D&D 5E Continuous Initiative in 5E

Vendral

Explorer
So ... the PC moves during 5-8, then declares an attack on 8, which resolves on round 13. So ... my understanding is the PC cannot act during rounds 9 to 12. And if there is no one to attack on round 13, the PC has sat for 5 rounds doing nothing only for nothing else to happen. Please clarify if I'm wrong.
By doing the way we did in the example above you did the action when you declared and then you wouldn't have been able to act round/tick 10-13.
We did it that way to get around the problem you asked about, even though it might feel strange to do the action and then wait for the time it would have taken to do the action.
 

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Reynard

Legend
Supporter
Perhaps I'm misunderstanding ... or your example is obscuring an element of the rules.


So ... the PC moves during 5-8, then declares an attack on 8, which resolves on round 13. So ... my understanding is the PC cannot act during rounds 9 to 12. And if there is no one to attack on round 13, the PC has sat for 5 rounds doing nothing only for nothing else to happen. Please clarify if I'm wrong.
In that case, things changed somewhere between 9 and 12. When they changed, you declare a new action. if, for example, the rogue ganks the guy you are aiming for, you start a move right then to get to the next guy (or the rogue...).

The goal (for me) is a dynamic, constantly shifting battlefield in which tactics, both individual and group, matter. If your party members are constantly obviating your action choices, that's a tactics problem.
 

Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
Others have mentioned it, but durations, especially one round durations, are the big issue. I literally was writing about this topic in a FB D&D group recently about rerolling initiative.

5e streamlining uses start/end of next turn as a shorthand for duration. By which they really mean "this lasts until everyone else in the encounter has had exactly one full action". And I don't know how to convert that to a continuous initiative.

A set amount of time doesn't work. Consider a Shield spell. Two attackers using the same weapons and everything except one is quicker. The quicker one might have an extra attack against the higher Shield AC simply because they are better. Getting penalized because you are better is not a D&D paradigm.

Consider a monk's stunning blow. How long does the foe's null action take? It's also supposed to allow each teammate one full round of attacks at Advantage. Which could include multiple attacks from Extra Attack, TWF, Flurry of Blows, Eldritch Blast, etc. Which means it's not just "your next attack". Can we have a foe stunned in that slow player A gets their Advantage shot while in the meantime fast player B has already gotten their shot, and then had another shot which presumably shouldn't have advantage.

I like the system, but how 5e streamlines durations and has a large number of single-round effects makes it a poor vehicle for implementing this while preserving the current balance. You would have to address a cascade of changes this would make.
 

BookTenTiger

He / Him
My friend and I once tried to create a Continuous Initiative System for 3e. We used a cribbage set and created pegs for each combatant. Each action or set of movement had a cost- when you took your action (or moved), you then moved your peg down the cribbage set a number of holes equal to the cost. This created an easy visual to see who was going next.

What I've found, though, is that tracking action costs is easy for players and more difficult for GMs, who often have to track the actions of multiple combatants. I think any continuous initiative system would need an asymmetrical set of rules for those before and behind the curtain.
 

Zaukrie

New Publisher
My friend and I once tried to create a Continuous Initiative System for 3e. We used a cribbage set and created pegs for each combatant. Each action or set of movement had a cost- when you took your action (or moved), you then moved your peg down the cribbage set a number of holes equal to the cost. This created an easy visual to see who was going next.

What I've found, though, is that tracking action costs is easy for players and more difficult for GMs, who often have to track the actions of multiple combatants. I think any continuous initiative system would need an asymmetrical set of rules for those before and behind the curtain.
I think that might be important, your last point.
 

Reynard

Legend
Supporter
I think that might be important, your last point.
It's not that hard.

I feel like people are imagining difficulty rather than actively considering it, if that makes sense. Let's say there are 4 goblins versus 4 PCs. Sure, the GM has 4 goblins to consider, and the players only one PC each, but that is always true no matter what form of initiative you use. It isn't a shift in kind, and barely one in scale. it is just adding numbers. Goblin 1 went at 17 and declares another shot with his bow and will do so on count 22 (or whatever). How hard is that?
 

