Unearthed Arcana Unearthed Arcana: "Greyhawk" Initiative

The latest Unearthed Arcana by WotCs Mearls is up. "Mike Mearls introduces an alternative initiative system, inspired by AD&D and the journey to Lake Geneva, Wisconsin—the birthplace of D&D—for Gary Con 2017. While the initiative rules in fifth edition D&D are great for keeping the action moving and being easy to use at the table, the Greyhawk initiative variant takes a different approach. These rules add complexity, but with the goal of introducing more drama to combat."

He's calling it "Greyhawk Initiative". It'll be interesting to compare this to how we interpreted his earlier version of alternative initiative.

Mearls also talks about it in this video.


[video=youtube;hfSo4wVkwUw]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hfSo4wVkwUw[/video]


 

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Russ Morrissey

Russ Morrissey

Mistwell

Crusty Old Meatwad (he/him)
Those aren't issues. That is Bonus Actions working as designed. The whole point of Bonus Actions is so that you don't start stacking dozens of "free" actions on top of each other.

Bonus Actions mean that you can't get a Standard Action attack, then get an attack from your polearm feat, an attack from your cleave feat, cast a Bonus Action Spell, and Dash with Cunning Action. That is why Bonus Actions were made in the first place and limited to one per round.

The only "problem" with them, and the one that Mearls brought up (the only one that anyone ever brings up), is that it isn't broken to allow a character to get two attacks with two weapon fighting and then use a Bonus Action to do anything else. But instead of just saying, "Well, we should allow two weapon fighting without a Bonus Action then," people, including Mearls, say "Oh, I guess Bonus Actions are bad design."

I didn't use the word "issues" to be a synonym of "problems" I used it as "topics" or "subjects". Look it's one thing to be unsure if I am following your logic and it's another to just assume I am not and be didactic about it as if I am a student. I fully grokked the issue we are both talking about. There is no problem with using polearm master and another bonus action (you spent a precious feat and use a two-handed weapon with a lower damage bonus than other two-handed weapons, that's hard to find as a magic weapon as well, all to use the opposite end which had a d4 damage bonus). There is no problem with using another bonus action with a spell (it's just a cantrip, it's not very powerful). There is no issue with using another bonus action and doing something like hiding after a move as well. There isn't much of an issue with using multiple bonus actions in a round for most bonus actions. Hence, two weapon fighting is pretty representative of this issue.

Most bonus actions probably SHOULD be free actions as part of a special action.
 

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So, allow me to provide "Mystara Initiative":
- multi-attacks each get their own separate initiative but no movement allowed between them
That's the bare bones of what I've been using for well over 30 years.
Well, one thing it has in common with the Mearls's: it nerfs melee.

Earlier I asked the question of whether the main action is also delayed by the use of the bonus action, or whether they happen on two different initiative counts. I couldn't tell from the text, and there were no bonus actions in the example. I'd much prefer it to happen on two different counts, even though that would add a bit of complexity.
I'd read it as delaying the main action as well, that's just how the system seems to work, it doesn't split out actions anywhere else that I noticed. For TWFing, in particular, that means that if you don't want to get stuck unable to attack because someone sauntered away from you, you'll be rolling three dice - for movement, melee, and bonus action - and totaling them, so your high-DEX rapier & main-gauche swashbuckler is slooooow...

I agree that separate attacks should happen on separate initiative counts, but I think they shouldn't take extra dice, rather, they should act as a divisor on the result of the die roll.
 

SkidAce

Legend
Supporter
It's just not intuitive.

Bonus Actions are the thing I've seen players trip up on the most. They want to do the things but instead of just having a choice of things to do (action) they have a choice of things (action) then variable sub actions (bonus action) of that Action.

Plus then there is the Reaction which people also confuse for their Bonus Action.

It's not the worst design choice and it's mostly fine. It's just a bit clunky. It is inelegant.

And yet elegant is the word we (our immediate microcosm of players) chose for it when 5E came out.

