Iniative in 4E

54 posts / 0 new
Last post
i think 3/3,5E initiative system is very bad since you can cast 1st and 9th level with same rolls, also you can beat dagger rolls with greatsword rolls ! So, a more sensible system, like 2E, needed.
If Saga is any indication, Initiative will be a skill.
No, 2E was crap. A greatsword's reach is so much larger than a daggers that someone who uses one should go before a dagger fighter. Also, there's nothing at all to suggest a low-level spell should be faster than a high-level one.
No, 2E was crap. A greatsword's reach is so much larger than a daggers that someone who uses one should go before a dagger fighter. Also, there's nothing at all to suggest a low-level spell should be faster than a high-level one.

Exactly! Power word: Kill. It’s one word. Why should it take longer to cast than prestidigitation, which does a boat load of things.
Exactly! Power word: Kill. It’s one word. Why should it take longer to cast than prestidigitation, which does a boat load of things.

Wow. Trying to inject realism into magic. Good luck with that.

The simple truth is that certain aspects of D&D (or any TTRPG, for that matter) have tobe abstract in order for the game to be smooth, balanced and easy to play.

D&D is like pointilism: if you stare at it too closely, all you'll see is spots.

Fairbanks
Fairbanks, level 5 Human, Slayer (Multiclass: Cavalier) Human Power Selection Option: Heroic Effort Background: Blademaster (Acrobatics class skill) Theme: Neverwinter Noble FINAL ABILITY SCORES STR 18, CON 10, DEX 17, INT 10, WIS 10, CHA 13 STARTING ABILITY SCORES STR 16, CON 10, DEX 16, INT 10, WIS 10, CHA 12 AC: 20 Fort: 19 Ref: 16 Will: 14 HP: 49/49 Surges: 6/9 Surge Value: 10 [X] Action Point [] Second Wind TRAINED SKILLS Acrobatics +10, Athletics +11, Diplomacy +8, Endurance +7, Intimidate +8 UNTRAINED SKILLS Arcana +2, Bluff +3, Dungeoneering +2, Heal +2, History +2, Insight +2, Nature +2, Perception +2, Religion +2, Stealth +5, Streetwise +3, Thievery +5 POWERS Basic Attack: Melee Basic Attack Card Link Basic Attack: Ranged Basic Attack Card Link [] Human Racial Power: Heroic Effort Card Link [X] [X] Multiple Class Attack: Power Strike Card Link [X] Fighter Utility: Duelist's Assault Card Link [] Fighter Utility: Mobile Blade Card Link [] Level 2 Utility: Honorable Challenge Card Link [] Neverwinter Noble Utility: Take Heart, Friend! Card Link Multiple Class Utility: Defender Aura Card Link [] Paladin Attack: Righteous Radiance Card Link FEATS Level 1: Heavy Blade Expertise Level 1: Armor Finesse Level 2:Heavy Armor Agility Level 4: Squire of Righteousness ITEMS Dagger x3 Adventurer's Kit Aecris Black Iron Scale Mail +1 Horned Helm (Heroic Tier) Holy Symbol of Bahamut 1 Opal 73g 145s 50c
Rather than call it initiative why not give it several functions so it doesn't become a dead skill: call it tactics and have it influenced by wisdom when it is battle related with a syzygy to leadership skills: also, it should provide a positive bonus to defense and attack modifiers. Why not have two initiative scores, tactical initiative that increases a party's initiative with every successful attack with damage done and "individual initiative" that increases based on cover, weapon, size and other advantageous situations.

Party initiative determines in what order an act is declared but individual initiative determines when an act takes place. In this case surprise is just a negative modifier to individual initiative and attack and defense modifiers.

Just as there are adventurers and non-adventurers and just as adventurers may do non-adventuring things (and normal non-adventurers might do brave and adventurous things), so too could there be Adventuring Magic and Ritual Magic. Adventuring Magic mght still not be so quick as some of the guys want it to be but there's always a spontaneous casting feat. Ritual magic might take weeks or even years to complete but the effects would be powerful along the lines of "ok, everyone in the kingdom falls asleep for a hundred years".

