For the last three weeks, I have been playing 5e at a local game store. My 8-year old son wanted to try the game, so I joined it for him. Now instead of DM, I play with him.
In the gaming group, there are several other kids. I have to say, I am quite proud of my son’s behavior. He pays attention to the action and story. While he does little role-playing, his focus is the battles.
I feel the current Initiative system bogs down the game.
The more I play 5e, the more I don’t like the Initiative system. Although it does have some positive attributes, overall, it breaks the game flow when going into combat. It feels like the game has shifted from one game to another.
I have also noticed that 5e has made the players’ turns more complex. In general, too much of 5e is waiting around to do something. And since I do not optimize my turn, my turns go fast while others go slow.
It seems to me that since it takes much longer to get to a players’ turn, lots of players working hard just to do stuff. The spotlight in on them and they know it is going to be a while before it returns to them. So they scramble to come up with something to do.
Age of Swords System
In play testing Age of Swords, I have been playing around with simultaneous rounds. With the monsters and the players all attacking at the same time, I have found it really speeds up the game. Often I resolve all the monster actions and then let the players go. But it is all happening at the same time in the game. Turn order is no longer important.
5e System Idea
If I was to make a change to 5e, I would shift it more towards this style of Initiative. Here is what I am thinking. I am interested in what people think of this hybrid-system.
At the start of combat, I would have everyone make an Initiative DC check against the enemies Initiative score. The default being DC 12. In this way, I would never take away from a good roll by a player. The results of the roll would be labeled as either Fast (Success) and Slow (Fail).
While this is almost the same as the current system (everyone stopping to roll) there is no accounting involved. The characters are now grouped into those that go before the monsters and those that go after.
Then I would add the following, simple mechanic. As an Action, at the start of your turn end your turn. You change your Turn Order group.
It is my hope to play test this simple system in the near future. While I don’t think it would solve all the problems, I think it could help to speed things up a bit. And without the DM having to micro-manager the Turn Order.
With using this system, the people in the different groups then take their turn in whatever order they choose. If there is a conflict, the GM can choose to let those with the faster Initiative bonus go first. One of the first things people have said when they hear of this system is they think the players will always be challenging Turn Order, but in my play-testing it hasn’t happened.
Please let me know your thought or if you even try this system. At my son’s gaming group, I might be DMing soon. If it happens, I will test it out for myself.