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rafaelsmoreno

Initiative - is it me or this rule sucks?

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I am GMing a campaign with four players and most of the characters have high "vigilance" stats and poor "cool" stats. The awkwardness of such situation is that it is worse for them to get ready and prepared for the combat because that way they use "cool" to define initiative instead of vigilance.

 

I house ruled it in a way whatever is the PC/NPC best stat between cool/vigilance is going to be the one used for initiative. My question is: Am I missing anything? Does this rule really suck? How do you guys deal with initiative? Any hints? 

 

Thanks in advance!

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I've participated in a game where the rule was "each player picks whether to use Cool or Vigilance for initiative." I think it worked pretty well, nothing was broken. I was a Smuggler with a good Cool stat so I mostly used that; the Hired Gun primarily used Vigilance. 

 

 

I am GMing a campaign with four players and most of the characters have high "vigilance" stats and poor "cool" stats. The awkwardness of such situation is that it is worse for them to get ready and prepared for the combat because that way they use "cool" to define initiative instead of vigilance.

Yeah, I hate that somehow you have to be a cucumber to set a competent ambush, it doesn't make a lot of sense to me. 

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Vigilance is responding to a threat to protect yourself, Cool is methodically planning to murder.  They really are different. Having said that I'm not convinced initiative needed to be 2 separate skills.

Cool comes across to me as a "kitchen sink" skill( (sometimes initiative, bluffing, resisting being convinced or feared, etc.). What I don't like about that is if a thing has no consistent role or a very broad and variable role, it's hard to gauge how worthwhile an investment it is. Compare to other, more "this skill has this definite use" skills, which imo are easier to value.

 

Sorry for derailing though!

Edited by Kshatriya

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Vigilance is responding to a threat to protect yourself, Cool is methodically planning to murder.  They really are different. Having said that I'm not convinced initiative needed to be 2 separate skills.

 

I'm not sure that really qualifies for Cool.  That would be whatever skills are required for the setup (Skulduggery, Stealth, Mechanics for traps, Leadership to keep people steady, etc), opposed by the NPC's perception.  Same with ambushes.  If the NPC Perceives then I'd probably default to Cool for the ambushers, but a case could be made for Vigilance because the ambushers might notice the target's reaction, ie: they are vigilant to the target's state of mind.

 

I use Cool more often when talks go bad and somebody breaks into action:  the person breaking into action (and maybe their allies) rolls Cool, and if they don't do well on their roll it means they telegraphed their intentions...they weren't Cool enough to get the jump on anyone.  Vigilance wouldn't make sense, because they aren't being vigilant, they are making a decision to initiate action.  I find there are fun narrative possibilities there, and if the PCs don't boost their Cool, it's because they haven't been presented with a narrative highlighting how it could have been useful.

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In my game Vigilance can always be used for initiative. Cool is an option that can be used when going into a fight you've prepared to have (ambush, duel, starfighter engagement following a briefing, etc.). I don't see this as making Vigilance > Cool since Vigilance gets much less use than Cool outside of initiative.

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It seems to me that your players are frustrated that they aren't good with a skill they haven't bothered to invest into.

 

 

Maybe they could buy points in Cool if they want to be better at the stuff that Cool does?

 

 

^^ This...  Cool and Vig are fairly clear to me.  If players don't find it interesting or worthwhile to put points into a skill, then they really can't be salty about it if something calls for that skill and they are 'bad' at it.   Put a rank or two in each and call it a day...

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I'm confused and don't think I understand the issue. 

 

CRB page 198

"To determine the initiative order, each player Character and NPC makes a Simple (-) Cool or Vigilance check."

 

CRB - page 199

"Characters should determine their initiative using the Cool skill when they are aware and ready for combat"

"Characters should determine their initiative using the Vigilance skill when combat begins unexpectedly"

 

With Cool being tied to Presence and being defined as the the ability to stay calm and think under high stress and Vigilance being tied to Willpower and  being defined as the ability to remain alert and react to the unexpected, I really don't see the issue with rules as written.

