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 Post subject: [D&D3.5] Altered Initiatives
PostPosted: Wed Feb 18, 2009 4:54 pm 
This is prompted by something Alastair mentioned after a session of 1st ed D&D, where he commented that any actions taken in 3rd/3.5 edition seem to take immediate effect, even before people with the same initiative score can react. With that in mind....

Altered Initiatives
Initiative is rolled as normal. However, actions take a certain amount of time to perform, during which others may react.

Each round is divided into a number of "segments" equal to the highest Initiative score rolled. The notional time gap between an initiative score of 20 and one of 19 is one segment.

Spellcasting: Casting a spell as a standard action takes a number of "segments" equal to the spell level.. Quickened spells and cantrips take effect immediately. Full-round spells take 10 segments to cast, and one-round spells take effect on the caster's next initiative pass as normal.

Attacking (melee) Attacks with light weapons take effect immediately. Attacks with One-handed weapons (regardless of how they are wielded) take one segment, and two-handed weapons take two segments to take effect. Iterative attacks take a similar amount of time; e.g. three iterative attacks with a greatsword would take effect 2, 4, and 6 segments from the initial initiative score

Movement: Movement takes immediate effect, but delays subsequent actions by a segment.

Free/immediate/swift actions: These actions are delayed by prior activities, but take no time to execute in and of themselves.

Special Actions: Turning Undead, Wild Shaping, Bardic Music, etc, take a single segment to perform.

Worked example: Pan the Druid has initiative 15, Hershel the fighter also has initiative 15, and Twink the bard has initiative 14. Pan is under attack from Hershel and Twink, and wants to Wild Shape into a bear to fight more effectively. On initiative 15, Pan has the higher dex score so he declares his intentions first, but because it takes a segment to complete the action, Hershel has a chance to attack.

If Hershel had a shortsword (a light weapon), he could attack immediately, striking before Pan's frail human body instead of the bear he will become. Unfortunately, he is wielding a longsword (one-handed weapon), which also takes a segment to perform. By the time his sword connects, Pan has finished changing into a bear and hardly notices the sword striking his thick hide. Twink, on initiative 14, never had a chance to act before Pan shapeshifted.

If Pan had wanted to cast Bear's Endurance on himself (a 2nd-level spell) instead of Wild Shaping, the spell would have taken two segments to perform. Hershel could therefore attack him before the spell was cast (and possibly disrupt it) if he had a light or one-handed weapon, and Twink could attack with a light weapon. If Hershel had a greatsword (a two-handed weapon) or Twink had a rapier (one-handed), then their attacks would be too slow to interrupt the spell.


Comments/suggestions and whatnot are welcome as always.


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 Post subject: Re: [D&D3.5] Altered Initiatives
PostPosted: Wed Feb 18, 2009 5:34 pm 
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I'm not sure that the segment should be equal to an initiative step - it helps keep things simple, but it seems too short.
Consider a person who has rolled 20 on their initiative, and one who has rolled 1. If one can take a standard and a move action per round, having both actions of the character with 20 happen 18 steps before the character who got 1 seems like a big interval.

Whatever we do with this, combat is going to get complicated. Guess we'd need to playtest it...

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 Post subject: Re: [D&D3.5] Altered Initiatives
PostPosted: Wed Feb 18, 2009 8:41 pm 
Altair-the-Vexed wrote:
Whatever we do with this, combat is going to get complicated. Guess we'd need to playtest it...

This is my only issue with it.

I do like the idea of giving people more of a chance to react to what others appear to be going to do - this is a bit more true to life, in many ways. You see someone start to swing a punch at you, it's very rare that you'd stand there and do nothing, for instance.

I also like that this causes players to perhaps think more carefully about what they are going to do - in that you a) have to start thinking of things that can't easily be interrupted, and b) have to start paying more attention to what everyone else is doing, lest you miss an opportunity to interfere (could be a good way to keep players focused during a combat, for one thing).

It just needs to be handled in as simple a way as possible, in my opinion, as it runs the risk of over-complicating an already complicated combat/initiative system.