Of course if player characters are made richer in general there could be such meta-initiative considerations as "shield wall formations" when hundreds of fighters hold tower shields in conjunct array and march forward with short swords or "phalanx" where hundreds of fighters with eighteen foot long sarrisae (think of Macedon, gentlemen) line up to do battle. In these cases, successful unitary movment is more important than "initiative". Likewise, a party manuever might just be unitary and have little to do with individual initiative.
Rather than call it initiative why not give it several functions so it doesn't become a dead skill: call it tactics and have it influenced by wisdom when it is battle related with a syzygy to leadership skills: also, it should provide a positive bonus to defense and attack modifiers. Why not have two initiative scores, tactical initiative that increases a party's initiative with every successful attack with damage done and "individual initiative" that increases based on cover, weapon, size and other advantageous situations.

Party initiative determines in what order an act is declared but individual initiative determines when an act takes place. In this case surprise is just a negative modifier to individual initiative and attack and defense modifiers.

Just as there are adventurers and non-adventurers and just as adventurers may do non-adventuring things (and normal non-adventurers might do brave and adventurous things), so too could there be Adventuring Magic and Ritual Magic. Adventuring Magic mght still not be so quick as some of the guys want it to be but there's always a spontaneous casting feat. Ritual magic might take weeks or even years to complete but the effects would be powerful along the lines of "ok, everyone in the kingdom falls asleep for a hundred years".

Of course if player characters are made richer in general there could be such meta-initiative considerations as "shield wall formations" when hundreds of fighters hold tower shields in conjunct array and march forward with short swords or "phalanx" where hundreds of fighters with eighteen foot long sarrisae (think of Macedon, gentlemen) line up to do battle. In these cases, successful unitary movment is more important than "initiative". Likewise, a party manuever might just be unitary and have little to do with individual initiative.

The simple truth is that certain aspects of D&D (or any TTRPG, for that matter) have tobe abstract in order for the game to be smooth, balanced and easy to play.

Enough said. This is a game about 4-6 characters beating the snot out of a dragons and stuff. It's not about large scale formations, leading a battle, etc. Not to say those kinds of games aren't cool, but this is not one of them.

In general, the players are in the spotlight, and you kind of handwave everything outside. Because you don't (or I should say I don't) want to have to be an accountant to buy a magic sword, or a tactician to play through an adventure, I don't care that the rules don't deal with tenths of a percent or fractions of a second.

I remember Initiative from 2E. It was really cool when you were playing Baldur's Gate. It really sucked when you had to keep track of it all.
I don’t care for the initiative skill in the saga system for a number of reasons (but I must confess I haven’t really played it, only glimpsed at it in the hobby shop). First of it doesn’t make any sense in relations to any real world experience (and I think skills should). “I’m highly trained in the art of being very quick in the first round of combat…” would only make sense to a little plastic miniature living in a grid world, and secondly “… this helps me avoid being caught of guard by tricky rouges in combat” is just plain stupid. Feinting in combat should be skill check against reflex saves if you ask me. Clumsy characters should be easy to feint, where as agile characters should be hard to get the drop on. Initiative should be improved by feats and talents.
Actually, I found that the Everquest RPG had one of the better ways of looking at initiative. Instead of +11/+6/+1, you had weapons which were faster (which might be +11/+8/+5/+2) and slower (say, for example, +11/+4). Now, your greatsword weilding fighter might get the first hit in, but only one, while the dagger-weilding thief might get three in for that one at lower damage.

Given the fact that we know different weapons will lead to different styles, this might be something 4e handles.

Alternatively, we could go with the simple fact that each round of combat represents a lot of feinting and manoeuvring into position and one single opening that you exploit per round. In this model, the speed of the weapon is less important than your ability to quickly exploit an opening.
This assumes that a hit is somehow a neutral event. It's not. Getting hit hurts; it staggers you, pushes you back, and disrupts your ability to fight. Even if we represent hp loss as fatigue and position, it runs counter to the game model to say "oh, he might get first hit with the massive big sword, but then I'll get in close and do lots of blows with my dagger". What actually happens is that he gets in one big hit first, and if you don't pull back immediately that massive big sword will be coming around again in about a second (or less) for another go.

