How do you do initiativ rolls?

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Well as the post name says how do you guys and girls manage when rolling initiativ?

Right now I roll 1 initiativ roll for every different creature i have in the combat.
Example: If we take a standard lvl 1 encounter whit these monsters in it: 4 kobold minions, 2 kobold dragonshields and 1 kobold wyrmpreist. i would roll 3 initiativ rolls, 1 roll for the 4 minions, 1 roll for the 2 dragonshields and 1 roll for the wyrmpreist.

I like this way instead of making a roll for each creature, since it make it go faster and more easy to see who´s turn it is, but the downside is that if you have alot of minions or so in a battle they all act at the same time.
 
And have considered to go for a initiativ roll for each creature, to give the PC the option to take tactical decisions to remove the monster(s) there is between 2 or more of them, so they can get their turn continuous whitout getting damage from monsters.
 
But let me hear how do you do it?
I do it the way Page 38 of the DMG says to do it: Group like monsters into the same initiative roll.

Individual initiatives mean slower combats in my experience. 

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I roll initiative for all monsters together, using the highest Dex bonus in the group if I can rationalize some sort of leadership function. If a second group of monsters enter, I roll separately for them. I will occassionally break up a large group of monsters in two initiatives to avoid that sense that they're attacking in a wave and then standing around. If I have more than 8 of one type, and they're 2nd out of 6, I might break them up and have 4 of them go 5th as well.

I also use a simple tracking board. I have labeled a cardboard panel for each player, and two for monsters, and I use velcro to put them up in order. Avoids a lot of headache for me when I'm trying to keep track of too many things.
I also use a simple tracking board. I have labeled a cardboard panel for each player, and two for monsters, and I use velcro to put them up in order. Avoids a lot of headache for me when I'm trying to keep track of too many things.

True I do sometimes forget to give my players ongoing damage and remind them of the effect they have and honest as they are they rarely mention it .
So far I have just used a whiteboard marker and a space on the battle map for initiativ order, but iam going to try out "hang tags" & "Status effect markers" here on saturday, the idea realy seem nice and handy + its cheap and easy to make
I play online - you select all your tokens and choose the "roll initiative" macro and it rolls and orders them all. Even if you are playing face to face, I'm sure there are similar DMing apps for phone/tablet.
Back to Basics - A Guide to Basic Attacks You might be playing DnD wrong if... "Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former." Albert Einstein
I do it the way Page 38 of the DMG says to do it: Group like monsters into the same initiative roll..

This method.


But I don't even write down the numbers. Players or monsters. I go around the table and have everyone say their numbers one at a time, and arrange bits of paper with their name on it in order from highest init to lowest. Then i put the monsters where they go (Based off memory of the order). 


I don't have to write anything which is nice. Plus, if anyone changes init, I can just slide them out and back in wherever they want. 

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My method varies. Sometimes we don't roll initiative at all. One of my players always tracks it for me.

[N]o difference is less easily overcome than the difference of opinion about semi-abstract questions. - L. Tolstoy

Maybe not standard, but here's my method:

I have players AC/HP on a sheet. The character with fastest initiative modifier is at the top of that list.

The players can opt to take mass initiative (one dice is rolled and they get their individual modifiers to that roll) or they can roll separately.

I then break the monsters into whatever grouping is most convenient, makes the most sense and creates the most interesting combat. In this case I might go priest, shields, minions. I'll then roll a single d20 and see where the first enemy falls in the initiative order. Let's say Player A gets a modified 20, B gets a 16 and Player C gets a 15. I roll the monster's initiative dice and the priest gets a modified 19, the two shields get modified 18 and the peons get modified 14. I will then place the monsters wherever their initiative falls, and the announce to the players who they act after.

"Player A, you see the kobolds and are first to act, (resolve A's action). The wyrmpriest does such-and-such (resolve action). Following his orders, the shield on the left does such-and-such (resolve 1st Shield's action) as his companion follows suit (resolve 2nd Shield's action). Player B, seeing/hearing all this, what do you do? (resolve B's action). Player C, bringing up the rear, what do you do? (resolve C's action).

For the 4 Minions, they might go on 14 of round one (coming in pairs to also attack whichever character the Shield's happen to be fighting), or they might delay their action (if they delay, I'd delay them until 17 of the next round, so that they follow their leaders' actions).


Order of play on first round of initiative:
A - 20
- wyrmpriest - 19
- two shields - 18
(doesn't matter which goes first, since the other can delay)
B - 16
C - 15
- four minions - 14
*Round ENDS*

If the minions decided to delay, next round of the encounter is pretty easy.
Player A acts, followed by kobolds (in whatever order is most convenient), followed by the rest of the players.