BookTenTiger

He / Him
It's not that hard.

I feel like people are imagining difficulty rather than actively considering it, if that makes sense. Let's say there are 4 goblins versus 4 PCs. Sure, the GM has 4 goblins to consider, and the players only one PC each, but that is always true no matter what form of initiative you use. It isn't a shift in kind, and barely one in scale. it is just adding numbers. Goblin 1 went at 17 and declares another shot with his bow and will do so on count 22 (or whatever). How hard is that?
From my experience attempting this kind of system, it's very challenging to keep track of multiple opponents! It also means you are frequently interrupting players' turns, which isn't always a fun experience.
 

Reynard

Legend
Supporter
From my experience attempting this kind of system, it's very challenging to keep track of multiple opponents! It also means you are frequently interrupting players' turns, which isn't always a fun experience.
Aren't the players also also interrupting the bad guys' turns? isn't that part of the enjoyment, that there is back and forth to be had? That dynamic play actually emerges as opposed to the same old boring "I swing and miss" of traditional initiative?
 

BookTenTiger

He / Him
Aren't the players also also interrupting the bad guys' turns? isn't that part of the enjoyment, that there is back and forth to be had? That dynamic play actually emerges as opposed to the same old boring "I swing and miss" of traditional initiative?
Here's the problem as I see it. (Please remember that I fiddled around with a similar idea for a number of years.)

In a standard 5e combat, each player gets a turn, and the DM gets one or more turns. This means everyone is sharing the spotlight somewhat evenly throughout the combat. Let's say the group is fighting 4 goblins. As a DM I'll probably have one turn with all four goblins attacking. If there are different kinds of enemies, I might have multiple turns as the DM if I give them each a separate initiative. But the more separate turns I have, the greater share of the spotlight is going towards me.

In a continuous initiative system, now each enemy's turn is going to be split up, interrupted by the players' turns. So I have Goblin 1 moving. Then Fighter does something. Goblin 1 attacks. Goblin 2 moves. Wizard goes. Rogue goes. Goblin 1 moves. Goblin 2 attacks. Fighter goes. Goblin 3 attacks. Wizard goes. Goblin 2 attacks. And so on.

As a DM, I'm taking multiple turns between the players. I'm having to make tactical decisions more often, which is going to slow things down. I just think it's going to result in the spotlight being shared unequally because of the amount of times the DM is going to take a turn.

I don't think Continuous Initiative is a bad idea, but it would require some radical rethinking of how 5e works.
 

Zaukrie

New Publisher
Here's the problem as I see it. (Please remember that I fiddled around with a similar idea for a number of years.)

In a standard 5e combat, each player gets a turn, and the DM gets one or more turns. This means everyone is sharing the spotlight somewhat evenly throughout the combat. Let's say the group is fighting 4 goblins. As a DM I'll probably have one turn with all four goblins attacking. If there are different kinds of enemies, I might have multiple turns as the DM if I give them each a separate initiative. But the more separate turns I have, the greater share of the spotlight is going towards me.

In a continuous initiative system, now each enemy's turn is going to be split up, interrupted by the players' turns. So I have Goblin 1 moving. Then Fighter does something. Goblin 1 attacks. Goblin 2 moves. Wizard goes. Rogue goes. Goblin 1 moves. Goblin 2 attacks. Fighter goes. Goblin 3 attacks. Wizard goes. Goblin 2 attacks. And so on.

As a DM, I'm taking multiple turns between the players. I'm having to make tactical decisions more often, which is going to slow things down. I just think it's going to result in the spotlight being shared unequally because of the amount of times the DM is going to take a turn.

I don't think Continuous Initiative is a bad idea, but it would require some radical rethinking of how 5e works.
I rarely have the monsters go on the same turn, do I didn't think this is an issue
 

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