-20 on Inititiative when Surprised

I'm thinking that the player taking a -20 on Initiative when surprise is alittle to steep because it takes away pretty much all the player(s) roll and so even with the bonus with the Dexerity modifier the players would still loses, and really sets a mood of failure. Of course if this was the intent than I would probaly like it but if I don't known if my players would like it. Please reply with your optinions.
I'm thinking that the player taking a -20 on Initiative when surprise is alittle to steep because it takes away pretty much all the player(s) roll and so even with the bonus with the Dexerity modifier the players would still loses, and really sets a mood of failure. Of course if this was the intent than I would probaly like it but if I don't known if my players would like it. Please reply with your optinions.



I'm sure at higher level there will be magic items, feats, and other things that will mitigate this. Imagine a +5 and a roll of 20 would be 25-20=5, so someone else with a +0 and rolls a 4 still goes after them...
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At the same time it is brilliant, because if I roll a 20, and I have a +2 say, then I still go on a 2, which serves me right since I was surprised.

I don't see a problem with it. You are surprised, you go last. Be happy you get to act in the first round at all.
Yeah, previous editions you wouldn't roll til the next turn even.
I like it.  Being surprised should be a penalty.  Plus, everyone still acts, those surprised likely go last and it allows everyone to roll initiative once at the same time, simple and quick.
I thought it was a better mechanic then the half turn confusion, however,

We immediately changed it to +20 for the Suprising party, because math sucks lol. We didnt want to have to deal with negative numbers.
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Yes, +20 is what I'll be using until more explaination is given for a -20.

Resident Basement Dwelling Freak of Dice

+20 for the party with surprise is a better mechanic: it's addition (more natural than subtraction); it means no negative initiative numbers; and it has a real good feel about starting off the round at initiative segment 35 (or whatever).
In 3.x/4e if you won the suprise round your opponeents didnt even act until the next turn.

Here's how it plays out functionally:

* Players, with weapons drawn and ready, kick open the door and catch the unsuspecting orcs in a poker game!
* Init! Players and DM roll, and the iniative order is determined and written down on cards, chalkboard, comp screen whatever people use to show init order.
* Suprise Round! Players all take their turns, while the orcs completely skip their turns with cards in hand and dumbfounded expressions on their faces. Orcs are considered flat footed (grant advantage) to the players.
* Official first round fo combat! We go to the top of the init round and do it in order. This time orcs are allowed to actually pick up weapons and particiapte in combat.
* Combat and hilarity ensue.


So the -20 bit is a cleaner way to simulate this event, it (most likely) lets all of the players go before the orcs, without having to deal with that one-sided half of a suprise round.
 

And FWIW, adding 20 to the supriser is functionally the same as subtracting 20 from the suprisee (especially if we are getting all fancy and using negatives...). I approve. There may be a legit reason to -20 in the final product, but for now adding 20 really jsut seems "cleaner"...
FWIW [4e designer] baseline assumption was that roughly 70% of your feats would be put towards combat effectiveness, parties would coordinate, and strikers would do 20/40/60 at-will damage+novas. If your party isn't doing that... well, you are below baseline, so yes, you need to optimize slightly to meet baseline. -Alcestis
In 3.x/4e if you won the suprise round your opponeents didnt even act until the next turn.

Here's how it plays out functionally:

* Players, with weapons drawn and ready, kick open the door and catch the unsuspecting orcs in a poker game!
* Init! Players and DM roll, and the iniative order is determined and written down on cards, chalkboard, comp screen whatever people use to show init order.
* Suprise Round! Players all take their turns, while the orcs completely skip their turns with cards in hand and dumbfounded expressions on their faces. Orcs are considered flat footed (grant advantage) to the players.
* Official first round fo combat! We go to the top of the init round and do it in order. This time orcs are allowed to actually pick up weapons and particiapte in combat.
* Combat and hilarity ensue.


So the -20 bit is a cleaner way to simulate this event, it (most likely) lets all of the players go before the orcs, without having to deal with that one-sided half of a suprise round.
 

And FWIW, adding 20 to the supriser is functionally the same as subtracting 20 from the suprisee (especially if we are getting all fancy and using negatives...). I approve. There may be a legit reason to -20 in the final product, but for now adding 20 really jsut seems "cleaner"...





Its like THACO or golf scoring.....its just complication for no real reason......that i can tell
Always excuse the spelling, and personal opinions are just that personal and opinions. Getting Down with the playtesting of 5th http://community.wizards.com/dndnext/go/thread/view/75882/29139253/Complilation_of_Playtest_Feedback Compilation of Feedback post /bump please
I'm thinking that the player taking a -20 on Initiative when surprise is alittle to steep because it takes away pretty much all the player(s) roll and so even with the bonus with the Dexerity modifier the players would still loses, and really sets a mood of failure. Of course if this was the intent than I would probaly like it but if I don't known if my players would like it. Please reply with your optinions.



