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admutt

Is this a crazy idea for an Initiative modification?

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So, RAW (and how I've played it with Star Wars since the beginning), you have everyone roll all at once, assign PC and NPC slots, then choose who goes during which static slot each round of that encounter. It's been very cool, and much more fun than fixed-style initiative systems, but is starting to get a bit stale.

All of a sudden just now, while I was re-reading the Skill Checks section, I wondered how Competitive Checks could be applied to Initiative to make it even more dynamic. Well...how about this;

- At the start of an encounter the GM declares that one of the NPCs (the opposition) is preparing to take an action, then asks the players to determine which one of the PCs will be the first to attempt to gain the initiative (kind of like asking who's taking the next slot in the RAW version). These two characters then make competitive Vigilance (or Cool) checks with the winner getting to resolve their turn immediately.

- The loser of that first round now has to face off against the next opposing character who wants to take their turn. And so on, until everyone has taken a turn in the round. If there is no opposition left in a round, the NPCs/PCs take their turns as they normally would in the RAW version.

- Repeat for each round. (Don't forget to add Boost and Setback dice for these skill checks!)

Yes, it's a bit more dice rolling. But would something like this be worth implementing? Would it be fun? Has anyone already tried something like this?

New idea several posts down! Initiative by Rank, not Roll!

 

Edited by admutt
To encourage discussion on new idea, not old idea.

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It's not "a bit more dice rolling"; it's a lot more dice rolling. I think I see what you want to do and where you're coming from, but I feel like you're disrupting the best initiative mechanic I've ever played with. The ability to choose and dictate which PC/NPC uses which slot in a given round has been a fantastic boon to my players and I, and allows each of us to use the slots in a fashion that adds to the narrative and the story.

Rolling initiative for each slot, multiple times even, every round would detract from the story-flow and turn the game into a dice rolling contest. I dislike games that make me roll initiative for each round; it slows down structured encounters dramatically, and turns a 30 minute encounter into a 90 minute one (no, I'm not kidding).

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If you want to add another level to the initiative order without dice-rolling, you could allow 2 advantages or two despair to exchange a PC and NPC slot in the order (advantage to the roller's benefit, the disadvantage to his/her detriment).

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@DarthGM You make several very good points, and yes, after rereading my OP, that would indeed be a lot of extra dice rolling! I'd still appreciate a way to add more flexibility into the turn order, though.

@Doomgrin75 That's an interesting idea. Would it be better to have Talents to do this, though? Tier 1 - let's you add an advantage to your init result (ranked). Tiers 2 & 4 - each let's you add a success to your init result. Tier 5 - let's you swap slots with an opponent (one round? whole encounter?) Tier 3? - let's you add a Triumph to your init result.

Edited by admutt
spelling - stupid windows tablet keyboard

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Just now, admutt said:

@DarthGM You make several very good points, and yes, after rereading my OP, that would indeed be a lot of extra dice rolling! I'd still appreciate a way to add more flexibility into the turn order, though.

@Doomgrin75 That's an interesting idea. Would it be better to have Talents to do this, though? Tier 1 - let's you add an advantage to your init result (ranked). Tiers 2 & 4 - each let's you add a success to your init result. Tier 5 - let's you swap slots with an opponent (one round? whole encounter?) Tier 3? - let's you add a Triumph to you init result.

It should be similar to any talents that give you some sort of initial initiative advantage

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40 minutes ago, Doomgrin75 said:

If you want to add another level to the initiative order without dice-rolling, you could allow 2 advantages or two despair to exchange a PC and NPC slot in the order (advantage to the roller's benefit, the disadvantage to his/her detriment).

Are you talking about dice results on the initiative check, or from checks during the encounter?

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1 hour ago, Swordbreaker said:

Are you talking about dice results on the initiative check, or from checks during the encounter?

checks during the encounter. You can add boost dice, setback, so a non-dice tactical decision like initiative swapping seems feasible.  Just make sure to use it both for PC and NPCs.

 

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I like the idea, and with the right group of players it could be fun. In general, I'm all for fixing stuff that isn't broken :D

Of course, the RAW initiative mechanic is fast. Getting a good initiative slot is always important, perhaps even more so in this game, and the RAW let the players make the most of whatever they roll. What sounds fun to me about your idea is the opposed checks. It would slow down the game, yes ... but you could almost envision it as putting the scene into slow motion. That seems pretty cool, except maybe only for the first round. 

