Initiative Is Crucial - Thoughts and Ideas About Initiative

Throughout the playtests, it is clear that if a PC or monster wins on initiatve it is a huge advantage.

With past iterations of the game, I used to make group initiative rolls for similar group foes to consolidate and make rounds go faster.   With this iteration, I can't do that.   Since initiative is so important, I need to roll for each foe.  This staggers (most often) the way the enemy moves/attacks, which helps mitigate swingy "all or nothing" attack patterns.   

What are some of your thoughts about initiative in this iteration?  Should Dex bonus be used as a modifier?   What are other options?  Will initiative be less important as PCs gain in level, or will it continue to be one of the most deciding factors in any combat situation?


    

A Brave Knight of WTF - "Wielder of the Sword of Balance"

 

Rhenny's Blog:  http://community.wizards.com/user/1497701/blog

 

 

Well, I just do it for the groups, not for individuals.  I don't like staggered attacks, and so far no one has complained about this.
Well I don't no if its an iteration problem really.

I like to promote quick or fast characters (I usually lt people use dex or int for I tests), i dislike it as well cause its complicated for me as a DM and it doesnt promote teamplay.

I have used multiple alternatives like just grouprolling - letting a character in the fighting party with highest charisma add there score to the group roll etc.

Havent found something that shines really, but I do like group rolls better since it promotes characters symbios of to interact in a timely order they like.
 Or give them a huge disadvantage ofc.

But in the end I like group rolls better than individual scores.

Maybe do an easy to use hybrid?
Lets see;

1. roll initative each round

2. include weapon speed factors

3. include spell casting times

4. include dex modifiers.

this should take care of he who wins rules situations. 

It could add a few minutes to each encounter, but with combat being as swift as it is what's a couple of extra die rolls? 
I've always grouped enemy initiative except for leader or specialized NPCs.

I have found initiative actually less important for defensive builds in this system.

Edition wars kill players,Dungeons and Dragons needs every player it can get.

You'll have to explain this to me.  I've heard rumblings about initiative being important before, but this didn't really come to fruition in my playtest.  It might have been raw luck--my monsters rolled, by and large, terrible initiative scores--or it might have been my party, which carefully listened to most of the doors and not only avoided most ambushes with careful observation but also prepared themselves for battle effecively.

Under what conditions does initiative become really, really important?
In our playtest, if a number of party members beat the foes in initiative, and the foes were just goblins with 3 hp, well...that usually meant that instead of 6 goblins to face....there was only 3 or 4 to face.   The PCs who won initiative could kill 2 or 3 of the little buggers with one shot each.   That made the encounter much easier.

If the 2 or 3 PCs won initiatve over the larger creatures, like the bugbear or the wight, they could gang attack and that creature didn't stand much of a chance.    The rogue, could hide, sneak and attack having initiative, and really do major damage when he acted before the foes.   Of course, if the wizard won initiative, he could use his sleep spell or burning hands, and really make the encounter a cake walk.   (Mind you, I'm not against this.  It is perfectly fine for the Wizard to deplete one of his limited resources to gain advantage in a combat.  I'm just remarking about how important initiative is in most of these combats).

Most of the monsters had +1 or +2 to initiative rolls.

1 PC had +4 to initiative, 1 PC had +3 to initiative, 2 PCs had +2 to initiative, and 1 had +0.    

These numbers consistently gave the PCs that initial advantage.     

This is the power of initiative.

A Brave Knight of WTF - "Wielder of the Sword of Balance"

 

Rhenny's Blog:  http://community.wizards.com/user/1497701/blog

 

 

Summary
The shorter the combat (in number of rounds), the more important the initative becomes. Things die with 1 hit, and are easily hit, so winning initiative drastically alters the risk of combats.

Things that go first are usually single target strikers

One thing to keep in mind. If you face a huge group of "at-level" or weak monsters. They outnumber the party. If you rolled individually for each one, you'd probably get a decent distribution. A Player with a high Initiative advantage would show up towards the top of the initative distribution. The player who went first would probably be the Rogue, who could probably only kill 1, not a huge group at once. That's not a big deal when there are tons of weak enemies.