Choose an action (describe what you want to do). Something might give you a bonus action.

Does anyone remember the intent of bonus actions as described? You dont have a bonus action and look for something to do with it....you have things you can do that are bonus actions.

Score! you can do them in the same turn as a regular action!

---

Having said that, I do understand all groups are different. We like it, and have no confusion. Others have some confusion.

Both are valid.
 

SkidAce

Legend
Supporter
About intuitive.

Intuitive can be "better".

Other times, you just need to learn the rule and practice it until it is intuitive.
 

SkidAce

Legend
Supporter
T2.) Also, Bardic Inspiration vs. Healing Word. For some reason, even though you can inspire allies while mocking enemies with Vicious Mockery, and you can heal allies from a distance while mocking enemies with Vicious Mockery, you cannot inspire allies while healing allies from a distance. There's no good reason from a fictional perspective why you shouldn't be able to do two quick things (bonus actions) instead of one quick thing and one slow thing (regular action), and yet you cannot.

Interesting point.
 


Chaosmancer

Legend
Do they work as a team, or not?

See, now I feel like we need to decide what is mean by “team”.

Because my first thought is “They aren’t killing each other, and they all want to take out the PCs… so yes, they do work as a team.”

However, you could be referring to the level of tactics they use. Do the brutes shove their targets back into the dangerous terrain created by the spellcaster or do all the enemies rush in and fight individually.

Tactically, yeah, most monsters have terrible teamwork, but they still work towards the same goals most of the time and generally don’t kill each other.

Honestly, not that often...but for a different reason than you might think. I'd have the opponents - particularly the dumber ones - get in each others' way more often if they'd only flippin' live long enough to do so! :)

See, but you want that to happen. Your players probably don’t want to get in each others way. Now, I’m picturing different players than you are, my group is… well, I’ve actually seen people complain about kill-stealing and had people calling dibs on killing certain enemies.

So, with that in mind, if your players get into each others way, they might find a humorous situation out of it and laugh. Mine, are going to get upset, some of them really upset, and that isn’t the sort of drama I want at the table.


I think it is this perspective that has me wondering. I mean, as a GM, I don’t like the system but I don’t hate it, but when I think about it working for a group of players, the problems just multiply and it seems to cause problems instead of solving them.


Yeah, well... if you get annoyed to no end that some of us just won't take your word for it that bonus actions are brilliant design and that Mike is apparently stupid for even considering thinking about how they could have designed the game differently... then I guess you just have to be annoyed. So be it.

Feel free to continue putting words in my mouth, but I have never said either of those things, here or anywhere else.

Bonus Actions are the best mechanic for what they do that I have seen, that is true. Brilliant might be stretching it, but if someone wanted to make that argument I won’t fight them on it.

And Mearls thinking about how to improve them isn’t a problem. Improve the game, why would I ever argue against that. But, what people are declaring will “improve the game” isn’t always something that improves anything. I’ll argue whether or not a fix is necessary or if it does what it claims to do, but I will never call someone names (unless they really deserve it which Mearls does not) or tell someone they are wrong for even trying to improve something.


Earlier I asked the question of whether the main action is also delayed by the use of the bonus action, or whether they happen on two different initiative counts. I couldn't tell from the text, and there were no bonus actions in the example. I'd much prefer it to happen on two different counts, even though that would add a bit of complexity. It's possible, for example, that you would make your main attack, then your opponent would move, and when your bonus action came up your target would be out of range. Problematic, but actually kind of cool and cinematic, in my opinion. It means you might want to intentionally delay your main action until your bonus action comes up.

That isn't how it works per RAW.

RAW for these rules is you roll all your dice and do all your actions when your initiative comes up. So bonus actions can add either an extra attack, move or spell die to your roll and make you act later in the initiative.

This is why people are saying Rogues and Monks will now be more likely to act last in the turn, they often move, attack, and use a bonus action, so they will be rolling three dice most turns.

