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5E Concurrent initiative variant; Everybody declares/Everybody resolves [WAS Simultaneous Initiative]

I must say I'm intrigued. Trying to wrap my brain around...Why can't Vlad use his reaction to cast Shield? Is it because he was readying an action? The round before he just readied an action to cast Chill Touch, I didn't see him using a reaction.
From a mechanical perspective, it's because he's already used his reaction on Round 2 to cast Chill Touch, and you only get one reaction per round.

From a fictional perspective, he's still finishing up casting Chill Touch when the arrow thunks into the wagon right below his ribs. He can't cast Chill Touch and Shield simultaneously.
 

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Rune

Once A Fool
Simultaneous initiative

I also run 5e with simultaneous initiative. (What does WEGO stand for, by the way? My Google-fu failed me on that particular acronym.)

Because 5e cares a lot about action economy, I codified a few things in case they come up. In practice, they never do, but maybe one day.

I do a much looser version of the inverse intelligence declaration in which I only care about outliers (significantly smarter or dumber than the average PC). If the PC is also an outlier that might also factor in. In theory. My players never wait to hear what the NPCs are doing anyway.

Once combat starts, all action occurs simultaneously, except:

• Readied actions allow for opposed initiative checks when relevant.

• All other reactions happen immediately when triggered - no initiative check needed.

• Felling blows require opposed initiative checks to determine if the death or unconsciousness occurs immediately or kicks in at the end of the round.

• Mutually exclusive outcomes that were not deliberately opposed (which would require a readied action) may require opposed checks to determine the outcome. An example of this would be if two creatures, unaware of each other's presence, both intended to sneak over to the Holy Relic of Macguffinville and pocket it.


Obviously, things can get chaotic. To mitigate this a little bit, a combatant can also use their reaction (if they still have one and haven't yet acted) to change a course of action as things unfold during a round.
 
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Harzel

Adventurer
[MENTION=6787650]Hemlock[/MENTION], I hope you are ok with me resurrecting this thread and summoning you. I wanted to experiment with using simultaneous initiative, so yesterday I used the last few minutes of a session to talk with my players about it. They were amenable to trying it, so to try to see how it would work, we decided to redo a small combat encounter from earlier in the session using simultaneous initiative instead of PHB initiative. Basically, we got stuck immediately. My players did not understand how to phrase their action declarations, and even though I knew in broad terms what they wanted to accomplish, I didn’t know how they should describe the “how” either. I think this may be because our heads are stuck in Cyclic Initiative Land.

Originally, I was going to describe the scenario and generally what the various participants wanted to do. However, as I started writing that out it became clear that there was one thing that would make a large difference in what questions even made sense to ask. In your initial example, the PCs generally did not know the goblins action declarations, apparently because the goblins were hiding. But if all participants are pretty much out in the open, then do you let the opposing sides know each other’s action declarations, subject to INT-based declaration order? For example, if the goblins in the example had failed to hide, and assuming that all the PC’s INT was higher than the goblins, would the PCs have known what the goblins were going to attempt before having to declare their (the PCs’) actions? Or if the PCs were fighting a more intelligent opponent, is it possible that some PCs would have to declare first, and then a more intelligent opponent get to declare, knowing what those PCs are going to do, and then higher INT PCs get to declare knowing what the opponent is going to do?

Thanks in advance for your help.
 

I also run 5e with simultaneous initiative. (What does WEGO stand for, by the way? My Google-fu failed me on that particular acronym.)
It's not an acronym, just a game design term. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Turns,_rounds_and_time-keeping_systems_in_games

Because 5e cares a lot about action economy, I codified a few things in case they come up. In practice, they never do, but maybe one day.

I do a much looser version of the inverse intelligence declaration in which I only care about outliers (significantly smarter or dumber than the average PC). If the PC is also an outlier that might also factor in. In theory. My players never wait to hear what the NPCs are doing anyway.

Once combat starts, all action occurs simultaneously, except:

• Readied actions allow for opposed initiative checks when relevant.

• All other reactions happen immediately when triggered - no initiative check needed.