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 Post subject: Re: [D&D3.5] Altered Initiatives
PostPosted: Wed Feb 18, 2009 10:19 pm 
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I think the only complicated bit there'll be is when you want to move and take an action - and only then if there's someone who can act in between you moving and acting.

Play test! It's the only way to be sure.

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 Post subject: Re: [D&D3.5] Altered Initiatives
PostPosted: Wed Feb 18, 2009 10:27 pm 
Well, that's the thing, really - there's no (obvious) elegant way of doing it, and that's the likely reason that Speed Factors, Casting Times and such like were removed in the transition from 2nd ed. to 3rd. You just have to decide where on the simulation vs. game continuum your personal preference lies.

Which is a shame, really. Particularly since something like firing off an Acid Arrow or Magic Missile in an attempt to disrupt the casting of an earth shattering spell like Time Stop or Gate would keep lower level spells relevant at higher levels.

If anyone has any alternative suggestions on how the static initiative, I'd be interested. The existing system is all well and good, but variety is the spice of life, as they say.


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 Post subject: Re: [D&D3.5] Altered Initiatives
PostPosted: Mon Feb 23, 2009 6:11 pm 
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Was thinking about this again today, and had a couple of thoughts and an example of how it might play out...

Players effectively have either a full round action, or two turns in a round. The two turns consist of their first action (move equivalent action or standard), and their second action. The second action is delayed by a certain number of initiative steps depending on the first action (always at least 1).

AoO happen instantly as provoked, without adjustment for weapon size.

Example of play
    DM: When the lights go on, you find yourselves facing three orcs armed with clubs and Desert Eagles. Initiatives please!
    Xavier: 19
    Yvette: 12
    Zack: 9
    DM: [rolls 12 for the orcs] Right, Xavier, you're first. What are you doing, a full round action or less?
    Xavier: I'm going to cast fireball.
    DM: That's a third level spell and a standard action, so it'll be finished on 16. No-one gets a chance to interrupt you and the spell goes off.
    Xavier: Sweet! Boo-yah! etc. [rolls dice for fireball damage] 12 if they fail their saves.
    DM: [rolls saves and deducts damage from the various orcs] A couple of them fall down frazzled but the rest are still standing - smoking slightly, but still in there. You have a move action left..?
    Xavier: Hold it to see what happens.
    DM: Right. Yvette, you're up next.
    Yvette: I fire my AK on full auto, 30 rounds into the room.
    DM: Okay, that's a full round action, three bursts of 10 rounds each. You'll start that on 10 (cause the AK rifle is a two-handed weapon) and make your second at 8 and third at 6. But before you start that, the orc gangsters get some actions. [moves two orc figures into full cover, and rolls shots from two other orcs, which miss] Some of the orcs scatter, and some shoot at you, but no-one gets hit. Now Yvette, your autofire: roll to hit the 10ft space - you need a 10.
    Yvette: [rolls d20, adds things] Done. [rolls damage] 9 damage.
    DM: [rolls saves for the orcs, including cover bonuses] The two orcs who stood out in the open to shoot are cut down in a hail of 7.62 soviet, but the other two have got behind the pillars and aren't hit. They stay there while Yvette's Kalashnikov unleashes leaden fury, waiting for a chance.
    Zack: Me yet?
    DM: Yes. Yvette's autofire is making the area in front of her rather deadly, though..?
    Xavier: I want to take my held action.
    DM: After Zack, sure. Held actions go off on the next step.
    Zack: I loot the bodies of the orcs.
    DM: Are you sure? That'll put you in Yvette's field of fire.
    Zack: Yeah, I'll be fine.
    DM: Really? Okay then. It's a full round action to search an area 5 by 5ft. Make a Reflex save first to avoid the autofire.
    Zack: [rolls] Oh. Um...
    DM: Action point?
    Zack: Yeah. [rolls] Er...
    DM: Nine damage will drop you, yes?
    Zack: Yeah. [sulks]
    Xavier: I hold my action again, and call out to Yvette "Watch out for Zack!"
    DM: That's a free action, so sure. Yvette, make a listen check to hear him over the sound of your AK.
    Yvette: [rolls] Okay, I hear him. I'll use my next attack on the space where the orcs are and not where stupid Zack is.
    DM: Right - that'll be on initivative 8. The orcs that are taking cover decide to shoot back on 8, too.
    Their weapons are lighter than yours, so although you're on the same initiative, they interrupt you. [rolls attacks, score 9 damage to Yvette] You're shot in the shoulder for 9 - but I think you're still standing after that, yeah?
    Yvette: Yup. [rolls to hit the orcs' space, then rolls damage] That'll be a 10 if they fail their save.
    DM: [rolls for the orcs and adds the cover bonus] One of the orcs falls screeching, but the pillar saves the other one.
    Xavier: Now I dive for Zack, getting out my first aid kit as I go. That's on 7.
    DM: Right. You can't treat him till next round, though, but you're right there ready. Yvette's last shot..?
    Yvette: Carry on! Defence 10 is way easier to hit than whatever I need for a cowering orc... [rolls] Oh. Missed.
    DM: Your shots climb up into the ceiling... Next round! Xavier?
    Xavier: I treat injury on Zack.
    DM: That's a standard action, so you finish that on 17. No-one interrupts you - anything else?
    Xavier: Yes - get into cover!
    DM: Sensible. Yvette?
    Yvette: I charge at the orc to rifle butt him, cause my mag's empty.
    DM: That'll be on 9 then, cause the move is 1 step and the rifle is a two-handed weapon... The orc will get to act first...
    Yvette: Good point, I'll charge and kick him with my kung fu skills.
    DM: Which will be on 11. Go for it.
    Yvette: [rolls and hits] 3 damage.
    DM: "Oof!" The orc is winded, but raises his Desert Eagle to shoot you.
    Yvette: Attack of opportunity! I smack him with the rifle butt. [rolls] Hit him for 5.
    DM: Right. He's down.
    Zack: Now that I'm fixed up, I'll carry on looting.

