D&D 5E Why use initiative?


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Nebulous

Legend
I don't remember participating in this thread, but one advantage that comes immediately to my mind is that it would be an easy way to randomize combat advantages and opportunities provided by terrain (or just providence), which otherwise tends to be ignored in D&D and RPG in general, simply by adding text or icon to the card.
Oh, that reminds me, I had a few special cards included, like "Power Attack" that could mean whatever I wanted, so if that came up (for either PC or NPC) the next card pulled gained that power attack (such as extra damage usually). There were many ways to modify and tweak the card system. I really liked it. It was like rerolling initiative every round, but no mechanical math to follow. It was very fluid and fast.
 

I suppose that entirely depends on whether you want those feats to mean he is getting as much as a 50% or even 75% bonus to his success.

The -1 for each doesn't sound too bad but then again three feats would instantly guarantee a 1 every time that player rolls a D4.
If you invest that much resources into initiative, it may as well pay off. He usually goes first anyways.
 


Scruffy nerf herder

Toaster Loving AdMech Boi
If you invest that much resources into initiative, it may as well pay off. He usually goes first anyways.
Yeah. Plus it's not that crazy if he automatically gets a 1 for something because that's only one category, his stacking -1s wouldn't count for as much when casting a spell or taking multiple actions. Plus I'm guessing he had to give up on improving his ability scores anyways, just to get the feats?
 


Any time I see such a post, I wonder why people hated weapon speed so much. Then I remember why and give a sight of relief that it is over and done.

Range weapon can be very slow. Aiming a bow when not in hand to hand combat isn't that stressful. But in hand to hand, your chances to actually aim and hit make you slower than a sword. So in melee range should be a d12...

But for casting... Shouldn't a cantrip be way faster than a two handed sword? If we see cantrip to something akin to the Harry Potter fights, a cantrip should be very fast, earning a d4. And shouldn't we modify the die for tier spells? 1-3 d6, 4-5 = d8, 6-7 = d10 and 8-9 = d12?

And for melee? Shouldn't small weapons allow 1d4? Medium weapons d6 and Two handed weapons d8?

5ed went for this way to do initiative for a reason, it is to make all classes on equal footing and to simplify it. If you really want to add more immersive stuff, going back to the weapon speed factor and casting time might help you better. 2nd edition had a simplified version. It was working ok. Maybe going back to this method would be a better middle ground? Already we see people adding more and more complexity. At some point, I do not think that going back to weapon speed factor should be a thing. But 2nd edition style initiative should work out just fine.
 

Nebulous

Legend
5ed went for this way to do initiative for a reason, it is to make all classes on equal footing and to simplify it. If you really want to add more immersive stuff, going back to the weapon speed factor and casting time might help you better. 2nd edition had a simplified version. It was working ok. Maybe going back to this method would be a better middle ground? Already we see people adding more and more complexity. At some point, I do not think that going back to weapon speed factor should be a thing. But 2nd edition style initiative should work out just fine.
What did 2e use? I can't remember. And I love the idea of speed factor but it bogs things down. If it were in a CRPG for the computer to crush the math instantly, then I'd be all for it.
 

HaroldTheHobbit

Adventurer
D&D isn't a simulationist system imho, and crunchifying initiative just make combat take longer and/or make it more tedious for the more roleplaying focused players at my table, with marginal tactical opportunity gain. So we are happy with standard initiative.

Now, more details systems that take into account speed factors and whatnot can be fun. But not in D&D.
 

DND_Reborn

Legend
What did 2e use? I can't remember.
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And I love the idea of speed factor but it bogs things down.
I never found it really bogged down the speed at all, personally, but of course everyone is different.
 

Nebulous

Legend
Yes, the simplicity of default initiative is a strength, easy to learn and implement. I would love to see a 5e style Arcana Unearthed toolkit book chock full of alternate ideas, like they did with 3e. I loved that book.
 


payn

Legend
If I could automate this on a VTT id be much more likely to use it. One of the big bennies of VTT is it can help speed things like this up. When im face 2 face using battlematts and actual bones I go the most simple route.
 


Scruffy nerf herder

Toaster Loving AdMech Boi
The tables of modifiers were on my DM screen, so it was never a hassle to check quickly to apply modifiers for me.

I'm glad 5E did something to offer for a variant in the DMG, even if people don't use it much.

Yep, we keep a Post-It Note visible for this purpose. The party doesn't have to think or spend time they simply play.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
While I do like this in concept, it doesn't seem like it would be any faster, but rather longer, than default initiative. I would have to playtest it. Have others tried it out? What was your experience?
I have. In my experience it’s not significantly slower or faster than default initiative. Re-rolling initiative at the start of each round does take up more time, but since players have to decide their actions with incomplete information during a shared action declaration phase, they tend in my experience to take less time analyzing all their options and just pick something to do. I haven’t timed it, but it feels like about the same amount of time per round. The difference is really more in gameplay feel than in table time. It makes combat feel much more chaotic. If you’re familiar with Final Fantasy games, I’d compare it to the difference between true turn based battles and the action timer battle system. Makes it feel like you don’t have the luxury of planning out the perfect move, you just have to pick something
 


Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
I never tried it but it has always bothered me that ranged actions had the lowest modifier. That makes no sense to me, you need time to aim with a ranged attack that you don't with melee and it takes longer to get to its target! I would do it like:

d6 melee
d8 ranged
d10 magic
I think it’s supposed to model the range advantage. Because of the quirks of turn-based action, if you roll better initiative than the archer, you can run up to them before they’ve had a chance to shoot at no risk, whereas in real-time, there would be a significant risk in advancing towards that archer without covering fire. Giving ranged attacks an initiative advantage can help compensate for the discrepancy, kind of. That’s also why many speed factor initiative systems will give a similar (though usually smaller) advantage to reach weapons.
and maybe +d4 if you include movement.
Personally I prefer not to add a die for movement. Since it’s impossible to predict where everyone will be by the time your turn rolls around, declaring the move in case you need it is almost always the “correct” choice, so it functionally just ends up being +1d4 to everyone’s initiative. If anything, I would prefer to give an advantage to characters who opt not to move than penalize moving, since moving should be the default, IMO.
 


Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
Second question. As a dm, How do you roll for multiple mobs? I mean, you have to decide if each one is 1) moving; 2) using melee or ranged or spellcasting.

that’s lots of individual decisions and rolling. Whereas, with traditional initiative, you could roll one d20 for the whole side, if you wanted to be quick.
When I’ve used this system, what I’ve done is roll once for each group of mobs that take the same action (or category of action). So, one roll for all the enemy archers, one for all the enemy casters, one roll for all the enemy melee combatants. I prefer not to add an extra die for movement, so that hasn’t been an issue for me. I suppose, if I wanted to add that factor in, I would have them move or not move in groups - either the enemy archers all stay in place, or the whole block takes the penalty so the units have the option to move if they need to.
 

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