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Initiative, Combat Stances, and Types of Actions!

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
So, @Bawylie reminded me of an idea I've been kicking around in my WIP game. IT's not a new idea, but it combines elements from several games.

What might it look like to have initiative modified by combat stance, and by the type of action you last took?
There are a few ideas here, not all of which need to be combined into one system. Any combination could be interesting.
NOTE: in this system, you get one action, free movement like in 5e dnd, and 2 quick actions, per round. Quick actions can be used on turn or off, depending on what you're doing with them. You can also do incidental stuff without using an action, like opening doors and flipping switches or switching weapons.

  • I don't like declaring actions at the top of the round, but if you cast a complex spell last turn, maybe that means you drop down the init in this round?
  • If you take an aggressive stance, you get an init boost, but either are losing out on a defense boost, or outright take a penalty?
  • If you take a defensive stance, you get to do something at the top of the round, but take your full turn at the end of the round? Or maybe get an extra quick action or something?
  • Maybe a stance where you get no bonuses except that you can insert yourself into the init order at the end of another creature's turn?
  • A protective stance would help you "tank" by imposing penalty to enemy action, but go toward the end like defensive stance?
  • Perhaps certain combat skills give a bonus or penalty to initiative if they are what you have ready to fight with?

I think maybe you wouldn't roll initiative in this system, and instead it would be determined by your stance, and simply "PCs go first in their group" and let the PCs choose who goes first between PCs in a group?

ALternatively, who goes first in each group could be the result of a group check? Something like The One Ring's readiness rolls at the start of encounters? This would also be how you try to ambush or surprise an enemy, which could sometimes be accomplished simply by badly out-rolling them. "You draw unexpectedly as you realise that it's time to fight, and get the jump on the enemy." or even (counter-intuitively but very realistically) you outdraw the enemy bc you see one of them make a move for a weapon, and your reflexes are honed to respond to that without a thought. Basically, when initiative is called for, you can roll for tactical analysis, getting into an advantageous position, intimidating the enemy, hiding from sight to sneak and flank, or just outdrawing them and getting the jump on them. Number of successes on both sides is tallied, and used to determine init order.


Thoughts? Clarifying questions? Ideas on trying some of this out in 5e dnd?
 

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the Jester

Legend
EDIT: What happens before your first turn changes your mind about what stance you want to be in?

It seems to me like a lot of extra fiddliness for minimal payoff, but that's obviously a matter of taste.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
EDIT: What happens before your first turn changes your mind about what stance you want to be in?

It seems to me like a lot of extra fiddliness for minimal payoff, but that's obviously a matter of taste.
You’re locked in for the round. It’s a stance that affects your entire round. Your stance might impact your defense, or speed, or allow you to do soemthing off turn that you wouldn’t normally be able to, etc.
 


Bawylie

A very OK person
I can’t quite envision your WIP game’s process. So I’ll talk about 5E, conceptually.

Let’s say that instead of number-based initiative, the turn order in a combat goes Missiles -> Melee -> Magic. In any round, anyone who is freely firing missiles goes first (enemy or ally alike). Once these are complete, anyone who is in melee goes (this includes people with ranged weapons who got caught in melee because they can’t fire freely when someone is messing with them). Once these are complete, spellcasters can fire off their magic spells. Once these are done, the round ends and the next round begins again with those who can freely shoot missiles.

Now you wanted the last thing players were doing to affect the combat somehow. In my mind, their marching order stands in pretty well. Usually, you’ve got a forward/scout position (watching for baddies), a navigator/mapper (picking the path and keeping charts), a researcher/investigator (looking for traps, treasure, and secret doors or whatever), and a guard (just someone with weapons at the ready).

So that marching order can affect the combat. The adventurer in the guard position can take their first turn during the missile phase. They were ready to spring into position the moment a fight broke out. The Scout can move to a position of their choice right away (perhaps before combat even starts). Having seen the danger, they can decide to fall back and take cover, hide for an ambush, move out to missile range, or move into melee. They’ll act when they shoot, fight, or cast, but to start they get to pick a nice spot to stand and get an advantage. The Navigator and Researcher get no special advantages. They just go when they go - the other two were covering this group.

Hm. Then stances? Like you adopt a stance on your turn and it lasts until the start of your next turn. I immediately think of offensive, defensive, and neutral/support stances. An offensive stance goes first but gives up reactions/quick actions for a speed, to-hit and/or, damage bonus. A defensive stance goes last, gains an AC bump or grants cover perhaps, and can use its two quick actions as attacks during later phases. And a neutral or support stance can decide to act when their phase comes up (between offense and defense) OR they can give up their action this round and “hold” it so they can act in a phase of their choosing in the next round.

So in the missile phase, the aggressive shooters go first, the supports go second (or decide to hold), and the defensive shooters go last, and use their quick actions to fire off additional shots later in the round.

