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I just saw someone on a facebook group dig up the old spectre of order of action in AD&D 1st Ed BtB.

I don't remember if it was blusponge who created it. I seem to remember him way, way back (possibly as far back as the usenet days) having an intricate outline that was allegedly the correctly interpreted 1st Ed way.

I always thought that sort of analysis was overblown. The way initiative worked  at its core was very simple. It's just that like most rules, there were exceptions. And AD&D really tried to account for a lot of the exceptions.

Initiative begins simply enough with a group d6, highest goes first.

Exception #1 There can be sub-groups as appropriate, even right down to the individual. An NPC necromancer might use one initiative roll, skeleton a separate initiative roll, zombies still another, and acolytes make it a 4th roll for the monsters. Meanwhile each of 4 PCs might be given individual initiative rolls while NPC hirelings/henchment given a single roll for the entire lot of them.

Exception #2  Common sense applies. Movement, for example, does not go from zero to 120' just because your initiative is up. Rather it happens more or less evenly throughout the round. Two opposing forces beginning 120' apart, each with a 12" movement rate, moving towards each other to do battle will meet in the middle of the ground. They will not be allowed to use melee strikes at the beginning of the round no matter how good the initiative roll is.

Exception #3 Charge attacks, as clearly stated in the rules, defer to weapon length for determination of first strike. Since the charge involves movement, #2 also applies when determining overall order of action.

Exception #4 In case of tie, weapon speed is the tie breaker. There is also an optional rule where on tied initiative, a much faster weapon may get multiple attacks against a much slower weapon.

Exception #5 Multiple attacks are spread throughout the round. 2 attacks automatically go first and last (this is subject to initiative, of course, if your opponent also has 2 attacks). 3 go first, last, and at initiative.

Exception #6 concerns ranged weapons with set "rates of fire" and really combines #2 and #5. Rates of fire are spread evenly throughout the round and can be synced with movement rates. If you have a bow with a rate of fire of 2 shots per round and your opponent is closing in at a rate of 12" from a distance of 120 feet, you're definitely getting a shot off before he engages, no matter what the initiative roll is. As for the 2nd shot? That would be a close call, so that would be determined by the initiative roll.

Other notable exceptions come up with the pummeling/grappling/overbearing rules and also casting time vs a melee weapon.

But what I'd like to suggest is this motif can really apply to any RPG (that doesn't inseparably wed initiative to its other mechanics) and is a pretty damn good way of running things. If you take the perspective that it is ultra simple, just with exception handlers, you can have the best of both worlds. Simplicity and detail.

And I add one final tweak to it. Some kind of "Joss" or "Action Point" system (many RPGs already have these) that allow for "interrupt" type actions--basically a free action a character can take so long as it can logically fit--in other words, it doesn't give you double movement, but can allow something like an additional attack (or parry) provided there is an enemy nearby. This would include an additional spell cast, so long as there is time left in the round after casting time. (In AD&D, for example, most 1st level spells only take one-tenth of a round to cast, but the caster is only allowed to cast one per round. This free action would allow a second spell, so long as the total casting time remains under 10 segments). With the aid of some sort of "speed" check, this can be used to react quickly enough so as to interrupt the action another is about to take. The idea here is to keep the orderly play of turn-based combat, but add something that gives it more of a realtime feel, where the action is not neatly confined to rounds.
In trying to put my simple approach to initiative to paper to give an explicit procedure to follow akin to the messy outlines of combat I alluded to in the premise of my previous post, I came up with the Smack-Rush-Ice  system. These are three categories of action.

Smack - Shoot, move, activate, continue/keep, are announced BEFORE initiative is rolled. In many cases, they don't require initiative rolls because what can be accomplished and how much time it takes is usually well defined. Shooting weapons have a specific rate of fire, characters have specific movement rates, activating something--item or spell--takes a prescribed amount of time. And continuing/keeping-up is just the continuation of a multi-round action, which, obviously, takes some specified amount of time. In cases where it is logical to bring initiative into play, it's also logical that at the time you begin the action, you don't know who is going first, such as two gunslingers drawing on each other, or two people moving towards the same item, each trying to grab it quick. Only after you're committed to the action does it make sense to determine precise order.

Rush - Resolve, use, strike, hold are announced on the character's turn as determined by initiative. Resolve refers to continuous actions put in place earlier. This could be the completion of an activation begun on the Smack phase. Or it could be breaking a continuing hold from a prior round. Using refers to any miscellaneous use of an object such as slamming a door shut in the middle of a fight. Striking covers your straight forward attacks or even less straight forward stuff. Holding refers to holding an action. From this point until the end of round (optionally until the character's next initiative if that seems more appropriate), the character is allowed an interrupting action.