And against any sort of armoured foe, the wielder of a lighter weapon can't just rain down quick blows. That's called scratching, and it is approximately completely ineffective against even basic armour. If you've only got a dagger then you actually need to spend a lot more time waiting than if you've got a much bigger weapon; your ability to use speed and mass is limited, so you have to rely on timing and then strike really hard when a gap opens. And while you're waiting for a gap, remember that big blade that's spinning around at you every second or so?
On the topic of Intiative:
I would like to see a "Reflex" type skill which reflected your ability to respond to the actions of others. It would be a DEX based skill obviously and provide bonuses to Intiative as well as dodge bonuses to AC (similar to what tumble does now). Perhaps also to Reflex save (although saves maybe rolled into AC so this might be redundant).

On the topic of melee weapon range:
The only way to more realistically do it is to change the scale of the game. For example, have a 1 meter scale (~3 feet or one arm length of a medium creature).
Examples:
Unarmed strike or dagger: Range 1
One handed Sword or axe: Range 2
Two handed sword or axe: Range 3
Polearm: Range 4

A two handed sword wielder would then get an AOO (or immediate action now?) against the dagger wielder as they closed. Also, a dagger is not really faster than a sword in trained hands. Do a search for sword cutting competitions. Look for the speed cutting videos. Rediculous!

It all comes down to complexity vs. playability
In SWSE, the Initiative skill is kind of like a combat-specific Perception skill. You use it to get the drop on your opponents, and also to not fall for feints. That's all that it lists under the skill itself. I don't know if there are any special rules elsewhere that take advantage of Initiative, but I imagine that it might unofficially be useful for any sort of combat-perception roll.

Then again, Perception is used for surprise checks before combat. Oh well, whatever. :P
Initiative as a skill would be good. "My initiative is my dex modifier every lvl unless I have a feat" is boring as hell. Who cares if it related to real life? It's a game, theres other systems out there if you're looking for realism (and they're probably boring like every other game that tries to be realistic).
On the topic of Intiative:
I would like to see a "Reflex" type skill which reflected your ability to respond to the actions of others. It would be a DEX based skill obviously and provide bonuses to Intiative as well as dodge bonuses to AC (similar to what tumble does now). Perhaps also to Reflex save (although saves maybe rolled into AC so this might be redundant).

Is this supposed to be a joke?

Initiative in SW Saga is a Dexterity skill. The Half Level bonus to Initiative checks implies that experienced characters are better at acting faster (i.e. thinking less and acting more).

Initiative isn't just how fast I am, it is how fast I can do what I want to do. I.e. taking in the situation, deciding what to do, and doing it. Experience DOES matter, therefore having your Initiative improve with level makes sense.

However, having Initiative (being Trained in it anyway) give a bonus to Reflex defense doesn't make sense. Except when it comes to reacting to changes in the situation (i.e. feinting). If you can't react fast enough to a feint (Initiative check), you are caught off guard, so you lose your Dex to your Reflex Defense. So Initiative DOES add to your Reflex Defense in that it prevents you from LOSING your Dex to Reflex Defense.
Is this supposed to be a joke?

No. Why do you ask?

Initiative in SW Saga is a Dexterity skill.

Haven't played SWSE so I wouldn't know. Good to know it is a DEX skill

The Half Level bonus to Initiative checks implies that experienced characters are better at acting faster (i.e. thinking less and acting more).

Half level bonus? I assume a SWSE rule.

Initiative isn't just how fast I am, it is how fast I can do what I want to do.

Uh... what?
So... intiative is not about how fast I am, it is about how fast I am?
You logic is truly dizzying.

I.e. taking in the situation, deciding what to do, and doing it.

That is called a reflex. Hence why I called it "Reflex" to encompass it as a reactive skill.

Experience DOES matter, therefore having your Initiative improve with level makes sense.

And when did I say otherwise. Last time I checked skills can be improved with level.

However, having Initiative (being Trained in it anyway) give a bonus to Reflex defense doesn't make sense.

Perhaps not to you, but it does to me.
How is reacting reflexively to strike at an opponent that walks around a corner (intiative) different than reacting reflexively to dodge a blade that swings out of a wall (a reflex save or defense)?