Area Effect powers that are not Daily
If you give the classes that can do area effect spells the chance to go first, you'd wipe out enemies before they got the chance to act. A wizard/sorcerer with high DEX or a feat that boosts initiative could do this. In previous editions each spell that did area effects was an important limited Daily resource, so using one in this way seems appropriate. Sleep to take out 10 kobolds. Now, if they allow "Encounter" area effect powers, which are unlimited per day, like what the Warlock has, then this changes everything if the Warlock also gets to act first most of the time.

Solo monsters and a flat power curve:
Now in previous editions, if the party faced a lone monster, that monster is probably a Challenge Rating(Hit Dice) at least 3 levels higher than the party, so it's initiative is going to be 3 higher also. It's defenses were also 3 higher. That's what made it a threat in previous editions. Even if it lost inititative it could last at least a round or two.

If they go with a "flat" power curve. Then the big bads might not also have an initative bonus, and could get creamed if they have low DEX. Especially if the big bads go down in 2 hits like they are doing now.
Initiative is important, I agree... in my opinion, though, after a few more tests, it's the AC, Attack Roll, and HP divergance that's a bigger fact.

(The following is simply my opinion based on playtests and my analysis)
The reason INIT *feel* more important, though, is because characters typically have the advantage in it.  And because characters are much stronger, they often win the initiative and then end the battles quickly.

When enemies win initiative, it isn't nearly as noticable because the miss more than they hit, PCs usually (sorry wizards) survive even if they do hit, and characters often have features (like Expertise Dice or Healing) or equipment to overcome injuries.  Players then continue to mow down foes and all seems normal.  It's only when things are really stacked against them (tough encounters with overlevel creatures and/or disadvantage from setting, situation, or powers) that I really notice initiative loss impacting players.

As for how I do initiative:
Every creature and (obviously) player rolls individually... but I have a very useful program that tracks initiative, effects, etc., to make that process easy.

My suggestion:
Give creatures back their own Initiative bonuses and penalties based on DEX.  It wouldn't change the Orcs I ran at people, but a +1 Init for Kobolds (DEX 12) would show their quick reflexes and faster than average frames.

It would also give creatures a little more wiggle room to give or take with, allowing more game balance and variability in creatures.  Kobolds being fast, but low AC, Damage, and HPs would make them intersting and balanced against other like-level creatures.  Zombies could hit with big heavy blows, but their awful dex would make them slow and easy to get on top of.
Lets see;

1. roll initative each round

2. include weapon speed factors

3. include spell casting times

4. include dex modifiers.

this should take care of he who wins rules situations. 

It could add a few minutes to each encounter, but with combat being as swift as it is what's a couple of extra die rolls? 



Really goes against their design philosophy of keeping combat quick. Although they just added Attacks of Opportunity back, so there goes some of that credibility.
My two copper.


Really goes against their design philosophy of keeping combat quick. Although they just added Attacks of Opportunity back, so there goes some of that credibility.


Actually this is the way it was done in AD&D and believe me it did little to bog down encounters. The thing that causes the slowdown is all of those maneuvers and the gridded aspect of the newer versions of the game. 

Believe me when I say the boring I swing, I swing a lot of people complain about ended combat very quickly. If tou want fast combat throw out all of those cumbersome combat rules and just get to it. 

If combat is all you play D&D for you're missing out on a pretty good game. Some of us can go entire sessions without using more than a few skills checks, and have a blast while doing it.

As for the AoO thing, the version they reinstated comes directly from AD&D. The only attack of opportunity given was when you chose to run from something you were in melee against. The rule in the playtest does exactly the same thing, nothing more.

I think adding the stronger initiative rules would severly hamper spell casters going nova and the guy with the bigger weapon getting first strike and eliminating threats before they can bring their smaller and faster weapons to bear.

I certainly don't see it as being implemented, since it means a little more work on the player's part and a good chunk of players who want nothing more than to win every encounter without a very real threat of failing. 

As the guy in the last part of this podcast said (www.wizards.com/dnd/Article.aspx?x=dnd/4...) We can't die we're the heroes where's the fun in that? Personally I completely disagree with this sentiment.
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