D&D 5EContinuous Initiative in 5E

Vael

Legend
As noted, the duration of round by round effects is the main thing that springs to mind (aside from I'd find this system utterly unuseable with anything more than 3 players).

I did start using Popcorn Initiative, which has a similar challenge (Popcorn Initiative is where each player/monster in initiative chooses the next player/monster to go ie, passing around a bucket of popcorn), and I just had things end at the end of a round.

GuardianLurker

So, leaving aside the "you have to assume a very granular time cost to everything" problem. And just using your example, "faster" characters (i.e. those who in 5e can move more than others in a single move) are effectively penalized. And N squares per clock tick also isn't very granular. N squares per M clock ticks might work, but then you have the "odd-cycle" problem, since you can't count fractional clock-ticks.

It'd work a lot better with automation, but there's a reason the industry moved away from these kinds of schemes at a live table.

Reynard

Legend
Supporter
So, leaving aside the "you have to assume a very granular time cost to everything" problem. And just using your example, "faster" characters (i.e. those who in 5e can move more than others in a single move) are effectively penalized. And N squares per clock tick also isn't very granular. N squares per M clock ticks might work, but then you have the "odd-cycle" problem, since you can't count fractional clock-ticks.

It'd work a lot better with automation, but there's a reason the industry moved away from these kinds of schemes at a live table.
On the subject of movement speed, the variations in 5E aren't particularly important or pronounced. You could probably skip it for most typical situations and create a simple formula that works for faster (barbarian), slower (climbing) and very fast (flying, monks) combatants.

billd91

Not your screen monkey (he/him) 🇺🇦🇵🇸🏳️‍⚧️
Unfortunately, I think wrangling a bunch of different weapon speeds, different casting times, different movement speeds, and the rollover would make this kind of painful.
Feng Shui has a shot counter action sequence that works pretty well for accounting for different types of actions and durations, but it's on a tighter range than a d20 and doesn't already have a legacy of a bunch of different movement rates, bonus action options, and full round durations that are a significant part of a character's repertoire of abilities. I think an adaptation could be possible, but will almost certainly require a bit of rejiggering movement, multiple attacks, and varying bonus actions.

Rabbitbait

Grog-nerd
Did you test it long enough to get good at it and it was still slow, or was it slow because you were testing it?

It is an important distinction. When I first started running PF2ER, the 3 action economy felt that way since none of us were familiar with the system. It did not take long for us to all kind of figure it out and now Pathfinder combat is as fast or faster than 5E combat (mostly because people are trying to figure out if they are allowed to use a bonus action).
There were three places where it fell over.

1) Movement sucked. As everyone is jockeying into position, one square at a time it meant that everyone considering every segment. As a DM moving up to 6 NPCs it was tiresome. We had the action happen immediately but with a time cost. So if you were next to someone you could stab them with a dagger (for instance) and then you would not be able to do anything for 3 segments. If you did the action at the end of the time cost, an enemy would have moved away before you got to do anything.

But movement segment by segment just led to every segment involved everyone moving their character one square (with the decision making process happening each segment).

2) Tracking every NPC as a DM was just so much harder. It would be better now with modern initiative tracking tools, but you still take more time considering each action for each NPC with more granularity.

3) It created too many options. Decision paralysis is bad enough in D&D. This made it so much worse. Taking the time cost for various activities into account just slowed everything down.

What were the advantages of the system?

1) It made choosing different weapons have better consequences. A dagger is faster than a two-handed sword. It made spell or item consideration a little bit different.

2) It made combat feel more fluid where everyone was moving all the time and tactics had to continually change.

But the pain of slower combat was not worth the advantages.

Reynard

Legend
Supporter
There were three places where it fell over.

1) Movement sucked. As everyone is jockeying into position, one square at a time it meant that everyone considering every segment. As a DM moving up to 6 NPCs it was tiresome. We had the action happen immediately but with a time cost. So if you were next to someone you could stab them with a dagger (for instance) and then you would not be able to do anything for 3 segments. If you did the action at the end of the time cost, an enemy would have moved away before you got to do anything.

But movement segment by segment just led to every segment involved everyone moving their character one square (with the decision making process happening each segment).