Except when it comes to reacting to changes in the situation (i.e. feinting). If you can't react fast enough to a feint (Initiative check), you are caught off guard, so you lose your Dex to your Reflex Defense.

I guess that is how it works in SWSE, which I think sucks, personally. The ability to overcome a feint has less to do with reflex and more to do with intuition. The best way to beat a feint is not buy into it in the first place. As I learned playing sports, always watch your opponents hips because they will always go where their center of gravity is. Don't be fooled by the fakes, once you bite on it no amount of dexterity will overcome your commitment.

So Initiative DOES add to your Reflex Defense in that it prevents you from LOSING your Dex to Reflex Defense.

Once again, I'm not familiar with SWSE, but if Initiative helps will countering feint and they put that in 4E, then I will jsut have to stick with 3.5 or house rule it back to sense motive.
stuff

Please read my siggy.

What he's saying is that being fast (as in, moving fast, running fast, swinging your sword fast) and having a good twich (reflex saves) are different from being about to size up a situation, draw up a plan of attack and start to execute it (initiative).

edit: Bloody ****, where's my sig! Anyway, don't try to address individual sentences, address individual ideas. It makes you look like you took the time to understand what the other person is saying.
From the playtest reports we've seen, it looks like initiative will remain pretty much the same as in 3.5. I hope so because it's simple, and it works.
Instead of +11/+6/+1, you had weapons which were faster (which might be +11/+8/+5/+2) and slower (say, for example, +11/+4).

Wow, like that. Simple and effective. It has the small flaw of being broken, but nothing can be perfect... ;)

k.
Please read my siggy.

Bloody ****, where's my sig! Anyway, don't try to address individual sentences, address individual ideas. It makes you look like you took the time to understand what the other person is saying.

Which I do if the person who responded to me made an effort. When the reply is incoherent and scattered with blantantly wrong accusations, it makes it difficult to address it as a whole.

What he's saying is that being fast (as in, moving fast, running fast, swinging your sword fast) and having a good twich (reflex saves) are different from being about to size up a situation, draw up a plan of attack and start to execute it (initiative).

That would be true if you actually had time to "draw up a plan of attack". The fact is you have less than 6 seconds to react in a meaningful way. It is pretty much reflex. And I mean reflex in the sense of the fight or flight response. In other words, having an input that the brain has been trained to respond to automatically and as quickly as possible either through training or genetics. Not a twitch reflex that is purely peripheral neuronal components.

You do not have control over your twitch reflexes from a conscious level. They are there to sense and correct body position automatically without needing the delay of relaying the message to the brain. Twitch type reflex is more akin to agility and balance (tumble type skill) than reaction time (intiative and dodging type skill).
If you've ever played football or worked in the manufacturing sector, you know that 6 seconds is plenty of time to draw up a mental plan and then act on it.
Which I do if the person who responded to me made an effort. When the reply is incoherent and scattered with blantantly wrong accusations, it makes it difficult to address it as a whole.



That would be true if you actually had time to "draw up a plan of attack". The fact is you have less than 6 seconds to react in a meaningful way. It is pretty much reflex. And I mean reflex in the sense of the fight or flight response. In other words, having an input that the brain has been trained to respond to automatically and as quickly as possible either through training or genetics. Not a twitch reflex that is purely peripheral neuronal components.

You do not have control over your twitch reflexes from a conscious level. They are there to sense and correct body position automatically without needing the delay of relaying the message to the brain. Twitch type reflex is more akin to agility and balance (tumble type skill) than reaction time (intiative and dodging type skill).

Here's a few things to consider about initiative and reflexes. Deer have amazing reflexes, when they are aware or not surprised they can jump arrows shot at them, (two hunters in my family have experienced this first hand). Still, there's the old term "like a deer caught in the head lights..." This really represents surprise, where the mind freezes up and you fail to react in a timely manner.

Having great reflexes and a clear head despite stimuli are two very different things. I think Saga got it right, well at least much better than prior d20.
No, 2E was crap. A greatsword's reach is so much larger than a daggers that someone who uses one should go before a dagger fighter. Also, there's nothing at all to suggest a low-level spell should be faster than a high-level one.

