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D&D 5E Ideas for Initiative house rules

Warpiglet-7

Adventurer
I am now using side initiative. It is a lot faster and all the players are more active and pay more attention. There is no waiting for my turn hassle. Something can always happen. So far, bith of my groups really like it.
I was just thinking about this.

I was also thinking that if it is a side that loses initiative, it could also have some narrative correlate.
 

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Yeah. This is the speed factor that actually matters.

When people make daggers faster than Greatswords it just gets ludicrous.

That depends. Is the person with the dagger standing 6 feet away at the tip of the greatsword? Or has he already closed in to where he can stab with the dagger? Someone who can't even get close enough to make an attack should not even get that option til they can close.
 

Benjamin Olson

Adventurer
I like standard, simple, dumb 5e initiative by RAW. I'm sure there are any number of clever ways to introduce new systems to make it simulate X, Y, or Z better but it's just not a part of the game where I see the value in additional complexity or have any real qualms. You roll for what order you take turns in and then you take them in that order. No version of turn based combat is going to feel "realistic" or "not gamey" to me, so I'd rather just accept the basic gaminess of it and invest the added complexity that might go into alternative initiative into more satisfying places.
 

Vaslov

Explorer
I am not a fan of the standard 5e initiative. Takes time to setup the initiative having everyone roll just to result in a stale round robin of turns across everyone. Of the various replacements I have tried two of them stand out.

SotDL - No roll. Players win. Act on a fast turn or slow turn. Spares the time spent of rolling and cataloging who goes when. Everyone stays pretty invested so they can plan out actions together. Gets the "prep for combat" stage out of the game and get to those juicy "do I succeed" rolls as soon as possible.

Feng Shui 2 - When I want something crunchier on the rule side this flavor tends to work for me. There is rolled initiative, but each type of action has a point cost that changes individual initiative. For example, you have an initiative of 14. To swing of sword costs 3 points so your next aciton is on a 11. etc. This spend to act includes interrupts, which are sort of like 5e reactions, so there is a clear cost to using a reaction in that your next action is even further away. This dynamic keeps everyone on their toes and has them spending time working out if the big point cost action is worth the time until they can act next.
 

Lidgar

Adventurer
I like the way Mongoose Traveller does initiative.

To translate to 5e, I’d do d20+DEX or INT or WIS (creature’s choice). Then can add skill bonus for special circumstances (in Traveller it is the Tactics skill). So as Morrus suggests, add your skill proficiency bonus (stealth, deception, insight, perception) when circumstances warrant it.
 

GMMichael

Guide of Modos
Initiative house rule: initiative rolls determine whose actions happen first, but there are no turns. Each character gets his allotment for the round - what he would normally get to do on his turn - but other characters can react with their own actions. When characters want to act at the same time, initiative counts determine who goes first. So big, bad orc starts with a big swing, but party fighter wants to attack first as well. Resolve the two attacks in order of initiative scores. Party rogue wants to move to flank the orc, no one feels the need to intervene, so no one else acts. The rogue can sneak attack anyone who a) has a lower initiative score, or b) has used her movement for the round.

That depends. Is the person with the dagger standing 6 feet away at the tip of the greatsword? Or has he already closed in to where he can stab with the dagger? Someone who can't even get close enough to make an attack should not even get that option til they can close.
Someone with a decent shield could get close enough to make an attack...

Really though - a dagger being a faster attack makes just as much sense as a dagger being as lethal as a greatsword. Ask these guys how they feel about weapon speeds:
 

I was just thinking about this.

I was also thinking that if it is a side that loses initiative, it could also have some narrative correlate.
We roll every round. Because it is only two sides, it goes very fast. Yes, with luck, it means that sometimes monsters get to act twice in row (and so does the PCs) but it strangely removed the "whack a mole" quite a bit exactly because letting a PC go down might result in a quick death. Combat healing is now a good thing to have. It is no longer considered an inferior strategy.

So far, we only saw positive, well almost. The downside is that initiative related powers are nullified. Things such as alertness and intel bonuses to initiative are made irrelevant in group side initiative. We'll figure something for these special cases. What we do foe the moment is to make these work when these characters are alone. But when in group... we're still thinking about a compromise.
 

Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
The idea of using things like insight to see if someone is about to move to violence and the like I'm cool with.

