Author Topic: Rolling Initiative and redefining the cost of actions  (Read 1561 times)

Offline Nytemare3701

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Rolling Initiative and redefining the cost of actions
« on: September 08, 2015, 11:03:53 PM »
I've been giving some thought to action economy and realism in an abstract sense lately. To that end, I've started poking around more seriously with White Wolf's Exalted initiative scores and the impacts they would have applied to something akin to D&D.

Traditional D&D: Roll 1d20, add Initiative Modifier, sort all combatants from lowest to highest. Highest goes first.

This kind of system is an opposed check with a pretty large swing. Let's try this one...

Highest Initiative - Character Initiative = Delay. Combat starts on initiative count 0 (meaning Highest Init - Itself) and goes up from there.

Why the reversal of an already relatively simple system? To allow for more modular use of actions, and removal of "turns" as an abstract concept. Now instead of a sheet for initiative that loops around, you have a line that continues forward indefinitely. The benefits of this aren't obvious at first, so here are some examples:

Entering an already active combat? Your initiative is the current initiative + your delay (Remember, the ONLY number that needs to be kept from the start is the initiative score of the HIGHEST player, who set the pace for the entire encounter)

Want to split up your actions? If the system attaches a "delay" cost to every action, then the actions are split naturally. If it doesn't (like D&D), then you can simply take your first action and that is where your "turn" starts. If you don't use up the rest of the actions before that "turn" comes up, then they are lost. It's like a built in Ready Action.

That one was probably a little confusing...I'll convert a normal game of D&D to the new system to serve as an example:

Code: [Select]
Bob has +4 initiative.
Jim has +8
Greg has -4

All of them subtract their initiative scores from the highest score.

Jim goes first, setting the pace at his 0 Initiative. He choses to perform only a move action.
(Jim is now "readying" his standard and swift action.)

Bob goes second at an initiative count of 4. He decides to perform a 1 round spell. This means he can't go again until all other members of battle are behind him in initiative.

Greg would be going third at a count of 12, but Jim decides to use that standard action he was saving to disrupt Bob's spellcasting.

Seeing that Bob and Jim are at odds, Greg decides not to act at all. Aware of the combat, he's effectively readying all of his actions and moving his initiative where he wants.

As no other characters are choosing to act, Jim is now up to act again.

As shown here, this system favors fast characters who keep their options open.

Let's add a new condition to counterbalance it a little...

Slowed: Whenever you perform an action, Your Initiative becomes the tick you performed the action.
(This would move Jim's initiative to the tick he used his standard action to interrupt Bob)

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Offline Bronzebeard

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Re: Rolling Initiative and redefining the cost of actions
« Reply #1 on: November 24, 2015, 09:47:07 AM »
I wish something like this would be implemented. Reminds me a bit of the 2nd edition initiative rules.

Thing is - the amount of bookkeeping is very traumatizing.

Offline Nytemare3701

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Re: Rolling Initiative and redefining the cost of actions
« Reply #2 on: November 24, 2015, 04:50:23 PM »
In testing the bookkeeping was negligible. It's just like a normal initiative list, except people move each action.  If you are already tracking initiative with markers, cards, etc, then this take no additional effort. I agree that mental initiative tracking requires group effort. (everyone remembers their current position and the DM announces the count)
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Offline Bronzebeard

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Re: Rolling Initiative and redefining the cost of actions
« Reply #3 on: April 07, 2016, 06:17:56 AM »
I'm going back for this as I've seen I need this to be successful but I'm having a hard time processing it.

I like:
The way initiative is on an infinite meter instead of fixed forward list (zero to some high starting number).
Delayed and Waiting have a more meaningful implementation.
Actions speed have n attribute.

I don't like:
Using abstraction.
The possibility of negative numbers.
Duplication of both numbered initiative and delaying round actions.

Is there a way to improve on this?

Offline Nytemare3701

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Re: Rolling Initiative and redefining the cost of actions
« Reply #4 on: April 19, 2016, 03:52:51 PM »
I don't like:
Using abstraction.
Elaborate?
The possibility of negative numbers.
How would you end up with a negative number? The highest initiative modifier sets the base at 0. Nobody can possibly be faster than that (because they would be the new 0). If you mean the negative modifier, that's already standard in D&D. A character with a low dexterity can have a negative modifier.
Duplication of both numbered initiative and delaying round actions.
Elaborate?
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Offline Bronzebeard

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Re: Rolling Initiative and redefining the cost of actions
« Reply #5 on: April 25, 2016, 07:24:56 AM »
I don't like:
Using abstraction.
Elaborate?
I think I meant to write subtraction. Because of the way mental arithmetic works, doing a minus is harder.
I always take a MtG vs. Hearthstone comparison with this: The former, being a physical copy, doesn't require the players to remember current creatures health and reset it every turn - while the latter have the opportunity to keep track of the damaged creature received since the machine is responsible for the calculations.
The possibility of negative numbers.
How would you end up with a negative number? The highest initiative modifier sets the base at 0. Nobody can possibly be faster than that (because they would be the new 0). If you mean the negative modifier, that's already standard in D&D. A character with a low dexterity can have a negative modifier.
Yeah, my bad.
Duplication of both numbered initiative and delaying round actions.
Elaborate?
It seems we are calculation initiative twice.

Offline Nytemare3701

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Re: Rolling Initiative and redefining the cost of actions
« Reply #6 on: April 25, 2016, 07:54:03 PM »
I think I meant to write subtraction. Because of the way mental arithmetic works, doing a minus is harder.
I always take a MtG vs. Hearthstone comparison with this: The former, being a physical copy, doesn't require the players to remember current creatures health and reset it every turn - while the latter have the opportunity to keep track of the damaged creature received since the machine is responsible for the calculations.

Still not seeing where this applies to the proposed system. The only time you ever have to use subtraction is when an encounter starts (to determine how far along the initiative order you are), and even then it's the same math used normally done in reverse (instead of "highest number goes first, loop around forever" it's "nobody can be faster than the highest number because that's what that number MEANS").

In traditional Initiative, everyone needs to keep track of their number and the current turn count. The DM needs to track team monster, the players should probably have a passing awareness of their teammate's initiative.

In the new system, you keep track of...your own initiative. Turn count is replaced with the ongoing ticks of the initiative line, so no need for turns there. You could argue that the main feature of this (that it's more granular and allows more organic use of time in combat) is the flaw here, but then why are you looking for a more granular initiative system?

It seems we are calculation initiative twice.

If you mean that your place in initiative changes, then sure. That's what a running system DOES. Instead of having one block of actions at a set point on a loop, you are allowed to break those actions up at any point along a line. That's the bare minimum level of complexity required for such a system to make sense.
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