Initiative System (player choice matters) playtest results

toucanbuzz

Explorer
18 months ago, I posted the results of 1 year's play using the DMG's "speed factor" (p270) optional initiative system. Our goal in switching was to (1) make player choice matter and (2) to shake up predictable combat orders, thereby increasing thrill and tension. We met Goal #2 but not #1. The player choice had minimal impact.

1 year ago, I posted a rough draft based off AD&D and Mike Mearl's much maligned and over-complicated Greyhawk Initiative. For the last year, it's been simplified and fixed quite a bit after brainstorming with other DMs and test play. I've been happy to find it's met both goals and been smooth sailing! Having run a few one-shots for players using the default system and when playing this way, I found surprisingly it was faster (when players got used to it, which takes a few combats).

How can it be faster when you're rolling initiative each round and declaring your action?
I believe it's because everyone - all players and the DM - are deciding what to do at the same time instead of one at a time, and there's no need to record initiative down on a board or a sheet. The only thing to do on your turn is decide how to execute your chosen action. This saves a TON of time. Most of the time, unless an unusual strategy is involved or the player needs to alert everyone (e.g. "I'm casting Bless, stay close!"), there's no need to say much at all in the declaration stage, so it takes seconds.

HOW IT WORKS

Initiative is rolled each round. Lowest # goes first. Ties are broken by whoever has the highest Dexterity or Intelligence score (or a d20 roll if still tied).

Start of the round: DM decides monster activity in secret. At the same time, players decide what Actions and Bonus Actions they're taking, using generic terms from the PHB (e.g. use a particular item, attack with a particular weapon, cast a particular spell). They do not have to decide how to carry out or apply that action nor move until their initiative turn arrives. For example, the player who declared a sword attack may decide on his turn he really wants to use his sword to Shove because the orc moved close to the river last round and he beat the orc on initiative this round. This is fine because Shove replaces the Attack action.

Incapacity: If you start the turn unable to take actions, you still roll a d20 for initiative and declare a conditional Action if the incapacity ends. For example: if someone dispels the Hold Person on me, I'll attack with my sword.

Which Die to Roll: No matter how many Actions or bonus actions are taken, you roll the worst die only. If attacking two-handed with a long sword (d10) and using bardic inspiration (d6), the player only rolls the d10.

ActionDie
Light or finesse weapon, unarmed attackd4
Cantrip, use items, any action not listed such as Dodged6
Weapon attacks, including natural weaponweapon damage die or dice
Spelld10
Incapacityd20

Readying Actions: Works per normal rules except you can Ready your action when declaring OR when your turn occurs.
A common criticism of the DMG system was the fear of losing actions. I detailed this in gameplay for the DMG rules where after a year, it never was an issue. While unpredictable things can happen, it's really hard to pick an action and not use it. Players have to be aware of the battlefield, watching where everyone is, who is hurting, what the enemies are doing. I found they end up picking "good" choices, not necessarily the "perfect" one to give themselves as much flexibility as possible.

Reach Weapon Advantage (optional): If a creature without Reach (10' or greater weapon or natural weapon) enters the threatened area of a creature with Reach, the creature with Reach may use its Reaction to make an Attack of Opportunity. This is a throwback to prior editions and reflects the advantage of reach at keeping enemies at bay. This ability is not available to someone whose weapon is not ready, such as a creature that is casting a spell and does not have a weapon free.

Durations: All durations are checked at the end of the round. All durations that terminate at the end or beginning of a creature's turn, such as a Monk's Stunning Fist or Guiding Bolt spell, last until the end of the next round instead. Optional: Track durations from the initiative order in which they occurred. If a stun occurred on initiative number 5, it terminates at the end of initiative number 5 next round. In play, the end of turn is simply easier to remember and track. There's no need to write down numbers. This does extend, slightly, the duration of these effects, but so far it's not caused any unusual issues.

In my prior explanation, I ran through a typical combat:
DM: The earth heaves as ghoulish fiends tear themselves from shallow graves and come loping down the tunnels at you. Actions!

