Initiative Dilemma?

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Longman
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Re: Initiative Dilemma?

Post Mon May 16, 2016 8:55 pm

"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 exact wording of the core rules indicates that this option is only available to player characters and not monsters. :)

Also - the core rules don't actually say that people have to specify exactly what they are doing at the beginning of the round - or even in a situation of tied initiative. Therefore, a spell-caster who was hit on his or her initiative number is under no obligation to actually say he or she was intending to cast a spell on that number. Therefore, the problem would never actually arise.

Unless you add in some additional information of your own, saying that the magic user has to specify whether he or she is casting a spell, regardless of whether they are about to be attacked.

Which would be adding to the core rules and therefore a houserule. Right? ;)
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Re: Initiative Dilemma?

Post Mon May 16, 2016 10:26 pm

Rhialto wrote: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.
Hah. You're looking at it too simply.

Yes, the fighter has an incentive to hold off and try to spoil the wizard's spell... but the fighter also knows that (a) this guy is puny, and (b) he's got no armor. If you kill him NOW, he's not going to cast any spells anyway. And since you don't know until his number comes up whether he's going to cast, stab you, throw poison in your eyes, or something else entirely, you have to consider your options carefully.

We have these rules because, logically, casting a spell takes enough time that it should be possible to spoil the casting. In games from the 1E era, casting a spell could take substantially longer than a single initiative count, and yes, spell casters are played differently in such a game.

Note that using a wand or staff is different; you speak a single word to do so, and thus such magic cannot be effectively spoiled.
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Solomoriah
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Re: Initiative Dilemma?

Post Mon May 16, 2016 10:28 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.
Actually, had I thought about this when I wrote that rule, I would have done it this way.
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Solomoriah
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Re: Initiative Dilemma?

Post Mon May 16, 2016 10:30 pm

Longman wrote:The exact wording of the core rules indicates that this option is only available to player characters and not monsters. :)
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Longman
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Re: Initiative Dilemma?

Post Mon May 16, 2016 11:17 pm

I'm gonna get killed!
gorkowskij
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Re: Initiative Dilemma?

Post Tue May 17, 2016 3:20 am

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.
This is a classic case of the need to use “ceteris paribus” or “all other things held constant” a centuries old convention in discussion/debate, so that we can focus on the relationship between two core variables: initiative order and spell casting. There are an infinite number of other “what ifs” that could surround those variables, but for our discussion we have to discount them because all of them could be countered by additional “what ifs” and so on and so forth. Therefore, for our discussion, we should consider all those other variables mutually negating. For example, if you say, "Isn't the party using a choke point to defend the spell caster?" One could counter, "There is no choke point because they are in a wide open space."

When you boil away all those "what ifs" you're left with the initiative dilemma.
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Re: Initiative Dilemma?

Post Tue May 17, 2016 7:20 am

Yes, the fighter has an incentive to hold off and try to spoil the wizard's spell... but the fighter also knows that (a) this guy is puny, and (b) he's got no armor. If you kill him NOW, he's not going to cast any spells anyway. And since you don't know until his number comes up whether he's going to cast, stab you, throw poison in your eyes, or something else entirely, you have to consider your options carefully.
OK, let’s all maintain our good sense of humor and take his one step further.

But if the fighter wins initiative and considers his options carefully, given the way the initiative rules are written and “ceteris paribus” (keeping all else constant) the optimal path is to strike the Wizard on the Wizard’s initiative number because that option delivers everything available via an earlier strike and could also spoil a spell. An earlier strike, on the Fighter’s higher initiative number, because it did not occur on the Wizard’s initiative number, could not spoil the spell unless it got a kill. In other words, the earlier strike must kill to spoil a spell whereas the later strike need only take place: hit, miss, or kill. So the later strike yields more net benefit.

A Wizard’s failure to cast does NOT deter this strategy. The fighter could simply key his strike to the Wizard’s initiative number. If the Wizard drops to 1, then the Fighter can strike then to avoid wasting the round – and still spoil any spell – because that’s the last possible initiative number on which the Wizard could cast and any cast concurrent with a strike fails.

Both paths result in the Wizard suffering an attack, but the delay by the Fighter ensures that he will foil (or suppress) any spell. This you-can-drop-your-number situation in conjunction with auto-spell-spoil creates a heat seeking missile situation where the attacker is compelled to key on the spell caster - ceteris paribus.

And, we have to keep all else constant. Why, because if you say, “If the Fighter waits then the Wizard’s Dwarf buddy could attack and kill the Fighter before he strikes.” Then I could counter, “What if the Fighter’s Elf buddy kills the Dwarf before he can strike the Fighter.”

I feel like that guy in Princess Bride.
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SmootRK
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Re: Initiative Dilemma?

Post Tue May 17, 2016 7:41 am

I think that if your players are specifically exploiting this then you should create whichever houserule corrects the problem in your game.

This has only ever been a minor quibble in any game that I have dealt with personally. Yes, it has occurred, and I have mitigated it with minor houserule type judgements, as identified earlier in the thread. I call them "judgements" because I have not even bothered to write these down as official House Rules (which I do keep such a document for my personal games). It just occurs so rarely; but then I do not play with powergamer types regularly. My gaming style and powergamer-types just don't mesh too well and we generally part quickly (and amicably, both realizing that we are not a correct fit).

Point being, BFRPG is easily houseruled and modifiable to suit anyone's particular taste. I change whatever I feel, whenever I feel it, to suit my game... much to the dismay of harsh traditionalists, rule lawyer types, and so forth. I like being able to mold things in my own manner.
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Tree Ant
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Re: Initiative Dilemma?

Post Tue May 17, 2016 4:06 pm

gorkowskij wrote:
But if the fighter wins initiative and considers his options carefully, given the way the initiative rules are written and “ceteris paribus” (keeping all else constant) the optimal path is to strike the Wizard on the Wizard’s initiative number because that option delivers everything available via an earlier strike and could also spoil a spell. An earlier strike, on the Fighter’s higher initiative number, because it did not occur on the Wizard’s initiative number, could not spoil the spell unless it got a kill. In other words, the earlier strike must kill to spoil a spell whereas the later strike need only take place: hit, miss, or kill. So the later strike yields more net benefit.

Indeed, but all this proves is that it is a bad idea to cast with a fighter in your face, which I think is within the design principle of that rule. The mage should consider doing something other than casting a spell if he is in a position to be easily attacked and loses initiative.

E.g. wand/staff/scroll/run like hell/or whatever the non-abstract situation requires.

I concede that the caster would be shut down for that round, and should consider doing something else in that class of scenarios.
There are many cases where a mage shouldn't attempt to cast.

The written initiative rules and a group's specific interpretations will tend to have an impact on tactical choices holding all other things equal. I am afraid I am missing the dilemma.
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Re: Initiative Dilemma?

Post Tue May 17, 2016 5:02 pm

Tree Ant wrote:Indeed, but all this proves is that it is a bad idea to cast with a fighter in your face, which I think is within the design principle of that rule. The mage should consider doing something other than casting a spell if he is in a position to be easily attacked and loses initiative.
This. Right here. This is why the rule works this way. It is NOT a dilemma, it is a fact of life... casting spells in the middle of combat is not guaranteed to be easy, or even doable. The wizard's comrades must support him (or her, or it) if they want to benefit from the magic.

Any time a single fighter faces a single magic-user, the magic-user has done something wrong. He should not find himself in that position, if he's playing right.
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