Journey Combat: Initiative

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The initiative system in d20 is unrealistic. After the first round, your initiative no longer matters; you know that everyone will go once before you go again. This is problematic, and we should fix it.

And so we shall.


There are a good deal of possible solutions to this problem, some of which are more sensical in a tabletop game than others. Attempting to implement "ticks," as in MMOs, will not serve as an acceptable solution, for instance.

The best solution, in my mind, is to use an ever-ascending scale. Each time you take an action, you add a number to your initiative; after the action, the person with the next lowest initiative goes, and so forth. This allows for those who are faster to go more often. It adds an element of unpredictability to the tactical game that is a melee, which is a benefit. It may also prove more realistic: someone who is faster, either by virtue of high Dex or high Initiative, should be able to do more in a combat than someone who is slow to react.


How do we implement this? That's always the question. Now we have an idea; how do we go about making it sensical mechanically.

Including WT in the equation is easy enough. With the scale being an increasing one, you would simply add your total WT (or fractions thereof) to your init with each action, thereby increasing the time you have to wait to go again. This is simple and sensical, so long as the fractions are kept to a minimum. The fraction of WT added would be dependent upon the type of action you take, not the action itself.

With that in mind, we'll have to make the additions to init high enough to make WT something that will mess you up, but not something that will totally screw you over.

Perhaps the best solution would be to do the same thing here we did with experience points...

Method: Highest Init Sets the Bar

In this method, initiative is rolled by all combatants, as normal. Whoever rolled the highest goes in segment 0; everyone else subtracts their initiative roll from the highest, and goes in that segment.

Example: Jane and Bob are in a combat with three gobbos. Jane rolls a 17, Bob a 12, gobbo A a 3, gobbo B a 16, and gobbo C gets an 11. Jane has the highest, so she goes in 0; Bob goes in 5, A goes in 14, B goes in 1, and C goes in 6. So the initiative order is Jane, then B, then Bob, then C, then A.

TABLE: ATB COSTS and WT (v2.1)

		ATB			WT
Full		+ (20 - SPD)		+ WT
Partial		+ (10 - SPD)		+ (WT / 2)
Standard	+ (10 - SPD)		+ (WT / 2)
  Movement	+ Squares Moved		+ (WT / 4)
  Other		+ (8 - SPD)		+ (WT / 4)
Quick		+ 0			+ 0

Instant		+ 4			+ 0
Swift		+ 4 			+ 0
Free		+ 0			+ 0

SPD: SPD is equal to your Dex mod plus any bonuses. Things like (haste) make your SPD increase.

Example: Jane, on her turn, moves 5 squares to goblin A. A move action of 5 squares moved costs 5 segments plus a quarter of her WT (which is 8), so her init is now 7 (0 + 5 + (8 / 4) = 7). The init order is now B, Bob, C, Jane, A.

As an added benefit, spell effects would no longer be tied to the caster's rounds. The caster would say, "this spell lasts 40 segments." If the caster went in 24, that means that the spell would end in 64, regardless of who is going at that time.

Surprise in this Method

If you are surprised, you take a -20 to your Initiative check when combat is initiated.

Example: Jane, Bob, Ren, and Joe are sitting around. Joe is irritated with Bob, so he hits him. This initiates combat, so
everybody rolls for init. Joe and Bob go in the surprise round, as they're aware of the combat, but Jane is slower to react. Jane,
however, has absurdly good reflexes.

Jane has an Initiative of +17. Bob has a +12, Ren a +9, and Joe a +14. Jane and Ren suffer a -20 penalty to their Initiative checks,
as they're unaware; so Jane's total is -3, and Ren's is -11.

Jane rolls a 14. 14 - 3 = 11.
Ren rolls a 2. 2 - 11 = -9.
Bob rolls a 15. 15 + 12 = 27.
Joe rolls a 9. 9 + 14 = 23.

Bob has the highest init. Now that we know that, we get their ATB numbers: Bob (0), Joe (4), Jane (16), and Ren (36).

Bob and Joe are aware of the fight, and proceed to duke it out. Jane has pretty good reflexes, so she gets a relatively early chance
to intervene. Ren, however, is utterly surprised by the outbreak of fisticuffs, and so can't react until quite a few punches are


What does this do to the system?

Dex (or Luc, maybe) becomes more important. The higher your dex, the more often you go in a combat - meaning more actions you can take. Clearly, there will be some who will want to exploit that as much as possible, but that results in a lack of emphasis on other stats. A character focused solely on going faster will not hit as hard nor last as long. It's the einhander v. defender fight.

It ties spell durations to actual length of combat, rather than their caster's turn. In d20, if the caster delays after casting a spell like summon monster - what happens? The system is silent on this issue. While houserules can make it sensical, it shouldn't take houseruling to make something like that make sense.

Starting a combat takes a bit longer. You have some extra math to do, to translate initiative rolls to ATB.

The ATB makes jikuu a lot more useful. Making someone suffer additional ATB increases every time they go will screw them constantly, whereas decreasing their init every round in d20 stops being useful after awhile. You can play around with inits a lot more, in this system.