Friday, February 26, 2010

(oops, this was supposed to be a reply to my last post. Sorry.)


Thanks, everybody, for your responses.

Joethelawyer:

"Question then--how did you determine who did what in which order within the group? Do you group actions according to missile/melee/spell with actions needing to be announced before initiative is rolled?"

It depended on the individual DM. We pretty much went around the table: What do you do, Bob? What do you do, Frank (and, often, would go around the other way the next time). Other guys would go: Okay, any movement? Andy missiles? Any magic? Okay, melee. (I think that was the order). So a little of both, really, but nobody felt left out or passed over. We each got to do something when it was the group's turn so it worked out.

But we all moved at the same time, so it was pretty easy for a few of us to gang up on whatever bad guy needed it most. Or whatever. I recall that a round would go pretty fast, even with a 6-10 players, each having 1-3 characters and henchmen.

Shimrod:

"It's more simulationist..."

You say that like it's a good thing.

"Your example of play is an example of bad/incompetent play."

See, now this is an example of busting on my example without giving one of your own. And I specifically asked you not to do that. Please give an example of good play, instead of just criticizing an example I made up while waiting after work for my ride to get there so I could go home. (Which is why I asked for a counterexample in the first place.)

7 comments:

Jeff Rients said...

I still like group initiative and I'm not Shimrod, but here's how I would handle your hypothetical.

The party is lined up down a 5' corridor:

DM: "Okay, Bill you go first."

Bill: "Really? I'm like fifth in line!"

Buttinski Other Player: "You can move through the others; we're not in melee." (Puts book back down, smug look on his face.)

DM: "Shut up. Bill, you can wait for the guys in front of you, prepare a spell, load your crossbow, turn and run, light a spare torch, poop your pants or anything else you want to try. It's your turn but that doesn't mean you have to blow past the tanks and rush towards your doom."

Bill: "Um, okay, sure. I heft up my spear and so I can throw it the moment a baddie appears." (Looks around for reassurance)

DM: "Great. Don't hesitate to interrupt me or anyone else to throw that spear. You might want to shout 'Duck!' when you do, since there are four people in front of you."

shimrod said...

Exactly. I've known very few players dumb enough to run up front with their squishy character when they had nice meatshields in front of them. If the guy in the back happens to get a high initiative roll, he typically either does something useful from back there (like a missile attack, if there's sufficient space to get a shot through without hitting allies, or a Bless spell, or going invisible so he doesn't get shot at, etc.) or just Delayed his turn. When I've played a Cleric in a game with individual initiative, I've often preferred to go later in the round so I could see what was going on and heal where needed. Quick note: I attached no value judgment to the word "simulationist". You added that. AD&D is more simulationist than OD&D. Does that make AD&D a better or worse game? Some people like a more simulationist game, or for certain *aspects* of their game to more closely simulate their perception of reality. And that may be one reason why some people prefer individual initiative.

Will Douglas said...

"AD&D is more simulationist than OD&D."

Yes, yes it is. Let's explore that, shall we?

As the author of AD&D, Gary Gygax can be assumed to be a simulationist. And he frequently wrote about how, in the first round of melee, the longer weapons strikes first.

This can easily be seen by an example: I have a short sword, you have a long spear. If I attack you, you'll get a hit on me long before I get near you. (On subsequent rounds, however, if I get inside your defenses, I'd go first -- here you'd be hampered by your weapon length.)

All okay so far? Are we on the same simulationist page?

Okay, going back to my original example: A line of guys going down a narrow corridor. When they get to the bad guys, the guy in front goes first, just like the spear point, because he's there. I maintain it makes no sense to even roll initiative in this situation.

You see, I realize now that it isn't the actual individual initiative that bugs me -- it's this slavish adherence to the rules as written despite them making no sense in a given situation.

Thanks, everybody, for helping me to think this one through.

shimrod said...

I don't see any "slavish adherence". Your choice of language seems to indicate that you're carrying some kind of grudge against a bad DM you had. I encourage you to divorce your condemnation of his bad DMing from your evaluation of the ideas behind a given mechanic he may have misused.

As for whether it "makes no sense", in real life, and in fiction, usually someone in a group battle/ambush/encounter notices that something is up first/is quicker on the draw than everyone else. If it happens to be the guy in the middle of the marching order who reacts fastest, he can shout a warning to his fellows and prepare to follow the front guys, draw his sword, cast a defensive spell ("Look out! Spiders! Here's a Slow Poison, Sir StandsInthefront!"), or whatever he likes. And if he doesn't have anything useful he can think of to do, every individual initiative system I've seen still gives the guys in the back the option to delay and let the guys in front go first. He gets the *option* because he's quicker on the uptake.

Is individual initiative necessary or better than group initiative? Totally depends on what you want in your game. Different strokes for different folks. You've made abundantly clear which you prefer. I know you came into the discussion with a negative opinion of individual initiative, but if you're not open to people's explanations of why someone might like it, why bother asking the question?

Will Douglas said...

I guess I wasn't clear.

I don't really care why someone else might like it. I was concerned more with why I shouldn't hate it.

You see, it wasn't until this discussion that I realized that I did have a bad DM in this one instance.

For instance, I just now got back from a game which uses an even whackier individual initiative system than 3e, one that I have never ever warmed to. But since I realize now that it the individual initiative system that makes me crazy, it was leftover resentment of this totally other guy.

So tonight, I just rolled with it and had a really good time.

The reason I asked in the first place (as I had hoped my last response would have indicated) was because I like to get other viewpoints on matters. I don't promise to ever change my opinion (and really, that's all it is or can be), but I DO promise to think about the responses I get.

Shimrod, your response in particular gave me the best food for thought. It helped bring me to the realization I mentioned above. And for that I thank you.

You, however, seem to have some lingering resentment that I haven't swung completely over to your side. Sorry.

Yes, I can see why you might like individual initiative over group. And that's fine for you; you should play a game that you're happy with.

But I started out with group initiative back in the day and as I recall the round went more quickly and smoothly, and it was easier (for that specific group, mind you) to work together.

I'd like to see if such a thing is possible with the group I'm with now, but the DM won't even listen to such a suggestion. I didn't want his system to be a deal breaker for me, so I decided to vent here rather than blow up mid-game.

And now, of course, I have no reason to blow up mid-game.

shimrod said...

Hey man, I understand that. Thanks for the well-thought out, and considered reply. I will confess to a bit of frustration at what I perceived as a slanted initial example, and then what felt like a pretty close-minded response to my and Jeff's feedback.

As for whether I resent your not coming over to "my side", I hope I don't come off that way. I'm not advocating one over the other. I know you already are on board with and understand how group initiative can work and be good. So I don't need to advocate for that (where I might advocate it to someone else who seemed similarly wedded to individual init). I was just trying to respond to your original request, shedding light on how individual can be good and "sensical" too.

John said...

I like Group Initiative because it is easier on the DM (good for me) and speeds up play (good for all). That said, I can see the frustrations in it, and why individual initiative is more satisfying to many people.