Actually, anybody with any possible bonus action is going to want to roll three dice, because if they don't and something triggers is, they lose out on their ability to use it.



Two different examples of clunk:

1.) Cunning action vs shadow step. Logically rogue training should only increase your ability to confuse your opponent as to your whereabouts after teleporting; but because they were written in the bonus action paradigm they wind up being incompatible instead.

A more tailored design which allowed some combinations of compatible actions (like recent UAs for e.g. bard college with blade dancing, or whatever it's called) would be able to accommodate logical combinations like shadow stepping QUIETLY.

2.) Also, Bardic Inspiration vs. Healing Word. For some reason, even though you can inspire allies while mocking enemies with Vicious Mockery, and you can heal allies from a distance while mocking enemies with Vicious Mockery, you cannot inspire allies while healing allies from a distance. There's no good reason from a fictional perspective why you shouldn't be able to do two quick things (bonus actions) instead of one quick thing and one slow thing (regular action), and yet you cannot.

Sent from my Moto G (4) using EN World mobile app


See, I'm a big proponent of trading an action for a bonus action these days. It doesn't seem to break a single thing in the game and I love the extra freedom of being able to do two bonus actions.

As for shadow step and cunning action... yeah it doesn't work well, but I think it is more on shadow step than anything else. It feels like it should assist in you hiding period, so I like the idea of giving a player advantage on stealth after using it. But, yeah, it is a combo that makes sense and should work, but is restrained by the rules
 

OB1

Jedi Master
RAW for these rules is you roll all your dice and do all your actions when your initiative comes up. So bonus actions can add either an extra attack, move or spell die to your roll and make you act later in the initiative.

This is why people are saying Rogues and Monks will now be more likely to act last in the turn, they often move, attack, and use a bonus action, so they will be rolling three dice most turns.

Actually, anybody with any possible bonus action is going to want to roll three dice, because if they don't and something triggers is, they lose out on their ability to use it.

And this is exactly why when I try this out in a couple of weeks I'm going to rule that you do not have to roll an initiative die to use a bonus action, that Dodge happens on initiative count 0 regardless of any other actions taken, allow people to trade down actions for lower die ones when there turn comes up, and a few other tweaks. This is playtest material and we should be trying it out, making tweaks and reporting our findings. The overall concept is pretty solid, but the details need play testing and refinement.

Oh, and I'll probably just end up always rolling 2d6 for my monsters regardless of what they are doing, but roll it after the players decide their actions.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
Well, one thing it has in common with the Mearls's: it nerfs melee.
After using this system for ages it doesn't seem to have nerfed melee. The rationale is the time spent moving runs you off the end of the round.

Then again, our system hammers casters pretty good too, so hammering melee now and then just balances out. :)

I agree that separate attacks should happen on separate initiative counts, but I think they shouldn't take extra dice, rather, they should act as a divisor on the result of the die roll.
This works too, though I prefer just rolling the two dice separately. And to clear up possible confusion here: if you're on d8 melee you roll 2 d8's for when you strike - if they come up 2 and 7 then you attack on 2 and 7. You don't add the 7 to the 2 to get the second attack on 9.

Lanefan
 


Lanefan

Victoria Rules
See, now I feel like we need to decide what is mean by “team”.

Because my first thought is “They aren’t killing each other, and they all want to take out the PCs… so yes, they do work as a team.”

However, you could be referring to the level of tactics they use. Do the brutes shove their targets back into the dangerous terrain created by the spellcaster or do all the enemies rush in and fight individually.
Yes, that's what I'm referring to - do they use co-ordinated tactics or not. Do they work as a team instead of a bunch of individuals. (same can be asked of my game's PCs more often than not) :)

See, but you want that to happen. Your players probably don’t want to get in each others way. Now, I’m picturing different players than you are, my group is… well, I’ve actually seen people complain about kill-stealing and had people calling dibs on killing certain enemies.

