A Question for the Players: Initiative

Konrad

Administrator
Staff member
INDE Staff
#1
[sp_show_poll id="1"]

The poll says it all. Please let us know what your answer was and why below, even if you answered "Indifferent."
 
#2
I like the initiative system in general. The only thing that I am not 100% on is the Fear Check at the beginning. It should be like the surprise attack, if the situation calls for it then yes.а
 

bear

Grunt
Shattered Core Backer
#3
Truthfully I find it a little counter-intuitive.
Adding the rolls of all participants together means whoever has the larger group is most likely to win. However in reality, it is more than easy enough for a small group of assulters to get the jump on a superior foe to quickly devastate them before they can react. You could make it based on averages, but that involves a bunch of math in large battles.
 

Konrad

Administrator
Staff member
INDE Staff
#4
BEAR said
Truthfully I find it a little counter-intuitive.
Adding the rolls of all participants together means whoever has the larger group is most likely to win. However in reality, it is more than easy enough for a small group of assulters to get the jump on a superior foe to quickly devastate them before they can react. You could make it based on averages, but that involves a bunch of math in large battles.
The example you gave that would fall under a surprise attack, I believe. For in a situation where both sides are aware of each other in the same instant, a larger group would quickly take advantage of their superior numbers.
 

Harradrush

New Member
Shattered Core Backer
#5
I am mostly okay with current system, it requires less bookkeeping for gm, but personally I prefer individual initiative scores with option to "wait" for your slow companion if you want to act simultaneously.

As for larger groups, they are already have advantage: more health and more damage output. Giving them initiative advantage means that bunch of weak enemies can easily kill player or at least heavily injure him just because he has no chance to run away or reduce their numbers despite being faster than any one of them.

One solution that comes to my mind is reduce group initiative score for every action point used. Thus, only a few characters from large group can act before their opponents got a chance to respond.
 

koeran

New Member
Shattered Core Backer
#6
Typically I prefer group initiative systems, as they tend to require fewer rolls. аIn this case I think the initiative system has too many rolls, and is a little backwards.

I like that there is a fear component. аInvolving more psychology in combat, or gameplay in general, is something that appeals to me. аHowever it does add a layer of complexity. аSo I'm kinda on the fence about that bit overall.

Though I am glad that the Fear Roll is based on the number of enemies, but limited by the Charisma score of the main threat. аOtherwise players would fail their fear tests all the time based on pure numbers. аWhich might be realistic, but it's not much fun.

It isn't clear if a fear roll is rolled by both sides or not. аTo me it makes sense that both sides would need to test. аThough rolling 2 intimidates (one for either side) and a mental resolve for all enemies and all PCs would be a lot of rolls.

It makes sense that those who fail their fear rolls don't get to add their initiative to the party initiative.

а

Where things seem backwards to me is adding all the initiative values together. аGroups are harder to co-ordinate the larger they are. аSo if anything, the larger the group is, the slower they should react (as a whole anyway).

What I'd suggest is having all members of a group roll initiative (those that passed their fear tests anyway) and take the lowest initiative value of those, and then subtract 1 for each other member in the group. аThe group with the highest final score acts first.

Essentially, the group acts as fast as it's slowest member, and is slowed down by the size of the group. аWith larger groups more likely to go last.

Granted that would be a lot of dice rolls though. аWhich is my main issue with the current system.
 

NKdotzip

Administrator
Staff member
INDE Staff
#7
That may be more rolls, but its not a bad idea at all. I'll bring it up with the team on call tonight.
 

pyxis

New Member
Shattered Core Backer
#8
I asked the question about fifty people this weekend. What I have understood is that they would launch the initiative separately with penalties of a fear.
I think the fear at the beginning of combat must be balanced. A character with a lot of intimidateаis capable of killing someone by heart attack too quickly (1AP for useаintimidateаskill in combatаis not enough).
 

ANG

New Member
#9
I have looked over everything relating the initiative.а

At the present it does feel pretty weighed down by dice rolls. The system does not really handle everything but in truth it never will. It does remind me of a line though...

