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Thinking about initiative


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So, I'm tinkering with some ideas and have been reading through various d6 materials to get a sense of the several different ways of handling initiative/combat order. I'm curious who has used/does use the various methods. If you've tried one of the others and hated it, I'd like to know that too.

 

1. SW Revised and Revised & Expanded: Each side rolls PER. High score's side goes first, declaring actions ® or number of actions (R&E) and taking and resolving first action. Second side then taxes first action. If any on first side are taking multiple actions, they take second action.

 

2. Minisix: Each character rolls DEX. Characters, regardless of side, then act in order from highest DEX to lower. [note: this is how Villains and Vigilantes handled actions, more or less, and I thought it emphasized DEX way too much].

 

3.1 d6 Space method 1: The first method is: the first character taking "significant action" goes first.

 

3.2 d6 Space method 2/3: PER rolls per character or group, then acting in order of PER roll total. Can roll once per round, or just once per combat.

 

4.1 d6 System book method 1: each side rolls 1D6. High side goes first, taking ALL actions. Second side then goes and takes all actions. BUT results simultaneous, so second side attacks still count (mutually assured destruction). [This is closest to the baby-fied D&D method I use]

 

4.2 d6 System book method 2: Seems to be the same as minisix.

 

4.3: d6 system book "Continuous Combat": Breaks round into 5 segments, then a whole bunch of stuff about consulting charts to determine which segment a character's action occurs in. [Pass]

 

I'm assuming #1 is the most popular, but I'll be curious to see if anyone uses these and how they've worked in your game.

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I've used #1, #2, and #3.2

 

I settled on a variation of 3.2

I roll initiative once to start combat. Then initiative stays the same (no need to roll more) unless the combat situation changes enough to warrant another roll (IE. another group/reinforcement showing up, radically different tactic used midway through the combat, some other factor makes significant changes to the situation)

 

Each PC rolls for initiative. Each NPC group of "commons" rolls for initiative. Each major NPC rolls for initiative.

Declare total number of actions wanting to take in round, and explain first action, highest to lowest.

Resolve action, highest to lowest.

Those that were performing more than one action declare highest to lowest.

Resolve 2nd action, highest to lowest.

Continue until all actions are taken in a round.

 

Next round begins with the same initiative unless the previously mentioned MAJOR change happens in the battle situation.

Obviously as people/groups are knocked out of the combat, there becomes less people declaring actions.

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Thanks Grim. Did you always run SW with 1, or did you naturally modify prior to d6 Space?

 

Next round begins with the same initiative unless the previously mentioned MAJOR change happens in the battle situation.

Obviously as people/groups are knocked out of the combat, there becomes less people declaring actions.

 

I've sort of done the same in D&D too, if the players win initiative and really hammer the other side for a round, I usually dispense with further initiative (and there usually isn't much chance for morale checks).

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1. Roll initiative however you please Perception, Dexterity, a combination of Attributes, or a Skill such as Scholar: Tactics.

2. Note totals high to low.

3. Low numbers move first working to the highest moving last.

4. Highest resolves attack actions first working towards the lowest.

5. Repeat steps 3 & 4 for additional actions or movement.

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1. Roll initiative however you please Perception, Dexterity, a combination of Attributes, or a Skill such as Scholar: Tactics.

2. Note totals high to low.

3. Low numbers move first working to the highest moving last.

4. Highest resolves attack actions first working towards the lowest.

5. Repeat steps 3 & 4 for additional actions or movement.

 

Thanks, that's pretty interesting. I guess making the slowpokes move first allows the later folk a tactical advantage? And what attribute do you use for the roll, or is it the highest of those you list?

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Yes making the slowpokes move first makes winning initiative important particularly when you are outnumbered. Also it provides the winner with a real advantage to striking first. Additionally it can result in a dance of movement in the case of close combat.

 

The last time I ran a regular D6 game was years ago, but that time I used Dexterity. My views on initiative have shifted over time, and since I am developing a D6 Legends spin off things would be slightly different. In my current playtesting game I use the Body Attribute to represent the physical aspect of it and a Tactics roll can be used to modify it among other things. Essentially I would use whatever you felt works best for your setting, it could even be different for different people or situations.

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Thanks Grim. Did you always run SW with 1, or did you naturally modify prior to d6 Space?

 

 

I modified long before D6 Space came out. My brain really clicked with the D6 System Book, and really got me thinking outside the box for the system. I made changes then, playtested the changes with my various groups, and worked out the kinks. Same applied for my fantasy rules for D6....finished those and worked out the kinks LONG before D6 Fantasy ever came out.

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I made changes then, playtested the changes with my various groups, and worked out the kinks.

 

And if only WEG had joined you!

 

Your answer has me curious, I might post the same question at the Rancor's Pit to see what people do (or search for a similar one to dredge up).

