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5E The "Bonus" Turn for high Initiative

dnd4vr

Adventurer
So, it's great to have a good initiative modifier, right? Well, I guess, at least for that first round... but after that, it is really inconsequential. With the RAW system of cyclical initiative, it is always "you go, they go, you go, they go..." and so on.

But, what about if a high modifier could actually give you an "extra" turn the first round? The idea is this:

You roll initiative as normal. If your total is above 20, you get to act again, gaining a complete extra turn, at 20 below your total. After this, you act on the 20 less total for the remainder of the encounter.

I think the idea is straight forward, but here is an example:

A: 24
B: 21
C: 19
D: 13
E: 2

A would get to act on 24 and again on 4. After the first round, A would have to decide to act on 24 or 4 for the rest of the combat. B would act on 21 and on 1, also having to decide to act on 21 or 1 for the remainder of the battle.

A-1: 24
B-1: 21
C: 19
D: 13
A-2: 4
E: 2
B-2: 1

Now, of course this would make certain features VERY good under the right conditions, and I get that. But it has been my experience with cyclical initiative that getting a good bonus isn't as important really unless your class features (such as assassinate) really depend on going first. But even then, you only benefit from those features once.

Open for discussion: is this a decent idea? too much/OP? I am toying with it for now, and would like some constructive feedback (please not just "this is a bad idea"--tell me why! :) ).
 
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coolAlias

Explorer
Going first is generally extremely advantageous - not only do you go first on the first round, but every subsequent round as well.

This means you are often able to disable / kill one or more opponents before they can act on any given round, which of course leads to much less damage taken by the party.

Granting a full extra turn on the first round would be extremely powerful, not only because you go first, but because you then go last and then in probably 99.999% of cases you'd go again immediately. In 5e, a good offense really is the best defense.

What one of my groups did and enjoyed was to have the entire group declare their action at the start of each round, then re-roll initiative. The DM of course should decide what the NPCs are going to do and inform the players of anything that would be obvious and might affect PC decisions, e.g. "the orcs begin moving toward you, axes raised."

It's not the fastest and has its idiosyncracies, but it really puts that chaotic feeling back into combat akin to AD&D.
 

coolAlias

Explorer
Extremely doubtful. If your BBEG can wipe a party in two turns, you might want to re-evaluate what you are throwing your PCS up against.
It might not be a TPK, but I'd caution you not to underestimate the advantage of both going first AND having two turns the first round.

At least one PC could very easily die in such circumstances, especially if it's not their first fight of the day.
 

dnd4vr

Adventurer
Going first is generally extremely advantageous - not only do you go first on the first round, but every subsequent round as well.
This is the misconception. After the first turn in cyclical initiative, it really doesn't matter due to the I go-you go cycle.

This means you are often able to disable / kill one or more opponents before they can act on any given round, which of course leads to much less damage taken by the party.

Granting a full extra turn on the first round would be extremely powerful, not only because you go first, but because you then go last and then in probably 99.999% of cases you'd go again immediately. In 5e, a good offense really is the best defense.

What one of my groups did and enjoyed was to have the entire group declare their action at the start of each round, then re-roll initiative. The DM of course should decide what the NPCs are going to do and inform the players of anything that would be obvious and might affect PC decisions, e.g. "the orcs begin moving toward you, axes raised."

It's not the fastest and has its idiosyncracies, but it really puts that chaotic feeling back into combat akin to AD&D.
My first instinct was that you would go afterwards on the lower count to prevent the going last and going again (on the original total) the second round. I'll edit the OP to reflect this.
 

Ancalagon

Dusty Dragon
You do get a bonus turn though - the combat ends somewhere in the middle of a round - whoever went before that end of combat moment has had a turn more than those who haven't gone in the round yet - they will not get to.
 

dnd4vr

Adventurer
It might not be a TPK, but I'd caution you not to underestimate the advantage of both going first AND having two turns the first round.

At least one PC could very easily die in such circumstances, especially if it's not their first fight of the day.
Characters very rarely die in 5E, at least after tier 1 IME. But, if you think it is too much, that is cool. Maybe just an extra action instead of an entire turn? It isn't a huge difference, but it might be significant.
 

dnd4vr

Adventurer
You do get a bonus turn though - the combat ends somewhere in the middle of a round - whoever went before that end of combat moment has had a turn more than those who haven't gone in the round yet - they will not get to.
Interesting POV...

So, in other words, higher initiative always gets to go "last" since the others won't get to act at all-- the "bonus turn" comes at the end of the fight.

My only caveat is this: "provided you survive to the end (or are conscious and still in the fight)."