Following the missile phase, the melee phase begins. Aggressive combatants first, then neutral stance combatants (fight or hold), and defensive combatants last.

Following the melee phase, the magic phase begins. Offensive casters, then neutral support casters (fight or hold), and finally defensive casters.

The next round begins with the missile phase but any neutral/support stances that were held last round can jump in any phase they want. So you might get a melee attack or a spell in between the offensive and defensive shooters of round 2.

You only need to do an initiative check when two opponents in the same phase have the same stance. (Two aggressive shooter opponents need to determine who fires first).

Now this all seems complex but because it follows a pattern I think it’ll be easy and dynamic. Just keep the missile, melee, magic flow and have the players announce their stance when they go. Telegraph the enemy stances so the players can act accordingly.
 

CubicsRube

Adventurer
I've never really thought about stances affecting initiative, but I have thought of trying out a homebrew of 5e stances of agressive (like the barbarians reckless attack feature), neutral (like normal) and defensive (disad on attack, and disad to attack you).

I'm not sure that helps you though.
 

CubicsRube

Adventurer
Thinking on it now I guess you could do a similar measure where you have everyone declare if they're going in agressive, neutral or balanced.

Then the phases are aggressive pcs, aggressive enemies, balanced pcs, balanced enemies, defensive pcs, defensive enemies.

Aggressive pcs and enemies are easier to hit, neutral slightly less so, and defensive harder to hit.

It gives you some measure of risk and reward, for example you might take the aggressive route in the hope of taking out one of the opponents before they get a chance to act.
 

DMMike

Game Masticator
My first thought is that if I'm playing an archer or magic-user in this game, I don't care about stances. If my last action was "shoot," I'm going to use my quick action to reload or cast, then I'm going to shoot again.

Next, I'm picturing a real simple flow chart or diagram to make the last action-stance-result go quick and smooth. If it requires rule book perusal, I'm out.

Could it work? Heck yeah! Initiative can be much more interesting than just a fixed turn order. But on the other hand, combat is about actions first, and how/when you take those actions is secondary.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
My first thought is that if I'm playing an archer or magic-user in this game, I don't care about stances. If my last action was "shoot," I'm going to use my quick action to reload or cast, then I'm going to shoot again.

Next, I'm picturing a real simple flow chart or diagram to make the last action-stance-result go quick and smooth. If it requires rule book perusal, I'm out.

Could it work? Heck yeah! Initiative can be much more interesting than just a fixed turn order. But on the other hand, combat is about actions first, and how/when you take those actions is secondary.
Yeah one prerequisite for inclusion would absolutely be that it doesn’t require opening the rule book. If it can be included on the character sheet, even better.


Aggressive and defensive stance would definitely affect archers and magic users, though. There could even be a stance that is better for them, that nuances the use of quick action attacks, and involves marking enemies to make quick action attacks in response to soemthing. Like if a fighting style in fifth edition allowed you to make an attack as a reaction against an enemy if they do a certain thing within a certain range, as long as you’re in the stance.
 

Tonguez

Hero
Something like:
1 Reckless Attack - gain initiative, take disadvantage
2 Defensive Stance - lose initiative, take advantage
3 Tactical Reaction- enemy gains initiative but takes disadvantage on defense
 

GrahamWills

Adventurer
What might it look like to have initiative modified by combat stance, and by the type of action you last took?
I used the weapon speed and spell duration based initiative modifiers in AD&D in a recent campaign, together with missile fire always going before melee. It worked pretty well. I used a single group roll or initiative for each side, so the order within each side was determined by their stance. Makes monks and dagger builds way more of a fun option, and it’s fun to see a caster decide to cast based on how fast they can get the spell off.

The fact that there was group initiative meant play was speeded up overall and the fact that players could decide their order made it easier for them to plan — even if enemies might go between, knowing you are always going to get a couple of arrows fired before the rogue jumps out of hiding and then the paladin swings his big sword makes for smooth combats and allows players to develop nice tactics. I didn’t think it was going to work out half as well as it actually did!
 

aramis erak

Adventurer
L5R 5 uses stances. The stance is one of the 5 rings (attributes)...
WHich stance determines which ring your action uses. If the action requires a different ring, it can't be done in other stances. So, water spells and first aid require water stance. Fire Spells and inspiring speeches require fire. etc. Most generic attacks can use any ring, but specific techniques specify the needed ring.

This is about the max level of tracking I care personally to bother with. I want to make some stance dice with the elemental symbols on them.

The stance by previous action sounds like a bit too much work.

THe 3rd playtest draft of MGT1E had a nifty system - whenever initiative was 6, you could act, and the lower of the dice on the 2d6 task roll is the new action. Non-task actions (including movement) had specific initiative costs.
 

dragoner

Dying in Chargen
So, @Bawylie reminded me of an idea I've been kicking around in my WIP game. IT's not a new idea, but it combines elements from several games.