However, some of the other ideas here hit into three concepts that do not work well with 5e as written. To some point these can be addressed by rule changes.

5e uses the concept of "until your next turn" as shorthand for "affects each target for one action". If you change initiative by round, this gets thrown off. Some can be affected for for multiple turns (say going after in one round and before in the next), other might suffer no effects at all (going before in one round and after in the next).

Side initiative can lead to really overwhelming focus fire. Because there's no repositioning between different moves or chance to heal, it really leads to people dropping with less chance to be tactical. Neither of those are positive enjoyment factors for players.

Lastly choosing order among players, such as popcorn, really changes the value of some abilities. For example, it makes a mockery of getting dropped to zero - when you can make sure you will never lose an action because you will always get healed before it's your initiative, but not to far in advance you might drop again, it exasperates the "pop-up healing" issues tenfold. Other things like pushing a foe prone could mean that your then have a bunch of that side able to attack with advantage without any chance of the target getting a move to get up. Heck, do it late in a round and you can have all of the melee members of your party go twice - once this round and then at the top of next round - without any chance for the foe to get up. And of course the other way works with intelligent foes.
 

aco175

Legend
Would having a power that bumped you initiative up or caused bad guys to bump down be good or just another complexity?

I was thinking that the fighter could spring this in the middle of a combat and jump 5 or 10 in the order and getting a chance to act before the bad guy could get a chance at him. Maybe the rogue really wants to go first and sneak attack the BBEG, or the mage drops the bad guy initiative down to after his turn and allows him to move back.

Problem may be that I tend to have group of bad guys go on the same turn where all 8 goblins act on a 15 and moving one out of turn may add more problems. I guess having things reset after that one turn may help.
 

Zaukrie

New Publisher
Would having a power that bumped you initiative up or caused bad guys to bump down be good or just another complexity?

I was thinking that the fighter could spring this in the middle of a combat and jump 5 or 10 in the order and getting a chance to act before the bad guy could get a chance at him. Maybe the rogue really wants to go first and sneak attack the BBEG, or the mage drops the bad guy initiative down to after his turn and allows him to move back.

Problem may be that I tend to have group of bad guys go on the same turn where all 8 goblins act on a 15 and moving one out of turn may add more problems. I guess having things reset after that one turn may help.

I have been considering a house action that allows you to move up in order....at the cost of disadvantage and worse AC. Basically, a wild swing type thing. I haven't implemented it yet, but it is on the list of considerations. You may also drop to later in the next round? Not sure how it would work, but it would be one time, not for the rest of the encoutner.

You attack before you see a clear opening (which is all an attack is in DnD, the one time you have a clear opening), and swing wildly at your foe in an attempt to kill them before they kill you.
 

Redwizard007

Explorer
I'm curious about the reasoning behind Int modifier to initiative, as suggested by multiple posters. What about the Intelligence stat makes you feel that it should be impactful here?
 

Zaukrie

New Publisher
I'm curious about the reasoning behind Int modifier to initiative, as suggested by multiple posters. What about the Intelligence stat makes you feel that it should be impactful here?
You're smart, and you can predict what happens next in battle. Basically, why is SPEED of muscle movement more important than either experience (level or wisdom) or intelligence (knowing/predicting things, observing things)? Frankly, I think level or wisdom (training) is more important than muscle speed.
 

Einlanzer0

Explorer
You're smart, and you can predict what happens next in battle. Basically, why is SPEED of muscle movement more important than either experience (level or wisdom) or intelligence (knowing/predicting things, observing things)? Frankly, I think level or wisdom (training) is more important than muscle speed.

It does make sense actually but the label "Initiative" doesn't. I think it makes a lot more sense if you do a simple re-fluffing of Initiative into something like Tactics.
 

Redwizard007

Explorer
You're smart, and you can predict what happens next in battle. Basically, why is SPEED of muscle movement more important than either experience (level or wisdom) or intelligence (knowing/predicting things, observing things)? Frankly, I think level or wisdom (training) is more important than muscle speed.
Got it.

Not a fan for 5e, but I understand the reasoning. IME intelligence actually hinders acting quickly, thats why you drill until you react without thought, but maybe if you were executing a plan.
 

Einlanzer0

Explorer
Got it.

Not a fan for 5e, but I understand the reasoning. IME intelligence actually hinders acting quickly, thats why you drill until you react without thought, but maybe if you were executing a plan.

