Suggestion: Split the round in two/+4 surprise

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I have one gripe with the current round system is that it represents quite badly a fight whereby everyone act more or less simultaneously. As such, I find it quite sad when my Arch-villain gets fried by my PCs simply because he happened to roll low on initiative and played last. This has reached a point whereby I know very few players in my group who do not take Improved Initiative as a Feat.

I propose therefore two remedies:
  • If you happen to surprise your opponent, not only you should get the benefit of a half round action but also in my opinion you should receive a +4 surprise bonus to your initiative roll. You retain the upper hand because you have the element of surprise.

  • Since a round usually see a creature take a standard action and a move action, why not divide the round in two phases? In phase 1, everyone resolves his/her first action in initiative order. Then in phase 2, everyone resolves his/her second action or any full-round action. This would provide creatures a chance to act despite rolling low on initiative.


Do you agree / disagree?
Disagree. Think about what you're proposing. All you're doing is reducing the round to one action.

People who roll high still get to go first. They're just going to front-load their plans, and squeeze them into one standard action instead of a full-round.

Eventually, the split-round is simply going to resemble two rounds.

I don't know why people keep trying to make D&D mimic simultaneous action. You can't do it. It's a bunch of nerds sitting around a dining room table drinking Coke and eating pizza. You can't mimic simultaneous action without 1) a computer, or 2) ruining a lot of things.
That's what I was thinking as well. All you've done is created single action rounds. Plus you've added the complication of a DM keeping track of what kind of action each player did on each "half".

"Did Dave attack or move on the first half?"

The DM already has to keep track of enough. Why would you want to add more paperwork that really isn't necessary at all imho.
Does not your Arch Villain get to fry the PC's about half the time when he wins initiative?
I support the OP's goals. While some round structure may be required, it shouldn't allow all the stupid stuff it does at present.
I've thought about it and I still disagree. All you've done is added more paperwork for the DM and not accomplished your goals. Imho.
I propose therefore two remedies:
  • If you happen to surprise your opponent, not only you should get the benefit of a half round action but also in my opinion you should receive a +4 surprise bonus to your initiative roll. You retain the upper hand because you have the element of surprise.

  • Since a round usually see a creature take a standard action and a move action, why not divide the round in two phases? In phase 1, everyone resolves his/her first action in initiative order. Then in phase 2, everyone resolves his/her second action or any full-round action. This would provide creatures a chance to act despite rolling low on initiative.

The playtests have already talked about "Surprise rounds". Anyone who makes their check and is not surprised gets to take his actions as normal. Anyone who doesn't... well, your arch-villain likely won't get taken down in the surprise round by those that do.

As for the problem with improved initiative, if all your PCs are taking it, why can't your villains take it too?
Yes, I am a defender apologist. A Rock and a Hard Place: A Warden Handbook