2) Tracking every NPC as a DM was just so much harder. It would be better now with modern initiative tracking tools, but you still take more time considering each action for each NPC with more granularity.

3) It created too many options. Decision paralysis is bad enough in D&D. This made it so much worse. Taking the time cost for various activities into account just slowed everything down.

What were the advantages of the system?

1) It made choosing different weapons have better consequences. A dagger is faster than a two-handed sword. It made spell or item consideration a little bit different.

2) It made combat feel more fluid where everyone was moving all the time and tactics had to continually change.

But the pain of slower combat was not worth the advantages.
Thank you for the detailed reply.

But you did not actually answer my question.

Rabbitbait

Grog-nerd
Thank you for the detailed reply.

But you did not actually answer my question.
We gave it a good crack - 3 sessions. I didn't want to scrap it because I'd put a lot of work into it. But it made the game less fun.

Zaukrie

New Publisher
I off handedly suggested this idea in another thread but wanted to dedicate a discussion specifically to spitballing how it might work.

I know more games have used continuous initiative, but I first encountered it with Hackmaster 5E (the non joke edition). If you haven't encountered it, the long and short is that rather the rolling initiative every round or cycling through the turn order, every action has a cost in speed or initiative count and you declare an action and once the count passes, you perform that action then declare your next action. At any time you can change your declared action but you don't get those spent "counts" back.

For example, say your starting initiative roll was a 6. On 6, you declare that you are moving 4 squares. On 5, 6, 7 and 8 you move 1 square each. On 8, upon arrival, you declare you are stabbing the bandit. Your weapon has a speed of 5. That means you make your attack on 13. All while this is happening, the other PCs plus the enemies are doing similar. Initiative never "resets" you just keep counting until the encounter ends.

I hope that gives a decent picture of how such a system works.

Every action, from movement to attacking to casting spells, has a speed.

So, do you think it is possible to implement this effectively with 5E? Is it desirable? Would you play in such a 5E variant? What sorts of speeds would you give actions? How long should it take to attack with a greataxe versus a dagger versus magic missile? How long to drink a potion? What about reactions?
DM me and I'll send you a rough draft with ideas.... Lots of ideas

Mirrorrorrim

Hero
Such a system need every combat option (not just 'action' type, but something at the level of weapon speed and casting time) to be reviewed and assigned a "point-value." Who decides what weapons, spells, maneuvers, actions, and bonus actions cast what points, and how some things are faster than others? Not only is the design needed overwhelming, but in action, it would bog things down like crazy. And how do reactions impact things?

Such a point value system can be reversed engineered with damage/effect potential ratios and values. In such a system, just for example, can a dagger user attack way more often than a longsword user? Would the number of attacks end up dealing more or less damage over time in a combat? How about Magic Missile vs. Fireball? Would there even be differences in spells? Level? Casting time? Action type? Healing Word is a Bonus Action, and Cure Wounds is an Action. They are the same level. Is one faster than the other?

Rabbitbait

Grog-nerd
Such a system need every combat option (not just 'action' type, but something at the level of weapon speed and casting time) to be reviewed and assigned a "point-value." Who decides what weapons, spells, maneuvers, actions, and bonus actions cast what points, and how some things are faster than others? Not only is the design needed overwhelming, but in action, it would bog things down like crazy. And how do reactions impact things?

Such a point value system can be reversed engineered with damage/effect potential ratios and values. In such a system, just for example, can a dagger user attack way more often than a longsword user? Would the number of attacks end up dealing more or less damage over time in a combat? How about Magic Missile vs. Fireball? Would there even be differences in spells? Level? Casting time? Action type? Healing Word is a Bonus Action, and Cure Wounds is an Action. They are the same level. Is one faster than the other?
Yep. Heaps of work to put a system together. It's while since I wrote it, but actions took 6 segments. A 5' movement was 1 segment. A spell (action) was 6 segments, but higher level spells took longer by 1 segment per level. A dagger was 3 segments, a longsword was 6 segments and a two-handed sword took 8 segments. A bonus action was 2 segments. There were no reactions.

I had a long list of stuff written out, but that is the basis of it.

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