• Felling blows require opposed initiative checks to determine if the death or unconsciousness occurs immediately or kicks in at the end of the round.

• Mutually exclusive outcomes that were not deliberately opposed (which would require a readied action) may require opposed checks to determine the outcome. An example of this would be if two creatures, unaware of each other's presence, both intended to sneak over to the Holy Relic of Macguffinville and pocket it.


Obviously, things can get chaotic. To mitigate this a little bit, a combatant can also use their reaction (if they still have one and haven't yet acted) to change a course of action as things unfold during a round.
Yep, this is a very sensible approach.
 

[MENTION=6787650]Originally, I was going to describe the scenario and generally what the various participants wanted to do. However, as I started writing that out it became clear that there was one thing that would make a large difference in what questions even made sense to ask. In your initial example, the PCs generally did not know the goblins action declarations, apparently because the goblins were hiding. But if all participants are pretty much out in the open, then do you let the opposing sides know each other’s action declarations, subject to INT-based declaration order? For example, if the goblins in the example had failed to hide, and assuming that all the PC’s INT was higher than the goblins, would the PCs have known what the goblins were going to attempt before having to declare their (the PCs’) actions? Or if the PCs were fighting a more intelligent opponent, is it possible that some PCs would have to declare first, and then a more intelligent opponent get to declare, knowing what those PCs are going to do, and then higher INT PCs get to declare knowing what the opponent is going to do?

Thanks in advance for your help.
Yes to both questions. Yes, action declarations are normally visible to everyone (it represents the start of an action--more intelligent creatures have faster OODA loops (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/OODA_loop) and can delay committing to an action). Yes, intelligent enemies get the same benefits as intelligent PCs.

If the players are fighting an Ogre and a Mind Flayer, the DM will say, "The Ogre smashes Ralph flat with his club--or tries to anyway. What do you do, Ralph?" Maybe Ralph declares a Dodge, so the Ogre will have disadvantage, and then Belinda declares that she's hypnotizing the Mind Flayer with her Hypnotic Gaze, and Peter says he's going to shoot the Mind Flayer full of arrows while keeping his distance from it. Then the Mind Flayer, because he's the most intelligent, gets to declare his action. The DM says, "The Mind Flayer maneuvers so that Belinda and Ralph are both in front of it and then blasts them both."

Then everybody rolls dice and resolves their actions. (It's fine if they roll dice beforehand, just as long as they don't show the results to anyone who is still declaring.) If necessary, roll initiative to see whose action happened first. E.g. if the Ogre hit Ralph but failed his save vs. Mind Blast, the Ogre and the Mind Flayer both need to roll their initiative to see if the Ogre actually got his smash in.

I would also let you convey a "fake" action using Deception, e.g. "I'm going to try to look like I'm just dodging but really I'm about to Action Surge and attack the Mind Flayer four times," which is mechanically just the regular four attacks on the Mind Flayer, but with an Deception vs. (better of Perception or Insight) contest beforehand to see if the Mind Flayer falls for the deception. And maybe I'd also impose disadvantage on any initiative checks to represent how the deception slows you down by a second or two.

It sounds like you're on the right track. Let me know how it goes for you!
 

discosoc

First Post
I don't really get the problem this is trying to solve. Are you playing with people who have zero attention spans or something? Just take 20 seconds to sort out initiative at the beginning of combat. Surprised characters don't act on the first round. Everyone takes their turn and you just keep going. Most fights should be over in 3 to 4 rounds anyway, and players (at least mine) tend to roll attacks and damage together to speed things up even more.

I could see this being more useful in something like Pathfinder or 4e, where each turn could easily take several minutes per player and there's discussion about tactics going on, but 5e really doesn't seem to need it.
 

Rune

Once A Fool
Simultaneous initiative

I don't really get the problem this is trying to solve. Are you playing with people who have zero attention spans or something? Just take 20 seconds to sort out initiative at the beginning of combat. Surprised characters don't act on the first round. Everyone takes their turn and you just keep going. Most fights should be over in 3 to 4 rounds anyway, and players (at least mine) tend to roll attacks and damage together to speed things up even more.

