5E Conundrum: Ranged attack sequence/cover bonus for players

Mechanically the OP was correct, but a part of the issue arises because of grouping monster initiative. It's a tricky balance, because rolling individually would be a nightmare for tracking in a large battle, while putting on the monsters on the same number gives them a tactical advantage. One solution to this is to use multiple types of monsters, rather than just one or two, if the number of enemies is equal to or greater than the party. This breaks up the overall monster initiatives into smaller groups.
 

groody

Villager
„peasant railgun“ is a brilliant way to think about this. Thank you for that, made my day.

Our DM (the original poster) told me he rolled separate initiative for two groups of goblins, just happened to be a 20 and 21.

A “goblin gatling gun“ where each goblin lets go one shot in a perfectly coordinated dance at their shared initiative slot in the round sadly is limited by their move, they only can move 30‘ and still fire, and cannot stand more closely than one per 5‘ on grid (another rules mechanic that strains believability), so in a narrow tunnel this allows at most 6 of them to fire unimpeded.
 

Zaukrie

Adventurer
See, I probably wouldn't even roll.....I'd roll for one, and set the other near the other side of the order....so, if I roll well, the 2nd group goes near the end (not the end, near the end, otherwise they are all firing at the same time again). Break the order up, don't roll. But then, I think the overall initiative system is not my cup of tea....
 

3catcircus

Adventurer
See, I probably wouldn't even roll.....I'd roll for one, and set the other near the other side of the order....so, if I roll well, the 2nd group goes near the end (not the end, near the end, otherwise they are all firing at the same time again). Break the order up, don't roll. But then, I think the overall initiative system is not my cup of tea....
I prefer using a tick system where actions cost different ticks. You still roll initiative, but in that turn, you do your action, subtract the ticks and then go again if you still have ticks left.

So - you roll a 12. Moving is 1 tick per foot of movement. You move 5 feet. You wait until initiative order 7. A ranged attack costs 3 ticks. You fire. Wait until 4. Fire again. You now have 1 tick left and the only action that only costs one tick is to wait.

Next round. Rinse, repeat. You can roll initiative each round if you choose (or not) and there is always fog of war randomness throughout the initiative order.
 
This kind of situation is one reason I do not like the 5E combat round only being 6 seconds long. That is just not enough time for everything to happen. With your hallway situation, as DM, if the monsters are specifically going only one at a time and not at the same time, I would have 3 or 4 of them, at most, pull this "move and cover" maneuver because each one is using up some of those 6 seconds while the others wait. The 6-second round assumes everyone is going at roughly the same time, with the initiative score accounting for one combatant being slightly faster or another being slightly slower. And if there are so many combatants that some are holding their actions while waiting for something specific to act on, then they risk the chance that the 6 seconds will end before they get to do anything and they lose their action that round. Some of this may not be "by the book", but that is how I do it.
 

Zaukrie

Adventurer
I'm curious....do people really think about a round being 6 seconds? I've been playing forever, and I've never paid attn to how long a round is, other than how many rounds a spell lasts.
 

Helldritch

Adventurer
I, for one, always prefered when the rounds were 1 minute long. It explained a lot and was a lot more realistic than the 6 seconds rounds we have now. A lot of thing can happen in 6 seconds. But not as much as a lot of people think. Firing a crossbow takes a lot of time and even with crossbow expert, you won't fire 4 bolts in 6 seconds in real life. If you can, wow! I mean, I tried.... but never got more than two... and that was with one already cocked... (and don't talk about cho ku no. we're talking about european style xbow).

The one minute round assumed a lot of strikes, counter strikes, parries, dodges and many other maneuvers and foot work. The 6 seconds aimed at being realistic but it ends up not being at all and it makes some people question how many people can coordinate that much in the limited time frame allotted to them.

