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EggKookoo
2017-09-04, 04:28 PM
What would be the consequences of purely random init order? I guess on D&D 5e or 3P?

Is there really any true advantage to going earlier in the round? You get to attack first but those that come afterward might have more information to work with. In the first edition of Mayfair Games' DC Heroes, players actually declared their actions in reverse order, then resolved them in proper order, to account for faster characters anticipating the actions of slower characters. But this suggests a simple "first is best" isn't always better.

In games where you have few HP, I guess init order matters more. In games like 5e, where creatures tend to have plenty of HP, it shouldn't quite matter so much.

Any thoughts?

Deepbluediver
2017-09-04, 07:16 PM
I don't know how 5e works, but in 3.5/3P the initiative check is basically just a Dexterity check, so you can probably guess what classes this would be a nerf to (rogues, ranged combatants, spellcasters only if they are the type to prepare lots of spells with attack rolls, etc). Overall, I don't think it would be that significant of a change- aside from the aforementioned nerf. Getting a higher number in the initiative order is usually an advantage because you can delay your action until later, if you want, but people who roll low don't have that option, but it's not as huge a one as you might think across the entire game. Doing what you're suggesting would remove the incentive for people to take feats like Improved Initiative, obviously, but off the top of my head I would imagine combat playing out much the same from round to round.

If you really want to mix things up though, here's a different suggestion: reroll the initiative order every round instead of sticking with the same order for an entire encounter. Even if your whole party rolls badly, going in the same order all the time allows you to plan things out, and even acting after the enemy in the first round kind-of translates into acting before them in the next round, so things very quickly settle in a pattern. When you're not sure who's going to get the chance to act before you can go again, it makes combat much more chaotic and IMO, much more fun.

EggKookoo
2017-09-04, 07:34 PM
If you really want to mix things up though, here's a different suggestion: reroll the initiative order every round instead of sticking with the same order for an entire encounter. Even if your whole party rolls badly, going in the same order all the time allows you to plan things out, and even acting after the enemy in the first round kind-of translates into acting before them in the next round, so things very quickly settle in a pattern. When you're not sure who's going to get the chance to act before you can go again, it makes combat much more chaotic and IMO, much more fun.

That's the way it was in 1e/2e and even originally 3e. Did they change that for 3.5 or PF so you rolled init once at the start of combat and then stuck with that order? That's how it is in 5e.

Back in the day, when we did roll init each round, it really just created a completely random feel. In theory the faster characters went first more often, at least in those systems that took Dex into account, but in the heat of play you didn't really get that sense.

Deepbluediver
2017-09-05, 12:33 AM
That's the way it was in 1e/2e and even originally 3e. Did they change that for 3.5 or PF so you rolled init once at the start of combat and then stuck with that order? That's how it is in 5e.

Back in the day, when we did roll init each round, it really just created a completely random feel. In theory the faster characters went first more often, at least in those systems that took Dex into account, but in the heat of play you didn't really get that sense.
My understanding of the 3.5 RAW (and 5e (http://5e.d20srd.org/srd/combat/theOrderofCombat.htm#intiative)) is that you were supposed to keep the same order from round to round. I guess they changed it for simplicity? That's just a complete guess though, I don't know for certain.

My experience with the roll-every-round version is limited, but I liked it when my groups did it, you just have to keep things moving. There are groups that will take 15-20 minutes at the start of every combat and work out their entire strategy if the GM let them. But that kind of thing can fall apart when the initiative order keeps changing and if you're not on top of it, the group will pause to revise their strategy at the start of every round. Having some sort of "game clock" that gives players a set amount of time to act or they lose their turn can help with this, to a degree.


Let me try to explore the issue a little deeper though- what is your real objection to the initiative system? What problem do you think this change will solve or how will it improve the game?
The most involved version of the Initiative bonus I ever saw was Dexterity + Wisdom + 1/2 BAB, to represent reaction time, awareness of surroundings, and combat proficiency; that gets kinda complicated though. A better system might be to just give every class a flat initiative bonus per level, like they get with saves. I've never been a fan of the medium-save option (from +1 to +9, i.e. in between the 0-6 and 2-12) but this is a place where that progression might be useful, so you can have a low, medium, and good option. What works best for you though will depend largely on what you want to achieve.