а

"Be yourself, but if you can be batman, be batman!"а

а

I bring that line up for a simple reason. While you can use an intimidate skill, as we have seen Batman do countless times... The larger the group, the less effective it is unless something brutal happens. Sure, you intimidate a group of thugs and they hesitate. Now if you intimidate a group of thugs after you have just force fed and then fired your auto pistol through the back of a huge bruiser's head. Now that would stun opponents!

а

Maybe have two different setups for two types of groups to cut down on the dice rolls?

Maybe an Alpha leader in the group, that is the person your group has to beat on initiative because he will direct his troops to attack out of fear or even respect. Intimidating an Alpha would be harder the larger the group, so maybe that singular dice roll gets bonuses for the amount of people in a group.

Now when you have a basic gang, thugs with no allegiance to each other. Maybe roll against the slowest creature/person in the group, minus the amount of people there are. This would allow you to get that group dynamic where anger, or fear slowly ripples through the larger mass.

а

This would be my recommendation for possibly using the current system but in a way that cuts down the dice rolling? It also speeds things up and allows the players to feel like they get a higher chance of winning the rolls even if that may or may not be true.

а

Any thoughts? I would love to hear your points of view on this.
 

NKdotzip

Administrator
Staff member
INDE Staff
#10
That's certainly an interesting angle. I think that if there is any one area that has an overabundance of die rolls it would be initiative, so your suggestion may help slim that down. That said, I can see your suggestion working well from the GM side of the table, but would you use the same approach for players as well? Or would you leave them be?

-zip
 

ANG

New Member
#11
NKdotzip said
That's certainly an interesting angle. I think that if there is any one area that has an overabundance of die rolls it would be initiative, so your suggestion may help slim that down. That said, I can see your suggestion working well from the GM side of the table, but would you use the same approach for players as well? Or would you leave them be?

-zip
That is a hard question. Some players would feel good using one roll, and others would use the multi-roll as their primary. I think that question really relates to the players and GM's personal choice.

Initiative has always been a way to stagger the player's attack with the enemy they are going against. аThis has also helped players be more creative in what they do when attacking since it provides a more personal touch to each player. Call it a one on one time with the GM and that selective player if you wish.а

So while streamlining the combat, I think it is still important to allow each player stand out in some way for initiative. Now adding the option of one dice roll for the PC team is optional, and could easily be added for those who are wanting that streamlining. This would possibly be the best of both worlds and something that is flexible enough to handle all parties wishes. I know I would provide these two options. It is something to think about at least.а
 

koeran

New Member
Shattered Core Backer
#12
So my group and I just finished running through the sample module at the end of the playtest last night.

I ran initiative the way I mentioned in my previous post. аWith the most intimidating character in each group (PCs and enemies) rolling anаintimidate check, with a bonusаaccording to the number of allies they had, up to their charisma value. аThen having all members of each group roll their mental resolves versus the fear level their opponents set. аThen whoever passed their fear tests rolled initiative, and all the initiative values of each character were totaled for each side, with the side with the highest totalаgoing first. аWhich is as far as I can tell, is the way it's intended to work in the rules.

It was a lot of dice rolls and I found it cumbersome and clunky to use. аAs a GM trying to keep track of the different fear reactions of all the PCs and enemies in my head was impossible. аYes I canаwrite notes, and I did for the enemies. аMy players kept track of their own fear reactions, so it was...okay. аBut still way more book-keeping and headspace that I'd want to allocate to an event that happens, essentiallyаbeforeаcombat even starts. аIt's effects also continued to confuse things further as we got into the first round or two.

а "Okay it's this guys turn, how many action points does he have now? аDid that fear effect last for one, or two rounds?"

That said we found that not many initiative rolls were being rolled at all, as both the enemies and the PCs failed their fear tests more often than not. аThough that may reflect more on the random result of the dice rolls, or the particular combination of stats for the characters/enemies involved.

Even taking into account that my players and I aren't familiar with the system, it's still the slowest to implement (at the table) initiative system in any game system I've ever played. аWhich is pretty bad considering initiative is the quick thing you do to organize things so you can get to stuck into the fun of actually playing through a combat.