Bard: Bardic Inspiration and shooting my crossbow. (Inspiration is a d6 generic and the crossbow d8, so the player rolls a d8).
Ranger: I'm close up. Attacking with both blades. (rolls a d4, using finesse weapons).
Sorcerer: Fire bolt! (rolls a d6 because it's a cantrip)
Druid: Faerie Fire online (rolls a d10 for a spell)
Paladin: Attacking and smiting if I hit (rolls a d8 for his sword, didn't need to declare anything else because smite is an option that triggers only if you hit)

The DM has already rolled and the players all roll at once. The DM counts up from 1 (using categories such as 1-3, 4-6...), Like the DMG rules, no one knows, under this who's going to go first. Eventually, a trust and honesty system will set in where the DM simply looks up and asks if players are ready once the DM has determined monster actions and initiatives.

DM: 1 to 3.
Ranger: 2! He attacks and hits both times.
DM: 4-6
Sorcerer & Druid: 4! (druid has higher dexterity, so he goes first, otherwise it'd be a roll-off). Both spells are cast.
DM: 5? My monsters act. Resolves attacks. One of the ghouls goes for the bard.
DM: 6 or higher.
Paladin: 6, here I go! (attacks)
Bard: 6 as well. He can go first. Okay, got a ghoul on me. I sing a song to inspire Ranger, then...crap...I'll try and shoot this guy closeup (with disadvantage). No wait, I'll risk it, I'm faking him out then leaping back (movement, risking attack of opportunity), firing my bow.

DM: Next round, everyone got actions? (this time, everyone is ready, no one has need to tell others to get out of the way, stay close, etc. Sometimes rounds will go this way).

In this round, the monsters act first and take down the Ranger. Unlike traditional rules, others were in the act of casting spells, using an item, swinging a weapon, and they don't get, in that brief moment, to halt the swing of their weapon and instead cast Healing Word or bandage the Ranger. The party is in trouble if the monsters go first next round because, if they're quick enough, Ranger could be killed!

Conclusion: It's quick once people "know their dice" and player choice of action makes a huge difference. Players are liking the control they have versus the sheer randomness of a d20, and we've de-emphasized the notion Dexterity should have such a heavy hand given all the other game mechanics it affects. Traditional "first strike" classes like rogues with daggers have great odds of striking first. Like in the DMG system, players need to watch the battlefield and plan accordingly because despite the odds, that ogre might roll well enough to surprise you and bring that club up quicker than you were expecting. It's added something to our game without taking anything away.
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
My experience of decide and declare at the start of the round initiative systems is that that phase takes ages, especially while waiting for the GM to do so for a pile of monsters.
 

Rabbitbait

Explorer
Hmm, just spitballing here, but how would this work?

  • Roll a d20 and subtract your dex modifier (minimum of 1)
  • Subtract that number from 100
  • The battle starts, going from highest to lowest.
  • When you have completed your turn, you roll a d20 and subtract your dex modifier, then add the score from your chart based on what you did that round.

ActionDie
Light or finesse weapon, unarmed attackd4
Cantrip, use items, any action not listed such as Dodged6
Weapon attacks, including natural weaponweapon damage die or dice
Spelld10
Incapacityd20
  • Subtract that number from your initiative - that is your new initiative number

That would mean someone with a high dex using a light weapon would really feel the advantages of speed over several rounds. They may even get to have two turns if they roll well compared to someone casting a spell.

Example.

