Sample Initiative

Monster Hunter SwordAfter taking some additional time to ruminate on my three requirements for an initiative system, I decided to take a stab at making an initiative system specifically with those three requirements in mind. Something which maximized excitement, without requiring too much time or attention from the players.

Players roll initiative individually, based on the speed of the weapon they are using. Most weapons, and any character who is not using weapons, roll 1d6 for their initiative. Characters using slow weapons, such as the sword pictured, roll 1d4 for their initiative. While characters using fast weapons, such as rapiers, loaded loaded crossbows, or daggers, roll 1d8 for their initiative. Slow, Average, and Fast weapons align nicely with the great, medium, and small/minor weapons in Lamentations of the Flame Princess.

There are no modifiers to these rolls. However, characters roll their initiative die a number of times equal to their dexterity bonus or penalty (with a minimum of 1 die rolled). If the character has a bonus, they take the best result of the dice they rolled, and drop the rest. If the character has a dexterity penalty, they do the opposite. Using only the worst result.

So a fellow with a -2 dexterity modifier wielding a Zweihänder would roll 2d4, and whichever result was lower would be their initiative. Meanwhile, a fellow with +2 dexterity wielding a dagger would roll 2d8 and take whichever result was higher as their initiative. Characters with initiatives of 1, -1, and 0 would all roll only a single die.

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13 thoughts on “Sample Initiative”

  1. Interesting…I would argue that a character using bare hands should fall in the fast weapons category. Also, this means that no matter how dexterous a character is, their maximum bonus will always be determined by their weapon. I don’t know if that’s reasonable. Is an elf in the prime of his life with a bastard sword going to be slower than an old human using a short sword? Not sure, but I think further thought may be called for. I like the intent, though.

    1. You need to switch weapons on your turn, and switching weapons consumes part of your turn. So the weapon you have equipped determines your initiative this round, and if you switch on that turn, then your next initiative will be rolled at the new weapon’s speed.

  2. That is the dumbest looking weapon I have ever seen. I hate when fantasy artists give skinny female characters huge weapons. Not that whatever that thing is is probably human. But still.

    1. It’s from the Monster Hunter video game. The whole point of the game is to kill monsters, and turn their bones/leather/etc. into weapons and armor.

    2. Nah, in Monster Hunter you have choices ranging from huge and slow Greatswords (like that awesome Daimyo Hermitaur GS in that picture above) to tiny deftly dicing Dual Swords (pretty sure there were some Shogun Ceanataur ones too).

      According to the (minimal) in-game lore presented, humans (I think they’re human, maybe Monster Hunters are partial-Wyverians?) are given basic training by the Hunter’s Guild in the use of all Guild-approved monster hunting weapons and armour, as well as introductions to alchemy and decorations (in later games) to further their cause. I’d assume that since there are things like the Demondrug (said to lend the strength of a god) that attaining beyond-human levels of strength (like those needed to wield such huge weapons against such powerful foes) wouldn’t be all that difficult.

      tl/dr = The rules of MH be different from ours, yo.

  3. I still don’t really see what an initiative system is adding to the mix.

    You say “maximize excitement”, but to my mind, initiative only matters in the first round. Unless a first-round kill happens, the “order” gets pretty mushy.

    Sure, in the first round, it’s ABCD, but after a few rounds, who’s to say if the order is ABCD, BCDA, CDAB, etc.

    So really, it’s adding stats and die rolls and consuming mental energy for a system that is not practically different from no initiative, or arbitrary initiative (such as “clockwise at the table”).

    1. I’m kinda surprised you don’t see how this can be exciting. When the players are hit really hard by a monster, they roll initiative, only to discover that the monster gets to go AGAIN before they’ll have a chance to kill it / run from it?

      That’s terrifying.

      Then there are the times when the party gets to act twice in a row before the monster does. Those are empowering.

      1. The problem is that you didn’t make it clear that initiative is re-rolled each round.

        With that clarification, I think it’s a pretty solid system, although I’m still worried about changing order each turn taking too much time.

        How would you handle ties?

  4. As someone coming from both Shadowrun and DnD backgrounds I have to admit I enjoy the idea of initiative changing each round (SR style) as opposed to being static through any one fight (barring refocusing, DnD/PF style).

    I never liked the idea of it going Party/Monsters, but rather the idea of each thing getting a roll each round to see how it reacts to the initialization of combat and each resulting round makes sense. Sometimes things are stunning, sometimes you wind up with a clarity of focus that’s excellent. In SR and DnD though, you get initiative modifiers to represent things that are always a part of your mental/physical state of readiness, be they Dex-bonuses, feats, or Wired Reflexes.

    Tying it into weapon use is also good (and works contextually with the Great Sword Monster Hunter up there) since bigger weapons can be cumbersome and take longer to get into position/ready. I’m curious how you’d handle dual-wielding (both in the case of two small weapons like daggers, or the classic sword and defending-dagger/main gauche approach), whether it’d be a function of whichever weapon were ‘heavier’ in terms of initiative dice, or if there’d be bonuses involved.

    Of course LotFP (which I haven’t had the pleasure of reading) might not allow for dual-wielding, rendering my question a moot point. Secondary question: assuming improvised weapons are allowed by the current game’s rules, what would my initiative dice be for attempting to wield a partially cooked haunch of beef? ;)

  5. This might be my first comment here so… I love your posts! Thank you.

    I like the idea behind this system but I feel that the idea of rolling multiple dice depending on Dex bonus could slow things down a tad, not much though.

    What about the following: Players roll weapon dmg dice and subtract their Dex bonus, lowest goes first. Natural attacks could roll 1d6(1d4?) + 1/size over med. Or perhaps even better the natural attacks’ dice depends on the size of the creature, 1d3 being the lowest for Small and under… 1d4 for med, 1d6 for large, 1d8 for huge, etc.

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