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

Staffan

Legend
Another thought occurred to me today, and I tried to imagine what this thread would look like if for 40 years we had been playing with Greyhawk Initiative (called, of course, simply "Initiative") and the latest UA proposed a new, streamlined version where everybody rolled a d20, modified by Dexterity, and then used the result in every round.

It's not too hard to imagine all the ways this new, innovative system would be considered "broken". I think the outpouring of h8 would be even greater and more vociferous.

You mean like when 3e came out and replaced 2e's initiative using Speed Factors (as well as the more detailed phase system from Combat & Tactics, for those of us who used that) with cyclical initiative?
 

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Coroc

Hero
@Lanefan

Since you can run, climb, Mount a horse and even swim in plate i do not give any speed penalties



Armor in General was not to survive a combat with Minimum injury but to survive combat without any injury at all back in the days because every little injury could lead to infection and easyly kill People.

Any armor be it padded chain or plate was designed so that you could hope to not be injured easyly. Plate armor was giving virtual invulnerability, no arrow bolt or sword could penetrate it only eventually at Joints or openings. But even padded armor would withstand arrows or sword strikes.


Plate was so good that People gave up using shields with it. The weapon of choice for plate armor was a poleaxe, used by a similar armored fighter. it did not have much reach but was designed to deliver concussive damage which would eventually wear the opponemt down or to topple the oponent prone with Wrestling and leverage technics in which cases you could end it using a stilletto like dagger through the eyslits of the helmet or some other opening.
 
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Staffan

Legend
Leather and studded leather have never existed, they would not protect against any piercing weapon. Only exception is Cuirbulli which is French for boiled leather and is a thick breastplate very stiff made from several layers of cured leather.
From the PHB description of leather armor: "The breastplate and shoulder protectors of this armor are made of leather that has been stiffened by being boiled in oil. The rest of the armar is made of softer and more flexible materials."

But you're perfectly right about studded leather - that's just dumb. Just adding studs to leather will make it less protective, not more. I think of it as having metal reinforcements on the inside, so the studs outside are where these reinforcements have been fastened - sort of a lighter brigandine.
 

Athinar

Explorer
Thinking about it more, ranged characters are still going to have an advantage on initiative because they usually don't have as much of a reason to move vs a melee character.

I believe that is the history of War, Kill the emeny from afar first, then charge the enemy

mission of the Marine Corps rifle squad is to locate, close with and destroy the enemy by fire and maneuver, or repel the enemy assault by fire and close combat
 


G

Guest 6801328

Guest
Exactly. 5E was clearly designed around the RAW simple initiative system. Creating a new initiative system that adds extra costs for using certain types of actions vs. others is pretty much guaranteed to cause imbalances. It would be like suddenly changing football by saying incomplete passes cost the passing team 5 yards of field position. Suddenly passing is higher risk than before.

As I've learned to my chagrin, using analogies on this forum risks a deluge of literalism: we could enumerate countless reasons why this initiative system is not like adding a 5 yard penalty to incomplete passes.

But I'll acknowledge your intent, and agree that changing the rules changes the incentives. But I have to wonder if the game is so well balanced in that regard that we shouldn't mess with it, or do we simply accept current imbalances as "the way the game is"? I believe the latter, and my point was that if we had been using Greyhawk initiative all this time we would have simply accepted a different set of imbalances as the default state.

And, sure, you can pick any one imbalance...such as the additional penalty to TWF...and say "see how terrible this idea is", but that's an implementation detail that can be addressed.

In fact, one thing this new system offers is a way of addressing current imbalances. Is there already too much incentive to use ranged instead of melee? Great, increase the die to d6. TWF unfairly penalized? Roll once for each attack and take the lower. (Yes, that raises additional questions...instead of whinging about it think up solutions!)

Maybe this gets too complicated, but I for one think it's worth examining the options and looking for design solutions rather than just pointing out the flaws and dismissing the whole idea. The current initiative system has so many flaws of its own that it's worth considering.
 

G

Guest 6801328

Guest
I believe that is the history of War, Kill the emeny from afar first, then charge the enemy

mission of the Marine Corps rifle squad is to locate, close with and destroy the enemy by fire and maneuver, or repel the enemy assault by fire and close combat

Wow...I'm imagining how horrendously boring D&D would be if combat adhered to realism.
 