And so on.

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 Post subject: Re: [D&D3.5] Altered Initiatives
PostPosted: Mon Feb 23, 2009 7:33 pm 
What about the people with the lowest initiatives declare there actions first so the people with the higher initiatives can react to what the lowest initiatives do. The reason for this is a combat round lasts a few seconds so the people with highest initiatives react to what the slower ones are doing quicker and act accordlingly then. Then you start the initiative as normal.


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 Post subject: Re: [D&D3.5] Altered Initiatives
PostPosted: Mon Feb 23, 2009 7:42 pm 
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tinan gembearer wrote:
What about the people with the lowest initiatives declare there actions first so the people with the higher initiatives can react to what the lowest initiatives do.

I've tried this, and so have a few DMs I've played with, and we found it tends to slow the combat round right down - effectively everything that happened was described twice.
Also, unless you hold or ready your action, how can you "react" to something that hasn't happened yet?

I'm not saying that it can't work, just that in my experience it wasn't very satisfactory.

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 Post subject: Re: [D&D3.5] Altered Initiatives
PostPosted: Thu Sep 10, 2009 11:08 am 
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A little thread necromancy, maybe even a hijacking... but I have a relevant point to put to the board.

Preamble:
Spoiler! :
In the normal rules, you can Delay or Ready your action.
In Daremonai's proposed variant, we would always have a gap between the two actions that one can take (a move and a standard, or two moves).
I assume that Delaying would work for either action in this variant - you can delay your first and second action, or just delay the second action. (Example: You wait to see what happens when your mate opens the door, then move in and take your standard action... or you move in and wait to see what happens when the door is opened, taking your standard action after the delay.)
Readying an action in the RAW is a standard action that allows you to take another action later. Readying itself isn't really an action, but it's called a standard action so that you can't take another standard action and then ready an action for later.


A half-way house system between Daremonai's proposal and the RAW is that we allow you to Delay in the middle of your turn (i.e. between your first and second actions).
In practice, this is what we've been doing in the last few months of gaming since this thread went up. Subconsciously, I guess I've been influenced by the idea and forgot the RAW.

With that in mind, I propose the Delay is changed as follows:
  • You may choose to delay any of your actions in the round.
The rest of the rule works as normal (your initiative changes and you can't interrupt anyone with your delayed action).
Ready stays the same - you must spend a standard action and you can interrupt the action that triggers you. It is already implied in this rule that you can take a move action before you ready another action.

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