Orc (+1 dex), rogue (+4 dex) and Wizard (-1 dex)

First round Orc rolls 10 (9 adjusted for dex modifier), rogue rolls 10 (6 adjusted), wizard rolls 10 (11 adjusted)

Subtract those numbers from 100

Initiative is:

Rogue 94
Orc 91
Wizard 89

The rogue attacks with his dagger and then rerolls, rolling another 10 (6 adjusted). He then rolls for the weapon he used - d4 - rolling a 2. 6+2=8. His new initiative is 94-8 = 86

Initiative is now

Rogue 94
Orc 91
Wizard 89
Rogue 86

The Orc attacks and then rerolls with his greataxe. Rolls 10 (9 adjusted) plus a roll of 6 for the greataxe. So current initiative -15

Initiative is now:

Rogue 94
Orc 91

Wizard 89
Rogue 86
Orc 76

Wizard casts spell. Rolls 10 (11 adjusted) plus a roll of 5 for the spellcasting. So current initiative -16

Initiative is now:

Rogue 94
Orc 91
Wizard 89

Rogue 86
Orc 76
Wizard 73

Back to the rogue. Same as above with middle of the road rolling. Initiative calculation is -8 again.

Initiative is now:

Rogue 94
Orc 91
Wizard 89
Rogue 86

Rogue 78
Orc 76
Wizard 73

So even though all the combatants have been middle of the road in their rolling, the rogue gets a second turn simply because he is dexterous and using a light weapon. Assuming another middle of the road roll that would take him down to an initiative count of 70 for the next round.

However, of course the randomness of rolls means that you would never know when your next turn is going to fall until you finish your current turn. It also means that the round does not reset every time, so someone with a dex bonus is likely to get a decent advantage over a full combat.

You could always go the other way as well, starting at zero and having a growing initiative number, but then you'd be aiming for a low roll on a d20. I like a high roll on d20 always being good.


Just thinking. I'd think I'd stick with normal initiative for simplicity, but that might be an option for people who want speed to have more of an impact.
 
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@toucanbuzz My experience has matched @Morrus when it comes to declare and then act/resolve initiative. I also would notice players changing their minds after declaring, based on other things happening (e.g. "on no, wait, you're there? I don't want to cast a fireball there, um, I want to Dash over here instead."). Based on playtesting your system, how did you guys handle players changing their minds?
 

dnd4vr

Hero
18 months ago, I posted the results of 1 year's play using the DMG's "speed factor" (p270) optional initiative system. Our goal in switching was to (1) make player choice matter and (2) to shake up predictable combat orders, thereby increasing thrill and tension. We met Goal #2 but not #1. The player choice had minimal impact.

1 year ago, I posted a rough draft based off AD&D and Mike Mearl's much maligned and over-complicated Greyhawk Initiative. For the last year, it's been simplified and fixed quite a bit after brainstorming with other DMs and test play. I've been happy to find it's met both goals and been smooth sailing! Having run a few one-shots for players using the default system and when playing this way, I found surprisingly it was faster (when players got used to it, which takes a few combats).

How can it be faster when you're rolling initiative each round and declaring your action?
I believe it's because everyone - all players and the DM - are deciding what to do at the same time instead of one at a time, and there's no need to record initiative down on a board or a sheet. The only thing to do on your turn is decide how to execute your chosen action. This saves a TON of time. Most of the time, unless an unusual strategy is involved or the player needs to alert everyone (e.g. "I'm casting Bless, stay close!"), there's no need to say much at all in the declaration stage, so it takes seconds.

HOW IT WORKS

Initiative is rolled each round. Lowest # goes first. Ties are broken by whoever has the highest Dexterity or Intelligence score (or a d20 roll if still tied).

Start of the round: DM decides monster activity in secret. At the same time, players decide what Actions and Bonus Actions they're taking, using generic terms from the PHB (e.g. use a particular item, attack with a particular weapon, cast a particular spell). They do not have to decide how to carry out or apply that action nor move until their initiative turn arrives. For example, the player who declared a sword attack may decide on his turn he really wants to use his sword to Shove because the orc moved close to the river last round and he beat the orc on initiative this round. This is fine because Shove replaces the Attack action.

Incapacity: If you start the turn unable to take actions, you still roll a d20 for initiative and declare a conditional Action if the incapacity ends. For example: if someone dispels the Hold Person on me, I'll attack with my sword.

Which Die to Roll: No matter how many Actions or bonus actions are taken, you roll the worst die only. If attacking two-handed with a long sword (d10) and using bardic inspiration (d6), the player only rolls the d10.