I could see this being more useful in something like Pathfinder or 4e, where each turn could easily take several minutes per player and there's discussion about tactics going on, but 5e really doesn't seem to need it.
Of course it doesn't need it. It's a stylistic choice. It sets an entirely different tone for combat than turn-by-turn (and, especially, cyclical) initiative does. Don't get me wrong. I loved cyclical initiative in 1999. It was a vast improvement. But I don't want the same things out of an RPG that I did back then.
 

Undrhil

Explorer
I don't understand.

Are you implying that your PCs roll initiative *every round* ordinarily?

That's not how initiative works. Ever. You roll initiative *once* at the beginning of a combat scenario and then use that initiative score every round until the combat ends or something causes that numbers to change (which doesn't happen in 5e, but was a constant thing that could happen in 4e.)

Am I missing something here?
 

DMMike

Guide of Modos
I don't really get the problem this is trying to solve. Are you playing with people who have zero attention spans or something? Just take 20 seconds to sort out initiative at the beginning of combat.
This.

I see two goals in Hemlock's scheme: break players free from the robo-action-framework, and avoid a five-minute-long initiative rolling session amongst eight players and fourteen goblins.

Fortunately, I don't GM for eight people, and I start to get nervous around six. What I don't want to do is memorize four people's in-game, descriptive, action declarations just so they can avoid saying "I Attack," "I Dodge," or "I move 30 feet. Yay." This didn't look like a problem in the first thread example, but the mind flayer example above looks more...declarative. And I really don't want to tell a player, "yes, the goblin reacted to your attack declaration by taking cover because he's more intelligent than you." /insulttoplayer

I'd try something more like this:

Break players free: whenever a player asks "can I," answer "yes," and then Rule Zero a duration, letting the player know, and marking it on my action tracker.

Five-minute-initiative: go around the table, resolving actions as I go, allowing Delays or Readies, but using group initiative instead of individual initiative. That way, you need only two rolls.

Let me know if I'm way off base :)

XP to Saelorn - FF1 is still relevant!
 

I don't understand.

Are you implying that your PCs roll initiative *every round* ordinarily?

That's not how initiative works. Ever. You roll initiative *once* at the beginning of a combat scenario and then use that initiative score every round until the combat ends or something causes that numbers to change (which doesn't happen in 5e, but was a constant thing that could happen in 4e.)

Am I missing something here?
Is this addressed to me or someone else?

This is a variant initiative system, similar to the DMG's "Speed Factor Initiative" variant. Most combats, most PCs do not roll initiative at all.

The variant is designed to make the transition between combat and noncombat more seamless (which in practice also implies "easier to end by some means other than killing everyone on the other side"), to give players more play time (free players from a framework where they're only allowed to talk to the DM 25-33% of the time), to allow players to interact with each other during combat/plan joint actions, to provide a framework for modeling joint activities like "we all charge the ogre" or "I get on the wildshaped druid's back and we strafe the goblins together", and to resolve some annoying bugs of the cyclic initiative system and make the game more exciting. As a side effect it also makes Int more valuable.
 
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MostlyDm

Explorer
Test driving this system in two games so far. Working great, with a few minor hiccups. Combat has definitely had a nice flow to it.

It keeps everyone declaring actions and intentions at the same pace as when combat has not started, which is the whole goal from my perspective.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
I don't understand.

Are you implying that your PCs roll initiative *every round* ordinarily?

That's not how initiative works. Ever.
Which is a serious bug, not a feature.
You roll initiative *once* at the beginning of a combat scenario and then use that initiative score every round until the combat ends or something causes that numbers to change (which doesn't happen in 5e, but was a constant thing that could happen in 4e.)

Am I missing something here?
Yes, but you're not alone; the system as written is missing it too:

The complete lack of realism that results from strict cyclic initiative.
The complete inability of more than one participant to act at a time even when it would make sense to do so (e.g. two characters trying to stay together as they move)
The fact that knowing when everyone's turn comes up will (but shouldn't) influence your actions in combat after the first round (a case where player knowledge should not equal character knowledge)
The impossibility of things happening simultaneously (e.g. in a melee combat with just two participants, how can they run each other through?)