I'd rather it come earlier, personally. I like other systems, such as Shadowrun 2E, that rewards high initiative with extra actions. In that game, "speed" really kills LOL! I wouldn't want a bonus every round, though, so I thought just in the first round would work well.
 

coolAlias

Explorer
This is the misconception. After the first turn in cyclical initiative, it really doesn't matter due to the I go-you go cycle.
I disagree. Yes, initiative is cyclical, but if someone's dead or disabled before their turn comes up again due to the people that acted before them in a round, how is that not an advantage to going first?
My first instinct was that you would go afterwards on the lower count to prevent the going last and going again (on the original total) the second round. I'll edit the OP to reflect this.
That would be much more acceptable - in this case, only the slowest of the bunch would be punished:

A=24
B, C...
A = 4
D = 1
// new round
B, C...
A = 4
D = 1
Characters very rarely die in 5E, at least after tier 1 IME. But, if you think it is too much, that is cool. Maybe just an extra action instead of an entire turn? It isn't a huge difference, but it might be significant.
I mean, I do think it is too much of an advantage, but with your edit, I'd say go ahead and try it at your table and see how it goes. Perhaps your group's play style will benefit from it.
 

Ancalagon

Dusty Dragon
Interesting POV...

So, in other words, higher initiative always gets to go "last" since the others won't get to act at all-- the "bonus turn" comes at the end of the fight.

My only caveat is this: "provided you survive to the end (or are conscious and still in the fight)."

I'd rather it come earlier, personally. I like other systems, such as Shadowrun 2E, that rewards high initiative with extra actions. In that game, "speed" really kills LOL! I wouldn't want a bonus every round, though, so I thought just in the first round would work well.
even by that logic the person with the highest initiative will get more turn! Let's say that in a party of 4 PCs, each member has an equal chance of going down. Let's say that this happens in round 3, and party victory happens in round 4. Initiative structure is PC1, PC2, Giant, PC3, PC4. The giant has picked a target at random and is now bashing them in.

If PC 1 or PC2 go down in round 3, they still will have had 3 rounds of action. However, PC3 or PC4 would only have had 2 rounds!

Going first is a huge advantage. A fighter could launch and action surge and take out a foe before he could even get to act. A paladin could smite to do the same. A wizard could cast a wall spell, dividing the foes in 2. A cleric or bard could buff the entire party. There is no need for "bonus rounds", none.
 

Shiroiken

Adventurer
Initiative is beneficial, but often overrated. Going first usually allows you to have an additional turn over your enemies, but that's really all it is due to the cyclical nature of initiative. While I'd rather return to the 2E days of declaring intent (cast a spell, attack, withdraw, etc.) before rolling initiative, I must admit that the current system is fairly balanced and works smoothly.
 

Garthanos

Arcadian Knight
So, it's great to have a good initiative modifier, right? Well, I guess, at least for that first round... but after that, it is really inconsequential. With the RAW system of cyclical initiative, it is always "you go, they go, you go, they go..." and so on.
If we win then one of the things which may have contributed is we only have to soak 1 fewer round of hits conversely if we lose by even partial round worth of damage the enemy having initiative is what killed us. You are kind of doubling down on something already a significant advantage
 

S'mon

Legend
Open for discussion: is this a decent idea? too much/OP? I am toying with it for now, and would like some constructive feedback (please not just "this is a bad idea"--tell me why! :) ).
I'd say it was a bad idea and very much OP. My son does love his Primeval Thule Rogue Assassin PC with Ice Reaver charge that lets him make an attack before initiative - it's incredibly powerful, and that is limited to one melee attack. He then took Alertness so he can usually attack twice before the enemy, or three times with surprise, which he gets quite a lot, getting two Assassinations and one sneak attack in before the enemy can act. He's been known to kill minor BBEGs before they get a turn.
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
I disagree. Yes, initiative is cyclical, but if someone's dead or disabled before their turn comes up again due to the people that acted before them in a round, how is that not an advantage to going first?
Because it's cyclic, everybody is going first or last, depending where you place your arbitrary 'starting' point. In the first round that's at the start of the fight, but thereafter it makes no difference. No spoke on a bicycle is first or last.
 
I do a thing like this in my own homebrew game system, which is derived from Star Wars Saga Edition. Initiative is a skill, so initiative checks can get quite high. There is a feat that allows you to, if your Initiative check result is above 20, take your turn, reduce your initiative check result by 20, and then go again.
 

Fanaelialae

Adventurer
Interesting POV...

So, in other words, higher initiative always gets to go "last" since the others won't get to act at all-- the "bonus turn" comes at the end of the fight.

My only caveat is this: "provided you survive to the end (or are conscious and still in the fight)."