 

I met many people while I was in service that were fantastic in a controlled environment, but as soon as the situation became a stressful dynamic high tempo one they lost it. 

 

Based on how EotE has defined the terms of Cool, Presence, Vigilance and Willpower, the RAW make sense to me.  When I originally read (or should I say skimmed) the rules, it didn't because I was defining Vigilance differently.  

 

Of course this is all moot, because in the end the rules say:

"It is important to note that different characters may use different skills to determine initiative in the same combat"

 

and more importantly:

"Also, if the GM and the players are unsure as to which of the two skills best applies to a given situation, they should default to using Vigilance"

 

The last statement tells me that Vigilance is the default initiative stat.  So deciding to use it exclusively is not really house ruling it, but defaulting to the base standard of being able to react in a tense situation. 

 

Personally with the definitions given I would go with Vigilance as a standard, but if the players know it is coming and are able to prepare in advance, allow those that wish to use Cool.   After all the people with a low Cool will still be able to React (Vigilance) when the S hits the proverbial fan.  But some people that are able to (high Cool) can take advantage of their steely nerves.  

 

I believe that this approach allows everyone to be on a level playing field and not penalize anyone that decided to have a higher Cool/Presence.

Edited by SSand

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Vigilance is responding to a threat to protect yourself, Cool is methodically planning to murder.  They really are different. Having said that I'm not convinced initiative needed to be 2 separate skills.

 

I'm not sure that really qualifies for Cool.  That would be whatever skills are required for the setup (Skulduggery, Stealth, Mechanics for traps, Leadership to keep people steady, etc), opposed by the NPC's perception.  Same with ambushes.  If the NPC Perceives then I'd probably default to Cool for the ambushers, but a case could be made for Vigilance because the ambushers might notice the target's reaction, ie: they are vigilant to the target's state of mind.

 

I use Cool more often when talks go bad and somebody breaks into action:  the person breaking into action (and maybe their allies) rolls Cool, and if they don't do well on their roll it means they telegraphed their intentions...they weren't Cool enough to get the jump on anyone.  Vigilance wouldn't make sense, because they aren't being vigilant, they are making a decision to initiate action.  I find there are fun narrative possibilities there, and if the PCs don't boost their Cool, it's because they haven't been presented with a narrative highlighting how it could have been useful.

 

CRB p. 108 Cool "If a character has set a trap for a target, carefully lining up a shot on an unsuspecting foe he may check for initiative using Cool, as he calmly selects the time to begin the engagement."

 

Now of course it does say "may use" not 'will use' but that sentence sure strikes me as a description of an ambush.

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Personally with the definitions given I would go with Vigilance as a standard, but if the players know it is coming and are able to prepare in advance, allow those that wish to use Cool.   After all the people with a low Cool will still be able to React (Vigilance) when the S hits the proverbial fan.  But some people that are able to (high Cool) can take advantage of their steely nerves.  

 

I believe that this approach allows everyone to be on a level playing field and not penalize anyone that decided to have a higher Cool/Presence.

 

I'm ok with this. Vigilance as default (and it is not even house rule), and if somebody is better at cool than vigilance he/she can go with it in case of upcoming combat situation. Thanks for your help!

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I had this same discussion with my GM.  Heck, I even went as far as to 'argue' that Discipline could be used for initiative in an ambush situation.

 

When it was all said and done, I opted to just buy into Cool (an out of career / specialization skill with an attached ability of 1).  It eased everything and I find other ways to make Cool work for me.  Not really by RAW, but we just have fun with it.

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Cool is used in gambling which can be a heck of a lot of fun if a GM puts the effort into it.  My last session was Triad poker and shootout dice at the Showdown Casino on Center Point Station and my guys loved it.  Both spent xp on Cool at the end of the night.

