[UPDATED] Here's Mike Mearls' New D&D 5E Initiative System

In his AMA yesterday, WotC's Mike Mearls frequently referenced his dislike for D&D's initiative system, and mentioned that he was using a new initiative system in his own games. He later briefly explained what that was: "Roll each round. D4 = ranged, d8 = melee, d12 = spell, d6 = anything else, +d8 to swap gear, +d8 for bonus action, low goes 1st. Oh, and +d6 to move and do something ... adds tension, speeds up resolution. So far in play has been faster and makes fights more intense." That's the short version; there's likely more to it. Mearls mentioned briefly that he might trial it in Unearthed Arcana at some point to see what sort of reaction it gets.

In his AMA yesterday, WotC's Mike Mearls frequently referenced his dislike for D&D's initiative system, and mentioned that he was using a new initiative system in his own games. He later briefly explained what that was: "Roll each round. D4 = ranged, d8 = melee, d12 = spell, d6 = anything else, +d8 to swap gear, +d8 for bonus action, low goes 1st. Oh, and +d6 to move and do something ... adds tension, speeds up resolution. So far in play has been faster and makes fights more intense." That's the short version; there's likely more to it. Mearls mentioned briefly that he might trial it in Unearthed Arcana at some point to see what sort of reaction it gets.

In his AMA, Mearls indicated it was cyclic initiative he didn't like ("Cyclical initiative - too predictable"), which the above doesn't address at all (it merely changes the die rolls). Presumably there's more to the system than that quick couple of sentences up there, and it sounds like initiative is rolled every round. So if your initiative is based on your action, presumably you declare your action before rolling initiative (as opposed to declaring your action when your initiative comes around).

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UPDATE: I asked Mearls a couple of quick questions. He commented that it "lets ranged guys shoot before melee closes, spellcasters need to be shielded". He also mentioned that he "tinkered with using your weapon's damage die as your roll, but too inflexible, not sure it's worth it".

How is this implemented in-game? "Roll each round, count starts again at 1. Requires end of turn stuff to swap to end of round, since it's not static. In play I've called out numbers - Any 1s, 2s, etc, then just letting every PC go once monsters are done". You announce your action at the beginning of the round; you only need to "commit to the action type - you're not picking specific targets or a specific spell, for instance."

Dexterity does NOT adjust INITIATIVE. Mearls comments that "Dex is already so good, i don't miss it".

So what's the main benefit of the system? "Big benefit is that it encourages group to make a plan, then implement it. Group sees issue of the round and acts around it. I also think it adds a nice flow to combat - each round is a sequence. Plan, resolve, act, encourages group cohesion. Resolution is also faster - each player knows what to do; you don't need to pick spells ahead of acting, but groups so far have planned them."


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CapnZapp

Legend
So no connection to any ability score, then?

Not only do you get to roll a very quick d4 instead of a d8, you also don't need to add the d6 needed to charge into melee...

As if the rules needed to give ranged combat any more advantages over melee...

Of course, why am I surprised Mmearls managed to find an eleventh(!) thing to tweak in favor of ranged combat...? By now it's apparent he is on a personal crusade to destroy classical fantasy tropes and how they rely on melee combat.

Sent from my C6603 using EN World mobile app
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
So no connection to any ability score, then?

Not only do you get to roll a very quick d4 instead of a d8, you also don't need to add the d6 needed to charge into melee...

As if the rules needed to give ranged combat any more advantages over melee...

Of course, why am I surprised Mmearls managed to find an eleventh(!) thing to tweak in favor of ranged combat...? By now it's apparent he is on a personal crusade to destroy classical fantasy tropes and how they rely on melee combat.

Calm down. That was just the short elevator pitch version, not the actual rules. The rules might appear in an UA.
 

Waterbizkit

Explorer
Other than changing all weapon attacks to be a d8 versus the d4/d8 ranged/melee split... I think that's a system with some solid potential. And I don't say this for the same reasons as CapnZapp with regards to ranged dominance, the system removes dexterity from the equation entirely which I like. I suggest the change just for the sake of simplicity.

Alternatively, maybe weapon attacks are all d6 and heavy weapons are d8...

Anyway, interesting...
 

Caliburn101

Explorer
Sorry, but Mike Mearls needs to do some sword fighting or at least some LARP and redo this entirely.

Before a LARPer can get off a single spell I can have draw a sword and hit them three times at least, and it's the same against ranged. It should be in THIS order and with dice which have a bonus due to a relevant stat, so high still goes first;

1d6 + Spellcasting Stat = Cast Spell
1d8 + Dex Bonus = Ranged Attack
1d10 + Dex Bonus = Melee Attack
1d12 + Wis Bonus = Delay Action
1d12 + Dex Bonus = Sprint

Or perhaps do it by weapon type - so light or unarmed gets 1d12, normal 1d10 and heavy 1d8 for instance...

You could also choose to take Advantage on an attack action initiative roll in return for Disadvantage on the roll to hit (unless you already have disadvantage, in which base, not...)
 

Aldarc

Legend
Cyclical initiative may be boringly predictable, but it seems that there are other, simpler ways to solve the issue rather than introducing this level of multiplied complexity.
 

Herobizkit

Adventurer
Next thing you know, we're going to have Weapon Speed initiative modifiers and then a slippery slope to bonuses/penalties to hit Specific Armor Types... :eek:
 

GarrettKP

Adventurer
Sorry, but Mike Mearls needs to do some sword fighting or at least some LARP and redo this entirely.

Before a LARPer can get off a single spell I can have draw a sword and hit them three times at least, and it's the same against ranged. It should be in THIS order and with dice which have a bonus due to a relevant stat, so high still goes first;

1d6 + Spellcasting Stat = Cast Spell
1d8 + Dex Bonus = Ranged Attack
1d10 + Dex Bonus = Melee Attack
1d12 + Wis Bonus = Delay Action
1d12 + Dex Bonus = Sprint

Or perhaps do it by weapon type - so light or unarmed gets 1d12, normal 1d10 and heavy 1d8 for instance...

You could also choose to take Advantage on an attack action initiative roll in return for Disadvantage on the roll to hit (unless you already have disadvantage, in which base, not...)

Obviously you didn't read the actual comment. In this system lowest initiative acts first, not highest.
 

Dartavian

Explorer
I agree with his take on the RAW Initiative system. I personally like it what he has come up with, it does seem promising. As far as including ability to initiative, you could easily apply any initiative bonuses as a sum deducted from the die roll total.
 

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