Initiative Dilemma?

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gorkowskij
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Re: Initiative Dilemma?

Post Mon May 16, 2016 3:30 pm

This also assumes that the GM is not ever rolling group initiative, and that the enemies are ignoring at least two other players.
Not so. Even when rolling group initiative, the winning side could still target the enemy spell caster. To be sure, group initiative reduces the chance the caster will lose initiative because you are rolling fewer dice. Without group initiative, a caster is almost certain to fall behind at least one of the enemy in initiative order. And, you need not ignore the two other players. When it's three versus two + spell caster then the highest initiative among the three attacks the spell caster and the remaining two of three attack the other two. So you still target everyone.

Spell casters are uniquely vulnerable because to foil their spell you need only attack them on their initiative number. And, since you can always demote your place in the initiative order if you beat or tie the caster you can get him. You can miss, and still ruin his spell. If you hit, congrats you take a chunk out of the caster. So attacking a caster offers a HUGE payoff with no more downside than attacking anyone else. Think about it, under the exact same circumstances, merely swinging or shooting at another non-spell caster does not ruin his attack.

That's the core issue. The zigs and zags of combat do not negate this since they apply equally to everyone and can be countered.
Tree Ant
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Re: Initiative Dilemma?

Post Mon May 16, 2016 4:06 pm

Clever_Munkey wrote:
Rhialto wrote:You forgot condition 3: the opponent(s) must be in a position to attack the spell caster.
So it is not quite as bad, unless there are a lot of enemies with missile weapons (which also need an actual hit to disrupt).

What I don't like about the RAW is that it means a single melee fighter up against a spellcaster has an incentive not to attack if he wins initiative.
That is counter-intuitive to me.
Technically, in the rules as written a ranged attack does not need to hit.
Odd, I've never noticed that before. I have always interpreted ranged has to hit, but melee only swing. If someone is shooting at a caster through hard cover and getting nowhere close it should not disrupt the spell.
Last edited by Tree Ant on Mon May 16, 2016 4:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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SmootRK
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Re: Initiative Dilemma?

Post Mon May 16, 2016 4:15 pm

Tree Ant wrote:
Clever_Munkey wrote:
Rhialto wrote:You forgot condition 3: the opponent(s) must be in a position to attack the spell caster.
So it is not quite as bad, unless there are a lot of enemies with missile weapons (which also need an actual hit to disrupt).

What I don't like about the RAW is that it means a single melee fighter up against a spellcaster has an incentive not to attack if he wins initiative.
That is counter-intuitive to me.
Technically, in the rules as written a ranged attack does not need to hit.
Odd, I've never noticed that before. I have always interpreted ranged has to hit, but melee only strike. If someone is shooting at a caster through hard cover and getting nowhere close it should not disrupt the spell.
Yes, odd. I can understand being in toe-to-toe melee dodging and such making spellcasting difficult, but I do not see the point on ranged attacks that miss... the caster might not even be aware of an arrow or bolt that zips by and misses hitting him; I hardly see how that should disrupt the casting of a spell.
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Tree Ant
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Re: Initiative Dilemma?

Post Mon May 16, 2016 5:05 pm

gorkowskij wrote:
Spell casters are uniquely vulnerable because to foil their spell you need only attack them on their initiative number. And, since you can always demote your place in the initiative order if you beat or tie the caster you can get him. You can miss, and still ruin his spell. If you hit, congrats you take a chunk out of the caster. So attacking a caster offers a HUGE payoff with no more downside than attacking anyone else. Think about it, under the exact same circumstances, merely swinging or shooting at another non-spell caster does not ruin his attack.

That's the core issue. The zigs and zags of combat do not negate this since they apply equally to everyone and can be countered.
Getting at the core of the issue (and ignoring the previously mentioned ranged attack issue). It sucks to be a magic-user in melee combat. Protect your group's caster!

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Clever_Munkey
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Re: Initiative Dilemma?

Post Mon May 16, 2016 5:11 pm

Tree Ant wrote: Odd, I've never noticed that before. I have always interpreted ranged has to hit, but melee only swing. If someone is shooting at a caster through hard cover and getting nowhere close it should not disrupt the spell.
SmootRK wrote: Yes, odd. I can understand being in toe-to-toe melee dodging and such making spellcasting difficult, but I do not see the point on ranged attacks that miss... the caster might not even be aware of an arrow or bolt that zips by and misses hitting him; I hardly see how that should disrupt the casting of a spell.
Which is why I make the exception in my games, but the rules as written don't specify a type of attack: "If a spellcaster is attacked (even if not hit)..."
gorkowskij wrote: When it's three versus two + spell caster then the highest initiative among the three attacks the spell caster and the remaining two of three attack the other two. So you still target everyone.
As Rhialto and many others have said, this assumes every enemy is equally capable of attacking the caster. I find this unlikely, especially if the caster is purposely avoiding combat. Another thing to consider: If the enemies are split equally (everyone is attacked once) then they aren't working together to bring down a different threat e.g. the fighter is only getting attacked once per round.