Hmm, so because the greatsword is bigger and has greater reach than a dagger, it should go first/be faster? Well, why don't people just use pole arms all the time then, and attack with reach & first, no less? Because they're bloody awkward to use! There is no way a greatsword could match a dagger for speed. And don't forget how cramped some combat areas can be.
Hmm, so because the greatsword is bigger and has greater reach than a dagger, it should go first/be faster? Well, why don't people just use pole arms all the time then, and attack with reach & first, no less? Because they're bloody awkward to use! There is no way a greatsword could match a dagger for speed. And don't forget how cramped some combat areas can be.

Yes. Well, it might not be "faster" but it would certainly go first in most circumstances. If I've got a long stick and you've got a short stick and you come at me from more than a coupe feet away, you're going to get hit first, whether that's from me swinging it at you, or you running into a jab. And if we're in a cramped combat area, that's just less places for you to go to get around my long weapon.

Yes, a dagger might be faster, but in terms of D&D initiative, "faster" doesn't mean anything. Who hits first does.
If you've ever played football or worked in the manufacturing sector, you know that 6 seconds is plenty of time to draw up a mental plan and then act on it.

Actually, I have played football, for 8 years, both offense and defense.
You don't draw up the plan in those 6 seconds. The plan was decided a week or more before hand and practiced over and over again until it becomes routine. In addition, the plan is adjusted slightly during those 10-15 seconds as everyone lines up and during the cadance. Moreover, any adjustments are likewise usually determined before the game and practiced over and over again until routine.
Here's a few things to consider about initiative and reflexes. Deer have amazing reflexes, when they are aware or not surprised they can jump arrows shot at them, (two hunters in my family have experienced this first hand). Still, there's the old term "like a deer caught in the head lights..." This really represents surprise, where the mind freezes up and you fail to react in a timely manner.

Having great reflexes and a clear head despite stimuli are two very different things. I think Saga got it right, well at least much better than prior d20.

I fail to see how your post addresses anything I've previously stated. All you've done is describe the surprize round, which is dependent on perception (ie. spot and listen). Being surprized means you are "flat-footed", ie. unable to react. At that point it doesn't matter if we are talking about initiative, agility, reflex, or whatever, you don't have a DEX bonus at that point anyway.
Hmm, so because the greatsword is bigger and has greater reach than a dagger, it should go first/be faster? Well, why don't people just use pole arms all the time then, and attack with reach & first, no less?

Historically, they often did. Many armies actually had their main melee soldiers armed with 3 weapons: a spear to get first strike (sometimes this was thrown instead), a regular hand weapon for melee, and a knife or dagger for grappling.
Because they're bloody awkward to use! There is no way a greatsword could match a dagger for speed.

Actually, a greatsword blitzes a dagger for speed. What you're talking about is manoeuvrability. Historically, it seems like a weapon length in the 4-6 foot range was the sweet spot. Much longer than that and you were unable to recover initiative once someone pushed close; shorter and you sacrificed power.

One needs to remember that D&D attack rolls don't represent strikes; they represent potentially effective strikes. Much of the effectiveness of a non-stabbing weapon comes from the combination of momentum and mechanical advantage of a lever. If your weapon is too small, you get neither.
Exactly! Power word: Kill. It’s one word. Why should it take longer to cast than prestidigitation, which does a boat load of things.

It's a really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, REALLY long power word!
I fail to see how your post addresses anything I've previously stated. All you've done is describe the surprize round, which is dependent on perception (ie. spot and listen). Being surprized means you are "flat-footed", ie. unable to react. At that point it doesn't matter if we are talking about initiative, agility, reflex, or whatever, you don't have a DEX bonus at that point anyway.

You can be aware of an opponent and still caught off guard, hence starting flat footed just like 3e has always done...

What I was getting at is that one can have great reflexes, and still not be able to keep their wits about them, i.e. low initiative skill, bad roll, etc. etc. Also one with experience could be quick witted (high Initiative skill) and yet not very agile (Low to Moderate Dex), something that can only be represented efficiently by seperating them. If they aren't seperated, you'll end up with tooled up dex monkeys...
Yes. Well, it might not be "faster" but it would certainly go first in most circumstances. If I've got a long stick and you've got a short stick and you come at me from more than a coupe feet away, you're going to get hit first, whether that's from me swinging it at you, or you running into a jab. And if we're in a cramped combat area, that's just less places for you to go to get around my long weapon.