Sounds more complicated than it is. Long story short: By using a single die for the monsters and modifying, the monsters actions tend to fall close enough together that you can usually work it out so that combat encounters look something like this:
1.Fast Characters & Fast Monsters
2. Slow Characters & Slow Monsters

Then you might be able to delay a monster's actions so that it is more like:
1. Fast Characters
2. All the monsters
3. Slow Characters

But the bottom line is this, really:
After round 1, it barely matters, so do whatever is most convenient for you and most interesting for the players (which is almost universally whatever makes the combat resolve at a more hectic/faster pace).


A rogue with a bowl of slop can be a controller. WIZARD PC: Can I substitute Celestial Roc Guano for my fireball spells? DM: Awesome. Yes. When in doubt, take action.... that's generally the best course. Even Sun Tsu knew that, and he didn't have internets.
I roll initiative for all monsters together, using the highest Dex bonus in the group if I can rationalize some sort of leadership function. If a second group of monsters enter, I roll separately for them. I will occassionally break up a large group of monsters in two initiatives to avoid that sense that they're attacking in a wave and then standing around. If I have more than 8 of one type, and they're 2nd out of 6, I might break them up and have 4 of them go 5th as well.

I also use a simple tracking board. I have labeled a cardboard panel for each player, and two for monsters, and I use velcro to put them up in order. Avoids a lot of headache for me when I'm trying to keep track of too many things.

I was trying to say something like that, but I think you said it better. I got too detail-like.

Fast monsters first, slow monsters last.

Don't let the zombie beat the guy known as "fastest guy alive", if you're making a judgment call and all should be fine, right?
A rogue with a bowl of slop can be a controller. WIZARD PC: Can I substitute Celestial Roc Guano for my fireball spells? DM: Awesome. Yes. When in doubt, take action.... that's generally the best course. Even Sun Tsu knew that, and he didn't have internets.
The only caveat with the standard (group-of-creature) method is that it may be more manageable to split up very large groups of a given type. This usually only occurs with minions, although it could occur with a very difficult encounter populated by lots of standard monsters, or an encounter with a lot of underleveled monsters.

For example, "12 kobold creepers [minion lurker]" would be handled as two groups of six or three groups of four for initiative purposes.
My method varies. Sometimes we don't roll initiative at all. One of my players always tracks it for me.

I often have the players take 10 and monsters take 10 and go from there. Interesting how many monsters have improved initiative, btw.

Even more interesting... some of the strangest monsters have Iron Will. Ever notice that? I get it from a meta-game perspective, but can't really explain it from an in-game perspective.

At the house we still joke about the Iron Will of Frost Worm because of some hilarity that ensued.
A rogue with a bowl of slop can be a controller. WIZARD PC: Can I substitute Celestial Roc Guano for my fireball spells? DM: Awesome. Yes. When in doubt, take action.... that's generally the best course. Even Sun Tsu knew that, and he didn't have internets.
Group like monsters into the same initiative roll.

I go a step further and group all monsters together... which results in combat moving about twice as fast (since players can then go in any order they like, almost simultaneously, and I can skip over unready players).

It's similar to the DMG p.32 "Tips From the Pros" option, but follows the primary rules more closely.
And totally screws over encounters if either side has a sense of tactics...
Back to Basics - A Guide to Basic Attacks You might be playing DnD wrong if... "Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former." Albert Einstein
One of the LFR DMs I play with gives the players as a group the choice of individual rolls for monsters and group rolls for the monsters.
With the advantages and disadvantages discussed.
 
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If I can, before the game so it saves me some time rolling dice.
If I can, before the game so it saves me some time rolling dice.


Same here, I always role the initiative for monster before a gaming session.
Normaly I will go thru an adventure before we start, and prepare Monster Combat cards for all the monster and attache them to the corresponding page. As part of this I role initiative for each monster as I go.

I do it the way Page 38 of the DMG says to do it: Group like monsters into the same initiative roll.

Individual initiatives mean slower combats in my experience. 



That's how I do it.  I also use Maptool, which has an intuitive Initiative window.  So I just roll initiative for one monster of each type, they appear in the Initiative window, in order, so tracking is easy.

Within Maptool you can also choose whether or not you want the players to see the NPC initiatives.  I always hide them, if for no other reason than so the players can feel smug when they remember when the monsters go ;) 
I tend to roll single initiatives for like monsters.  If there are large enough quantities then I break them up into smaller groups (usually based on starting location).  Leaders are rolled individually.

