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Alternative Initiative Ideas

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Joined: 12/01/2008

For a dungeon-crawl style game, I'm looking for an alternative way to determine the order of action.

As a general rule, we have been trying to keep things simple and streamlined.
As a result, one of the ideas we had been using for turn order, was simply: a mob takes a turn, a player takes a turn, until all actors have gone. The players got to determine which mob was to take a turn next. And, indeed, part of the encounter could be looked at as a tactical puzzle for the players to solve. In this regard, turn order became mighty important.
(It's important for the game to have a built-in way to determine mob order of action - as this is a co-op game requiring no game master)

However, feed back from some players indicated that giving them the power to determine the order of the mob actions gave them too much power to manipulate the mobs. Not only did it make the puzzle easier, but it game them ways to cheese the system. e.g Oh, that mob is a healer? Ok, he goes first while there is nothing to heal. Oh, that one is dangerous? It can go last giving us a chance to focus fire it.

So, we are back to an initiative system of some kind. Additionally, it would be nice if there was some random element to introduce some uncertainty.
The problem is that most systems are extremely cumbersome. Lots of die rolling every turn and it breaks the action.
On the plus side, having an additional stat to play with is very welcome for character builds and treasure purposes.

What I've been toying with at the moment is this:
Initiative is now a stat that can be improved with abilities and treasure. The higher, the quicker you act.
At the beginning of each encounter (the game is divided into a series of separate encounters) there is a random element introduced which is a die roll for each entity, that will ultimately add or subtract 1 (or no change) from their initiative stat.
Then every turn for that encounter will give the actors with the highest score to move first, and then on down the list.

This needs more testing, but I feel like there might be a better way to accomplish this. It would be nicer if there was a bit more uncertainty between turns, but I can't really slow down the game any more.

Does anyone have any interesting ideas to add?

Joined: 08/28/2012
Queuing System

Perhaps some king of queuing system with spaces / numbers that tracks who's turn it is. At the beginning of an encounter, all players are queued up by their initiative order (lowest first, sort of simply counting off), perhaps with some roll modifier for randomness. When a player or mob takes their action, they get added back into the queue a certain number of spaces back (based on their initiative score), and the next player / mob in line gets to act.

So, say a character has an initiative of 6. In the first round they would roll a dice and add 6 to the result. This is their starting initiative. Say they roll a 5, giving them a starting initiative of 11. Once they get to act, they are placed back in the queue at (11+6) 17, then (17+6) 23, then (23+6) 29 and so on.

Each player / mob would require a token to track their current action order / initiative. As spaces on the initiative board are cleared, things are reset (so, once spaces 1 through 10 have been emptied / have taken their actions and moved to 11 or more), all tokens / markers are reset against the base line of 1. If more than one creature shares the same initiative, the order in which the tokens or markers were placed / stacked dictates who goes first.

I don't know how this would work with other attributes or tracking durations of spells or effects, as a fast character may have their effects run out faster (assuming duration was tracked in rounds / actions). Durations could have their own markers for tracking how long they last. This would create a system where higher initiatives mean acting more frequently (and slower initiatives act less frequently), which might not work with your other game ideas.

Joined: 10/24/2012
randomly determine initiative

have a different coloured token for each character. put them all in a opaque bag/cup. at the start of the round draw one - the colour drawn has initiative.

you allocate a generic colour to the enemies (grey for example) and the more there are on the table the more chance of them getting drawn before another colour.

Bolt Action (WW2 Tabletop game) uses a similar concept to determine turn order.

Joined: 10/12/2013
Attack duration is wrinkle

Attack duration is wrinkle that I've seen in games in addition to having a base initiative score.

So when a Player takes an Action, that action "lasts" X units of time. If you have initiative as a decreasing value (i.e. lowest goes first) then the current mob/player with initiative has 0. Then you add the duration of the action they choose and re-insert them into the action queue. So it's a dynamic and responsive system where not all actions are treated the same. A big heal/big attack, that "lasts" longer, placing that character further down the action queue and making it longer until they act again.

The games I've seen this are computer games, which does a lot to simplify the math and tracking of this sort of system. You could have a dual system where players can improve their initiative score then the player/mob with the highest at the start of combat is "0" in the queue, the next highest is "1", and so on. Then there is a standard and simple scale of action durations, 0 - 10, you just move characters around in the queue as they perform combat actions.

Joined: 06/27/2012
I think you are on the right

I think you are on the right track with an initiative stat. It lets you as the designer determine when the best time for a creature to play so that you can tailor your encounters to the players. You will likely know the min, max, and average initiative that players will strive for and you can make your creatures to play on that.

Joined: 08/28/2012
Attack Duration

I like the idea of attack duration. A variant could maybe be something that allows characters who take short / quick actions one round to go earlier in the initiative count the following round. A character that takes a slow action one round will go later in the following round. Could be something of a hybrid between queuing and straight initiative (as rounds are retained, but order could change from round to round).

Joined: 10/12/2013
Not to derail the thread,

Not to derail the thread, since I've put my two cents in and don't have anything else to add right now, I just need to applaud baberahamlincoln's username. I lol'd coffee back into my coffee mug.

Joined: 10/09/2013
Not to "Grow" This Derailment

entwater wrote:
Not to derail the thread, since I've put my two cents in and don't have anything else to add right now, I just need to applaud baberahamlincoln's username. I lol'd coffee back into my coffee mug.

I also couldn't help "raise" my hand in salute to your name! My pride in your name has "grown" taller over the past few minutes...Ok...I think I'm out of Entwater jokes.

Joined: 07/26/2008
I have a role playing system

I have a role playing system I'm working on that is "Initiative Point" based. Basically all actions have an initiative point cost. When combat starts players make a roll based on a couple attributes and the result gives them their initiative. Then every time they actually do something their initiative goes down. The way I structure it basically they can spend as many initiative points as they want until they have to make a roll. Movement for example, doesn't require a roll so they can move as far as they want and have initiative for. Once they have to roll, say by attacking, their turn is over and it goes to the next player or NPC in the initiative. When everyone has gone you start again from whoever has the highest initiative. So if you do more powerful attacks/actions generally you are spending more initiative so you will be lower in the initiative next round. Something like that may work for you.

larienna's picture
Joined: 07/28/2008
Random ideas that passed into

Random ideas that passed into my mind.

Each action has an initiative value for the next round. So certain action could make me slower or faster the next round.

Else, an easy method would be to have initiative value on cards and make them circulate around players and ennemies somehow. Make sure allof them have unique numbers.

An idea could be to use something like RA, where the used card is placed in the middle and taken by the next player. Might not work like this but you create something with that idea.

Another mechanic interesting in the Alternity RPG was the possibility to delay your initiative for acting faster in the next round.

Shoe's picture
Joined: 12/21/2012
Check out the game Glen

Check out the game Glen More
Not a dungeon crawl, but the coolest most unique turn order system I've ever encountered.

Some sort of initiative where there is a "who goes next" track and each ability cost move points on that track. whoever is in the back of the track goes next.

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