My players found that it simply wasn't fun. аIt's not fun when more often than not your character either can't act, or can only act at a reduced capacity for the first turn or two of combat. аAs a GM, I liked the safety net of the enemies also having reduced capacity, so I felt like I had some capacity to cut the PCs some slack and reduce the lethality of the encounters. аBut at the end of that day, that capability is moot if the players aren't enjoying the game. аI'll also mention that I completely forgot to add the critical failure effect for any of the fear rolls also. аThe fear effects the PCs and enemies were suffering should've been worse than what I applied in several instances. аWhich only would've reduced my players fun even further.

I also feel that using a Fear test at the start of each and every encounter cheapens the mechanic. аWhen the players encounter an enemy that's truly terrifying, then the only way to get that impact across is to drastically up their intimidation capability. аWhich will logically result in the more PCs failing the fear tests, or failing them by higher degrees and getting slaughtered as they can't act as they freeze in fear, and the entire enemy group gets the drop on them.
 

NKdotzip

Administrator
Staff member
INDE Staff
#13
Wow, that is some great input. Hurts a little bit to hear that it wasn't an enjoyable experience, but I'm sure we can find a way to fix that. Do you think it would be enough to remove the fear check from the start of combat, or do you feel something more drastic is needed? Either way, I'll be bringing this up with everyone tonight to address.

Thanks Again for all of your help and input,

zip
 

NKdotzip

Administrator
Staff member
INDE Staff
#14
Looking over the way the fear check at the start of combat was written, I think our intent wasаfor players not to contribute to initiative if they failed the check, but would not suffer any fear reactions. I believe it was supposed to reflect a sort of hesitation before charging headlong into combat.а

However, even if that is the case, you're still rolling a lot of dice before combat even starts. And that is something I want to make sure gets remedied.
 
#15
I still think that the fear and intimidation aspects to initiativeаroles should be dependent on the situation or the monster(s) involved. It may be worth it to give some creatures the fear ability that is included in the initiative. In the Shattered world there is already a lot of crazy stuff going on that would be common place for most, like zombies wandering around outside of pulse. So while some things would be unsettling no matter how much you witnessed them, like someone dying in front of you, its still not a going to instill fear in you unless the method in which theаdeathаwas so horrificаQuentin Tarantino said to tone it down a little.а
 

NKdotzip

Administrator
Staff member
INDE Staff
#16
I had an idea that is playing off of some of the idea that have been thrown around thus far. Haven't passed it by the rest of the team yet, so this is nothing official.

а

I'll describe how it works for players, but this would also apply to enemies.

Players and Enemies have a designated "leader".а

Eachаleader rolls a 1d8 (or possibly a 1d10).

If the player's/opponent's (excluding the leader) perception is greater than the result of the opposing leader's roll, their Perception is added to their leader's perception.

The highest total Perception wins.

а

Initially, this has 2 selling points that I can think of.

1.) This places more importance on putting ranks into Perception.аWe want to avoid having a dump stats if possible, some are obviously more weighted than others, but if you choose not to level something, we want you to be missing out on something as well, this will help reinforce that a bit since there's not a lot of weight to Perception as it stands.

2.) This also makes the initiative balancing between 4-5 players and mass numbers of opponents simpler since this process will generally weed out weaker enemies.

а

Let me know what you guys think.

-zip
 

Harradrush

New Member
Shattered Core Backer
#17
Eachаleader rolls a 1d8 (or possibly a 1d10).

If the player's/opponent's (excluding the leader) perception is greater than the result of the opposing leader's roll, their Perception is added to their leader's perception.

The highest total Perception wins.
Looks good. A single die is a bit too random for my tastes (I'd rather 2d4 or even 3d4-2) but overall I like it. It also greatly speeds up initiative calculation.
 

koeran

New Member
Shattered Core Backer
#18
NKdotzip said
Wow, that is some great input. Hurts a little bit to hear that it wasn't an enjoyable experience, but I'm sure we can find a way to fix that. Do you think it would be enough to remove the fear check from the start of combat, or do you feel something more drastic is needed? Either way, I'll be bringing this up with everyone tonight to address.

Thanks Again for all of your help and input,

zip
I'd definitely remove the fear check from the start of combat, and reserve it for special circumstances, such as when facing a particularly fearsome enemy, like an Elder Dragon or Lich for example. аAnd even then I'd only make it a fear test based on the single enemy, not the entire group. аEssentially, give the truly scary enemies a Fear Rating applied as a UC.

