Group Initiative (Optional Rule)
Some people believe that using a single initiative roll for everyone on the
same side is too unrealistic. It is, admittedly, a simplification, a way to keep
down the number of die rolls required in a single round, allowing for much
faster combat. However, the actions of different characters, the types of weapons
they use, and the situation can all be factors in determining initiative.
Using this optional method, one initiative die roll is still made for each
side in the fight. However, more modifiers are applied to this roll, according to
the actions of individual characters. These modifiers are listed on Table 56.
Some of the modifiers depend on ability, spell, and weapon. Characters casting
spells (but not monsters using innate abilities) must add the spellcasting
time to the die roll. Characters attacking with weapons add the weapons' speed
factors to the die roll (see the equipment lists in Chapter 6: Money and Equipment). All other modifiers are applied according
to each individual's situation.
In the second round of the combat, the DM decides to use the modified group
initiative. Rath is surrounded by trolls and not in the best of health. The rest
of the party has yet to close with the monsters.
The DM decides that one troll will continue attacking Rath, with the help of
the orcs, while the other trolls move to block reinforcements. In particular,
the troll burned by the acid arrow is looking for revenge. The DM then turns to
the players for their actions.
Players (all at once): “I'm going to...” “Is he going?...” “I'm casting a...”
DM (shouting): “One at a time! Rath?”
Harry: “I'll blow my horn of blasting.”
DM: “It'll take time to dig it out.”
Harry: “I don't care, I'm doing it.”
Jon: “Draw my sword and attack one of the trolls!”
Anne (not paying attention to the other two): “Cast a fireball.”
Harry and Jon: “NO! DON'T!”
DM: “Well, is that what you're doing? Quickly!”
Anne: “No. I'll cast a haste spell! Centered on me, so Rupert and Rath are
just at the edge.”
DM: “Okay. Harry, roll initiative and everyone modify for your actions.”
Harry rolls 1d10 and gets a 6. The DM rolls for the monsters and gets a 5.
Each person's initiative is modified as follows:
Rath is using a miscellaneous magical item (modifier +3). His modified
initiative is 9 (6+3=9).
Rupert is using a bastard sword +1 with two hands (weapon speed 7 instead of 8 because of the +1). His modified
initiative is 13 (6+7=13).
Delsenora is casting a spell (haste spell, casting time 3). Her modified initiative is the same as Rath's, 9.
The trolls are attacking with their claws and bites (large creatures attacking
with natural weapons +6). Their modified initiative is 11 (5+6=11).
The orcs are using long swords (weapon speed 5). Their modified initiative is
10 (5 + 5 = 10).
After all modified initiatives are figured, the combat round goes as follows:
Delsenora (initiative 9) completes her spell at the same time that Rath (9)
brings the house down on the orcs with his horn of blasting.
The orcs (initiative 10) would have gone next, but all of them have been
crushed under falling rock.
The three trolls (initiative 11) are unfazed and attack, one at Rath and the
other two springing forward, hitting Delsenora and missing Rupert.
Finally, Rupert (initiative 13) strikes back. He moved too slowly to block one
troll's path to Delsenora, but manages to cut off the second. Things look very
grim for the player characters.
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