Initiative Dilemma?

General topics, including off-topic discussion, goes here.
Post Reply
gorkowskij
Posts: 25
Joined: Sun Nov 29, 2015 4:31 am

Initiative Dilemma?

Post Sun May 15, 2016 8:51 am

Comrades,

Love the game for its streamlined simplicity and that’s why I want to point out a hole in the initiative rules that invites the sort of complexity which runs contrary to this game’s theme. The way the initiative rules are now written, a savy spell caster can employ gamey brinksmanship to ensue his spells are never ruined during casting. The whole matter could be resolved by deleting the text which allows characters with a higher initiative number to delay acting until a lower number. Here are the relevant rule sections.

Page 15, Paragraph 2

If a spellcaster is attacked (even if not hit) or must make a saving throw (whether successful or not) on the Initiative number on which he or she is casting a spell, the spell is spoiled and lost. As a specific exception, two spell casters releasing their spells at each other on the same Initiative number will both succeed in their casting; one caster may disrupt another with a spell only if he or she has a better Initiative, and chooses to delay casting the spell until right before the other caster.

Page 44, Paragraph 4

As the GM counts down the Initiative numbers, each character or monster may act on his or her number. If desired, a combatant can choose to wait until a later number to act. If a player states that he or she is waiting for another character or monster to act, then the player character's action takes place on the same Initiative number as the creature he or she is waiting for. In this case, the player character's action is simultaneous with the creature waited for, just as if they had rolled the same number.

The Consequence:

If a spell caster loses initiative to someone else and that someone says that they will delay their attack to hit the caster on his number so as to ruin his spell then the caster, when his number comes up, can opt not to cast a spell and thereby avoid having it ruined. Instead, the caster can and should just wait until he wins the initiative and then cast. This happens for two reasons. One, there does not appear to be a requirement to declare actions before rolling for initiative (which is a good way of keeping the game simple). Two, being attacked on your initiative number ruins your spell regardless of that attack’s outcome (again a good way to keep things simple).

At first glance this may not seem like a problem, but it means that spells will never be ruined during casting since a targeted caster can always opt out of casting when targeted and just do something else. That in turn raises a host of questions about gamey foreknowledge of what the other guy is doing; not to mention this one, “If you are waiting for me to act, aren’t you in effect yielding the initiative to me?”

The problem gets even worse, when savy casters use these mechanics as bait. Imagine dueling magic users. One wins initiative with 6 and the other loses with 3. When the GM calls “6” the winner says, “I’m waiting for the loser to act and will then hit him with my spell ‘right before’ he acts.” Later, when the GM calls “3,” the loser says, “I’m acting on 1 this round.” Then the GM gets to 1 and the loser – knowing that the winner will ruin his spell if he casts – says, “I’m not doing anything this round.” What then? Does the winner’s spell go off on 1? I think so, but it’s an interesting question since he waited for someone who never acted. The very next round, the guy who rolled 3 wins with a 5 and therefore knows he is safe from interference and so the roles are reversed with one caster knowing he is safe from ruination and the other knowing he is doomed to ruination, no matter what.

The simple answer to avoid all this complexity is to just delete text which allows those with higher initiative numbers to act on lower numbers. You might instead allow people to “take 1” to represent their waiting, but allowing precise selections like, “I’ll attack him ‘right before’ he casts” creates the problems just cited.
User avatar
The Angry Monk
Posts: 108
Joined: Mon Dec 01, 2014 3:20 pm

Re: Initiative Dilemma?

Post Sun May 15, 2016 9:07 am

Interesting. And another reason why I dislike power gamers.
“It was written I should be loyal to the nightmare of my choice.”
User avatar
SmootRK
Posts: 3665
Joined: Sun Mar 08, 2009 10:03 am
Location: Colorado Springs, CO

Re: Initiative Dilemma?

Post Sun May 15, 2016 9:37 am

Spellcaster is being smart (and in the cast of MU it befits the high intelligence one should have).

Any spell caster that rolls low initiative should not really be wanting to cast spells unless he is well behind protection or otherwise shielded from attacks. Irrelevant should the caster be the higher initiative roller.

That said, it is perfectly reasonable that everyone declares actions prior to rolling initiative. I have played in such games, and it creates a bit of uncertainty in combats that is quite fun when it unfolds strangely... as it should because we are talking about decisions/choices/actions being done in very quick time frames where it would be quite reasonable to make the "wrong call" and flub up poorly. Just watch some football games where despite all the training and rehearsing and then something just goes gonzo and the whole thing turns chaotic.
Is it really the end, not some crazy dream?
Woe
Posts: 3953
Joined: Wed Jul 31, 2013 6:45 pm

Re: Initiative Dilemma?

