posted Saturday, March 3rd 2012 by
Dungeon Mastering Advice
Here’s a house rule I use in a play-by-forum D&D game. I think it speeds up combat a lot, and I’m interested in hearing how well it works for other groups.
Make a single initiative roll for the opponents’ side. Use the initiative modifier of the opponents’ leader or whoever has the highest initiative modifier.
Make individual initiative rolls for each player character. On a forum game, the DM can make all the initiative rolls to save time.
First, any PCs who beat the opponent in the initiative take a turn. They can act in any order.
Next, all the opponents take their turns.
Next, all the PCs take their turn, even PCs who acted before the initiative. Again, they can act in any order. Once all PCs have taken their turn, the opponents take their turn, and so on.
On a forum game especially, you don’t have to wait for the person ahead of you in initiative order. Waiting is a bottleneck. When a player is ready to take his turn, you don’t want to make him wait, or he might not be ready when his turn comes up.
Characters with high initiative bonuses are still valuable, because they get a bonus turn at the start of each combat. This is really what happens anyway in normal initiative.
A character can wait for an ally to coordinate their attacks in the same turn. For example, a fighter can wait for the cleric to heal him before he attacks.
The enemies all get their turn before any PCs can react. This can be dangerous if they gang up on one target.
Certain rules expect normal initiative, and you’ll have to improvise. For example, some D&D 4e monsters take extra actions ahead of their normal initiative count.
What’s your experience with group initiative rules?