An Example:
The caster loses to the enemy initiative one enemy decides to wait to disrupt a spell (that might never be cast). The other party members receive their attacks (hit or miss they probably survive). The caster decides that they will wait until after their team has gone. Their teammates probably kill the one enemy that is delaying, and the caster fires the spell. Now the caster can't be disrupted right? Right. But only if the players know that the enemy is delaying to interrupt the spell, i.e. they were told why the enemy was waiting. On the other hand: With incomplete information the caster is faced with the decision of risking losing a spell, or taking a (significantly?) less effective action.

Anyway, nothing in the rules prevents the GM (or the players for that matter) from withholding what their initiative roll is as long as they don't go before their initiative number is called. Is the combatant slow on the draw, or giving a false opening? It becomes very hard for people to power/meta game if they don't have complete information.
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Blazeguard
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Re: Initiative Dilemma?

Post Mon May 16, 2016 5:59 pm

Tree Ant wrote: Odd, I've never noticed that before. I have always interpreted ranged has to hit, but melee only swing. If someone is shooting at a caster through hard cover and getting nowhere close it should not disrupt the spell.
SmootRK wrote: Yes, odd. I can understand being in toe-to-toe melee dodging and such making spellcasting difficult, but I do not see the point on ranged attacks that miss... the caster might not even be aware of an arrow or bolt that zips by and misses hitting him; I hardly see how that should disrupt the casting of a spell.
Now that you mention it, I'd never noticed that before either. I would have the spellcaster make an ability check against Wisdom to see whether they are able to keep their focus on casting the spell or not.
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gorkowskij
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Re: Initiative Dilemma?

Post Mon May 16, 2016 6:05 pm

As Rhialto and many others have said, this assumes every enemy is equally capable of attacking the caster. I find this unlikely, especially if the caster is purposely avoiding combat.
This is why I said the zigs and zags of the combat are not a factor to consider. We can all dream up an infinite number of possible scenarios to negate what the other guy said. For example, what if the monsters out number the PCs, or are attacking from the flank, or can fly, or all have bows, or all have darts (perhaps in their tails like Manticore) or have move rates that enable them to outrun PCs? What if the caster's retreat path is barred? The list of "circumstances" is infinite and any hypothetical pro could be countered by a hypothetical con and vice versa.

What's constant and irrefutable is the likelihood of some one on the other side getting a higher initiative number than the caster. If you use individual initiative (the norm in the rules as written) then the likelihood of that increases with the size of the parties involved. When that does happen in the face of intelligent opponents, the caster is shut down. Here's where we have to refer to my first paragraph. If at this point you argue, "No because 'my' circumstance would prevent that," one can counter argue, "Yes because 'my' circumstance would trump yours." That could go on forever in an endless loop of hypotheticals. But, on the other hand, the primacy of initiative order over casting is not hypothetical.

None of this requires knowing what the other side is doing. When your (or the monster's) initiative number is called, if the caster has not gone yet, then you (or the monster) simply say, "I'm attacking the caster on his number (even though you don't know what it is)."

The practical impact of this is that it's extremely difficult for Magic Users to use spells when they are within range of enemy weapons (a common event in this game). A short bow can fire out to 150 whereas a Magic User needs to be 10th level for his lightening bolt to have that same range. In the ubiquitous "dungeon" setting, 50 feet is a long way; a foe in light armor can run that distance to strike with a melee weapon in the same round. So getting beyond the range of enemy weapons is no easy task.
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Re: Initiative Dilemma?

Post Mon May 16, 2016 7:05 pm

I think its a valid option and that maybe its been overthought, not every intelligent opponent will know that a pn or npc is a magic user and not everyone will use the disruption method, some might not even know about it, after a tactic is used over and over the GM or the players will adapt to it, plus, waiting to disrupt a spell is not always the best action a character can opt to do. The game may have more exploitable rules, maybe the best solution if one does not want to house-rule is to learn to solve it in play.

A MU's player will rarely know that an opponent is holding his init, there's no need to call out the init numbers beforehand.
A GM must judge the tactics of his creatures to make combat interesting and not fall into loopholes for his benefit.
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Tree Ant
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Re: Initiative Dilemma?