Post Sun May 15, 2016 10:43 am

I usually have PCs (and monsters) declare their actions in reverse initiative order, then resolve in actual initiative order. This hampers the slower participants from gaming the system.
Freya HP 24/24 AC 16 (17 two weapons)
Kilian HP 20/20 AC 19 (18 no shield)
Talin HP 29 AC 16
Tiana HP 11 AC 12 SP 8/8
Fido HP 9/9 AC 16
Anna HP 12/12 AC 15 (19 defensively)
Bruce HP 20/20 AC 16 (15 no shield)

Red Oak map
Red Oak loot
User avatar
mTeasdale
Posts: 775
Joined: Sun Feb 02, 2014 4:46 pm
Location: Québec, Canada

Re: Initiative Dilemma?

Post Sun May 15, 2016 11:26 am

Personally, I make spellcasters declare the spell theyvare casting before everyone roll forinitiative. No declaraton, no spell. If the caster us hit or have to roll a ST before acting, the spell is lost. Its what I found to be the simpler rule to apply, and generally there is no arguing on the table when a PC spell can't be cast.

I mainly use group initiative these days though, as it speeds up the fights for us, but I bet it could work with individual initiative easily.
User avatar
Dimirag
Posts: 2305
Joined: Thu Oct 06, 2011 1:24 pm
Location: Buenos Aires (C.A.B.A.), Argentina
Contact:

Re: Initiative Dilemma?

Post Sun May 15, 2016 2:16 pm

If a caster must bait an opponent with delaying initiative probably the caster is in trouble, specially if he is a magic user.
The case of the caster making his opponent's by lowering his is a valid one, but you can always let the opponent act after the caster says he will do nothing.
Sorry for any misspelling or writing error, I am not a native English speaker
Drawing portfolio: https://www.instagram.com/martin.dimirag/
User avatar
Rhialto
Posts: 319
Joined: Sat Apr 02, 2016 7:28 am
Location: Germany, near Stuttgart

Re: Initiative Dilemma?

Post Sun May 15, 2016 4:20 pm

I have to admit that I also found the rules for spell disruption via delay confusing.
How is the situation described above supposed to play out?
Is a caster who lost initiative supposed to just not cast on that turn?

My gut feeling was to houserule this in the way stated by mTeasdale.
OTOH, I don't like changing rules before I have understood how they are supposed to work.
User avatar
SmootRK
Posts: 3665
Joined: Sun Mar 08, 2009 10:03 am
Location: Colorado Springs, CO

Re: Initiative Dilemma?

Post Sun May 15, 2016 4:27 pm

Another way that I have dealt with spellcasters, is that on any round where the spellcaster is hit prior to his turn the spell caster must successfully roll a save vs paralysis or be unable to cast the spell.

Though, to be a tad nicer about it, I did not make it a spoiled/wasted spell.
I cannot remember if I allowed alternate action though; I feel if I were using declared actions, I would make the caster lose his turn if the declared action was a spell.
Is it really the end, not some crazy dream?
gorkowskij
Posts: 25
Joined: Sun Nov 29, 2015 4:31 am

Re: Initiative Dilemma?

Post Sun May 15, 2016 4:42 pm

Wow! Thanks for all the feedback. The fact that there are so many perspectives on how to deal with this (and most of them are essentially house rules) underscores that there is an issue here. I still think the cleanest and simplest solution is to not allow players to act on an initiative number lower than the one they rolled. In other words, when it's your turn you act, or pass until next round.
User avatar
Dimirag
Posts: 2305
Joined: Thu Oct 06, 2011 1:24 pm
Location: Buenos Aires (C.A.B.A.), Argentina
Contact:

Re: Initiative Dilemma?

Post Sun May 15, 2016 5:17 pm

Solo and other members with better memory, correct me if I'm wrong please.
IIRC the spell disruption rules where added later at some point due to some talking here in the forum. So this kind of situation weren't thought beforehand.

I actually don't see it as a problem, those that have lost initiative always have the advantage of knowing what their opponents are doing but can suffer first or even die before acting.

I don't mind the possible stalemate due to lowering both characters' initiative, heck, I can even see using the disruption rule to cancel an opponent's attack, this kind of simulates when the fighters circle each other and time goes by...

When using one roll for all the encounter holding initiative becomes a more relevant action as it will lower your init number for the rest of the encounter.
Sorry for any misspelling or writing error, I am not a native English speaker
Drawing portfolio: https://www.instagram.com/martin.dimirag/
Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 20 guests