EggKookoo
2017-09-05, 10:19 AM
In a general sense I'm just poking and prodding at making combat quicker. I'm running a 5e campaign but a number of my players are old school, and they get caught up on why we don't roll init each round (I'm a grognard myself so I understand their confusion). I explain that it's faster and they understand and accept it, but they don't really internalize it and I find myself re-explaining every now and then. At one point I said that init is largely random and you might as well just go in any order, and I got dubious looks. It's one of those things that you can accept intellectually but it still feels like the faster characters should go first. I also tend to think faster (i.e. high-DEX) characters get the benefit of their speed in the form of a higher AC, so letting them act sooner is kind of a double-bonus.

And like I said above, going earlier in the round actually imposes a strange penalty in that the slower chars end up with more tactical info to work with. They can modify their actions based on what the faster characters do. In pre-5e, fast chars can delay their actions, but really so can the slow chars, and you can get a stalemate where nobody acts because everyone's waiting for someone else, and the round just goes by and we're back to where we started. And also, 5e doesn't allow delayed actions so that's kind of out of the window anyway. In practice, I don't see a lot of players willingly delaying, as a good plan now is often better than a perfect plan later.

All this got me wondering what the real purpose of initiative is. I finally decided it's mostly a DM administration mechanic and not really well-modeled for the "reality" of the characters. It basically boils down to a tool to help the DM get organization around each player's decision, mainly so they can be processed one at a time. It's just in the service of gameplay that player order is transferred to the characters' order.

Deepbluediver
2017-09-05, 02:33 PM
In a general sense I'm just poking and prodding at making combat quicker.
Then I don't really see random initiative order helping much with that- presumably someone would still be rolling to determine the order for every encounter, unless you had a fixed order which has it's own issues.

If you think combat is dragging on to long, giving players a set amount of time act seems to be a better bet. I can guarantee some people won't like it at first- there are players who won't draw a wand without doing 6 pages of math homework to prove that it's the optimal action. But if you insist and hold everyone including yourself to the same rules, then people will get used to it. Just like they get used to a change in edition.
And some people might actually find they prefer more spontaneous actions over intensive planning for the perfect strategy.


I'm running a 5e campaign but a number of my players are old school, and they get caught up on why we don't roll init each round (I'm a grognard myself so I understand their confusion). I explain that it's faster and they understand and accept it, but they don't really internalize it and I find myself re-explaining every now and then.
Do it whichever way your group prefers then- that's the great thing about tabletop games, you're NOT beholden to follow the rules as laid down by the creator. The GM of a gameworld is the only creator who matters.


At one point I said that init is largely random and you might as well just go in any order, and I got dubious looks.
I don't know if there's an Improved Initiative feat in 5e, but in 3.5 it adds +4 to your initiative rolls and other than a few class features, the only other modifier is your Dex bonus. So in my experience, a character like the Ranger or Rogue would go first about 30% of the time, and for everyone else it WAS basically random. That's part of the reason I said I expected combat to play out similarly most of the time.


It's one of those things that you can accept intellectually but it still feels like the faster characters should go first. I also tend to think faster (i.e. high-DEX) characters get the benefit of their speed in the form of a higher AC, so letting them act sooner is kind of a double-bonus.
.....
All this got me wondering what the real purpose of initiative is. I finally decided it's mostly a DM administration mechanic and not really well-modeled for the "reality" of the characters. It basically boils down to a tool to help the DM get organization around each player's decision, mainly so they can be processed one at a time. It's just in the service of gameplay that player order is transferred to the characters' order.
Ok, lets talk about what Dexterity (and Initiative) is for a moment. It's not really speed most of the time, instead it tends to be represented as reflexes and reaction time. That could be a good argument for why you DON'T reroll every round- the quicker characters act first, but then they are moving at the same speed.

Reaction times are necessarily the only thing you can think about in combat though. Take Wisdom for example, which is at least in part an awareness of your surroundings (that's why it's the modifier for Perception checks). If your party is walking down the rode, a high Wisdom character like the Cleric might smell the stink of unwashed orc-leathers or hear the scrape of a weapon being readied a split second before the attack comes. The Cleric might not move as fast as the Rogue, but he starts moving sooner, and so gets a bonus on the Initiative check.

Now lets talk about BAB.
While the Wizard is studying arcane lore, the Fighter is training. While the Cleric offers prayers of thanks to the gods and feeds the starving orphans, the Fighter is training. While the Rogue pickpockets rich merchants and feuds with the thieves guild, the Fighter is training.