So, with that in mind, if your players get into each others way, they might find a humorous situation out of it and laugh. Mine, are going to get upset, some of them really upset, and that isn’t the sort of drama I want at the table.
Now that's something I hadn't even considered. Then again, if I'm a front-line banger in a group and someone claims an opponent as theirs alone (and will get mad if anyone interferes) I'm happy to leave 'em to it...and if said opponent proves too much and they call for help that help ain't coming from me. :)

Sounds like your lot take it all far more seriously than us - 'round here if there's not laughter on a regular basis we're doing it wrong. :)


That isn't how it works per RAW.

RAW for these rules is you roll all your dice and do all your actions when your initiative comes up. So bonus actions can add either an extra attack, move or spell die to your roll and make you act later in the initiative.

This is why people are saying Rogues and Monks will now be more likely to act last in the turn, they often move, attack, and use a bonus action, so they will be rolling three dice most turns.
Unless one interprets the RAW to mean these things each happen individually on their additive die roll - so if a Rogue rolls three dice and gets 3 - 6 - 4 then the move happens on 3, the attack happens on (3+6) 9 and the bonus comes in on (9+4) 13.

Howzat?

Lan-"or instead, on initiative 1 the Rogue just decides she's had enough and goes to the pub for a beer"-efan
 

After using this system for ages it doesn't seem to have nerfed melee.
Relative to standard 5e, where you can drop one enemy and move on to another & attack on the same turn, not being able to move, and thus change targets in melee, between your Extra Attacks is a nerf. It's arguably a 'harder' (never struck me before, but that's ironic) nerf that just making them roll d6+d8 vs d4 or d10 and being merely slow, but still having a fair chance of getting all their attacks, if they live that long.
 

Lord Twig

Adventurer
Two different examples of clunk:

1.) Cunning action vs shadow step. Logically rogue training should only increase your ability to confuse your opponent as to your whereabouts after teleporting; but because they were written in the bonus action paradigm they wind up being incompatible instead.

A more tailored design which allowed some combinations of compatible actions (like recent UAs for e.g. bard college with blade dancing, or whatever it's called) would be able to accommodate logical combinations like shadow stepping QUIETLY.

2.) Also, Bardic Inspiration vs. Healing Word. For some reason, even though you can inspire allies while mocking enemies with Vicious Mockery, and you can heal allies from a distance while mocking enemies with Vicious Mockery, you cannot inspire allies while healing allies from a distance. There's no good reason from a fictional perspective why you shouldn't be able to do two quick things (bonus actions) instead of one quick thing and one slow thing (regular action), and yet you cannot.

Sent from my Moto G (4) using EN World mobile app

1.) So you are talking about a Rogue/Monk multiclass. And I don't see a problem with them not stacking. Your Rogue/Monk can Shadow Step and hide just fine. He just has to use a Standard Action to hide. A standard Rogue can attack, disengage and move, but not hide. Why should your Rogue/Monk be able to attack, teleport away and hide?

But if you really want to allow it you can just say that Shadow Step allows an automatic Hide roll after the teleport. Done.*

2.) This is a problem with not allowing Standard Actions to be swapped for Bonus Actions. Which I have never understood and I know many people house rule.

So there you go. A way to improve the current system. And once again the problem is not Bonus Actions themselves, but just a rule that interacts with it.

*Edit: Actually I like this idea so much I would replace the "attack with advantage" bonus with an automatic Hide. If you succeed on the hide you could attack with advantage anyway and it is more flavorful. :)
 
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Lord Twig

Adventurer
I didn't use the word "issues" to be a synonym of "problems" I used it as "topics" or "subjects". Look it's one thing to be unsure if I am following your logic and it's another to just assume I am not and be didactic about it as if I am a student. I fully grokked the issue we are both talking about. There is no problem with using polearm master and another bonus action (you spent a precious feat and use a two-handed weapon with a lower damage bonus than other two-handed weapons, that's hard to find as a magic weapon as well, all to use the opposite end which had a d4 damage bonus). There is no problem with using another bonus action with a spell (it's just a cantrip, it's not very powerful). There is no issue with using another bonus action and doing something like hiding after a move as well. There isn't much of an issue with using multiple bonus actions in a round for most bonus actions. Hence, two weapon fighting is pretty representative of this issue.