Re-rolling each round is one way to solve this, though cumbersome unless you go to a much smaller die size (I suggest d6) and cut back on or entirely remove modifiers. What's proposed in this thread is another, and while I'm not sold on the idea I applaud the sentiment behind it.

Lan-"in the fog of war, little if anything is clear"-efan
 

The complete lack of realism that results from strict cyclic initiative.
I defy you to provide an example of a tabletop action resolution system that can boast of "realism" in any robust way. Every system, from core 5E D&D to Hemlock's rules here to the fiddly granular action point mechanics in wargames, is more or less a kludge, breaking chaotic real-time combat into discrete chunks that are manageable but fundamentally unrealistic. You want realism, boot up a computer.

The complete inability of more than one participant to act at a time even when it would make sense to do so (e.g. two characters trying to stay together as they move)
"Complete inability"? See readied actions.

The fact that knowing when everyone's turn comes up will (but shouldn't) influence your actions in combat after the first round (a case where player knowledge should not equal character knowledge)
Speak for yourself. My players seldom remember the turn order, and act in-character regardless.

The impossibility of things happening simultaneously (e.g. in a melee combat with just two participants, how can they run each other through?)
"Impossibility"? See again readied actions.

Re-rolling each round is one way to solve this, though cumbersome unless you go to a much smaller die size (I suggest d6) and cut back on or entirely remove modifiers.
Re-rolling each round addresses none of the problems you state except for player knowledge of the turn order. It's no more realistic, and no more amenable to simultaneous actions.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
I defy you to provide an example of a tabletop action resolution system that can boast of "realism" in any robust way. Every system, from core 5E D&D to Hemlock's rules here to the fiddly granular action point mechanics in wargames, is more or less a kludge, breaking chaotic real-time combat into discrete chunks that are manageable but fundamentally unrealistic.
All true, but where options exist to get it closer, why not use them?

"Complete inability"? See readied actions.
By the book, though, they still don't happen at the same time. (in fairness, most DMs would ignore this and let them move together; but I've as a player also lost this argument at a table - I'll give details if needed but it's a long-ish story)

Speak for yourself. My players seldom remember the turn order, and act in-character regardless.
That's your group, and you're kind of lucky if that's how they are. What I've seen is players basing their actions for future rounds around knowing who (including the opponents) goes when, which breaks my metagame tolerance.

Re-rolling each round addresses none of the problems you state except for player knowledge of the turn order. It's no more realistic, and no more amenable to simultaneous actions.
It's much more amenable to simultaneous actions if you a} use a smaller die (we use d6 with almost no modifiers) and b} don't break ties unless for some reason you absolutely have to.

Lan-"what is it with North Americans and their dislike of games/sports/die rolls being tied"-efan
 

All true, but where options exist to get it closer, why not use them?
By what metric is one closer than another?

It's much more amenable to simultaneous actions if you a} use a smaller die (we use d6 with almost no modifiers) and b} don't break ties unless for some reason you absolutely have to.
That's a result of those rules, not a result of the rolling-every-round rule.
 

That's a result of those rules, not a result of the rolling-every-round rule.
So what? This thread isn't about rolling initiative every round. That's just something Lanefan mentioned in passing (apparently in conjunction with precisely "those rules" that go along with it at his table) and you jumped on.

There's no one on this thread advocating the thing you're criticizing: rolling every round without Lanefan's house rules attached.
 

FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
Do you break up the movement phases and the attacking phases?

Or does movement have a higher precedence than attacking or something?
 

FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
A separate thought, I read the first post and I don't see anything simultaneous about it.

Basically the only nuance I picked up on sounded like you allowed someone to delay their whole turn.
 

Harzel

Adventurer
Yes to both questions. Yes, action declarations are normally visible to everyone (it represents the start of an action--more intelligent creatures have faster OODA loops (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/OODA_loop) and can delay committing to an action). Yes, intelligent enemies get the same benefits as intelligent PCs.