Follow me on this.
I have 6 players. A round is 6 seconds. So each players have about 1 second to act. What does it leave to their enemies? Zero... So we must assume that either the monster are on the Flash level of speed. Or the players are on the Super Flash level of speed or a lot of the action happen simultaneously. This bring a lot of questioning about logistic, movement, attack and especially moving attacking and moving again types of maneuvers. I dare people to get out of cover, attack four times with a crossbow that is not preloaded and get back into cover. Very hard (if not downright impossible) to do. A bow is better but four shots in 6 seconds is quite a stretch. Especially with the movement described above.
 

jmartkdr2

Explorer
Follow me on this.
I have 6 players. A round is 6 seconds. So each players have about 1 second to act.
The thing is: what the system is supposed to be simulating is each player getting 6 seconds to act. A full six seconds, every round. But everyone's turn is happening at once, so they're all using the same six seconds. The very same six seconds the monsters are using.

"Turns" is entirely an abstraction, but one that is absolutely necessary for making the game work at all. You can't just have everyone declare actions and start rolling in real-time, after all.

(Note: there are other ways to handle this, but they break some really fundamental assumptions about what DnD is all about.)
 

Helldritch

Adventurer
Exactly where I was getting to. But we all have to admit that the general perception is not that each players have their six seconds but that there is 6 seconds for the whole of the combatants. This leads to many misconceptions and sometimes, holes in the rules.
 

jmartkdr2

Explorer
Exactly where I was getting to. But we all have to admit that the general perception is not that each players have their six seconds but that there is 6 seconds for the whole of the combatants. This leads to many misconceptions and sometimes, holes in the rules.
Well the alternative is unplayable, so we use turns.

Incidentally, this is why I hate any houserule that makes initiative more complicated. Anything that calls attention to the turn structure calls attention to the least realistic part of the rules.
 

Helldritch

Adventurer
It dawned on me that a turn might be quite longer than a minute (not by raw but follow me).
IF each combatant has 6 seconds, this means that a group of 6 players (my case) Facing 10 goblins, 1 shaman, 1 boss and 4 wolves have a turn that lasts: 2 minutes and 12 seconds. As the number of combatants decreases, it means that the turn's length shorten accordingly. Up to the point where the final turn would be 42 seconds If all players are still up and only one enemy remained standing.

What does it imply on the duration of spells? If all combatants have 6 whole seconds. Then the spell that lasts one minute does not follow up on the next round as the first round lasted 2 minutes and 12 seconds. This would be quite a nuisance to follow and to rule.

Then it means the following implication. All combatants are acting at the same time. Initiative is there only to facilitate the combat order and ease of play. The goblins in the OP should all have had a cover penalty to overcome. Even if this is not RAW. This is the logical thing to do. If this works for the enemy, so should it for the players. In my example above; this means that the player saying:" I shoot the shaman in the back" would not get a straight line of fire and the shaman would get a cover bonus even if he was the last one to act. Would it be RAI? Weird when you take time to think about it...
 

3catcircus

Adventurer
Well the alternative is unplayable, so we use turns.

Incidentally, this is why I hate any houserule that makes initiative more complicated. Anything that calls attention to the turn structure calls attention to the least realistic part of the rules.
A real alternative would be to use a system using ticks. Weapons would have a variable tick cost. Bulkiness of gear would have a tick cost to activate/deactivate. Spells would have a variable tick cost. You'd have breaks between rounds and just because one person attacks doesn't mean you are in combat to begin with (getting punched in the face and not fighting back isn't combat...)

What this means is that combat time isn't 6 seconds per round - it's variable and "flipping to the next round" is both variable and dependent on whether one side wants to continue - this allows a natural moment for morale checks, a decision to temporarily cease fighting to parlay, decisions to surrender or flee, etc.

Too often in D&D, it's always a fight to the death. That's not how most combat actually happens due to our inherent self-preservation instincts. "The dead know only one thing - it is better to be alive."
 

groody

Villager
I'm curious....do people really think about a round being 6 seconds?
I personally think that 6 seconds is too short. Remember that you not only get a move and an action in there, which can translate to several attacks, you also get a bonus action, a free object interaction and a reaction on top of that. You could open a door, run 30 feet, take four attacks with a longbow each with taking full aim, cast a bonus action spell after you did all this, and cast a shield spell as a reaction if the opponent tries to hit you, for example while you run past them. It seems too much too me.