RotGrub

First Post
That's been discussed in other places - using the damage dice as the initiative roll.

I like it aesthetically. It would be very 2E, because Weapon Speed was all about 'why does that dude with the 12' pike act before the dude with a dagger'?

It would make martials declare actions with far more detail than a spellcaster though. Unless spellcasters did the variant of 'spell level + some size of dice', which would also bring back a HUGE amount of old school feel. More powerful spells were almost always longer to cast (Power Word Kill was a notable exception) and spell interruption was so painful back then...

The problem with weapon speed is that it doesn't take into account what your opponent is wielding. Your attack roll represents an opportunity to inflict injure your opponent. In actual fact, the guy with the pike would be more likely to keep the idiot with a dagger at bay (under normal circumstances), making it near impossible for the dagger character to even get close enough. The dagger wielding character would need to wait for an opening or feint to make one.
 

RotGrub

First Post
As long as they do not make the stupid 2ed initiative rule with weapon speed factors (which i unknowingly used and back then considered it a great way to balance daggers with two handed weapons in my foolishness) an official rule i am fine although i think as many ppl in this thread have analysed that this particular System has ist flaws and personally i prefer the simple Standard initiative System fro m5E

People think a dagger is quicker than a two handed sword AND THAT IS WRONG.

If two oponents are fighting armed with dagger vs two handed sword, the one with the two handed sword will strike first any time just because he has longer reach (and in real live propably kill the dagger wielder without getting a scratch from the dagger.

The weapon with the furthest reach usually goes first.
A ranged weapon shooting first in most cases especially with a cocked crossbow is not to unrealistic.

So please dear D&D dev Team, do not include weapon speed factors until you got yourself some understanding by watching a lot of scholagadiatora vids on YouTube.

Rather think about replacing leather and studded leather armor with something realistic like acheton buffcoat and brigandine, which have actually existed.

Some editions of D&D provided an AoO against unarmed characters attacking a weapon wielding opponent. IMO, the use of a dagger isn't much different in many situations.

Weapon speeds make perfect sense for sledge hammers, crossbows, spells, etc), but there needs to be an additional situational modifier that takes reach and surprise into consideration. In addition, a pre-loaded and aimed crossbow shot should be immediate.
 

RotGrub

First Post
Wow...I'm imagining how horrendously boring D&D would be if combat adhered to realism.

You've never rolled for initial encounter distance have you?

In a recent game I played, the characters encountered a group of trolls who were 5 rounds away. They had a blast using their range weapons and spells as the trolls foolishly charged the party. The ranger of the group was quite happy spotlighting his marksman ship.

So don't knock it until you've tried it.
 

Croesus

Adventurer
It's not too hard to imagine all the ways this new, innovative system would be considered "broken". I think the outpouring of h8 would be even greater and more vociferous.


But I'll acknowledge your intent, and agree that changing the rules changes the incentives. But I have to wonder if the game is so well balanced in that regard that we shouldn't mess with it, or do we simply accept current imbalances as "the way the game is"? I believe the latter, and my point was that if we had been using Greyhawk initiative all this time we would have simply accepted a different set of imbalances as the default state.

And, sure, you can pick any one imbalance...such as the additional penalty to TWF...and say "see how terrible this idea is", but that's an implementation detail that can be addressed.

In fact, one thing this new system offers is a way of addressing current imbalances. Is there already too much incentive to use ranged instead of melee? Great, increase the die to d6. TWF unfairly penalized? Roll once for each attack and take the lower. (Yes, that raises additional questions...instead of whinging about it think up solutions!)

Maybe this gets too complicated, but I for one think it's worth examining the options and looking for design solutions rather than just pointing out the flaws and dismissing the whole idea. The current initiative system has so many flaws of its own that it's worth considering.

I interpreted your first comment as dismissive of the criticism being posted, as if it's just people knee-jerk hating on something new. If I misinterpreted, my apologies.

I think my own point and your second comment are pretty much aligned - it's okay to suggest new things, but always keep in mind that changes will benefit some classes/playstyles/whatever over others. It's fair game to point out those impacts, and it's fair for some (such as myself) to say "I don't see enough gain from this new system to change what I'm currently doing."

If someone else sees this as an improvement, go for it. No one's going to knock down your door to stop you. :)
 

schnee

First Post
A few people keep talking about ranged weapons being overpowered.

