Monday, March 22, 2021

Initiatve in D&D from original to 3E

Following up from the last post on initiative here is a quick analysis of Initiative resolution from Original to 3rd edition Dungeons and Dragons. A lot of the picky details have been misunderstood, argued about and mostly ignored for years, they are all full of edge cases and exceptions that can complicate resolution of who goes first.

Original D&D  (Round by Round,Group, Phased Action)
Plain and simple (if some explains where it is hidden in another entire game) . Each side is bound to the roll of 1d6. Highest side gets to choose to go first or last. Than in sequential order teach set of actions is resolved with the “first side” getting to resolve actions first and the “last side” getting to resolve actions for that task only. In order both side conduct movement, than artillery fire, than missile fire, followed melee fire. Spell casting happens during artillery fire (I believe).

Original D&D  employing the Greyhawk supplement (Quickness, Round by Round, Group…possible individual, Phased Action)
Melee is conducted as per above but now it is noted dexterity impacts a character’s ability to act/react with no clarity as to how that is meant to be applied.

Original D&D  employing the Eldritch Wizardry supplement (Quickness,Round by Round, Group or Individual, Phased Action)
As an alternate rule and Alternate Combat system is introduced which is meant to resolve when in a round actions are resolved. Each melee round is broken into 8 segments from pre movement to 1,2,3,4,5,6 and Post movement. It is indicated that all actions are likely possible at some point in the melee round.
To see when a combatant can attack Adjusted Dexterity is is determined for each combatant.
Adjusted dexterity is determined by comparing each combatants dexterirty score and a comparing the two score to find a relative adjusted score. This score is checked on a table and a character is able to act once maybe twice a round on speficic segments of the melee turn.

(this initiative system would work better with duels than a general melee because of the nature of determining adjusted dexterity scores.)

1st Basic Set  (Quickness,Standard, Just in Time
Who goes first in every round of combat is determined in order of Dexterity of combatants from highest first to lowest last. If  combatants have a Dexterity score within 1 or 2 points of each other a d6 is rolled and the higher roll gets to strike first.

2nd version of B/X D&D (Quickness,Round by Round, Group, Just in Time -Phased Action in specific conditions)
Initiative in the 2nd and later version of “Basic” D&D employs a 1d6 roll with the higher roll winning and getting to go first. Combat is conducted in sequence where each side conducts its actions. The sequence is spelled out explicitly but each side is able to resolve their entire range of actions prior to the losing side so it is in essence that the side with the highest initiative roll goes first and conducts all it’s actions first. ( I have seen many DMs resolve the sequence in order for each side but this is not how the rule is written within the game). If the sides Tie in the initiative roll each action is meant to be resolved in order and simultaneously for each side.
As an option Individual initiative may be applied. When used each player rolls 1d6 and applies modifiers for dexterity, highest roll goes first. When combatants tie the tie is broken by another d6 roll.

1st editon AD&D initiative (Quickness,Round by Round,Group with optional Individual, Declare and Act,Delay based modifiers)
At it’s core it’s simple: roll 1d6 for each side and the winning side has won the initiative. However as with much of 1st edition all the picky details spread about the rules muddy things up.
Weapon speed factor is applied when two combatants have the same initiative score. The one with the quicker weapons (lower weapon speed factor) gets to strike first.
Casting time further complicates matters delaying the casting of spells that take under a rounds to cast by a number of segments for some spells. possibly allowing a foe to attack before a spell is cast.
(some DM’s adhered to a phased order of sequences similar to that of chainmail but this was not universal. The declaration step would often be ignored but that complicates matters more if one looked too hard into the ruels after ignoring that.)

2nd Edition AD&D Initiative (Quickness, Round by Round,Group or Individual, Declare and Act,Delay based modifiers)
Both sides roll 1d10. the LOWER rolling side gets to go first.
Dexterity modifies this roll only if individual resolution is applied.
When individual actions were considered weapon speed or casting time was added to the initiative roll to determine which actions were resolved first. All actions are considered to be possible and are resolved according to the adjusted initiative score.

3rd Editon D&D. (Quickness, Battle by Battle, Individual, Just in Time)
At the start of each combat 1d20 is rolled for each character or monster. Dexterity and special abilities may modify this roll. The roll is set for the entire combat. Some actions allow for the number to be changed or reset but it is essentially a fixed score for the entire combat.
Highest initiative score acts and so on down in order. It was common practice for whole groups of monsters and NPC to act on the same initiative roll to speed up combat resolution.
There was both picky nd loose resolution of how many actions a character could conduct in a round but generally a character was able to move and conduct all the attacks they were possible of making in a round with specific limitations being added for movement-actions, quick-actions, and so on.


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