ActionDie
Light or finesse weapon, unarmed attackd4
Cantrip, use items, any action not listed such as Dodged6
Weapon attacks, including natural weaponweapon damage die or dice
Spelld10
Incapacityd20
Readying Actions: Works per normal rules except you can Ready your action when declaring OR when your turn occurs.
A common criticism of the DMG system was the fear of losing actions. I detailed this in gameplay for the DMG rules where after a year, it never was an issue. While unpredictable things can happen, it's really hard to pick an action and not use it. Players have to be aware of the battlefield, watching where everyone is, who is hurting, what the enemies are doing. I found they end up picking "good" choices, not necessarily the "perfect" one to give themselves as much flexibility as possible.


Reach Weapon Advantage (optional): If a creature without Reach (10' or greater weapon or natural weapon) enters the threatened area of a creature with Reach, the creature with Reach may use its Reaction to make an Attack of Opportunity. This is a throwback to prior editions and reflects the advantage of reach at keeping enemies at bay. This ability is not available to someone whose weapon is not ready, such as a creature that is casting a spell and does not have a weapon free.

Durations: All durations are checked at the end of the round. All durations that terminate at the end or beginning of a creature's turn, such as a Monk's Stunning Fist or Guiding Bolt spell, last until the end of the next round instead. Optional: Track durations from the initiative order in which they occurred. If a stun occurred on initiative number 5, it terminates at the end of initiative number 5 next round. In play, the end of turn is simply easier to remember and track. There's no need to write down numbers. This does extend, slightly, the duration of these effects, but so far it's not caused any unusual issues.

In my prior explanation, I ran through a typical combat:
DM: The earth heaves as ghoulish fiends tear themselves from shallow graves and come loping down the tunnels at you. Actions!

Bard: Bardic Inspiration and shooting my crossbow. (Inspiration is a d6 generic and the crossbow d8, so the player rolls a d8).
Ranger: I'm close up. Attacking with both blades. (rolls a d4, using finesse weapons).
Sorcerer: Fire bolt! (rolls a d6 because it's a cantrip)
Druid: Faerie Fire online (rolls a d10 for a spell)
Paladin: Attacking and smiting if I hit (rolls a d8 for his sword, didn't need to declare anything else because smite is an option that triggers only if you hit)

The DM has already rolled and the players all roll at once. The DM counts up from 1 (using categories such as 1-3, 4-6...), Like the DMG rules, no one knows, under this who's going to go first. Eventually, a trust and honesty system will set in where the DM simply looks up and asks if players are ready once the DM has determined monster actions and initiatives.

DM: 1 to 3.
Ranger: 2! He attacks and hits both times.
DM: 4-6
Sorcerer & Druid: 4! (druid has higher dexterity, so he goes first, otherwise it'd be a roll-off). Both spells are cast.
DM: 5? My monsters act. Resolves attacks. One of the ghouls goes for the bard.
DM: 6 or higher.
Paladin: 6, here I go! (attacks)
Bard: 6 as well. He can go first. Okay, got a ghoul on me. I sing a song to inspire Ranger, then...crap...I'll try and shoot this guy closeup (with disadvantage). No wait, I'll risk it, I'm faking him out then leaping back (movement, risking attack of opportunity), firing my bow.

DM: Next round, everyone got actions? (this time, everyone is ready, no one has need to tell others to get out of the way, stay close, etc. Sometimes rounds will go this way).

In this round, the monsters act first and take down the Ranger. Unlike traditional rules, others were in the act of casting spells, using an item, swinging a weapon, and they don't get, in that brief moment, to halt the swing of their weapon and instead cast Healing Word or bandage the Ranger. The party is in trouble if the monsters go first next round because, if they're quick enough, Ranger could be killed!

Conclusion: It's quick once people "know their dice" and player choice of action makes a huge difference. Players are liking the control they have versus the sheer randomness of a d20, and we've de-emphasized the notion Dexterity should have such a heavy hand given all the other game mechanics it affects. Traditional "first strike" classes like rogues with daggers have great odds of striking first. Like in the DMG system, players need to watch the battlefield and plan accordingly because despite the odds, that ogre might roll well enough to surprise you and bring that club up quicker than you were expecting. It's added something to our game without taking anything away.
I remember threads about this before. I'm glad you posted your results! Thanks for that.