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One other thing you guys might be missing it a character is not tied to their initiative slot. each turn the group decides who takes their action. If it would be better for the smuggler to go then they go regardless of their roll. all the initiative does is set which turn slots belong to the party and which belong to the opponents. 

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One other thing you guys might be missing it a character is not tied to their initiative slot. each turn the group decides who takes their action. If it would be better for the smuggler to go then they go regardless of their roll. all the initiative does is set which turn slots belong to the party and which belong to the opponents. 

Well yes we missed this rule of the initiative slot in the first session but from them on that helpd the group a lot. But it is worth mentioning for sure!

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I had this same discussion with my GM.  Heck, I even went as far as to 'argue' that Discipline could be used for initiative in an ambush situation.

 

--snip--

 

And as a GM, if the player had a reasonable chain of logic, I'd have no problem with it.  ;)

 

I look at rules as a semi-solid guideline to promote high adventure.   If the player presents a reasonable reason (in-game) to try something or substitute something and it isn't too far out there I am usually willing. 

 

Of course it does set a precedent that I will happily use against them later  :ph34r:

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Considering there is advantage in having Init slots both at the top and the bottom of the order, my PC's have actively split who is Cool and who is Vigilant so they can try to run the spread. They actually get irked when they all pull high middle slots.

 

And in character effects if makes sense. The 4 Presence 3 Cool quick drawing scoundrel often starts crap (like pulling a gun on CorSec) that causes the other player's (not character) mouths to drop open in disbelief. So frequently it's split on what skill the group is rolling. 

 

But if it's hampering you and your group's play experience, then go with what works. It certainly won't cause the system to explode if they use their best stat. But I point out the many, many tactical advantages they might pass up by not getting low slots considering how the duration of abilities works.

Edited by Prost

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This conversation is funny because I'm giving opinions on rules in the book about Cool and Vigilance but not including my house rule on ambush.  It's pretty simple, pass the Perception check or there isn't an initiative roll. The ambusher ambushes the ambushees and by default is the first one to act that round.

Edited by 2P51

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This conversation is funny because I'm giving opinions on rules in the book about Cool and Vigilance but not including my house rule on ambush.  It's pretty simple, pass the Perception check or there isn't an initiative roll. The ambusher ambushes the ambushees and by default is the first one to act that round.

That would be a vigilance check. Not a perception. vigilance is what is used to notice danger around you and react to it.Perception is actively looking. 

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This conversation is funny because I'm giving opinions on rules in the book about Cool and Vigilance but not including my house rule on ambush.  It's pretty simple, pass the Perception check or there isn't an initiative roll. The ambusher ambushes the ambushees and by default is the first one to act that round.

That would be a vigilance check. Not a perception. vigilance is what is used to notice danger around you and react to it.Perception is actively looking. 

 

Not at my table.  You don't spot it, you don't roll, like I said, simple.

 

BTW.  CRB p. 114 Perception.  Third sentence.  "The Perception skill represents the character's constant, passive state of awareness."

Edited by 2P51

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This conversation is funny because I'm giving opinions on rules in the book about Cool and Vigilance but not including my house rule on ambush.  It's pretty simple, pass the Perception check or there isn't an initiative roll. The ambusher ambushes the ambushees and by default is the first one to act that round.

That would be a vigilance check. Not a perception. vigilance is what is used to notice danger around you and react to it.Perception is actively looking. 

 

 

 

In that case, could be either, especially if you suspect an ambush but aren't sure from where it will come.

 

Not really, straight rules wise,  though you are thinking exactly like I did the first time though the rules.

 

Technically you use Cool if you are not surprised and aware the issue is coming and Vigilance skill when combat begins unexpectedly or is a surprise. 

 

You use Perception to determine if you are surprised or not.

 

Think of the old westerns and a cavalry column is riding through the canyons.

 

Case #1: (RAW)

Your scouts have already determined where the outlaws plan to ambush the column.   Before setting out you have thoroughly briefed your men of what to expect.