I'm another one who finds -20 on Init makes it easier on the surprised group not harder since in prior editions the surprised folk just lost a turn.
I also prefer adding 20 to the non-surprised group, just to make the math easier. 


Its like THACO or golf scoring.....its just complication for no real reason......that i can tell



yep.
Which is why the -20 (or +20) system is significantly quicker and easier, while producing a similar effects.
FWIW [4e designer] baseline assumption was that roughly 70% of your feats would be put towards combat effectiveness, parties would coordinate, and strikers would do 20/40/60 at-will damage+novas. If your party isn't doing that... well, you are below baseline, so yes, you need to optimize slightly to meet baseline. -Alcestis
I think it may be -20 instead of +20 to help DMs in determining who is surprised.

It produces a slightly different perspective for decision making when you are deciding who is surprised, vs. deciding who is a "surpriser." Instead of inviting you to think in terms of "did Character A get the jump on the opponents?" it encourages you to think "who had no idea that combat was coming their way?"

It's a subtle distinction, but it is real for me, and I think that's why they did it that way. I'd prefer it stay -20 for that reason, but I won't throw a fit if it changes to +20.

I will say that using a simple initiative modifier instead of the complicated surprise rounds is absolutely brilliant. It also opens up the possibility for the DM to declare "partial surprise" and issue lesser modifiers in certain situations. (My favorite is when the villain is monologuing and one of the heroes tries to just take a pot shot at him before anyone knows what's up. Let him make a Dex or Cha check (depending on how he's doing it), and if he succeeds give him a +10 init bonus, and combat begins).
-20 becuase you were caught off guard. The ambusher didn't really suddenly have great reaction time. That being said, it doesn't really matter.

Getting rid of the surprise round does make sense to me. Many times we do natural initiative.

We kick in the door and attack the orcs.
The orcs kick back their chairs and grab weapons.
We attack again except the halfing who tries to grab money.
Orcs throw the halfing across the room and so on...

The new system just codifies what we have done anyways.

(I do see the need for initiative in non-surprise situations.)
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Although the +20 for the surpriser is much easier math it only works well when the entire other group is surprised. It does not readily allow for splitting surprise due to Alertness feats, high perceptions (an unable to give alarm) and such. Having the rule state: "If anyone is surprised in the encounter, everyone else who is not surprised gets to add +20 to their initiative. Otherwise there is not bonus for surprise." may be more confusing to some.

Of course, this mechanic (adding or subtracting) is better than the free half-turn or being unable to act for 1 round to allow for a splitting of the groups where some of both are surprised or to allow for varying degrees of surprise.


My opinion is still as it was on another post that touched on this:

Roll 1d20+DEX modifier

If you are "suprised" you have disadvantage for the suprise round. Done.....keep it simple.
Although the +20 for the surpriser is much easier math it only works well when the entire other group is surprised. It does not readily allow for splitting surprise due to Alertness feats, high perceptions (an unable to give alarm) and such. Having the rule state: "If anyone is surprised in the encounter, everyone else who is not surprised gets to add +20 to their initiative. Otherwise there is not bonus for surprise." may be more confusing to some.




You're right.  Everybody adding twenty instead of three people subtracting twenty does seem a bit more annoying.

Resident Basement Dwelling Freak of Dice

My opinion is still as it was on another post that touched on this:

Roll 1d20+DEX modifier

If you are "suprised" you have disadvantage for the suprise round. Done.....keep it simple.



Very nice. Consistent with the rest of the system, and also means you've got a small chance of not being screwed even when you are surprised.
My opinion is still as it was on another post that touched on this:

Roll 1d20+DEX modifier

If you are "suprised" you have disadvantage for the suprise round. Done.....keep it simple.



I don't see how this is simpler. It just doesn't get much simpler than a straight numerical modifier to a creature's location in the initiative order. Now, your suggestion isn't any less simple, but I don't see how it is more.
I though it was actually fairly wimpy, because I didn't see anything that gives the attacking side advantage when they surprise enemies. Thus, it really isn't a huge advantage. It just gives the party a chance to move and fire first, which may or may not matter much.

I though it was actually fairly wimpy, because I didn't see anything that gives the attacking side advantage when they surprise enemies. Thus, it really isn't a huge advantage. It just gives the party a chance to move and fire first, which may or may not matter much.




It may not be this way in the playtest, but imagine a whole party of control-style casters. They really like to go first. It feels good to go first. Really good. Same is true as a damage focused party.
Actually, I think I prefer the -20. +20 guarentees that the ambushers get the jump on the players, most of the time, but there's always going to be that jerk in the surprised party with Improved Initiative, and who rolls a 20, who is somehow going to act before his ambushers on a 20 something otherwise.
Actually, I think I prefer the -20. +20 guarentees that the ambushers get the jump on the players, most of the time, but there's always going to be that jerk in the surprised party with Improved Initiative, and who rolls a 20, who is somehow going to act before his ambushers on a 20 something otherwise.