I'd rather it come earlier, personally. I like other systems, such as Shadowrun 2E, that rewards high initiative with extra actions. In that game, "speed" really kills LOL! I wouldn't want a bonus every round, though, so I thought just in the first round would work well.
I really like the idea in Shadowrun myself, but 5e isn't designed like Shadowrun. In Shadowrun, boosted reflexes come at a hefty cost. You can pretty much build your concept around getting extra turns in combat.

You'd need a major redesign of 5e to allow the same in a balanced manner.

You're already getting an extra turn in 5e when you win initiative. Lets assume that the PCs will win the encounter (which is usually the case), that the combat will last 3 PC turns, and for simplicity that we are using group initiative.

1) PCs win initiative:
PCs - Enemy - End Turn 1 - PCs - Enemy - End Turn 2 - PCs - WIN!

2) Enemy wins initiative:
Enemy - PCs - End Turn 1 - Enemy - PCs - End Turn 2 - Enemy - PCs - WIN!

3) PCs win initiative (initiative > 20) in your proposed system:
PCs - Enemy - PCs - End Turn 1 - PCs - WIN!

4) Enemy wins initiative (initiative > 20) in your proposed system:
Enemy - PCs - Enemy - End Turn 1 - Enemy - PCs - End Turn 2 - Enemy - PCs - WIN!

In scenario 1, the enemy gets 2 turns during the encounter. In scenario 2, the enemy gets 3 turns.

In scenario 3, the enemy gets 1 turn. And in scenario 4, the enemy gets 4 turns.

As you can see by comparing scenarios 1 and 2 to 3 and 4, your system introduces a level of initiative contingent swinginess that 5e wasn't designed to handle.

That's not even considering the fact that in scenario 4 the enemy's actions are so front loaded that the PCs are likely to be forced to take a more defensive stance (damage mitigation) and therefore that encounter is likely to last even longer, and be deadlier.
 

dnd4vr

Adventurer
If we win then one of the things which may have contributed is we only have to soak 1 fewer round of hits conversely if we lose by even partial round worth of damage the enemy having initiative is what killed us. You are kind of doubling down on something already a significant advantage
Good point. So getting the edge the first round potentially saves you some "pain."

Making DEX even stronger? Pass.
Our initiative isn't just DEX. Player's can use DEX, INT, or WIS, their choice.

Because it's cyclic, everybody is going first or last, depending where you place your arbitrary 'starting' point. In the first round that's at the start of the fight, but thereafter it makes no difference. No spoke on a bicycle is first or last.
Exactly.

I do a thing like this in my own homebrew game system, which is derived from Star Wars Saga Edition. Initiative is a skill, so initiative checks can get quite high. There is a feat that allows you to, if your Initiative check result is above 20, take your turn, reduce your initiative check result by 20, and then go again.
Hmm... I like feats. A feat might be the way to go.

I really like the idea in Shadowrun myself, but 5e isn't designed like Shadowrun. In Shadowrun, boosted reflexes come at a hefty cost. You can pretty much build your concept around getting extra turns in combat.

You'd need a major redesign of 5e to allow the same in a balanced manner.

You're already getting an extra turn in 5e when you win initiative. Lets assume that the PCs will win the encounter (which is usually the case), that the combat will last 3 PC turns, and for simplicity that we are using group initiative.

1) PCs win initiative:
PCs - Enemy - End Turn 1 - PCs - Enemy - End Turn 2 - PCs - WIN!

2) Enemy wins initiative:
Enemy - PCs - End Turn 1 - Enemy - PCs - End Turn 2 - Enemy - PCs - WIN!

3) PCs win initiative (initiative > 20) in your proposed system:
PCs - Enemy - PCs - End Turn 1 - PCs - WIN!

4) Enemy wins initiative (initiative > 20) in your proposed system:
Enemy - PCs - Enemy - End Turn 1 - Enemy - PCs - End Turn 2 - Enemy - PCs - WIN!

In scenario 1, the enemy gets 2 turns during the encounter. In scenario 2, the enemy gets 3 turns.

In scenario 3, the enemy gets 1 turn. And in scenario 4, the enemy gets 4 turns.

As you can see by comparing scenarios 1 and 2 to 3 and 4, your system introduces a level of initiative contingent swinginess that 5e wasn't designed to handle.

That's not even considering the fact that in scenario 4 the enemy's actions are so front loaded that the PCs are likely to be forced to take a more defensive stance (damage mitigation) and therefore that encounter is likely to last even longer, and be deadlier.
I don't mind the swinginess personally.[/QUOTE]
 

dnd4vr

Adventurer
Thanks all for the feeback. You've given me some food for thought and options if we decide to try it.
 

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