I also think the Fear Reactions are too harsh. аThe first reaction, Gasp, halves their Action points, leaving them with 2 (after rounding down). аThe second, Hyperventilating, drops them to 2 AP for two turns. аThe third, Terrified, they can't act for the first round and get 1 Insanity Point.

With Gasp being so harsh, you almost have nowhere to go from there. аTo the point that Hyperventilating feels very sameish, and Terrified could be considered better than Hyperventilating, as you get 5 AP across the two turns, rather than 4. аNo Force in Sin or Sand, is just bad. аIt might be appropriate setting wise for a fear effect to be capable of outright killing someone, but at the end of the day that falls into a "Save or Die" mechanic. аWhich are the single worst game mechanic you can ever apply. аYou never want a characters life to hang in the balance of a single die roll. аUnless, perhaps, they've put themselves in that position by being really, really, stupid (Such as a PC in one game that I ran that pretty much just jumped off a cliff by their own accord (fortunately the falling damage didn't quite kill them)).

I'm also apprehensive about group initiative. аI like the idea of splitting actions between characters so they can co-ordinate better. аBut the idea of each side completing all their actions before the other seems like it'll make combats very unbalanced. аParticularly when the PCs are facing off against groups of enemies that are more numerous than them.
 

NKdotzip

Administrator
Staff member
INDE Staff
#19
Looks good. A single die is a bit too random for my tastes (I'd rather 2d4 or even 3d4-2) but overall I like it. It also greatly speeds up initiative calculation.
That's a good call Harradush, it definitely would give more consistent results.

I'd definitely remove the fear check from the start of combat, and reserve it for special circumstances, such as when facing a particularly fearsome enemy, like an Elder Dragon or Lich for example. аAnd even then I'd only make it a fear test based on the single enemy, not the entire group. аEssentially, give the truly scary enemies a Fear Rating applied as a UC.
We came to a similar conclusion last night. Initiative, in whatever form that ultimately takes, will take place before any fear checks are made, and such fear checks would be reserved for Lords, Remnants and Masterminds.

I can see your point about the early fear reactions being a little too similar. But in regards to "No Force in Sin or Sand", we'll have to agree to disagree. From the very beginning, the world of Shattered was intended to be dangerous and lethal. That sentiment translated into the rules where you might have to roll up a new character. In fact, I would argue that you should be prepared for it. I personally feel that changing that would be a disservice to the world we are creating.

Now that said, none of the rules we have written are set in stone without your consent as the GM. If there is something you don't like, change it. Furthermore, if it works well for you and your group, we encourage you to write about it and share it so others can use it if they feel the same way.

-zipа
 

south2012

New Member
Shattered Core Backer
#20
Little bit of background:

I am used to playing RPGs with relatively high number of PCs. My average group is 5-6 players and a DM, which we are currently playing Pathfinder.а

With large groups of players, I have found that all of them fighting a single opponent is frustrating as a DM because 90% of the time is the players attacking and the single villain does very little. This means that with larger PC groups I have to have them fight another group of baddies. So if I have 6 players and 10 baddies, initiative is really frustrating to keep track of. We ended up just making a house rule that for the first round of combat, all players would roll initiative, then I as a DM would role a single dice for the baddies and add the initiative bonuses for each. Any players who got higher than the baddies could do stuff, and those who can't don't get a chance to move. After the PCs who succeeded on initiative go, the baddies all go. Then all players go, usually in clockwise order the way they are sitting at the table unless they are planning something strategic.а

This method results in the DM only having to keep track of a single dice roll, and there is no "wait, do I go before you? I am pretty sure that she went after me last time" discussion which bogs down the game. It works really well for my current group.

Because of my previous experiences, I really like the current initiate system. It smooths out the start of combat and doesn't bog down the game with pointless numbers and doesn't confuse players. I think that the whole style ofаPC's: Go! Now the monsters attack! PC's turn again! makes it easier for players and also prevents the DM from tearing out his/her hair in frustration as they try to figure out which orc is next while the one of the PCs complain that their turn was skipped.а

а

So to summarize, the less complicated the initiative, the better. I like the current system.
 
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