We're not seeing that at all. Evoker spellcasters dish out decent damage, and if you have a good Controller then you can certainly keep someone away and 'plink' them to death, but our Battlemaster, Barbrarian, Rogue and Paladin are a LOT more effective up-close.

Do we just have a melee-built table?
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
Since you can run, climb, Mount a horse and even swim in plate i do not give any speed penalties
Swim in plate??? I've a hard time seeing that work, unless the armour is made of modern lightweight materials (and even then it's a stretch) as opposed to steel and iron.

And didn't knights in armour need assistance from a squire and-or stairs or a stepladder to mount a horse?

Lanefan
 


G

Guest 6801328

Guest
A few people keep talking about ranged weapons being overpowered.

If you mean me, I asked it as a hypothetical. However, I should specify that although I don't think ranged is OP in general, one thing I very much dislike about 5e is that rogues have such a strong incentive to go ranged. (Partially dependent on the DM's interpretation of stealth rules, however.) I would love to see some rule tweaks that shifted the balance in favor of good old-fashioned backstabbing. EDIT: ...with daggers. One thing I like about G.I., with the optional weapon damage rule, is that daggers would have really low initiative. However, I would want to see bonus actions be on their own count. So with dual daggers you'd roll 1d4 for your first attack, and then to that result you'd add another d4 for the offhand attack.

Grognard out.
 
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G

Guest 6801328

Guest
I interpreted your first comment as dismissive of the criticism being posted, as if it's just people knee-jerk hating on something new. If I misinterpreted, my apologies.

I think my own point and your second comment are pretty much aligned - it's okay to suggest new things, but always keep in mind that changes will benefit some classes/playstyles/whatever over others. It's fair game to point out those impacts, and it's fair for some (such as myself) to say "I don't see enough gain from this new system to change what I'm currently doing."

If someone else sees this as an improvement, go for it. No one's going to knock down your door to stop you. :)

Yes, my point (with my post that started this back and forth) was that the two initiative systems have their own strengths and weaknesses, and that if the order had been reversed we might very well see the limitations of the new one as "normal" and the limitations of the current one as "broken". My personal opinion is that the opposition would be even more vocal, as the current one (again in my opinion) is dull and is "unrealistic" in worse ways than the new one is unrealistic.
 

schnee

First Post
If you mean me, I asked it as a hypothetical. However, I should specify that although I don't think ranged is OP in general, one thing I very much dislike about 5e is that rogues have such a strong incentive to go ranged.

I wasn't singling out just you, I've seen it mentioned in this thread and others.

But, yeah - I can see Rogue sniper as a significant case.
 

guachi

Hero
If you mean me, I asked it as a hypothetical. However, I should specify that although I don't think ranged is OP in general, one thing I very much dislike about 5e is that rogues have such a strong incentive to go ranged.

I wonder if the thought process of the Rogue class designers went something like this:

TWF allows two die rolls to land sneak attack. Bonus action hiding can allow two die rolls to land sneak attack. Balance! (of sorts).

Melee rogues are in more danger but can potentially do more damage as their two die rolls can both do damage while a ranged rogue is safer but can't do damage with both of their die rolls and may not get both of them anyway. But the loss of the bonus action for TWF is often seen as too much of a loss. Maybe if they had given rogues or a rogue archetype an Improved Two Weapon Fighting ability that would allow an extra attack with another weapon as long as you took the Attack action.
 


Aldarc

Legend
Yes, my point (with my post that started this back and forth) was that the two initiative systems have their own strengths and weaknesses, and that if the order had been reversed we might very well see the limitations of the new one as "normal" and the limitations of the current one as "broken". My personal opinion is that the opposition would be even more vocal, as the current one (again in my opinion) is dull and is "unrealistic" in worse ways than the new one is unrealistic.
Doesn't this presume that the goal of initiative should be realistic simulationism? The dullness of current inititiative to me is greatly offset by its elegant simplicity. After running Mearls's new initiative system, the utiliarian benefit of the added "fun factor" was negligible, if not a net negative, for the group.

I don't particularly understand why this conversation has seemingly isolated D&D into its own bubble, as if our options were simply standard D&D initiative or a modification of the Mearls's system. It's not as if somehow D&D is the only roleplaying system that has been confronted with the issue of combat turn order, and I'm skeptical of the idea that other system have not devised other alternative ways to resolve this issue apart from the ways that D&D has devised.
 

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