Initiative can be as simple or as complex as you want, as long as it works for your table and your group has fun with it. I've played in very complex systems, and I am now in a game with super-simple Initaitve (roll once and repeat, no declaration phase).

As to what is fastest? Well, the funny thing is that totally depends on the players! Even though we are using a super simple system, the players take a lot of time (especially spellcasters) trying to decide what to do when their turn comes. So, I think the net benefit of speed we might otherwise have is typically lost.

A lot depends on the players...
 

Sadras

Adventurer
@toucanbuzz My experience has matched @Morrus when it comes to declare and then act/resolve initiative. I also would notice players changing their minds after declaring, based on other things happening (e.g. "on no, wait, you're there? I don't want to cast a fireball there, um, I want to Dash over here instead."). Based on playtesting your system, how did you guys handle players changing their minds?
I'm not the OP but from his post it looks like players cannot change their minds from his post below.
I'd imagine the caster would lose his Fireball spellslot in your example - should they wish to stop casting it. So either continue and suffer the consequences or lose out entirely. I'm thinking this style of initiative might increase the amount of readied actions.
Otherwise the combat sounds very dynamic and appealing, the latter due to the uncertainty of it all - which is how combat should be.

In this round, the monsters act first and take down the Ranger. Unlike traditional rules, others were in the act of casting spells, using an item, swinging a weapon, and they don't get, in that brief moment, to halt the swing of their weapon and instead cast Healing Word or bandage the Ranger. The party is in trouble if the monsters go first next round because, if they're quick enough, Ranger could be killed!
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
The main problem with pre-declaring actions, and the reason I abandoned the idea ages ago, is that far too often a pre-declared action doesn't make any sense by the time your initiative comes up, because things have significantly changed in the fiction during that time. Depends on the leniency of the DM, of course, as to whether declared actions can be abandoned and-or changed depending on circumstance; but IME it led to more arguments than it was worth.

The delays at the declare-actions phase don't often come from individual players/PCs, they IME come from the players trying to plan and co-ordinate their PCs' actions to the nth degree, something they wouldn't have time for on the actual battlefield once combat has begun.

Good that you don't insist on pre-declaring targets or moves.

I heartily endorse re-rolling every round. That said, I'd look for a way to take Dex out of the equation entirely as Dex as a stat already has too much going for it.

One quick way to track durations is for the player whose PC is either affected or who generated that effect to put a d20 on the table set to that number; and also to leave the initiative die on the table. (we all have tons of d20s, right?), and remove the die once it's no longer relevant. That way, anyone can look and ask "what's that 5 there for?".

Question: does this system allow for simultaneous initiatives?

Second question: does movement take time? If yes, does the movement start on the rolled init or end on it? (one thing that really annoys me about most init systems is that movement resolves almost like a mini-teleport - you were there and now >blip< you're here)
 

toucanbuzz

Explorer
My experience of decide and declare at the start of the round initiative systems is that that phase takes ages, especially while waiting for the GM to do so for a pile of monsters.
That's actually the ad&d 2nd edition example of play in the player's handbook, the wizard who realizes fireball will be a bad call and changes her mind. The dm warns her to make a call or lose her turn.

I'm not seeing delay for the reasons in the original post and most rounds players dont need to say anything, just roll their dice as not every round needs advanced planning. Honesty, so I dont have to verify their choices, helps save time. As a dm, I'm slowing up the game anytime I choose monster actions. Here, all of us decide at once, so players dont wait as long on me.
 
I've been using speed factor initiative for about a year. I like it, but I've never come up with good solutions for the following:

Legendary Actions. When do they reset? I decided that Legendary Actions are used per-round, not per turn, but it felt weird.
Defend action. When does it start? When does it end? What happens if a player declares defend, then rolls really badly and ends up going last?
Readied Action. What if you declare a Redy Action but end up going last this round and first next round?