Most bonus actions probably SHOULD be free actions as part of a special action.

Actually I think there is a problem with using multiple bonus actions in a round. The main one being that, as a player, I don't want to sit around and wait for the guy with 8 different bonus actions to finish them all.

But, yes, in addition to two weapon fighting, the extra attacks from Polearm Mastery and Martial Arts should not be bonus actions. I would add a rule that Martial Arts does not work with two weapon fighting or Polearm Mastery, however.
 

Chaosmancer

Legend
Yes, that's what I'm referring to - do they use co-ordinated tactics or not. Do they work as a team instead of a bunch of individuals. (same can be asked of my game's PCs more often than not) :)

Yeah, both sides tend to have little to no coordinated tactics. I've tried to train them to do better, and it hasn't gone well. I have yet to give up hope though.


Sounds like your lot take it all far more seriously than us - 'round here if there's not laughter on a regular basis we're doing it wrong. :)

It's all college kids. I'm the oldest at 26 more often than not and I generally have one player who is as emotionally mature as... 12?

Great people all, but generally very serious.
 

Miladoon

First Post
Thinking of a simple alternative.

Action-1d6
Movement-1d6
Bonus Action-1d6

Attack of opportunity-Free

Maximum Initiative -18
Minimum Initiative -1
 
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jrowland

First Post
I didn't read the whole thread, so excuse me if it came up

I think these are fine with one small tweak:

You roll d20 as usual at the beginning of combat, but substract things like dex and improved initiative (so you want to roll low)

Then you take round actions as normal

Then for every subsequent round, you ADD as per these rules for the actions you took.

Once everyone takes a turn, a new round begins.

I *think* you could keep spells ending (at the end/beginning of your turn) without getting too wonky, but having them go by round is fine.

Narratively if you did a bunch of stuff/rolled poor so you go last the following the round might seem weird. "im going last this round because I did a bunch last round" and all that, but D&D combat has enough of those I don't think he break it for most tables.
 

Mistwell

Crusty Old Meatwad (he/him)
Actually I think there is a problem with using multiple bonus actions in a round. The main one being that, as a player, I don't want to sit around and wait for the guy with 8 different bonus actions to finish them all.

Fair enough but that argument applies just as well to the two weapon fighting argument that you claimed was an exception to the rule. Seems like it's not.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
I didn't read the whole thread, so excuse me if it came up

I think these are fine with one small tweak:

You roll d20 as usual at the beginning of combat, but substract things like dex and improved initiative (so you want to roll low)

Then you take round actions as normal

Then for every subsequent round, you ADD as per these rules for the actions you took.

Once everyone takes a turn, a new round begins.
Could you expand on this a bit - I'm missing something (probably obvious) and thus don't understand how this works.

Lanefan
 

Leatherhead

Possibly a Idiot.
I didn't read the whole thread, so excuse me if it came up

I think these are fine with one small tweak:

You roll d20 as usual at the beginning of combat, but substract things like dex and improved initiative (so you want to roll low)

Then you take round actions as normal

Then for every subsequent round, you ADD as per these rules for the actions you took.

Once everyone takes a turn, a new round begins.

I *think* you could keep spells ending (at the end/beginning of your turn) without getting too wonky, but having them go by round is fine.

Narratively if you did a bunch of stuff/rolled poor so you go last the following the round might seem weird. "im going last this round because I did a bunch last round" and all that, but D&D combat has enough of those I don't think he break it for most tables.

Did you just suggest a format where people could get multiple turns per round?

Or did you suggest a format like I did: You pick your actions, and then roll to "recharge" your turn next round, based on what you did in the current one?
 

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