Has anyone ever used the weapon speed factors and casting times as listed in the old 1st or 2nd edition AD&D books? If so what was it like? Did you enjoy it?
I played a lot of 1st edition back in the day and never used these and I don’t know anyone who did, but re-reading my old books again after many, many, years I can see that they might be a lot of fun but could also lead to player frustration (particularly for casters).
My gripe with modern initiative systems (for Pathfinder 2e/1e and recent editions of D&D) is that they become very predictable. If the initiative is the same every round then players just learn to calibrate their decisions on what they anticipate (usually correctly) every other player or NPC will do. Also, I think the fixed initiative order for some reason tends to lead to a lot of player deliberation that slows down the game. I’m not sure why that is and maybe the alternative wouldn’t be any better.
So, any thoughts here? Am I just being a grumpy old man for hating on modern systems?
I could see some kind of house rule where not using all of your actions would adjust your initiative, maybe different values based on they type of action you didn’t spend. Though I think I’d want an assistant DM to track all that, which is probably why things got simplified over the years.
As a DM, I would not want to do that. Too much micromanaging and feels like it would slow things down. And I DM by the old adage ‘what applies to the players applies to the enemies’. I would not want to try and handle all that in a game just for initiative, feels like a headache for the DM.
But, in the right group it could be a thing if the DM and the players are all in agreement to use it. I just don’t think you will find many players interested in going that far down the initiative rabbit hole, probably more experienced players might be keen on trying it out to mix things up.
I’ll add to the consensus that I would be concerned with the impact on the change to the flow of the game. I’m with you in that I don’t think the alternative would reduce the amount of player discussion during combat.
You and your group might like the more complicated initiative system. If that is the case, then regardless of my hesitation, go ahead and let if fly. The only people that need to have fun in your game are the people involved in your game. There is also no reason you can’t change back to RAW 5e initiative if the group doesn’t like the change.
That being said, I recalled going over an alternative 5e initiative with some folks that your post reminded me of. I was able to find it and will link it here. You might consider this alternative if it strikes your fancy. (You can probably find more houseruled initiative on the internet if you do some searching.)
You’ll see that the document notes the same concern with complexity versus simplicity and predictability versus randomness.
One of my favorite Combat systems is actually Chivalry and Sorcery, its been a number of years since i played, so let me see if i can dredge up the basics. Oh C&S was much more gritty than anything mainstream these days.
You would Roll initiative and end up somewhere on a scale between 1 and 30 (could have been more or less than 30, I don’t recall the exact numbers) the higher the better. the GM would work his way down the track, and when it got to your turn you would announce what you were doing. Your initiative value would then move down the track based on what your action was. So for example if you were on 29, and you were swinging a small weapon like a dagger, it might have a speed of 2. So then on 27, you would hit and do dmg, then potentially have the ability to do more actions. Everything had a speed; weapon attacks, spell casting, movement, etc. It even had a system to actively defend yourself by parrying/blocking which would move you down the track as well since it took an action to make that movement. Part of the key to this system was that alot of things took stamina to do in combat. Your stamina pool was limited, and like in starfinder Damage was typically taken from your stamina before your body damage, though not exclusively.
Wow, I’ve never heard of Chivalry and Sorcery!
Interesting to hear that Stamina is not a new idea. I guess that shouldn’t be a surprise, but all the same it is interesting.
After having read all of these posts I’m in agreement that maybe weapon speeds and the like are a tad cumbersome for my taste. I really like how it gives each weapon a distinct feel though. (I kind of miss variable damage according to target size as well… sigh.)
Thinking about it further, many of these things can be modeled in other ways. PF2e has an “agile” weapon trait that reduces the penalty for repeat attacks and D&D 5e has a “light” weapon property that appears to do something similar.
My old school RPG studies will continue. Up next: Race as Class!
As you say you really like some of the granularity of some of the more ‘crunchy’ systems… I recommend taking a look around and getting into games with other systems. (The scale of crunch being from most complicated (most crunchy) to least complicated (crunch lite).) A little bit of experimentation might be just the thing you need to ground your sense of enjoyment of the crunchier systems. Maybe you’ll find someone playing Chivalry and Sorcery. These options may be old game systems or new game systems. Go forth and try as many as you like. You’ll keep returning to the ones that you enjoy the most.
By way of example, I recently stepped away from a campaign that was using Mythras. Mythras is a crunchy game and I wanted to experience it because I’ve heard a lot of players talking it up. I was hesitant because I’m a middle of the road player when it comes to crunch. I like to have systems that allow for interesting and different characters, but I don’t want so much crunch that I can’t track it or that I lose the feel of the game. After a few months of playing Mythras I decided it was fine but I wasn’t seeing enough of a benefit for the additional crunch. In contrast, I recently started playing a game using the Fate Core system with a couple of folks from OTG. This is a lighter system than Mythras and I was interested in seeing how I would react to it. I’ve been surprised in the ways that Fate can feel similar to the more traditional experience given the reputation it has for being more narrative and less crunchy. We are only a handful of sessions in with Fate at this point, but I am interested in how it is developing and am hopeful that it can provide an experience I will enjoy.
You might also enjoy trying something like Savage Worlds (SWADE is the newest edition), which has been the system I’ve been using the most in the past few years. It is a relatively traditional system and less crunchy than something like Mythras. In Savage Worlds, each pass through the order results in fresh ordering of the combatants. This means that ordering is more randomized than traditional D&D rules. It doesn’t distinguish between weapon speeds or the like.
Anyway, try different systems out. There are plenty out there. There are games to be had using crunchy systems (GURPS, Mythras, etc.) and lighter systems (games more like Fate or lighter) and then all the ones in between. The sky is the limit when it comes to the options you might try. Given your interest, I would definitely recommend trying some crunchier games like Mythras and GURPS. I’m pretty sure I’ve even seen some folks advertising for Rolemaster on Fantasy Grounds website. Unless my memory fails me, I’m pretty sure that is another really crunchy system that you might like and would give another point of comparison for you. Old systems, new systems, systems with a variety of crunch levels… go collect them all! (Sorry pokemon. )
Back in the 80’s Dragon magazine had a variant initiative system that included weapon speed. I could probably find the article if you want to see it.
I want to say I played with a version of it in 2nd edition, maybe in the combat and tactics book that added or subtracted a value to your initiative based on the weapon you were wielding. But its been a long time.
Dragon Magazine Issue #71 FWIW