I liked it for the speed of play. Having all the players discuss things at the beginning of the round made individual turns happen much faster. I noticed a big reduction in people using smartphones during combat, especially for one player who is unable to make a turn in combat in under 5 minutes...


The main problem with pre-declaring actions, and the reason I abandoned the idea ages ago, is that far too often a pre-declared action doesn't make any sense by the time your initiative comes up, because things have significantly changed in the fiction during that time.
I had worries about that, and I have one player who believed that missing out on your declared action was the worst thing that could ever happen and would break the entire game.

In practice, losing your action turns out to be pretty rare and when it does happen, it adds to the story, not taking away from it. It also applies to the NPCs - my players have cheered a couple of times when their maneuvering meant the enemy mage couldn't get off their fireball.

Good that you don't insist on pre-declaring targets or moves.
Oh yeah, that is a must! Requiring declaration of targets at the start will definitely lead to unhappiness at wasted turns.

I also stopped requiring declarion of bonus actions as well. Some of their triggers (like Great Weapon Master feat) made "declare at the beginning of the round" just plain impossible.
 
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Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
That's actually the ad&d 2nd edition example of play in the player's handbook, the wizard who realizes fireball will be a bad call and changes her mind. The dm warns her to make a call or lose her turn.

I'm not seeing delay for the reasons in the original post and most rounds players dont need to say anything, just roll their dice as not every round needs advanced planning. Honesty, so I dont have to verify their choices, helps save time. As a dm, I'm slowing up the game anytime I choose monster actions. Here, all of us decide at once, so players dont wait as long on me.
So you have 14 monsters, and you have to decide their actions in advance. How is that. It 2-3 minutes of players chatting amongst themselves?

(I’m genuinely curious; my experience of such systems - 1E D&D was such a system, and there’s a reason 3E, 4E, and 5E moved away from it).
 

toucanbuzz

Explorer
@toucanbuzz My experience has matched @Morrus when it comes to declare and then act/resolve initiative. I also would notice players changing their minds after declaring, based on other things happening (e.g. "on no, wait, you're there? I don't want to cast a fireball there, um, I want to Dash over here instead."). Based on playtesting your system, how did you guys handle players changing their minds?
Bounced several options but ultimately settled on using the Ready action rather than allowing a substitute "change your mind" action. Speed is a goal, to lessen "analysis paralysis" during turns where players hold up the game debating the optimal call.

Other thoughts that didnt work or fit goal of speedy play: delay and go on 0 next turn, add a d20 to initiative if changing mind, allow dodge to be substituted.
 

dnd4vr

Hero
(I’m genuinely curious; my experience of such systems - 1E D&D was such a system, and there’s a reason 3E, 4E, and 5E moved away from it).
They moved away from it as far as I know because they went from a 1-minute long round, to 6-seconds.

If anything, it makes more sense to have a declaration phase in 5E than in 1E. When you have 6-seconds to decide what to do and act on it, you really shouldn't have time to change your mind in most cases. Your part of the actual round might only be a second or two, after all. In a 1-minute long round for 1E, as events unfold, you have time to change what you are doing.
 
So you have 14 monsters, and you have to decide their actions in advance. How is that. It 2-3 minutes of players chatting amongst themselves?
I tell the players my decisions as I make them, and I do it before they have their discussion, so they have some data to base their tactics on.

"This group of cultists are going to shoot someone with their crossbows. That group are rusing you with clubs and swords. The cult leader over there is casting a spell and that weird woman with the green hair, well, you're not sure what she's doing (she's activating a feature to do something horrible)."
 

toucanbuzz

Explorer
I'm not the OP but from his post it looks like players cannot change their minds from his post below.
I'd imagine the caster would lose his Fireball spellslot in your example - should they wish to stop casting it. So either continue and suffer the consequences or lose out entirely. I'm thinking this style of initiative might increase the amount of readied actions.
Otherwise the combat sounds very dynamic and appealing, the latter due to the uncertainty of it all - which is how combat should be.
Yes, things may not always go your way, and the same works for monsters. A declare system creates unpredictable situations so players have to be aware.
 

toucanbuzz

Explorer
The main problem with pre-declaring actions, and the reason I abandoned the idea ages ago, is that far too often a pre-declared action doesn't make any sense by the time your initiative comes up, because things have significantly changed in the fiction during that time. Depends on the leniency of the DM, of course, as to whether declared actions can be abandoned and-or changed depending on circumstance; but IME it led to more arguments than it was worth.