One minute rounds were way too long. The handwavy explanations about feints and bobbying around waiting for the opening with only one attack that counts never did it for me. What if someone does not want to do any of that, and just wants to run away? They clear 60 feet running a full minute? Even with the old x4 speed multipliers from earlier editions for full run that ignores taking care of your surrounding that is a bit slow.

I think something like 10 seconds per round would be better.

I suspect the 6 seconds have been calibrated on running speed. That would be 10 rounds per minute, and at 30‘ speed and double move action you could run 600’ a minute, pretty much the speed unencumbered average humans run.

I think while light encumberance does not sliw you down in gsme terms, these average real-world human likely do not wear armor and 50 pounds of gear. I‘d think they‘d be a good bit slower with that.

The alternative, to keep with six second rounds could be to have an overall ceiling on actions, say not more than 3 a round. So you could move and attack and cast shiled as a reaction, but then could not take a free object interaction or bonus action that turn any more.

I think that would be less fun, as players live to do stuff. So you either suspend disbelief in the 6-second round, or you house rule it to be a bit longer and assume gear slows people down. In the latter case, I‘d probably also rule that a character just wearing a loincloth or such and no heavy or bulky gear can move with a 5‘ speed bonus.
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
Initiative is a horrible, broken mess.

We should have simultaneous turns with everyone going at once. But that's just not practical. You could get closer with smaller slices of time and partial movements and actions could get closer to reality.

But I think it would slow the game to a near grinding halt. So initiative is horrible, but other options are just as bad or worse.
 

dnd4vr

Tactical Studies Rules - The Original Game Wizards
Like many of you, I think 6-second round are too short, but the AD&D 1-minute rounds are too long. In 2E the rounds were changed to 10-seconds and a d10 was used for initiative.

Since 5E is a d20 game, changing rounds to 20-second and have the d20 roll be when you act. Only apply DEX, INT, WIS, or whatever your table uses in cases of a tie. Alert could either still be a +5 (to a max of 20) or give advatnage maybe?

Spells could begin on your roll and end at your roll - spell level (for those who like variable casting times/ speed factors). Weapon speeds would only be an issue in cases of ties. Reach weapons go first on a tie, etc. Spells with 1 minute duration could still be 10 rounds.

You could make it as complex or simple as you want really.
 

Zaukrie

Adventurer
Guess I wasn't clear. I've never paid attn to if it was 6 seconds, 20 seconds, 1 minute. Whatever. A round is a round.....where everyone gets to do something other than dance around the other combatants. Do people pay attn to the time it lasts, other than for spell duration?
 

dnd4vr

Tactical Studies Rules - The Original Game Wizards
In the grand scheme of things? Probably not (other than the duration for spells or effects such as potions, etc.).

IIRC, I remember in basic every combat was one turn (rounds were 10 seconds then), being 10 minutes. If you didn't spend the time actually fighting, the left-over time was used to bandage wounds, search bodies, etc. before you moved on.

All in all, it usually doesn't matter unless you are running a gauntlet or something. Most spells are either instantaneous, 1 round, 1 minute, 1 hour or longer. Most battles (90%+) IME in 5E don't last a full 10 rounds (i.e. 1 minute) or longer. So, spell durations could replace 1 minute with 1 encounter and you would see little impact.

If you did this, an encounter could take a reasonable amount of time. Spells that were meant to last (for the most part) for the encounter would, and others that last longer (1 hour or more) would likely spill over into the next encounter--depending on when it was. ;)
 

groody

Villager
Yes, we normally do not worry about how long a round is, we are acting within the turn/round based system, and it then only matters for spell durations, where you translate 1 minute into 10 rounds.

I do like the old-school „every combat takes at least 10 minutes“ idea and use it in my 5e games.

Players like movement through the dungeon as move action, perception as an action and object interactions using tactical rounds to get most out of the duration of things like bless or detect magic being active.

If you measure everything by tactical combat and rounds, it is quite possible to speed-run an entire dungeon in a manner that you never could do it in the real world, as you would need to be extremely concentrated, never wasting as second, for extended periods of time.
 

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