Ice - Interrupt, change, evade. These actions are generally declared out of turn and in response to any other action or event that takes place. Interrupting, as indicated above, is a held action that the character may use now to try to stop something else that is happening. As mentioned in my previous post, I also support the use of some kind of "action point" system that allows interrupt actions. To literally interrupt, as in an attempt to somehow negate another's action, there ought to be some sort of speed check. Otherwise it's just a quick reaction. Changing refers to the fact that at any time a character can change their action. If at the start of the round, before initiative, you declared your character is moving across the room, but later that round an enemy pulled a lever opening up a pit blocking your path, it might be time to do something different. Depending upon how much time had been lost/invested in the action you are changing, you may or may not get to take your new action in the same round. Finally, evading, refers to any natural defense types of rolls. "Saving Throws" certainly. GURPS and other RPGs give an explicit number of active defenses per turn. In LA, if you chose to parry (you essentially "held" your attack), obviously that comes in response to someone else's attack. Of course in LA if you have sufficiently high Speed and Minstrelsy, you are allowed a parry even if you lost initiative and therefore never had the opportunity to "hold" your attack. Also diving to avoid attack, although far more likely to be successful when you have won initiative (essentially "held" your action) is still possible even if you lose.

There can be occasions where one type of action floats into a different category. Common sense will iron a lot of that out. Suppose you have your bow nocked and ready, rather than just getting as many shots off as possible starting immediately at the beginning of the round, this can could as holding an action to later give you a potential interrupt attack. A "charge attack" actually falls into the Smack phase since it involves movement, at the end of which initiative is determined as per special case by weapon length rather than dice roll.
This is a quick example of a single round of combat to illustrate the order of operations involved in this initiative system. I could have made the example simpler by sticking to strict group initiative. Or I could have made it more complex by introducing Weapon speed to break tied initiative. My hope is that by taking the middle road, I've created an example that is simple to follow but complex enough to show the nuances of the system.


Side 1
Noble, Forester, Enchanter (initiative determined separately for each individual)
+12 NPC soldiers (one single initiative roll for entire group)

Side 2
Chieftain, Shaman (initiative determined separately for each individual)
20 orcs, 6 wolves (two initiative rolls, one for each group)

The order of the round follows the SIR formula: Smack-Initiative-Rush. As always, Ice moves can happen at any time out of turn.

  • When the action begins, the orcs unleash the wolves who charge in with the orcs closing in behind them. (SMACK)
  • The Shaman and opposing Enchanter each begin casting. (SMACK)
  • The Chieftain, Forester, and Soldiers all prepare to fire missiles. (SMACK)
  • Seeing the prepared missile weapons, 4 orcs with large shields, two on each, instead provide cover for the Chieftain and Shaman. (ICE)
  • Seeing the charging wolves, the soldiers decide to change their actions to draw melee weapons. (ICE)
Because of the time it takes the wolves to reach the soldiers, the Shaman's quick spell, and the first shot of the Forester's quick (RoF 2) weapon take place. Also the orcs who stayed behind aren't doing anything particularly time-consuming. Since the Forester's arrow could spoil the Shaman's spell, or the Orcs could interrupt the path of the arrow by blocking, this is a good time to roll initiative. d6 is rolled for each of the 8 sub-groups, and the results are as follows: Enchanter (6), Shaman (6), Orcs (4), Wolves (4), Chieftain (3), Forester (3), Noble (2), Soldiers (2).
  • So the Shaman completes his spell before the Forester gets off his shot due to superior initiative. (RUSH)

  • For that matter, the bodyguard orcs get to "hold" their action prior to the Forester's arrow. The other orcs are not yet engaged in melee so initiative for them doesn't matter. (RUSH)

  • The Forester fires his first shot. (RUSH)

  • Orc bodyguard attempts to block the arrow. (ICE)

  • The soldiers charged by the wolves gain first strike on the wolves due to greater weapon reach. (RUSH)

  • The wolves get their attack prior to the Noble and remaining soldiers due to superior initiative. (RUSH)

  • Noble and remaining soldiers attack. (RUSH)

  • At the end of the round, the Enchanter's full-round casting finally takes effect as well as the Chieftain's slow weapon's only shot, and the Forester's second shot. In that order as determined by initiative roll. (RUSH)

What I hope to have shown is how a turn-based tabletop RPG combat can be both easy to use AND provide detailed and interactive sequencing of actions.
Interesting! Good acronyms.
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(11-03-2015, 01:22 PM)Kersus Wrote: Interesting! Good acronyms.


I've noticed any time people become really anal retentive over having a detailed initiative system, the tendency is to try to time out every last thing to a "tic" so they can just march through initiative numbers. I think my system has a lot of advantages over trying to do that.

1) You don't need a whole litany of initiative modifiers that try to account for how fast each action is,
2) It saves time because you don't need to go around the table once to find out what everyone is doing and determine their initiative, then a second time to play out all the actions in order. I'm just going through things once.
3) It's more interactive because you can change and react to events as they play out, making the game have a more real time feel.
4) I think it plays closer to common sense.
5) Because you never roll initiative until you need to, there's no artificial line drawn between "combat" and the rest of game play.

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