The delays at the declare-actions phase don't often come from individual players/PCs, they IME come from the players trying to plan and co-ordinate their PCs' actions to the nth degree, something they wouldn't have time for on the actual battlefield once combat has begun.

Good that you don't insist on pre-declaring targets or moves.

I heartily endorse re-rolling every round. That said, I'd look for a way to take Dex out of the equation entirely as Dex as a stat already has too much going for it.

One quick way to track durations is for the player whose PC is either affected or who generated that effect to put a d20 on the table set to that number; and also to leave the initiative die on the table. (we all have tons of d20s, right?), and remove the die once it's no longer relevant. That way, anyone can look and ask "what's that 5 there for?".

Question: does this system allow for simultaneous initiatives?

Second question: does movement take time? If yes, does the movement start on the rolled init or end on it? (one thing that really annoys me about most init systems is that movement resolves almost like a mini-teleport - you were there and now >blip< you're here)
We track durations with dice too, great idea.

Tried simultaneous initiative briefly but theorycrafted that it could mess with bonus action synergy, such as a knocking a foe prone and getting a bonus attack. In ad&d which didn't have bonus actions, I think it'd work fine.

Movement costs nothing, unlike greyhawk. This was solely to reduce the number of dice rolled.
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
I tell the players my decisions as I make them, and I do it before they have their discussion, so they have some data to base their tactics on.

"This group of cultists are going to shoot someone with their crossbows. That group are rusing you with clubs and swords. The cult leader over there is casting a spell and that weird woman with the green hair, well, you're not sure what she's doing (she's activating a feature to do something horrible)."
Yes, but that short speech doesn’t include the decision-making part. I’m not asking about your ability to speak quickly; it’s how long it takes you to decide what each of 14 separate monsters does.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
So you have 14 monsters, and you have to decide their actions in advance. How is that. It 2-3 minutes of players chatting amongst themselves?

(I’m genuinely curious; my experience of such systems - 1E D&D was such a system, and there’s a reason 3E, 4E, and 5E moved away from it).
In your experience, how often do monsters do something other than the Attack or Cast a Spell action?

Here’s how it has generally gone for me when I’ve used declare-then-roll systems. “The goblins look like they’re going to continue their assault. The shaman is uttering an incantation. What do you do?”
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
In your experience, how often do monsters do something other than the Attack or Cast a Spell action?

Here’s how it has generally gone for me when I’ve used declare-then-roll systems. “The goblins look like they’re going to continue their assault. The shaman is uttering an incantation. What do you do?”
So you’re asking the players to make specific decisions, but all of the goblins are just “continuing their assault”?

Wait... I’m thinking in terms of miniatures. It matters whether each goblin moves or attacks. Are you using theatre of the mind only?
 

toucanbuzz

Explorer
Legendary Actions. When do they reset? I decided that Legendary Actions are used per-round, not per turn, but it felt weird.
Defend action. When does it start? When does it end? What happens if a player declares defend, then rolls really badly and ends up going last?
Readied Action. What if you declare a Redy Action but end up going last this round and first next round?
Legendary shouldn't change, usable on another creatures turn, resetting at end of each round. Similar to tracking duration.

Not sure of a "Defend" action. If you mean Dodge, same as any other system and the duration would last till your next turn.

Ready action terminates at end of round, so little use if you're last or near last.

Have considered player who readied an action to keep that readied action and go on initiative 0 the next round. This came up in our last session (holding a bow shot ready until enemy came out of invisibility).
 

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