If the players are fighting an Ogre and a Mind Flayer, the DM will say, "The Ogre smashes Ralph flat with his club--or tries to anyway. What do you do, Ralph?" Maybe Ralph declares a Dodge, so the Ogre will have disadvantage, and then Belinda declares that she's hypnotizing the Mind Flayer with her Hypnotic Gaze, and Peter says he's going to shoot the Mind Flayer full of arrows while keeping his distance from it. Then the Mind Flayer, because he's the most intelligent, gets to declare his action. The DM says, "The Mind Flayer maneuvers so that Belinda and Ralph are both in front of it and then blasts them both."

Then everybody rolls dice and resolves their actions. (It's fine if they roll dice beforehand, just as long as they don't show the results to anyone who is still declaring.) If necessary, roll initiative to see whose action happened first. E.g. if the Ogre hit Ralph but failed his save vs. Mind Blast, the Ogre and the Mind Flayer both need to roll their initiative to see if the Ogre actually got his smash in.

I would also let you convey a "fake" action using Deception, e.g. "I'm going to try to look like I'm just dodging but really I'm about to Action Surge and attack the Mind Flayer four times," which is mechanically just the regular four attacks on the Mind Flayer, but with an Deception vs. (better of Perception or Insight) contest beforehand to see if the Mind Flayer falls for the deception. And maybe I'd also impose disadvantage on any initiative checks to represent how the deception slows you down by a second or two.

It sounds like you're on the right track. Let me know how it goes for you!
Ok, thanks for the answers and the additional example. I have some more questions, though. Here is one part of the combat encounter that I referred to earlier.

Scenario A:

  • Three goblins are standing together
  • Bard PC is about 30 ft. away from them
  • Paladin PC is about 15 ft. away from them
  • The goblins’ declared action is that they are going to scatter looking for cover and then shoot at the paladin.

My concern for the moment will be the bard’s declared action. When we ran this with cyclic initiative, the bard got to go before the goblins. He ran right up into the goblins’ face and cast Thunderwave. (Not that is matters, but the bard rolled well and the goblins didn’t. This was cool because dead flying goblins.) So my first question is, (A1) with simultaneous initiative ala Hemlock would that even have a chance of working? My analysis: If I “strictly enforce” Everything Happens at Once ™, then it would seem to me that the answer is no – the goblins would scatter while the bard was approaching, so this isn’t even worth trying. OTOH, since initiative contests are possible, then perhaps this should be treated as one. However, this would then bring up two more questions. (A2) If there is an initiative contest, does this result in the winner getting to take his entire turn (e.g., bard’s move and cast) before the loser gets to do anything or is the contest somehow at a finer granularity? (A3) How much of the bard’s action declaration can be contingent on the initiative result? (E.g., Do I allow, “If the goblins stay still, I run up to them and cast Thunderwave, but if the goblins scatter before I can move, then I stay where I am and shoot at the bugbear in front of the paladin.”, or does it have to be more like, “I run toward the goblins (unconditionally). If I get to them before they scatter, then I cast Thunderwave, otherwise I turn and shoot at the bugbear in front of the paladin.”?) Or if there is some other way that this should go that I am not seeing, just ignore the questions and describe that instead.

Scenario B: (only interesting if the answer to A1 is “no”)

  • Three goblins are standing together
  • Bard PC is about 30 ft. away from them
  • Paladin PC is about 15 ft. away from them
  • The goblins’ declared action is that they are going to shoot at the paladin and then scatter looking for cover.

Does this change any of the answers to the questions posed for A?

Ok, I’ll stop there for now. I think understanding how these situations would work will go quite a ways toward clarifying things for me.
 

Do you break up the movement phases and the attacking phases?
Not for TTRPG play.

I've considered breaking it up to finer detail (say, letting everyone do 10% of their movement, ten times, so that distances between combatants change only gradually) but only with the aid of a computer. For tabletop the extra complexity just wouldn't be worth the minor increase in fidelity, which really only matters for chase scenes and for looking pretty.
 

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