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Yes, there's something about using opposed checks for initiative that's appealing. I wonder how you could build that into the RAW and not change the rest significantly?

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6 hours ago, DarthGM said:

It's not "a bit more dice rolling"; it's a lot more dice rolling. I think I see what you want to do and where you're coming from, but I feel like you're disrupting the best initiative mechanic I've ever played with. The ability to choose and dictate which PC/NPC uses which slot in a given round has been a fantastic boon to my players and I, and allows each of us to use the slots in a fashion that adds to the narrative and the story.

Rolling initiative for each slot, multiple times even, every round would detract from the story-flow and turn the game into a dice rolling contest. I dislike games that make me roll initiative for each round; it slows down structured encounters dramatically, and turns a 30 minute encounter into a 90 minute one (no, I'm not kidding).

It would double the length at least of every single round.  No thanks.

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What about a talent:

Undercrank (https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/undercrank)
Tier: ?
[Ranked?]
Once per session, before rolling a Cool check to determine initiative order, make an opposed Cool versus Vigilance check against a character in short range. If successful, add ■■ to your initiative check for this encounter [or ■ for each of your character's ranks in Undercrank?]. If unsuccessful, add ■■ to your initiative check for this encounter. During the encounter, your character must target that character with a check at the first opportunity.

 

 

Edited by Kakita Shijin

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As it was mentioned before, the system you propose requires a large number of dice rolls and is likely to bog down the round.

... But I appreciate your idea to spice up initiative. I love the "anyone can go first" of the current system but I find its drawback is that it does not reward characters who invest XP in being quick (ie acting before others). In a cyberpunk setting that allows Reflex boosters or other games where "shooting first" is important, that's a bit of an issue.

What I am going to try is to find a kind of compromise between the current floating turn order and the traditional fixed turn order. It would work as follows:

- Everyone rolls initiative as usual but remember where they are relative to the other players. I already have a simple tracker for that that use a sheet divided by initiative number and some numbered and colored token to represent NPC and PC.

- You can still play out of turn as usual. PC and NPC can trade initiative slots amongst their respective sides.

- However, if you act before your nominal turn, you are deemed to be rushing and suffer penalty for that. You add one setback dice to your pool for every place in the initiative queue you jump. For completeness' sake, acting on or after your turn does not add or subtract dices to your pool.

For example: I should normally be the third player to act in this round. However, I really want to be the first player to play for tactical reasons. I decide to use the first player slot and jump two places in the queue. I add to setback dice to my roll.

You can toy with the system easily. If you want to make it harsher, base the number of penalty setback dices not on the number of slots you jump but on the initiative number you jump to  and put a hard cap on the said maximum number of initiative number you can jump based on the black dices (4 max as per the rules). 

For example: I act at initiative number 4. The maximum initiative number I can jump to is 8 (if there is a player slot at this level of course) which will add 4 setback dices to my roll.  I will never be able to play before a NPC at initiative rank 9 even if there is a player slot available at 10.

Edited by Tabulazero

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16 hours ago, admutt said:

- At the start of an encounter the GM declares that one of the NPCs (the opposition) is preparing to take an action, then asks the players to determine which one of the PCs will be the first to attempt to gain the initiative (kind of like asking who's taking the next slot in the RAW version). These two characters then make competitive Vigilance (or Cool) checks with the winner getting to resolve their turn immediately.

Rather than redesigning whole initiative system, I would probably allow that kind of exception to some very special occasions. E.g. if NPC, in their slot, is doing something which would be very bad for PCs, I might allow competitive check to disrupt the normal initiative order for a moment, i.e. allow PC to intercept the NPCs action using their next slot before it would normally happen. 

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So, here's another kick at the tires of Initiative. Not necessarily an improvement over RAW. Wondering if it's worth trying out at all;

Initiative Slots are determined by Skill Rank in descending order from Rank 5, PC slots first, NPC slots second. PCs and NPCs can act in any slot as per RAW.

And that's it. A small change to remove some of randomness (and speed up initial initiative assignment?), but still allow for the flexibility we all like. Also, it rewards players who buy up Vigilance and Cool.

The Rapid Reaction talent would have to change; instead of adding successes, maybe adding temporary skill ranks for initiative order determination?

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