OSR How do you run your combat? (B/X, BECMI, OSR)


B/X Known World
We tried sticking with individual initiative but it just doesn’t work for some of our players. They take too long, get analysis paralysis, and generally get easily flustered when put on the spot. So we switched to side-based initiative. As mentioned above, it allows for the players to coordinate, the slower players to think more and ask questions, etc. It really, really sped up our combat.

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After suprise, we used individual initiative modified by dex. Then add spell casting time or weapon speed to get order of what was going on or you could move.


Limit Break Dancing
I've always run it like this:

1. Resolve surprise
2. DM rolls initiative for monsters (one roll for all monsters)
3. Caller rolls initiative for player characters (one roll for the whole party)
4. First group acts. Caller decides the order that PCs act in; DM decides the order that monsters act in.
5. Second group acts.
6. Check monster morale.
7. Go to Step 4.
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I'd run using side initiative if running becmi or its clones. I actually realised I misremembered how it worked a while back when reading the RC or maybe OSE. I'd been thinking that each side rolls initiative, declares actions, then each phase is resolved by the winners first, then the losers before moving to the next phase which is then resolved depending on initiative.


Victoria Rules
Sort out surprise first. Then once normal combat begins, run this loop:

Roll individual initiative(s) each round on d6.
Every action or sub-action gets its own initiative (thus an archer with three shots in a round gets three initiatives).
Ties allowed except the same weapon cannot attack twice in the same segment.
Resolve all the 6s, then all the 5s, and so on down the line each round.
Spellcasting takes time within a round, your init roll says when you start and the casting time determines when you resolve, which might roll over into the next round.
End of round (or when something big happens e.g. a boss or commander goes down) I'll check for morale.
If any participant wants to continue fighting, Go To XXXXX; else End Combat.

Mark Hope

Depends on the size of the group. If I'm running for 4 or 5 players, it's fine to just do individual initiative and let people move, act, cast spells, fire missiles, engage in melee or whatever on their initiative count. For large groups (like 7 to 9 players), I use side-based initiative with action proceeding in phases, as per the BX rules. It's just easier and faster that way.

(In AD&D, by comparison, I generally use d6 for initiative, with speed factors/casting times working as tie-breakers, and in AD&D2e I use the d10 system with speed factors/casting times modifying that for individual initiative.)


I recently went back and re-read B/X Moldvay and I found it much more ambiguous than I remembered. When you make declarations of actions does not seem to be specified except for defensive movement which must be declared before initiative. The sequence of events on B24 seems to say everybody on one side goes through the four sequences in order (move, missile, spell, melee) then the other side does, but the sample encounter on B28 seems to have Morgan shooting before the hobgoblins who win initiative get to melee which would be consistent with doing each sequence in group initiative order instead of each side doing their whole sequence.


I remember in my play by post days thinking that side initiative would be easier than 3e-on style individual initiative.

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