... now with 35% more arrogance!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Initiative and Speed

I was dreading getting around to this topic, because I haven't completely worked out how I'd like to handle it. I do have plenty of time to mull it over, though, so I might as well post my initial thoughts.

First, and this part is ironclad: initiative determines which player/side goes first, while speed determines which action happens first. In other words, initiative is a meta-game concept, not an in-game concept, although I think I'll make the initiative roll double as the surprise roll, which is an in-game concept.

Second, I'm assuming the following:

For initiative, each side rolls a d6, with very few if any mods applicable. Maybe the side that is the least prepared adds 1 to the roll. Lowest roll goes first.

The die result, including the 1-point "unprepared" penalty, is also used as an initial "surprise save". Each character uses their best score out of Wisdom and Dexterity; or, more specifically, the Attribute/3 rating from 1 to 6. If the initiative result is higher than their Attribute/3, the character is surprised. (There are other possible modifiers, but I'll expand surprise in another post.)

That group initiative result is also the default speed rating. On each succeeding round of combat, the action with the lowest speed goes first. On the second round, players have the option of re-rolling their individual speed, or continue using the group's speed. If they re-roll, they can't go back to the group's speed, but they can roll again on the next round.

The minimum speed of spells is equal to the spell's level. Weapons adjust speed this way:

  • weapons that are so heavy that they add +1 to attack rolls also add +1 to speed;
  • two-handed weapons add +1 to speed;
  • weapons longer than the character is high add an additional +1 to speed;
  • small weapons like daggers subtract 1 from speed.
(Basically, these are the same as the modifiers to the attack roll due to weapon size.)

Other things like labels and abilities can adjust an individual's speed as well.


  1. I've never liked the idea of speed bonuses for weapons, especially for smaller weapons. Larger weapon supposed "slowness" is, in practical usage, made up for, by their extra RANGE.

    A long sword could be used to keep an opponent at bay, how could a dagger even reach?

    Covering that distance between fighters is a matter of FOOT speed, not weapon speed. Thus, the initiative concept.

    To me it seems more logical to give bonuses for weapon range, rather than weapon speed, as the longer range weapon will always tend to have the first chance for damage. Unless, you "get inside their guard" first, which again, boils down to initiative.

    Thus, in my mind, all roads lead back to initiative, and to break an initiative tie, go to longer range.

    What do you think?

  2. I don't handle foot speed with initiative, though... I give combatants the option to step outside their opponent's reach, leveraging differences in weapon length. Weapon speed has nothing to do with the footwork. So, a fighter might be able to mow down cultists armed with daggers without letting them get close enough to strike back... or he might meet that one cultist who is faster than he is and able to move within reach to strike before the fighter can countermaneuver.