What might it look like to have initiative modified by combat stance, and by the type of action you last took?
There are a few ideas here, not all of which need to be combined into one system. Any combination could be interesting.
NOTE: in this system, you get one action, free movement like in 5e dnd, and 2 quick actions, per round. Quick actions can be used on turn or off, depending on what you're doing with them. You can also do incidental stuff without using an action, like opening doors and flipping switches or switching weapons.

  • I don't like declaring actions at the top of the round, but if you cast a complex spell last turn, maybe that means you drop down the init in this round?
  • If you take an aggressive stance, you get an init boost, but either are losing out on a defense boost, or outright take a penalty?
  • If you take a defensive stance, you get to do something at the top of the round, but take your full turn at the end of the round? Or maybe get an extra quick action or something?
  • Maybe a stance where you get no bonuses except that you can insert yourself into the init order at the end of another creature's turn?
  • A protective stance would help you "tank" by imposing penalty to enemy action, but go toward the end like defensive stance?
  • Perhaps certain combat skills give a bonus or penalty to initiative if they are what you have ready to fight with?

I think maybe you wouldn't roll initiative in this system, and instead it would be determined by your stance, and simply "PCs go first in their group" and let the PCs choose who goes first between PCs in a group?

ALternatively, who goes first in each group could be the result of a group check? Something like The One Ring's readiness rolls at the start of encounters? This would also be how you try to ambush or surprise an enemy, which could sometimes be accomplished simply by badly out-rolling them. "You draw unexpectedly as you realise that it's time to fight, and get the jump on the enemy." or even (counter-intuitively but very realistically) you outdraw the enemy bc you see one of them make a move for a weapon, and your reflexes are honed to respond to that without a thought. Basically, when initiative is called for, you can roll for tactical analysis, getting into an advantageous position, intimidating the enemy, hiding from sight to sneak and flank, or just outdrawing them and getting the jump on them. Number of successes on both sides is tallied, and used to determine init order.


Thoughts? Clarifying questions? Ideas on trying some of this out in 5e dnd?
One of the things that draws me back to classic traveller is the lack of an initiative system, it is just cleaner and faster, plus more realistic.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
One of the things that draws me back to classic traveller is the lack of an initiative system, it is just cleaner and faster, plus more realistic.
Can you give an example of how it's cleaner and faster? I've seen people run games without initiative of any kind, and I found it to be the opposite.
 

dragoner

Dying in Chargen
Can you give an example of how it's cleaner and faster? I've seen people run games without initiative of any kind, and I found it to be the opposite.
What happened then?

I just have them state what they are doing and roll the dice in the combat turn; there is still planning, surprise, and such where initiative is role played out. Usually have everyone state if they hit or not and if they were hit, figure damage, and then go to next turn. I like the simultaneity.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
What happened then?

I just have them state what they are doing and roll the dice in the combat turn; there is still planning, surprise, and such where initiative is role played out. Usually have everyone state if they hit or not and if they were hit, figure damage, and then go to next turn. I like the simultaneity.
Yeah that is how it was run, and it was...terrible. Like 20 minutes straight of that moment in a regular D&D game where everyone starts just trying to tell the DM what their initiative is.

Finally we just...went clockwise. At the end we decided that it’s easier to just use initiative.
 

dragoner

Dying in Chargen
Yeah that is how it was run, and it was...terrible. Like 20 minutes straight of that moment in a regular D&D game where everyone starts just trying to tell the DM what their initiative is.

Finally we just...went clockwise. At the end we decided that it’s easier to just use initiative.
You have to de-train people from D&D thought patterns. D&D does take 10x as long and is mind numbingly boring, usually I'd take that time to go to the bathroom or something.
 


Eyes of Nine

Everything's Fine
Yeah that is how it was run, and it was...terrible. Like 20 minutes straight of that moment in a regular D&D game where everyone starts just trying to tell the DM what their initiative is.

Finally we just...went clockwise. At the end we decided that it’s easier to just use initiative.
You can also do "spotlight". Whatever the GM deems most interesting; ask what that player is going to do. Even ask them to roll their dice. But then hold them in suspense with a quick cut to the next person. If someone wants to see the result of another player's action, that's fine; but they'll have to wait. Then move the spotlight to the next person.

Then, like what dragoner said - resolve everything all at once for those who acted; and then check in on those who held their actions in reserve.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
You can also do "spotlight". Whatever the GM deems most interesting; ask what that player is going to do. Even ask them to roll their dice. But then hold them in suspense with a quick cut to the next person. If someone wants to see the result of another player's action, that's fine; but they'll have to wait. Then move the spotlight to the next person.

Then, like what dragoner said - resolve everything all at once for those who acted; and then check in on those who held their actions in reserve.
I guess I don't see the benefit of that, particularly in light of the extra round by round work involved.

But, I might see the benefit more if I had any significant experience of initiative being painful.
 

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