When a fight finally breaks out, the Fighter doesn't have to stop and think, his body is honed to such a level that he is already in motion even before a conscious thought screams "Danger!"
AFAIK, Initiative only shows up in combat, so it makes sense to me that your BAB, which is supposed to represent basic combat proficiency, shows up in the calculation somewhere. I think there are good arguments you can make for any or all of those being a part of the initiative check. With more modifiers, it might feel less random, at least in some cases. For some specific classes that might push their bonus on the roll really high, but since you seemed to feel that Initiative as presented was to random, that might be a good thing.

And of course, if you have in your mind an idea that some classes are faster or slower, you could use a class-based modifier like Option B in this thread (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?255385-Improving-Initiative-(updated)).


And like I said above, going earlier in the round actually imposes a strange penalty in that the slower chars end up with more tactical info to work with. They can modify their actions based on what the faster characters do. In pre-5e, fast chars can delay their actions, but really so can the slow chars, and you can get a stalemate where nobody acts because everyone's waiting for someone else, and the round just goes by and we're back to where we started.
The solution to that seems to be to say that people MUST act when their turn comes up in the initiative order, or they forfeit their action until the next round (the "use it or lose it" school of thought). You can choose not to act, but you can't choose to go into perpetual Mexican-standoff mode.

There's also readied actions (http://www.d20srd.org/srd/combat/specialInitiativeActions.htm), which seem like kind of a halfway-point in between. You can prepare to act in response to something else, but you have to determine what the trigger is and what action you'll take ahead of time. There isn't a lot of guidance though as to how specific you have to be with the action or the trigger- the example given is "she starts to cast a spell", but it doesn't say you can't name things as broad as "a spell is cast" or "a party member takes damage", or that you can ready something like "I will cast a spell if a party member takes damage".
If you choose to go this route, I'd give plenty of specific examples to your players about what you will and won't allow.

Zombimode
2017-09-06, 09:49 AM
There are some fundamental differences between round-by-round initiative and initiative determined at start of combat.

In before 3e, the concept of a "round" had a mechanical meaning Independent from the participants of a combat. You have a round where certain Things happen, then there is a hard "cut", and the next round begins.

In 3e and beyond "rounds" only exist in relation between initative Counts. Initiative Order is like a circular doubly linked list, and the individual initiative Counts are pruely ordinal in nature: there is no difference between Initiative 10 and Initiative 20 if all other initiative Counts are below 10. Wheras before 3e initiative Counts are not purely ordinal: ini 12 is objectively later then ini 2.


While round-by-round initiative has its merits (I've used it for 7 years or so), 3e style initiative has definitely Advantages in Speed: you deal with initiative exactly once instead of every round.

EggKookoo
2017-09-06, 11:58 AM
In 3e and beyond "rounds" only exist in relation between initative Counts.

Not quite true for 5e. For instance, you can use your reaction once per round. This can be before or after your turn, but it's locked to the objective round. You could take two reactions in between turns once after your turn but before the round ends, and then again after the next round begins but before your turn for that round. If rounds were truly just your turn cycle, the reaction rule would say something more like "you can take one reaction in between your turns."

There are a few other mechanics that use the objective round as a meter or limiter.

Vogie
2017-09-06, 03:02 PM
I agree with the current system, with one caveat. I do think it would be interesting if there was a way to manipulate initiative order after it was locked in. I just don't know how that would work.

For example:

Slower, more tactical players could "hold" their actions for self-buffs (or summoning something) which wouldn't be an attack moving them forward during the next turn.
Instead of getting a second attack during the sole turn for the round, perhaps faster characters could actually gain more turns in the round.
Certain debuffs and conditions could also move the targets backwards in the initiative order.

Zombimode
2017-09-07, 01:17 AM
Not quite true for 5e. For instance, you can use your reaction once per round. This can be before or after your turn, but it's locked to the objective round. You could take two reactions in between turns once after your turn but before the round ends, and then again after the next round begins but before your turn for that round. If rounds were truly just your turn cycle, the reaction rule would say something more like "you can take one reaction in between your turns."

There are a few other mechanics that use the objective round as a meter or limiter.

Ah, interesting :smallsmile:. I've only passing Knowledge of 5e, and in the short time my group has played 5e we kinda assumed it worked like before.