Baloney. Sticks are one thing, swords and daggers are another. First off, a greatsword is heck of a lot heavier than a dagger, therefore affecting how much more graceful the weapon can be wielded. You also forget about how fast an individual is wielding their respective weapons. While you may have better reach than someone using a shorter weapon, it does not guarantee a hit.

Yes, a dagger might be faster, but in terms of D&D initiative, "faster" doesn't mean anything. Who hits first does.

Btw, in terms of initiative (for both editions),speed does determine who hits first. In the example about 2e with speed factors, it makes perfect sense, since weapon weight is factored into that.Faster doesn't mean anything? But it is the ONLY thing that determines who strikes first!
Faster doesn't mean anything? But it is the ONLY thing that determines who strikes first!

No, it is not. Being able to reach your opponent first, is what determines who hits first.
Reaching your opponent takes into account both your speed and your reach.
Lots of stuff here to talk on.

I am going to try and divide things between

1> Realism - This is a best understanding of some items discussed based on life experience and book experience.

2> Gameplay - What iniative does in a game.

3> What I would like to see? - Wishful thoughts on game play.

----------------

Ok, Realism or a simlitude to it.

The bigger weapon wins theory ( Greatsword beats dagger ).

Personally, I like Mirumato of the Book of Five Rings who basically said that talk of big weapons and small weapons was kinda silly. Neither option was any better then the other in a combat. The man fought and won too many duels to doubt his opinion on the matter.

Further, I have seen a former sensai of mine get challenged by someone who thought that he was happier facing an armed person ( some other martial artist ). The sensai used his shoe as a 'dagger' for the demonstration and hit the person thirty or forty times in a few seconds in a vast number of vital areas.

Add to this the many accounts of victims that have been stabbed ten to twenty times in a few seconds and you realize how fast a dagger can move in a lethal hit.

I agree with the poster that getting a hit on someone dressed in armour that is lethal is far harder to do and that is a question of AC. On the other hand, I have seen on the history channel and in creative anachronism people dressed in armour and they are not as fast as someone outside of armour to move ( why doesn't armour give iniative penalties? ).

Spears and Polearms

Well, for one reason these weapons existed is that they were cheaper on metal then swords. Making swords of a certain size requires good metal working skills to make them work and they are heavy to use. Spears are easy to use and teach compared to swords and you can have your buddies help in the fight in case you miss. The danger of spears is not so much the single spear but the dozens of friends backing up the first spear in a formation.

I do though agree that if you face someone with a 10' spear and you have a 4' sword then you must let the person take at least one stab at you before you whack them. Of course, the 10' spear has problems when the person with the 4' sword gets besides them as you usually can only pull the spear back so far before the butt end of the spear throws the balance off. I felt the reach rule did this well on the weapons charts.

Training Makes a Differance

Whether it be wild west quick draws or Iaijutsu sword duels, training clearly pays off. People spend their lives perfecting the speed of getting the first hit because in real life the first hit is often the last hit. The skill is also seen in drag racing, horse racing, and seeing who can whip out their cell phone first. A higher level trained character should be better at beating a lower level character to the punch.

----------------------

Gameplay

Gameplay is not Realism

Lots of things are simplifications at best in game play. The original melee round was one minute in length. The loss of hit points thus represented long drawn out battles usually of several minutes of time with at best an approximation of effective combat over a whole minute of attacks and parries. Casting a spell was a slow and involved process requiring plenty of concentration to complete since it was finished somewhere during that one minute of casting time.

Of course, people complained as they thought that if they got in one good hit to the chest or head then the fight should be over. The designers then adopted a value of time closer to other games which claimed their time scale was more 'realistic' which made them 'better'. Personally, scale of time is very subjective in the sense of a combat as their are numerous attacks, feights, and parries that are occurring that no dice rolls are being made to represent. DnD approximates a blow on blow battle but a level 1 fighter only gets in one good opportunity per six seconds not because he only swung once and rested but because only once is roughly how likely he might get a good enough chance to possibly connect.

