bad idea to do the complete opposite. Even when I knew absolutely nothing about medieval combat I could still reason that if I was expecting an attack by a big monster I would likely want a spear, because that would dramatically increase my chance of hitting it first preventing it getting to me - it's why Boars are hunted with boar spears. If you tell me that I get to stab the Ettin with the club first because I am holding a dagger...that doesn't really make any sense, and I literally don't have a clear picture of what is happening (why did the dagger make the difference)?

If a new player should reason, "I think I want a spear, because I want to keep the monsters at bay and get them before they get me first", I don't want to have to say, "well in that case what you really want is a dagger".

So if we're giving a mechanical incentive for something, it's better to give a mechanical incentive for the thing that you would logically expect to have one in this particular situation.

I think giving mechanical incentives to light weapons is difficult - because actually there is very little logical reason to have one (the main historical incentives were they were light, portable and sometimes concealable). It's probably better to just remove penalties if we want to incentivise them.
 
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Don Durito

Adventurer
It would also help, maybe, in D&D if fighter based classes did more damage based on their expertise with a weapon than necessarily the die damage and strength. I think 13th Age did this with weapons all doing the same damage based on your Hit Die (maybe?). I can't remember exactly, but a fighter stabbing you in the stomach with a dagger was much worse than a wizard stabbing you.
Rogue in 13th Age do D8 with light weapons such as daggers. Fighters only do D4 with a dagger, but they do D8 with longswords and other single handed martial weapons. If a Rogue uses a Longsword they don't get any increase in damage (still d8 but they have a -2 penalty to hit - basically they're not proficient).

Wizards actually do the same damage as a Fighter with a dagger, but they have an attack penalty if they try to use something larger in one hand.
 

ChaosOS

Explorer
I just use the Savage Worlds cards every round. There's not many things that key off initiative, and my players know walking in that dex isn't baseline useful for initiative. Super quick to handle on roll20 where I usually play as well.
 

toucanbuzz

Adventurer
…..I would likely want a spear, because that would dramatically increase my chance of hitting it first and getting to me.....I think giving mechanical incentives to light weapons is difficult - because actually there is very little logical reason to have one (the main historical incentives were they were light, portable and sometimes concealable)….
The Hackmaster game has a "reach" rating for each weapon that breaks ties on initiative, but totally agree reach matters. I use a homebrew from 3rd edition of granting attacks of opportunity if you have 10'+ reach and your opponent does not when entering your threat zone. It reflects the advantage of reach, though accounting for the reach of each weapon probably is beyond D&D's scope.

Realistically and historically, warriors all carried daggers. They used that dagger only for closeup grapples as it could maneuver through gaps in armor that big weapons could not. If we're going to homebrew, giving a dagger advantage on damage rolls when grappling might be appropriate.

I've gotten a bit off topic from the OP.

Addressing the deck of cards, we're still using a somewhat randomized system, just without dice, and providing tension by never assuming it's a set turn each round. That's probably the #1 utility for alternative initiative rules: enhancing the thrill by unpredictable turns.
 

Anoth

Explorer
Yeah, situations like that can be annoying but a Ready action handles it well enough IMO.
Can you ready an action before initiative is rolled. How would that work in the situation I described. I am very curious how this works b
 

JeffB

Hero
Based on the way this convo is going- you folks need to look at Runequest- or google/check out "The Perrin Conventions"- Steve's house rules for OD&D that eventually became RQ.
 

Nebulous

Hero
Based on the way this convo is going- you folks need to look at Runequest- or google/check out "The Perrin Conventions"- Steve's house rules for OD&D that eventually became RQ.
For convenience:


I'd never heard of this.
 

Nebulous

Hero
I still haven't implemented the Fast/Slow initiative with my group, it would vastly bog down play in the middle of a session introducing new concepts. I need to do it practice outside of game time.
 

dnd4vr

Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!
What drives me crazy is when I play with a group. The fighter says, “I am opening the door and going to rush in and attack”. So the fighter opens the door and rushes in. There is even a marching order of what order the group will rush in. The Dm says roll initiative and then like the last person who said he was going to enter the room moves and attacks first. So I stopped using individual initiative for that reason. I let the players choose their order of initiative between them with group initiative
Yeah, situations like that can be annoying but a Ready action handles it well enough IMO.
Can you ready an action before initiative is rolled. How would that work in the situation I described. I am very curious how this works b
I'll give you a simple example. B (Barbarian), C (Cleric), F (Fighter), and R (Rogue) are going to break in a door. C will cast Silence once he can see beyond the open door if he spies the wizard they are looking for. B and R will rush in to attack when F opens the door.

The players decide the best order is F, C, B, then R, and roll initiative getting:

B
C
R
F
the DM is last.

1. B uses his Ready action to move into the room once the Fighter opens the door.
2. C uses his Ready action to cast Silence if he sees the wizard through the open door.
3. R uses his Ready action to move into the room once the Fighter opens the door.
4. F opens the door (as part of his movement),...

Since the triggering event has occurred, all of the ready actions are resolved before F continues:
--- B uses his reaction to take his Ready action and moves into he room.
--- C doesn't see the Wizard, so the spell slot is lost. (Technically, he can't cast Silence because the trigger was when he saw the Wizard, not when the door was opened. If the trigger was simply the opened door, he could cast his spell using his reaction.)
--- R uses his reaction to take his Ready action and moves into the room.

... F can now continue his turn since the reactions are over. F moves and attacks the ogre, which B and R are already engaged with.
5. The DM has the ogre roar and attack.

This is pretty much RAW as I see it. The problem with Ready action is it costs your reaction and you can only do one thing: take an action or move. Not both. So, B and R can move in but can't attack.

Now, if B and R had ranged weapons and used their Ready actions to attack once the door was open, they could both take and resolve the Attack action (including Extra Attack if the Barbarian has it).

Some tables find this really limiting as it is not the same as Delaying your action from prior editions. With Ready action, the order of initiative remains constant. So, after the DM resolves the ogre attack, round 2 begins with B acting first. With Delaying actions from other editions, your position in the order moves to the place when you finally take your delayed action.

Let me know if you have any questions.
 

dnd4vr

Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!
Why are you rolling initiative before you open the door?
I'll let @Anoth answer that, it was his scenario.

Personally, as a DM, I wouldn't call for initiative until after the door was opened and I determined if either the PCs or the ogre were surprised (not likely but it depends on what is going on).
 

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