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RedSiegfried wrote:
The cool thing is, you don't even NEED a reason to say yes.  Just stop looking for a reason to say no.
And totally screws over encounters if either side has a sense of tactics...

Nope. Done it a lot. Hasn't been an issue.

I do it the way Page 38 of the DMG says to do it: Group like monsters into the same initiative roll.

Individual initiatives mean slower combats in my experience. 



I also do this.

I now use the DM Minion program with my laptop connected to a dual monitor to keep track of initiative and combat status. When we play at my house, I hook it up to a nice big 60" TV, so the players can just glance up to check the order, and any ongoing damage or buffs.

I'm interested to know, from anyone else who uses the DM Minion program, do you show your players the monster names and XP? I'm not sure if I should, but the program does allow it. Do you other DMs tell the players what the monster XPs are? 
Do you other DMs tell the players what the monster XPs are? 

I tell my players anything they want to know about the monsters. I'm not sure what their "XPs" have to do with anything? I guess they'd show if a monster were a solo, elite, standard, or minion. I make that clear though. There's no reason the players and characters wouldn't know.

[N]o difference is less easily overcome than the difference of opinion about semi-abstract questions. - L. Tolstoy

And totally screws over encounters if either side has a sense of tactics...

Nope. Done it a lot. Hasn't been an issue.



And therefore...
Back to Basics - A Guide to Basic Attacks You might be playing DnD wrong if... "Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former." Albert Einstein
Done it a lot. Hasn't been an issue.

And therefore...

... I've had much experience with the method (and have had opportunity to ponder many considerations). While you were talking out yo butt ;)

Personal insults aside, I know the issues of not having the monsters properly interspersed with the PCs: it means that one team all goes at once before the other gets a chance to act. That's how people end up dying, if you use any sort of tactics. Now, you can deliberately screw up your monsters' tactics and softball your players, but that's a whole 'nother debate and wouldn't counter my previous statement.
Back to Basics - A Guide to Basic Attacks You might be playing DnD wrong if... "Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former." Albert Einstein
it means that one team all goes at once before the other gets a chance to act. That's how people end up dying

That's what I was waiting for. Thank you

Yes: team initiative can allow each side to more easily focus fire. A PC might go unconscious, but (assuming they delayed until after their cleric or other healer, which there's no reason for them not to) they'll just get healed without ever losing a turn. It still makes the combat seem more intense though. And since PC's heal from zero in 4e & 5e, this actually optimizes the party's healing resources.

I almost always focus fire on my PC's (I'm just evil that way). Good times are had by all.

Why stop when they go unconscious? CdG to death.

You cannot delay whilst unconscious - it requires a free action.
Back to Basics - A Guide to Basic Attacks You might be playing DnD wrong if... "Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former." Albert Einstein
Why stop when they go unconscious? CdG to death.

DMG p.40: "Monsters and Fallen Characters: Don’t hit people when they’re down. When a character falls unconscious, monsters turn their attention to enemies who are still up and fighting. Monsters don’t usually intentionally deal damage to fallen foes."

You cannot delay whilst unconscious - it requires a free action.

They establish their desired initiative order before that, while conscious.
I do it the way Page 38 of the DMG says to do it: Group like monsters into the same initiative roll..

This method.


But I don't even write down the numbers. Players or monsters. I go around the table and have everyone say their numbers one at a time, and arrange bits of paper with their name on it in order from highest init to lowest. Then i put the monsters where they go (Based off memory of the order). 


I don't have to write anything which is nice. Plus, if anyone changes init, I can just slide them out and back in wherever they want. 




Our groups do this, but with nametags on a magnetic whiteboard.

Confused about Stealth? Think "invisibility" means "take the mini off the board to make people guess?" You need to check out The Rules Of Hidden Club.
Damage types and resistances: A working house rule.
Do you other DMs tell the players what the monster XPs are? 

I tell my players anything they want to know about the monsters. I'm not sure what their "XPs" have to do with anything? I guess they'd show if a monster were a solo, elite, standard, or minion. I make that clear though. There's no reason the players and characters wouldn't know.


I have a house method for calculating XP but the players know what to expect. The only bad thing I could see for them to know would be if they want to pause the game to determine whether the 8 goblin minions are worth more XP than the 2 bugbear guards for better meta-game opportunities. I don't think any of my players would find that appealing, though, and they seem happy with the pace.

