Archlyte

I think I'm going to have to ditch the Initiative system

123 posts in this topic

I love the slot system, but the FFG dice for initiative order is not good. It takes a long time to settle, is arcane (Triumphs?) and I just plain don't like it. As House Rule Init I was thinking of a couple solutions and I wanted to get feedback.

#1 Use regular d8s and d12s: Add up totals and score by those numbers. Highest integer equals faster action.

#2 Successes are 2's, Advantages are 1's: Each success counts as a 2, each Advantage is a 1. Add up and work from higher to lower integer. 

#3 Use d20 or 2d10 and add a +1 modifier for each Green Die, and +2 modifier for each Yellow Die

 

If you had to use one which would you use and why? What possible troubles do you see with these?

Thank you for any help. 

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Posted (edited)

If all you use it for is generating numbers then it isn't going to work for you.  The player who has invested in Hard Boiled though just got boned by your approach.  The player who invested in Uncanny Reactions also got boned.

I use it for surprise with PCs rolling against a Difficulty on an initiative check to simulate the 'difficulty' of spotting one in the first place.  Make the high Vigilance PC shine also.  All taken care of on one roll without having to do some clunky Stealth/Perception thing.

Edited by 2P51

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8 minutes ago, korjik said:

How is I have 3 success and 2 advantage all that much different than  I have a 14?

 

There is no Triumph possible, so you don't get to possibly recover Strain or take a free Maneuver before the action begins.  That's different....

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1 hour ago, Archlyte said:

I love the slot system, but the FFG dice for initiative order is not good. It takes a long time to settle, is arcane (Triumphs?) and I just plain don't like it. As House Rule Init I was thinking of a couple solutions and I wanted to get feedback.

#1 Use regular d8s and d12s: Add up totals and score by those numbers. Highest integer equals faster action.

#2 Successes are 2's, Advantages are 1's: Each success counts as a 2, each Advantage is a 1. Add up and work from higher to lower integer. 

#3 Use d20 or 2d10 and add a +1 modifier for each Green Die, and +2 modifier for each Yellow Die

 

If you had to use one which would you use and why? What possible troubles do you see with these?

Thank you for any help. 

Whoah, that's a lot of work. Your #2 is the only one that wouldn't grind the game to a halt, but it's basically a variant on the RAW initiative rules, where advantages are used to break ties of successes. As for Triumph, I'd let the character get a free maneuver on her turn.

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Posted (edited)

I know in the Fantasy Grounds rule set, it acts like what the other poster said, success are whole numbers and advantages are decimals. I figured that's how most would treat it in table play.

Edited by Hurske
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Is that bit about what the Triumph does for Initiative listed somewhere? Seems like a common approach based on posts here. This was interesting to me because I didn't really think of doing the initiative roll as anything but a linear count. Initiative is always just a way of determining who will act first, and the number is there to keep this from being a dispute. I may have to re-examine this whole thing from the idea of some sort of non-linear narrative style of initiative. That's a rough one to try and settle in my head though because if its going to do things like the rest of the system, it has to be able to combine good and bad. I may just introduce Difficulty and Challenge and really overwork it :) 

Hard Boiled and Uncanny reactions would have to be accounted for in the new setup, I just wanted to get the base mechanic down first before dealing with the build munchkins.

I normally count in numbers, and not in funny symbols, so even the bigger numbers would be preferable to me than extra interpretation the RAW symbol system. D&D and other systems that are prevalent use count-off mechanics in numbers with modifiers, so I don't see where this grinds to a halt. Compared to games like Shadowrun or what I remember of Rolemaster, even the 2d10 option is mild on calculation.  

 

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Successes are counted first, advantage are tie-breakers (PCs get priority over NPCs). The description for Vigilance (at least in F&D) mentions that a triumph can be used to give the character a free maneuver in their first turn. Iktotchi have a species ability that allows them to use initiative triumphs in a unique way.

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42 minutes ago, kaosoe said:

I learned the "S.A" version when playing in games run by FFG devs (Kat Ostrander, Sam Steward and Freelancer Keith Kappel). So it's not unusual to run it like that.

That's funny. I worked it out by accident when I started running PbPs and kept track of turns on a spreadsheet. Just seemed like the easiest way to get then sorted numerically. Then I discovered that it made perfect sense!

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Does anyone know why initiative was a simple check instead of easy, average, etc? That could have been a great way to show a disadvantage for one side because of conditions, and not have surprise be all or nothing. Just spiballing and wondering

 

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25 minutes ago, Archlyte said:

Does anyone know why initiative was a simple check instead of easy, average, etc? That could have been a great way to show a disadvantage for one side because of conditions, and not have surprise be all or nothing. Just spiballing and wondering

 

Even a simple test can have Setbacks added. Or increased difficulty or upgrades too.

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There is nothing stopping a GM from adding in setback or difficulty dice. 

If my players accidently barge into an enemy camp inside a clunker speedertruck that constantly backfires it's repulser engines, I'm giving them setback on that initiative.

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7 minutes ago, HappyDaze said:

Even a simple test can have Setbacks added. Or increased difficulty or upgrades too.

Exactly. Simple is just where it starts, both sides don't need the same difficulty and environmental conditions should always play a factor.

 

Dont do all the work yourself either. Get one of the players to track initiative. It should go something like this:

GM: "Initiative please, Easy Vigilance with 2 Setback"

*Everyone rolls, Gm uses different difficultys for NPC's"

GM: "Does anyone beat 2.3? That's the highest NPC"

PC1: "yeah I got a 3.1"

PC2: "4.0 here"

PC3: "close, but nope"

PC4: "nope

PC5: "nope"

PC1: *Is in charge of Initiative, writes down the first two PC slots then an NPC

GM: "Ok who beats 2.1?"