Hours later in at the ambush site, your men react to the expected attack with decisive and resolute action.  

Initiative roll Cool

 

Case #2 (RAW)

While you have no intelligence other than the general area they should be in, you determine you will take the column in.  Several hours later the column is caught flat footed and totally by surprise. 

Initiative roll Vigilance.

 

Case #3 (RAW)

While you have no intelligence other than the general area they should be in, you determine you will take the column in.  But being the canny Indian fighter you decide to have your scouts proceed ahead of the column but still just within eyesight. 

Passing beyond the ambush point your scouts have the possibility of seeing the tracks made by the enemy as they took up positions.  Tracks that the main column cannot see.  The Scouts make Perceptions rolls.  If they note the ambush, they can try to give warning.  The members of the main column that can see the scouts can roll Perception to see if they see the warning. 

All members that made the Perception check roll Cool for initiative.

All members that did not make it roll Vigilance for initiative.

 

How I would run Case #3.

The Scouts make Perceptions rolls.  If they note the ambush, they can try to give warning.  The members of the main column that can see the scouts can roll Perception to see if they see the warning. 

All members that made the Perception can choose to roll Cool or Vigilance for initiative. Depending on circumstances, a Character can spend a Triumph or 3 Advantage made on their Perception roll to gain a Boost or a Setback die to their initiative roll. (why Boost or Setback? As Prost mentioned, a group may want to get initiative slots further down the order.  So a player that made a great Perception roll can use the results to assist in getting the to the top or the bottom of the list).

All members that did not make it roll Vigilance for initiative.

 

Of course you can just use the Perception roll as the initiative roll if you want.  But I like the level of narrative action added by doing both. 

 

Again, in the end it really depends on what you and your group think is fun.  Fun always trumps RAW.

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Vigilance is definitely not designed to be used to notice something. It's used to react to something once you notice it (or once it reveals itself).

 

Vigilance initiative is visceral, Cool initiative is cerebral. As others have pointed out, there's a whole lot of different between drawing on your paranoia (or super-preparedness) to react to a threat and to setting up an ambush.

 

Roll low on a Cool initiative check and your opponent rolls high on Vigilance? Perhaps you flubbed your ambush, and your first "shot" (narrative, based on your initiative check) did nothing except alert the enemy to your presence. There are so many ways to work with the initiative mechanic as is without resorting to house rules that (IMO) cheapen the rich combat system. 

 

If I may, I'll expound. Just because you haven't made a Ranged (Light) combat check, doesn't mean you aren't shooting your blaster pistol. People that treat roll of a Ranged (Light) dice pool as one shot of a blaster are more likely to have a problem with Cool and Vigilance as separate initiative skills. But if one is willing to give a little exercise to those narrative muscles, it's been my experience that the game really opens up and the combat rounds of "up to about a minute" in length start to make a lot more sense. 

 

TL;DR: 

Good Vigilance = better ability to deal with the unexpected. 

Bad Vigilance = perhaps you freeze up in the face of surprise. 

Good Cool = steady hands, clear head. 

Bad Cool = you choke under pressure. 

 

I hope that's clear enough to get you started. Obviously, do what's good for your group, but IMO the house rule is completely unnecessary. There are certainly times when Cool OR Vigilance is called for (perhaps as a reward for exceptional rolling or roleplaying), but as a general rule I find the game shines when the RAW is applied here. 

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I do my checks like this.  Players roll Perception if there is a potential ambush, if successful they use Vigilance, if not they are shot at.

 

Players round a corner and bump into Stormtroopers in hallway they roll Vigilance.

 

Players walk out into a street and face off in the classic showdown where everybody knows why they are there, Cool.

 

If they are setting an ambush and are spotted, they use Cool, if they aren't they simply go first.

 

That's my table and how I do it.  To each their own I say.  This works for me and my crew.

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