Being 99% DM, when I get to be on the player side of the table, I don't even want to know. I'm busy 'being' a character; constant reminders of unneccessary (sic) gamespeak lessens the fun, for me anyway.
A rogue with a bowl of slop can be a controller. WIZARD PC: Can I substitute Celestial Roc Guano for my fireball spells? DM: Awesome. Yes. When in doubt, take action.... that's generally the best course. Even Sun Tsu knew that, and he didn't have internets.
Why stop when they go unconscious? CdG to death.

DMG p.40: "Monsters and Fallen Characters: Don’t hit people when they’re down. When a character falls unconscious, monsters turn their attention to enemies who are still up and fighting. Monsters don’t usually intentionally deal damage to fallen foes."

You cannot delay whilst unconscious - it requires a free action.

They establish their desired initiative order before that, while conscious.

That should depend on the monster's motives. If the monster is a half-starved beast, it may decide to take a bite. For role-play reasons, I'd probably say it would be better if the monster attempted to drag the half-dead character away from the fight so it could not only eat in peace, but possibly lure the surviving players to a haphazard treasure horde where the secret gate into random-awesome-monster-trap-dungeon-designed-for-fun-play-and-exciting-next adventure is. O the devious DM I am.
A rogue with a bowl of slop can be a controller. WIZARD PC: Can I substitute Celestial Roc Guano for my fireball spells? DM: Awesome. Yes. When in doubt, take action.... that's generally the best course. Even Sun Tsu knew that, and he didn't have internets.
1 roll for each side. each round. when it diwindels down to less creatures, then id individualy roll and keep number tokrns so its fast and no writing

Troll king

This would speed up combat a bit, although it is a pretty leberal homerule:
Seat player with the highest initiave bonus on the left hand side of the DM; the next highest in the next chair to the left and so on.
This means that the player with lowest initiative will ber seated on the right hand side of the the DM. 

Combat always proceeds clockwise with DM jumping in somewhere during the order.
Delays are reset next turn so play still goes clockwise like a regular board game.

This will speed up some slogs and clear up confusion considerably. 
Am I crazy for rolling individual initiative for all creatures on the board, PCs, monsters and minions alike?

I find a nicely interspersed initiative order makes for the most interesting combat, and it does not slow things down much. In my experience, most time in combat is spent with players considering their options and reading their powers. 
not if you got a certin d20 for each creature, that are all color cordinated, that would be cool.

Troll king

Am I crazy for rolling individual initiative for all creatures on the board, PCs, monsters and minions alike?



No, but it takes longer and is often harder to display to the players.  If we're playing online via maptools, that's how we do it, since it really doesn't take any longer.


I find a nicely interspersed initiative order makes for the most interesting combat, and it does not slow things down much. In my experience, most time in combat is spent with players considering their options and reading their powers.



Our combats generally go pretty quickly, with delays to think only happening if something screwed up the plan right before the creature's turn.  Otherwise, you plan during other people's turns.  As such, for us, rolling more dice and arranging more cards on our Big Init Board would take longer, so we don't do it. 

But if it works for you, awesome.
Confused about Stealth? Think "invisibility" means "take the mini off the board to make people guess?" You need to check out The Rules Of Hidden Club.
Damage types and resistances: A working house rule.
I was always partial to pre-rolling inititatives either before the game or during some downtime (bathroom breaks, smoke breaks, feeding frenzies, etc).  That way, I'd always have a decent set of rolls before they're even needed.
Roll monster initiatives in groups (ex. all soldiers together, all artillery together, minions together, etc)
and then try to space them our between players so the DM's "turn" doesn't go for too long at a time.

Also, we use d10s when rolling initiative.
DMG p.40: "Monsters and Fallen Characters: Don’t hit people when they’re down. When a character falls unconscious, monsters turn their attention to enemies who are still up and fighting. Monsters don’t usually intentionally deal damage to fallen foes."

That should depend on the monster's motives. If the monster is a half-starved beast, it may decide to take a bite. For role-play reasons, I'd probably say it would be better if the monster attempted to drag the half-dead character away from the fight so it could not only eat in peace

DMG p.40: "Monsters and Fallen Characters: Don’t hit people when they’re down. When a character falls unconscious, monsters turn their attention to enemies who are still up and fighting. Monsters don’t usually intentionally deal damage to fallen foes.
  Some monsters are interested only in eating, and might drag a fallen character away from the combat to enjoy a peaceful meal. Usually these creatures are lurker monsters that are attached to other encounters, such as a lone cavern choker. Dragging a character away is slow going (unless the monster is very strong), so the other characters should always have a chance to rescue their fallen allies."