In the end, melee rounds and iniative are very abstract representations. A great sword may have the first swing but the person with the dagger is not standing there waiting to get hit. The person with the dagger is going to feight or parry with their dagger that first shot which means the fist greatsword swing might not even be considered an effective swing. The same goes for a spear thrust, it may be well wide of the mark. The first good attacks these people might make could occur in the third, fifth, or sixth second of the melee round. Meanwhile the dagger person might even move slightly inward and attack the sword or spear wielders hands and arms. My father was an epee fighter ( good enough to be asked to fight for the national team ) and he told me that he won more points by attacking people's thumbs and wrists ( valid targets in epee ) then going for the body.

-----------------------------

What I would like to see.

Iniative only when it is story significant.

In formalized duels and contests then iniative is a great thing to help build tension. In this case, I would like the opponents making a series of contested skills ( include the opportunity to use other skills like bluff, sense motive, and concentration in this situation to help get some these skills used more ) to make a true Mexican standoff or a Iaijutsu duel. In situations like this, I would use also the results of the skill contests to add extra damage to make these sorts of meetings truly bloody memorable battles ( it also discourages players from getting into these sorts of battles all the time ).

General situations like plundering through a dungeon should not have this iniative non-sense. I play on many online board games and having people check iniative and then have people post in order can make a combat really really slow down to taking weeks to get a party of six to post actions. A quick notice roll at most should be done by the GM if there is an opportunity for a random surprise but otherwise one side or the other should be noted in an encounter has going first. All that side goes and then all the other side goes.

It is quicker, faster, and saves wasting time when it is not really significant to the story. Usually situation or actions pretty much tell you, which side is ready to rumble first.

This also avoids the annoying problem that the adventuring party is all set and breaks in the door and have a plan for the mage to cast a big spell first and then have everyone else follow up. The mage rolls poorly on some silly iniative order and the plan is all botched up. ( Oh, I do know of surprise but think of a SWAT team where the bad guys are holed up and know the police are outside the door. There is not surprise here but the man with the flash bangs does not hold the team up because he did poorly on iniative. They function as a unit which is the way that most people function ).

Unless players have only a couple of hit points do to being possibly first level ( something that people expect will be removed in 4e ) then getting hit first once and awhile is not a game breaker and will encourage better scouting to avoid getting ambushed. To my mind that encourages better behaviour in the individuals instead of some always imposed silly abstract.

Put the focus on the few key cases for iniative when people are going to remember the value of going first and nix the rest is my opinion.
Baloney. Sticks are one thing, swords and daggers are another. First off, a greatsword is heck of a lot heavier than a dagger, therefore affecting how much more graceful the weapon can be wielded. You also forget about how fast an individual is wielding their respective weapons. While you may have better reach than someone using a shorter weapon, it does not guarantee a hit.

It's heavier, yes, but it's being wielded with both hands and it's still a long, sharp metal stick.

Reach, in real melee, is far more important than speed.


Btw, in terms of initiative (for both editions),speed does determine who hits first. In the example about 2e with speed factors, it makes perfect sense, since weapon weight is factored into that.Faster doesn't mean anything? But it is the ONLY thing that determines who strikes first!

No, no it isn't. In fact, Reach generally is what decides who strikes first. Speed determines how often you can strike.

Evolving initiative systems, like the Ticks in Exalted 2E, are my prefered combat systems because of this.
Moreover, the weight of the weapon only partly counts as far as its speed goes. It's the rest of your body which also needs to move in order to get the weapon going anywhere. Sure, the dagger may way 1 lb and the sword weigh 3, but your whole arm (at least) has to move too, and it has a lot more mass than either weapon, which means more inertia and more force needed to move it. Even if you're stabbing with something - a sword vs a dagger, say - the inertia of your arm probably matters a lot more than what the weapon accounts for.

On top of that, the weight of the weapon matters less than its balance. Two items weighing 3 lbs may have very different striking speeds simply because of how they're shaped and balanced. A lighter weapon may be slower than a heavier weapon because of this, too.

Then there's leverage: A greatsword may be larger and heavier, but you've got two hands on it which means you have much more leverage (and thus more ability to get it moving the way you want it to) than any one-handed weapon.

