... now with 35% more arrogance!

Monday, October 15, 2012

You Go First

Sort of tying into weapon breakage: there's a thread on the RPGSite about initiative, with some (very mild) fighting in it. I've ruminated on initiative before, and added my own approach to the thread:
After resolving any surprise attack, it goes in modified Dex order. First round only, you can opt for triple your weapon length in place of your Dex, if you want. Spell or mental activity uses higher of Int or Dex. 

On rounds other than the first, add opponent's weapon length to your Dex if your weapon is shorter. Spell level counts as weapon length.
Except that, ever in search of ways to simplify, I think now I'd drop the second paragraph, instead using weapon length/spell level as a tie-breaker.

"Initiative" is, of course, two entirely different concepts shoved together in an ungainly way: play order and action order. My rule covers action order. For play order -- what the "roll a d6 for each side" originally represented -- I would just let the players choose to go first or last, unless they are surprised. Can't really see a reason to worry about it more than that... After all, the GM already has a significant advantage over the players.



    When the figures are brought into position ten scale feet (2” or less) apart they may engage in melee. The being with the highest initiative score strikes first. For the player characters and each member of their party, their INTV score = Dex score + Wis mod. + Armor Penalty

    For monsters , INTV = d20 roll + Reflex bonus. The DM will determine the initiative score for the player’s opponents, rarely breaking the opposing party into two groups if necessary for dramatic effect.
    The first round of melee, only those members of the player’s party whose INTV equals or exceeds that of the monsters party may perform one full round of action, then all the monsters the will act for this first simulated combat round.

    The second round of action or melee, all members of the player’s party act first, preferably in order of initiative score. This is followed by all the members of the opposing party controlled by the GM. For clarity, the DM may assign clockwise seating to the players in descending order of INTV score; i.e. the player with the highest INTV score sits at the GM’s left and lowest INTV score will sit at the GM’s right.

    Game action proceeds in this manner, PC group followed by monsters each round until there is conquest, withdrawal, capitulation or death.

    “Kill them all, God will recognize his own.”

    When the player characters enter the realm of the unknown, they are out of their element; this often gives monsters the bonus of concealment or surprise. If the INTV score for the monster’s exceeds any character’s INTV score by 10 or more, then that he is surprised the first round, and only the first round of combat. Surprised characters lose their shield and dexterity based bonus to defense, cannot cast spells, and they cannot engage in complex mental activity or processing; however, saving throws are normal.

    Sometimes monsters will gain an INTV bonus based upon the light source available to the PC party:

    Sub Optimal (-) dawn, dusk, lantern, infravision.

    Moonlight (+2) full moon, torch, low light vision.

    Starlight (+5) moonless night, candle.

    Pitch black (+9) character is effectively blind.
    .. . .
    for simplicity some weapons are designated
    as quick (+2) OR
    awkward (-2)

    1. I dunno, I still think my one paragraph is simpler. Plus: no Reflex bonus in OD&D.

  2. How are you differentiating play order and action order? It seems to me that if you are using action order by modified Dex, then the play order is superfluous. In other words, can you give an example on how you would use both your action order and play order?

    1. Play order = which (real) person gets to announce what they're doing first.

      Action order = which (fictional) character's actions occur first.

      Play order is important if players are not allowed to change their actions after they've announced them, or if there's some penalty for changing them... in other words, if the character is assumed to have begun an action once a player has announced the action.

      If the players go first, their decisions force the GM to basically go on the defensive, reacting to player choices. On the other hand, if the players choose to go *last*, they get the benefit of knowing what the GM is going to do. For example, if the players know the monster is going to attack the Magic-User, the M-U's player may decide there's no time to get off a spell before the monster's attack.

      Once the actions are chosen, they are resolved in action order. If the M-U player went first and chose to cast a spell, then the GM says "the monster is attacking the M-U," the monster's attack might wind up disrupting the spell.

    2. This makes sense. I was thinking about this with later editions in mind, i.e. there is not statement of intent. Thanks for the explanation.

  3. Would it work to skip "play order" and just have Players decide what they are doing when it's their turn in the "action order" based on Dex?

    1. I imagine it would. I hadn't quite settled on this system back when I last had a group together, but I was being pretty informal about it, without a clear announcement phase... but I did let players generally go first.

      However, there's a catch. But I think I'll do a post on it.