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The last time I ran a regular D6 game was years ago, but that time I used Dexterity. My views on initiative have shifted over time

 

I suppose mine have too, in that DEX always made sense in D&D, probably because that's what I started with. C&C's use of Wisdom seemed odd (and was pretty controversial during development IIRC) but when I read SW's explanations of the use of PER, that made sense too. Your suggestion of picking an attribute appropriate to the circumstances (PER for an ambush or other situation involving assessing risk, and DEX for obvious battle situations) is a good one. I'm trying to think of another attribute that would make sense, but I'm not sure of one. Maybe MECH for spaceship or vehicle combat. Thanks for the thoughts.

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I suppose mine have too, in that DEX always made sense in D&D, probably because that's what I started with. C&C's use of Wisdom seemed odd (and was pretty controversial during development IIRC) but when I read SW's explanations of the use of PER, that made sense too. Your suggestion of picking an attribute appropriate to the circumstances (PER for an ambush or other situation involving assessing risk, and DEX for obvious battle situations) is a good one. I'm trying to think of another attribute that would make sense, but I'm not sure of one. Maybe MECH for spaceship or vehicle combat. Thanks for the thoughts.

 

You could even have it skill based. A secret martial art, a practiced gunslingers ranged combat skill, the master tacticians tactics skill, the trackers keen ability to observe or search, etc. You could even let the characters choose from a list of skills that make sense, and then go off that. Different tricks work for different people in reacting to danger.

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3.2 d6 Space method 2/3: PER rolls per character or group, then acting in order of PER roll total. Can roll once per round, or just once per combat.

 

I'm using PER per character, acting in order of PER total, once per combat. Also, I disallow multiple attacks on the same target; you can declare multiple attacks, but each must be made against a separate enemy.

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That's...uh...different.

Why could a person squeeze the trigger multiple times AND change targets, but couldn't just squeeze the trigger against the same target?

What's the rationale of that particular ruling?

 

Honestly? Because in every game I've ever played or GM'ed, multiple attacks are both too powerful* and too time-consuming, especially in games that use dice pools. :-)

That said, I do have an intra-diegetic justification: an attack roll is already an abstraction of the whole strike-parry-counterstrike dynamic of combat, instead of each attack roll being a representation of a single attack.

To be honest, I didn't even think about firearms; the explanation wouldn't work for them, indeed. I suppose it's a house rule which wouldn't work for non-medieval games.

 

* Except in games where the expected damage output is based on having multiple attacks, like in most versions of D&D, in which case I consider them to be an inelegant solution.

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To be honest, I didn't even think about firearms; the explanation wouldn't work for them, indeed. I suppose it's a house rule which wouldn't work for non-medieval games.

 

Interestingly, that's something I thought when working through d6 fantasy. I decided that the MAP penalty means only powerful characters will use it, effectively anyway, and that makes some sense. Hasn't been abused by my players yet.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Initiative will probably be a contentious issue in RPGs for years to come. I like to wing it as much as possible, since gaming groups and players can react differently. From a developmental perspective, Initiative matches poorly with most "standard" attributes on a one-to-one comparison. I like a combination of attributes to derive a secondary Initiative stat during character creation. The problem with any given method is that you eventually get to a rolling mechanic.

Initiative and most combat rolls do not follow the same conventions as all other game rolling, typically because they are a contested roll. Meaning, you are not rolling against a difficulty, you are rolling against another roll. When pressed for time, I record all initiatives and just use the solid numbers to determine order of event actions. Highest numbers first, lowest numbers last. I group these into 5-6 go first, 3-4 go second, and 1-2 go last. Having a fixed Initiative may seem unfair on some level, so in d6, I always ask if a player wants to spend points to act faster for the battle (all rounds), where spending a point increments the character into the next action block. Again, this works well for me since I fix a stat ceiling at 6 for attribute and skill.

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I've experimented with different options, but mainly I like to use a slight variation of SW R&E. Every character has an Initiative stat, which is a derived stat of simply DEX + PER. At the beginning of each encounter the character on each side with the highest Initiative stat rolls to determine which side gets to choose to go first or last for that encounter, and then within each side it usually goes from highest to lowest Initiative stat (not rolled). I do like to occasionally change up the individual PC action order but try to make it make some kind of sense with respect to the particular adventure or encounter. If the group has an adventure set in one of the PC's home city, that PC may go first on his side for that entire adventure, even without the PC having the highest Initiative stat. In a space battle it may make sense to have the main pilot go first on his side.

 

As far as my choice of attributes that the Initiative stat is derived from, the case for DEX and PER both make good sense to me so I use both. I've considered the argument that MEC makes the most sense for space battles, but my response to that is that there is still some "dexterity" and "perception" involved so those attributes are not really inappropriate for Initiative there.

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Interestingly, that's something I thought when working through d6 fantasy. I decided that the MAP penalty means only powerful characters will use it, effectively anyway, and that makes some sense. Hasn't been abused by my players yet.

 

I suppose that's true. Although it does weaken somewhat ogres and other monsters who are easy to hit but hard to damage; depending on how easy it is to hit them, you could just declare two or three attacks and try to make up for their high soak with quantity over quality.

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