But beyond that, the historical record makes things pretty self-evident: If "speed" was such a major advantage for the dagger then historical armies would have fought it out with daggers rather than spears and swords. Guess what - they used spears and swords, because any theoretical "speed" advantage is more than made up for by the reach, leverage, and flexibility of those larger weapons.
It's a really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, REALLY long power word!

It's a little known fact that the *word* in Power Word: Kill is actually "Antidisestablishmentarianism".
It's a really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, REALLY long power word!

Eki eki eki eki eki eki Tapang!


calvinNhobbes is right about weapon scales - 2-hander should get AoO towards approaching dagger wielder, even if dagger is faster to use. Realistic initiative would be really tricky... Too tricky for D&D.
Shaper & Maker galleries
Another way to look at the great sword verses the dagger situation is to look at video game play.

Does the person with the greatsword verses the dagger always get that first telling strike in or does it tend to really depend on the person and how ready they are and how well they anticipate the other person's moves?
Exactly! Power word: Kill. It’s one word. Why should it take longer to cast than prestidigitation, which does a boat load of things.

its a POWER WORD that means kill. Its not him actually just saying "kill".
the wizard actually says: "habbaduamagicabimbodoomd.........................................................................................................frikkin die..........................................................................................................................................................................Ikillyousoon.........................................................................die" for nine pages in his spell book that he is now reading to you as the casting.

And I don't really care for initiative being a skill. But whatever works.....
Since a theme of 4e is simplifying things then i see no reason to not take something saga did to the next step.

Use reflex as your initiative. Your reflex accounts for all of these things: level, ability, feats, racial mods, other. IT can also account for armor check penalty if desired.

Seems simple to me.

The only problem might be that it makes reflex even more important than it already is potentially unbalancing some things, but I don't think it would be to big of a concern.

Edit: Also i think feint and parry and other special attacks/avoidances should at least have requirements to be able to use them such as feats or some type of Weapon Talent/Power.
Since a theme of 4e is simplifying things then i see no reason to not take something saga did to the next step.

I think they'll do exactly what Saga did and make it a skill.

Reasons using Reflex Defense is bad:
1. Nearly all Nonheroics use armor for reflex defense. Armor shouldn't really make you faster.
2. Reflex Defense (and all Defenses) don't increase with Nonheroic levels. Therefore Nonheroics are gonna fall behind VERY fast.
3. Lots of feats and abilities add to Reflex Defense. The officer's ability to get a Reflex defense by having subordinates around shouldn't make him faster.

However, nonheroic levels do add to skills. And while a Nonheroic 4 having a CR of 1 may seem messed up (since they also have a BAB of +3, 4d4 HD, and +2 on all skill checks) that is balanced by the fact that they get really crappy stats (I think the high stats were 12 and 11 and that included a +1 boost to each of them at 4th level--they changed how that works in Saga and it is very satisfying).
and that included a +1 boost to each of them at 4th level--they changed how that works in Saga and it is very satisfying).

+1 to every stat every four levels?
I think they'll do exactly what Saga did and make it a skill.

Reasons using Reflex Defense is bad:
1. Nearly all Nonheroics use armor for reflex defense. Armor shouldn't really make you faster.
2. Reflex Defense (and all Defenses) don't increase with Nonheroic levels. Therefore Nonheroics are gonna fall behind VERY fast.
3. Lots of feats and abilities add to Reflex Defense. The officer's ability to get a Reflex defense by having subordinates around shouldn't make him faster.

However, nonheroic levels do add to skills. And while a Nonheroic 4 having a CR of 1 may seem messed up (since they also have a BAB of +3, 4d4 HD, and +2 on all skill checks) that is balanced by the fact that they get really crappy stats (I think the high stats were 12 and 11 and that included a +1 boost to each of them at 4th level--they changed how that works in Saga and it is very satisfying).

What i forgot is to not use 'Reflex Defense' but Reflex as used in 3.x just altering it so that armor check applies plus all the other factors I mentioned. As for NPC's and creatures not having scaled reflex bonus doesn't apply as much to 3.x so unless its a straight port of SAGA theres no reason for it to do so in 4e. My idea isn't perfect but honestly i believe its the 'easiest' path to go.