PC3: "2.2"

PC1: *writes down a PC then NPC slot

GM: "Last NPC is a 0.4, who beat that?"

PC4: "Yep, 1.2"

PC5: "Me too, 1.3"

PC1: *finishes the track. "It's PC, PC, NPC, PC, NPC, PC, PC, NPC"

GM: "ok let's go"

 

It takes less than a minute if there's enough dice, a little more if some need reuse.

Another tip is when your prepping a session you can preroll all the NPC initiatives you think you may need. It lets you focus a lot more on what the Players are doing.

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Awesome info, thank you very much. I think simply using the decimal point description will help a lot. I currently have a board that I made with counters on it to track Init, and I ask  player to man it during the game. But the addition of setbacks, upgrades, and Difficulty should make it feel better. I would pre-roll Init but with the changing conditions I am not sure I will do that now. 

 

Thank you again for excellent advice

 

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5 hours ago, Archlyte said:

Does anyone know why initiative was a simple check instead of easy, average, etc? That could have been a great way to show a disadvantage for one side because of conditions, and not have surprise be all or nothing. Just spiballing and wondering

In the case of a sudden attack I'll have Vigilance opposed by the surprising party's lowest Stealth or Survival or Deception, or whatever skill appropriate, for initiative, in fact; lighting and such might come into the equation, too, of course.

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13 hours ago, kaosoe said:

I learned the "S.A" version when playing in games run by FFG devs (Kat Ostrander, Sam Steward and Freelancer Keith Kappel). So it's not unusual to run it like that.

 I played in a demo game with Keith and I saw he used it. I was using it before in my game and was kind of happy someone that worked on the game was using it. I never heard of anyone else using it before then. 

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I don't know where I picked up S.A either, but I've been using it for years.  I actually use S.A.T but the Triumphs function as much as tiebreakers as they do to add something good for the PCs, as Triumphs are wont to do.   We've never had a problem with this initiative system, so we'd likely stick with it rather than try to change it lest it impede the spirit of the rules and nullify PC talents.  

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Another vote for the whole S.A method, but I have an old dry-erase, magnetic initiative tracker for D&D. Each player gets a green tile, the bad guys get a red one. Make your roll, write your total, then hand it in. A quick arrangement of the tiles, and we're ready to go.

Some folks also advocate pre-rolling initiative, which would work fine if there are no extenuating circumstances. Have them make, say five Cool rolls and five Vigilance rolls, and put them in order. Whenever you would roll initiative, just cross off the first one.  If they need to roll difficulty or setback, they can adjust the prerolls accordingly.  Certain talents should wait until the moment, like Rapid Reaction or Foresee.  If I roll 2 successes, 1 advantage, and two Dark pips, I shouldn't decide at the beginning of the session if I want to spend those pips.  Just roll the Force die when the encounter starts and add it in.

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1 minute ago, The Grand Falloon said:

Another vote for the whole S.A method, but I have an old dry-erase, magnetic initiative tracker for D&D. Each player gets a green tile, the bad guys get a red one. Make your roll, write your total, then hand it in. A quick arrangement of the tiles, and we're ready to go.

Some folks also advocate pre-rolling initiative, which would work fine if there are no extenuating circumstances. Have them make, say five Cool rolls and five Vigilance rolls, and put them in order. Whenever you would roll initiative, just cross off the first one.  If they need to roll difficulty or setback, they can adjust the prerolls accordingly.  Certain talents should wait until the moment, like Rapid Reaction or Foresee.  If I roll 2 successes, 1 advantage, and two Dark pips, I shouldn't decide at the beginning of the session if I want to spend those pips.  Just roll the Force die when the encounter starts and add it in.

Similar; I've produced a deck of small cards (beige for PCs, blue for opponents, and green for neutrals, single red "End of Round") and put them in FFG's yellow sleeves. When hostilities commence, I hand over the NPC cards (pre-rolled, if possible; all my NPCs descriptions come with one simple initiative roll in advance) to the initiative tracker; they each roll, those who can modify, and write their S-A on the sleeve; then the tracker sorts the cards ("End of Turn" at the bottom). After someone has had their turn, the tracker flips the card to the bottom and announces the next one. 

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2 hours ago, Grimmerling said:

Similar; I've produced a deck of small cards (beige for PCs, blue for opponents, and green for neutrals, single red "End of Round") and put them in FFG's yellow sleeves. When hostilities commence, I hand over the NPC cards (pre-rolled, if possible; all my NPCs descriptions come with one simple initiative roll in advance) to the initiative tracker; they each roll, those who can modify, and write their S-A on the sleeve; then the tracker sorts the cards ("End of Turn" at the bottom). After someone has had their turn, the tracker flips the card to the bottom and announces the next one. 

Cool, so they just write directly on the sleeve? Dry-erasable I assume? I'm going to have to play with this idea.

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Does anyone use the challenge and difficulty dice regularly? If so do you find that it keeps the successes and advantages in a lower range?

 

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1 minute ago, Archlyte said:

Does anyone use the challenge and difficulty dice regularly? If so do you find that it keeps the successes and advantages in a lower range?

 

I don't think I've done so. I will use setback dice sometimes, usually as a result of a previous roll.  Let's say a Bounty Hunter is attempting an ambush, making a Stealth check before attacking the PCs.  If he gets Advantage, he may toss some Setback dice at the PCs initiative check. A Triumph would let him upgrade the difficulty (from 0 to 1). Depending on the circumstances, it may be better to boost his own dice or penalize his opponents, but either option can work.

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