Actually that can still happen with the -20. Both ways, of course, require for the suprisers to fumble their initiative rolls. The end result is the same, but with addition, there are no negative numbers to deal with.


OTOH.... if there were a rule about the -20 only applying to the 1st round of combat, then there could be a rule about having anyone with an initiative roll of 0 or less not being able to act.

--Jim      
+20 for the party with surprise is a better mechanic: it's addition (more natural than subtraction); it means no negative initiative numbers; and it has a real good feel about starting off the round at initiative segment 35 (or whatever).


Giving the surprisers a +20 gives them an initiative advantage against anyone not surprised.  Whereas a -20 to those surprised only affects those surprised.
The key advantage of the new rule is that under the old rules it was possible to get an attack in, then win initiative and get a second attack in, all before any reaction. Now you get the first attack for surprise, but that is it. You've only won the right to act first.

My thought is that initiative is d20+dex modifier normally. Why not just say you can't roll the d20 if surprised? Sure it is a lesser penalty, and may mean a high dex surprised character acts before someone else, but it is dead simple and gives a cool little twist when it comes up.
+20 for the party with surprise is a better mechanic: it's addition (more natural than subtraction); it means no negative initiative numbers; and it has a real good feel about starting off the round at initiative segment 35 (or whatever).


Giving the surprisers a +20 gives them an initiative advantage against anyone not surprised.  Whereas a -20 to those surprised only affects those surprised.



True enough, though, I suppose that it bothers me less for ambushers to fumble then it does for those who are surprised to act with nearly miraculous speed.
Actually, I think I prefer the -20. +20 guarentees that the ambushers get the jump on the players, most of the time, but there's always going to be that jerk in the surprised party with Improved Initiative, and who rolls a 20, who is somehow going to act before his ambushers on a 20 something otherwise.



Actually that can still happen with the -20. Both ways, of course, require for the suprisers to fumble their initiative rolls. The end result is the same, but with addition, there are no negative numbers to deal with.


OTOH.... if there were a rule about the -20 only applying to the 1st round of combat, then there could be a rule about having anyone with an initiative roll of 0 or less not being able to act.

--Jim      



I think the point of the D&D Next initiative rule is to reduce the turn one effect of being surprised. Everyone it supposed to get to act. With the -20 to the initiative of the surprised folk everyone still gets to act on turn one, but it is unlikely for a surprised individual to go before a non-surprised individual.
I like the idea of getting rid of the surprise round where the surprisers get to take a turn while the surprised just stand there with their mouths hanging open.
I like the new idea of surprise, but don't like the fact that all of the group should be surprised.  After the perception check (or maybe something more specific called an awareness check), the group could be divided into 2 (ex: surprised orcs and unsurprised orcs) with different initiatives.
My opinion is still as it was on another post that touched on this:

Roll 1d20+DEX modifier

If you are "suprised" you have disadvantage for the suprise round. Done.....keep it simple.



I agree, it fits better with the rules sistem.
Disadvantage isn't nearly as big a penalty as -20; it's more like only a -5.  It seems like a good house rule if you want surprise to be significantly weakened.

Besides the complication of subtraction, the other odd thing about the new rule is if you have a second group enter the fight later, they are impacted by the surprise of which they had no part.  For instance, this comes up when additional goblins join the combat in round two of the Caves of Chaos area D entrance.  If you are adding initiative to the surprisers, these new goblins are disadvantaged even though they had nothing to do with the surprise.  If you subtract initiative from the surprisees, the new goblins have an initiative advantage over their comrades for no clear reason.  This is just an inherent flaw with having a persistent initiative modifier for combat.

It might just be simpler to say that if you're surprised, you don't get to act on the first turn.  Avoid all this other complication.
If the players are surprised then the order of initiative changes so that you effectively play with group initiative. This has long time implications on the fight.

The monsters can act together to bring down one of your characters before you get a chance to react, and you can do the same with the monsters. 
DISCLAIMER: I never played 4ed, so I may misunderstand some of the rules.
Very good point.  I haven't yet had the opportunity to playtest surprise, but it will cluster monster attacks and player attacks in groups which I agree is bad. This can alter the combat significanty with the kind of "dog pile" tactic noted above.

I thought I had read somewhere that the -20 is only in effect in the first round (or perhaps that was just mentioned as a possible "fix" for the cluster effect). So for initiative, you roll a 12, getting a net of -8 for round 1 only, but "bouncing" back up in the order to 12 for the rest of the combat. Of course, this still could result in several PCs acting twice in close succession if they roll high enough (i.e. - They'd act at the end of round 1 after the monsters, but would act again at the beginning of round 2 with a high roll).