Post Mon May 16, 2016 7:48 pm

gorkowskij wrote:
As Rhialto and many others have said, this assumes every enemy is equally capable of attacking the caster. I find this unlikely, especially if the caster is purposely avoiding combat.
This is why I said the zigs and zags of the combat are not a factor to consider. We can all dream up an infinite number of possible scenarios to negate what the other guy said.

What's constant and irrefutable is the likelihood of some one on the other side getting a higher initiative number than the caster.
Honestly the zigs and zags of combat are how combat works in practice. Examining how something works in a spherical vacuum means very little in how the game plays.

Good player tactics should be able to protect your caster most of the time, and if you can't it's time to consider a retreat.

As a historical military analogy, the MU is your artillery, and the fighters are your infantry. Without infantry support, the artillery will be quickly overrun. Without the artillery the infantry might have a chance, but it's going to be a heck of a lot harder for them.

Is this purely theoretical, or is this a major pain point for your group?
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Clever_Munkey
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Re: Initiative Dilemma?

Post Mon May 16, 2016 7:58 pm

gorkowskij wrote: This is why I said the zigs and zags of the combat are not a factor to consider. We can all dream up an infinite number of possible scenarios to negate what the other guy said. For example, what if the monsters out number the PCs, or are attacking from the flank, or can fly, or all have bows, or all have darts (perhaps in their tails like Manticore) or have move rates that enable them to outrun PCs? What if the caster's retreat path is barred? The list of "circumstances" is infinite and any hypothetical pro could be countered by a hypothetical con and vice versa.
I agree. But in the game the pros and cons are not hypothetical so the zigs and zags do matter. The fact that there are infinite situations where a caster can be shut down, and infinite situations where a caster can't be shut down, and infinite situations where it could go either way means that the rule isn't abusable, and not really an issue. Anyway as a fair GM there should be a mixture of situations. The situations where the caster can't use spells are the ones where the rest of the team should step up, and make space.

gorkowskij wrote: If you use individual initiative (the norm in the rules as written) then the likelihood of that increases with the size of the parties involved.
The rules as written say the GM may make single rolls for groups of identical monsters at his or her option. If that doesn't make it part of the norm then I don't know what does.

gorkowskij wrote: None of this requires knowing what the other side is doing. When your (or the monster's) initiative number is called, if the caster has not gone yet, then you (or the monster) simply say, "I'm attacking the caster on his number (even though you don't know what it is).
If someone waits for an event that doesn't happen then their turn is wasted. That's the risk taken by delaying.

If the caster hasn't gone yet then the enemy still has choices:
1) Delay for the opportunity of disrupting a spell and risk wasting a turn
2) Make an attack/progress to a goal and risk having the caster use a spell.

If the caster gets to act, but the enemies haven't acted yet (whether initiative was won or not might be unknown to the caster) then the choices are:
1) Cast a spell and risk having it disrupted,
2) Delay until all enemies have acted and risk getting attacked and possibly killed, or wasting a turn because someone else delayed.
3) Do something else that brings them closer to their goal, and risk getting attacked by someone who delayed.

Everyone still has these choices whether you use group initiative or not, but knowing what the other's actions will be is important.

If Choice A is objectively better than Choice B, then there is no choice. The cost of a wasted turn should not be underestimated. That's what makes these choices, and choices are what make games like this fun.
gorkowskij wrote: The practical impact of this is that it's extremely difficult for Magic Users to use spells when they are within range of enemy weapons (a common event in this game). A short bow can fire out to 150 whereas a Magic User needs to be 10th level for his lightening bolt to have that same range. In the ubiquitous "dungeon" setting, 50 feet is a long way; a foe in light armor can run that distance to strike with a melee weapon in the same round. So getting beyond the range of enemy weapons is no easy task.
Is the party not using a choke point? Is the caster not near the back? Are the fighter, thief, and any other characters between them unable to get parting shots on the enemy running through their ranks? There are plenty of ways to get out of range, and plenty of disincentives to running straight at the caster, not the least of which is making a fun game. People don't always act optimally especially under stress, this should be reflected in their roles not just their rolls.

This thread started because you found a specific situation where the caster cannot be disrupted even on low initiative. Now we've found a specific situation where they cannot act except on high initiative. Most situations will be somewhere in between so it's not really a problem. Regardless the focus should be on creating situations with interesting choices. Without choice the game is really just a subpar story time.
Last edited by Clever_Munkey on Mon May 16, 2016 9:45 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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