Conceptually, I agree with this, which is why I keep Initiative with Dex. There's an argument for Wisdom, but as mentioned above that's partially filled by surprise rounds. If you want it to be with Int, I'm a fan of retheming it away from Initiative and toward something like Tactics.

My belief is not that Dex is too overloaded, but that other stats are too shallow. This is pretty easy to address, actually:
Weapons have minimum strength requirements like armor does. No 8 Str Longbowmen in my games.
Con doesn't need anything
Intelligence of 13 or higher grants a bonus proficiency. Int checks also replace the Hero Point system, granting situational advantage/disadvantage.
Wisdom and Charisma are both used for Sanity/madness, which are more common in my games
Charisma of 13 or higher grants expertise on a social skill of your choice.
 

Initiative house rule: initiative rolls determine whose actions happen first, but there are no turns. Each character gets his allotment for the round - what he would normally get to do on his turn - but other characters can react with their own actions. When characters want to act at the same time, initiative counts determine who goes first. So big, bad orc starts with a big swing, but party fighter wants to attack first as well. Resolve the two attacks in order of initiative scores. Party rogue wants to move to flank the orc, no one feels the need to intervene, so no one else acts. The rogue can sneak attack anyone who a) has a lower initiative score, or b) has used her movement for the round.


Someone with a decent shield could get close enough to make an attack...

Really though - a dagger being a faster attack makes just as much sense as a dagger being as lethal as a greatsword. Ask these guys how they feel about weapon speeds:
As I say often when this comes up, ignoring that a Greatsword or spear is faster than a dagger in all practical terms for simplicity's sake is fine (as is conversely ignoring the fact that a dagger is much better when you're actually inside the guard - a level of detail that D&D has never attempted to model).

But when adding complexity means doing so in a direction that is the opposite of reality - that's when I balk. What is the point of it then? To confuse any players you have who actually know anything about how weapons work?
 
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You're smart, and you can predict what happens next in battle. Basically, why is SPEED of muscle movement more important than either experience (level or wisdom) or intelligence (knowing/predicting things, observing things)? Frankly, I think level or wisdom (training) is more important than muscle speed.
I'd be wary here. One of the problems in making Intelligence better is that if you don't make it good enough (or change the way characters are built) you end up hurting those pcs more that can't really afford to put points into intelligence (such as Barbarians and Paladins).

Thematically it doesn't hurt the Barbarian too much under the point buy system if he can never have a high Intelligence if we interpret it as being due to being uneducated. But if he's also now slow? It's also themetically inappropriate - Barbarians have class feature's to reflect the fact that they're anything but slow to react.
 
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Zaukrie

New Publisher
I'd be wary here. One of the problems in making Intelligence better is that if you don't make it good enough (or change the way characters are built) you end up hurting those pcs more that can't really afford to put points into intelligence (such as Barbarians and Paladins).

Thematically it doesn't hurt the Barbarian too much under the point buy system if he can never have a high Intelligence if we interpret it as being due to being uneducated. But if he's also now slow? It's also themetically inappropriate - Barbarians have class feature's to reflect the fact that they're anything but slow to react.
Meh, I was merely answering the question of why Int might matter, not saying it SHOULD matter.
 

I'm curious about the reasoning behind Int modifier to initiative, as suggested by multiple posters. What about the Intelligence stat makes you feel that it should be impactful here?

I think Int should be part of it, but not as a straight substitute for Dex. I like how other systems have sub-stats for things like Initiative or Luck or other stuff. Systems where you take two of the main stats and take the average of the two to make the sub-stat. So Initiative could be Int and Dex added together, then divided by 2. And then finding the modifier based on that.
 

Redwizard007

Explorer
I think Int should be part of it, but not as a straight substitute for Dex. I like how other systems have sub-stats for things like Initiative or Luck or other stuff. Systems where you take two of the main stats and take the average of the two to make the sub-stat. So Initiative could be Int and Dex added together, then divided by 2. And then finding the modifier based on that.
Now, I will be the first to say "play the way you like," but for me, Int has never been in any way associated with reaction times. If I wanted to tie a mental stat to initiative it would be Wis. That being said, a feat or class ability that added Int to initiative, particularly one that flavored it as the result of planning, would be entirely appropriate.
 

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