I'd almost prefer that effect rather than the grouping of all PC turns and then all monster turns (or vice versa). This would also avoid some of the initiative weirdness that occurs when new combatants join the fray.  They'd just slot in normally and would not have an initiative advantage over the PCs (nor would they be at an initiative disadvantage if the +20 rule was in effect).


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i need to check, but somebody pointed out it's only first round.

if it wasn't then people could hold init and preplan their entire initiative for the counter, which would not only open up dogpile effects, but would give players exact init knowledge which could be used to combo spells and abilities for terrifying effects.
There seems to be some confusion over how this actually works.

1. Determine who is surprised. Usually the DM will require some sort of perception check, unless he rules that surprise is automatic.
2. Everyone rolls initiative normally.
3. Those individuals who are surprised subtract 20 from their total normal initiative result.

A. The -20 doesn't replace your roll, it modifies it.
B. There is nothing that says that all of the monsters in a group have to be surprised.

Analysis: This has roughly the same effect on the order of actions as previous versions, except that it is much simpler and prevents the characters who aren't surprised from acting twice before their opponents (which was possible in previous versions). It is also less devastating than 4e because disadvantage doesn't apply. (And advantage/disadvantage is stronger than 4e combat advantage). D&D Next is likely to have more devastating forms of attack than 4e, which would make surprise extremely dangerous if it followed the same surprise rules.

Opinion: I find this one of the most brilliant innovations in the system. It's a perfect example of where one little tweak vastly decreases the complexity (no more worrying about what actions can and can't be done in a special "surprise round" because there is no surprise round). It also encourages a DM to use surprise more frequently, because he is less likely to wipe out a party by using it than he would have been in 3e. I hope that D&D Next uses this sort of philosophy for more rules implementations. No major change to the concept, just a tweak to the mechanics that has significant effects on the simplicity and balance of the system.

If the players are surprised then the order of initiative changes so that you effectively play with group initiative. This has long time implications on the fight.

The monsters can act together to bring down one of your characters before you get a chance to react, and you can do the same with the monsters. 




This is the part of the -20 modifier I do not like. It sets up a fight were both teams take alternating turns. Team Surprise acts, then Team Surprised acts. I go you go is not very interesting to me and I like a more mixed up turn order in a round. I even go so far as to roll separate init for each creature in a group.

A -20 initiative effectively means a surprised creature always goes last.  Why not simply make the rule, "Surprised creatures always act at the end of the round and are assumed to have an initiative of 0 for the first round of combat.  After the first round, they roll initiative as normal."

There will probably be a very unique circumstance where a character or monster with an extremely high Dex and improved initiative has a tiny chance of rolling high enough initiative to go before one or two members of the other side.  This seems like such a ridiculously infrequent occurrence, I'm not sure it warrants a whole rule.
"Surprised creatures always act at the end of the round and are assumed to have an initiative of 0 for the first round of combat.  After the first round, they roll initiative as normal."



This creates odd situations were a surprised creature can get a double turn if it has a good initiative.



-20 is mathematically more difficult than -10.  Unless theres more than 10 players, no real point to making it that big.

I think its just less unwieldy if they make it -10.

Also you cant have all surprised creatures do that because the players can be the surprised creatures!  They cant ALL go on 0 unless you want chaos.
A -20 initiative effectively means a surprised creature always goes last.  Why not simply make the rule, "Surprised creatures always act at the end of the round and are assumed to have an initiative of 0 for the first round of combat.  After the first round, they roll initiative as normal."

There will probably be a very unique circumstance where a character or monster with an extremely high Dex and improved initiative has a tiny chance of rolling high enough initiative to go before one or two members of the other side.  This seems like such a ridiculously infrequent occurrence, I'm not sure it warrants a whole rule.



Not always. A creature with a very high initiative roll can act around the middle of the round.
My opinion is still as it was on another post that touched on this:

Roll 1d20+DEX modifier

If you are "suprised" you have disadvantage for the suprise round. Done.....keep it simple.



I had suggested this to my playetest group as well, with a slight modification:  The suprised group gets disadvantage on initiative, and the suprising group gets advantage.  I think the overall swing there would be quite large while unifying the mechanic so that suprise doesn't become a great exception to the way very temporary bonuses/penalties seem to work in the new edition.

The -20 works really well if you use it correctly. Not always is everyone in the players group/opposing group supprised the -20 works just fine on individual initiatives and makes the combat much more fantasy ideal. Now as for the second round the -20 should be either cut to -10 or to no modifier for the rest of the combat rounds.


In my opinion The supprise rule could be made extreamly dynamic by making First round -20 the oh crap round, Second round -10 the we need to organize our efforts round, and Third round Straight rolled initiative the ok we got this round.


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