... now with 35% more arrogance!

Friday, March 13, 2015

The Simplest Initiative: Mostly None

I'm thinking of going back to using different damage rolls for different weapons.

Shocking, I know. I've been a strong supporter of 1d6 damage for every weapon because of its simplicity. But there's not just damage to consider. There's also initiative.

I scoff at most initiative systems. Honestly, why roll? Just give one side a free attack if they surprise the other, then do all the attacks at once, unless one attacker is Hasted or Slowed. If one person kills another, or attacks a spell caster, shortest weapon or lowest spell level goes first, so the victim's attack or spell may be interrupted. Only check this when it matters. (I tried always checking weapon length as my initiative system, but as simple as it was, even it had problems at the table. I sometimes forgot to ask. Fortunately, I gave the players the priority in those cases, anyways.)

But even this could be simplified. Use one of the really simple weapon damage systems: d4 for daggers, d6 for most one-hand weapons, d8 for broadswords, 2d6 for two-handers. Use the damage rolled as the effective speed. A 1-point damage roll goes first, a 12-point damage roll goes last. If checking for interrupted actions, all you need is the dice results on the table right now, or the spell level of any spell cast.

You never, ever have to keep track of initiative that way. It's very temptiing.


  1. Why not roll Attack and damage into the same roll too? And instead of making an attack roll for each combatant, just roll them all at once. In fact, don't bother with rounds! Just told all combat into one die roll.

    For that matter, you could just make the entire campaign into one roll.

    I'm being a glib jerk of course. I'm actually interested in how "no initiative" works. Are the tie-breakers more or less work than remembering to do intitiative? It's an interesting question.

  2. In my current tabletop game, two players roll to hit and damage at the same time. If it ever really is important to know when the player missed on an attack, you can still look at the damage die to figure out when it missed. Maybe his miss left him open to counter attack, maybe the miss was a result of flinching on taking damage...

    So if you get that 1 point of stabbing damage in on a big ol' monster with just 1 point left, that would negate its 30 points of champing and stamping damage? This could be a nifty feature when fighting against a foe with multiple attacks. If a player or monster hits with more than one attack, it can alternate damage with his foe. For example, it grabs with a tentacle for 2 damage, the player hacks at it for 5 damage, and then gets dragged into a bite attack for another 6 damage. As DM, you might rule that the 5 points of damage severed the grasping tentacle and thus the bite attack never actually landed.