Interrupt & Initiative

edited April 2019 in Game Design Help
The interrupt thread gave me ideas for loose initiative with more complex layers kicking in only when needed. Quick draw scenarios becoming a sort of mini game of its own. It's a bid system (dice pool, for example).

Act : turn your card and state your action

Challenge initiative : Turn your card and put it on top of the previous one. If it's a draw or close enough, put your cards side to side. You're now "competitors". There's no limit to the number of competitors.

Start the challenge
Make your starting bid
You write your intended action on a note and hide it (eg : turn it face down)

Eye of the cyclone
If all competitors agree to it they can now change their starting bid or intent

battle rages
Else, competitors can fold, see or raise

Until all the competitors who didn't fold agree to see
Then, everybody reveals intents
Highest bids have precedence
(still a draw ? look at the card stack, first player goes first as in FIFO)
(still a draw ? youngest go first)
If an intent can longer apply, you just lost your action (but maybe the other player will let you get away with a consolation action ?)

When all cards have been turned, end of turn.
For non-standard actions, keep resolution time scale in mind.

Foreseeable problems in the implementation ? in the principle ?


  • edited April 2019
    edited : Changed the dramaturgy to mimic poker fold/see/raise. It can work faster with standard actions. I am thinking of a kind of Rochambeau a la Torchbearer, with conditions applied after each round that will make it possible to better assess the (probability of) an opponent's strategy.
  • FIFO vs LIFO was the big Q over there

    For me I use the rule that if someone has light they can go first. Otherwise whoever is defending the room or place can go first. In neither case is who speaks first, or who speaks last, particularly salient.

    CW violence, combat example

    "I chop at the skeleton!" "OK, but before your axe start to descend, her claws try to rend your face!",
    "I chop at the skeleton!" "OK, and after she parries your blow, her claws try to rend your face!"

    depending on that.
  • I love the sealed intents though!!
  • edited April 2019
    A few years back I wrote this monstrosity:


    We never actually manage to follow it and I scrapped it after one session after working on it for so long.
  • edited April 2019
    I already have something like "light goes first" : bids come from a non-descript (narrative) Pool, and from character Traits (ability, gear, whatever). So, if you can bid "light weapon", "fast draw" (or anything, really), you're making a much bigger difference than if you spoke first.
    Also, there's an incentive to not match your opponent's bid (you win the highest bid as a compensation if you're second).
    The small bidders end up either renouncing their intent and remmitting their bids into the highest ones to crown a winner. Or they stay small because their intents are "orthogonal"* anyway.
    *not in logical opposition with the others.
  • edited April 2019
    Oh, and : cool editing for the algorithm. It shows initiative was a Major Question.
    You engraved some pretty specific rules : Players shouldn't hesitate ; Getting attacked boosts your reflexes. Like cheat sheets in school, this study wasn't useful in itself, but as a step to your later initiative models.

    In both case the action marker (card tapped or turned) helps greatly in loosening too strict a logic and in making the battle more dramatic.
  • So for the first 20 years of me struggling to learn RPGs I was very frustrated in how the rulebooks were more a rando set of “facts” about how the game worked instead of a clear flowchart or state machine.

    But once I had gotten the hang of it, I found the “facts” version quicker to use and remember albeit more error prone.

    So now, we have two rules…

    1. If someone wants to do their next main action before everyone else has acted, they have to wait. Example: Bob shoots arrow. Alice shoots arrow. Bob wants to shoot more arrow. Cecilia hasn’t done anything. I say “Hold on Bob. Cecilia, what do you want to do?” For the longest time this happened super rarely. I played with one guy at a con where I had to invoke this all the time; he always thought it was his “turn”.

    2. If it matters who hits whom first (or we would’ve killed each other simulateneously), we use the light/turf rule.

    And then beyond that, everything else can go out of order chaotically just as long as those two rules are followed.

  • Time to get the "Light combatants having a truel on neutral ground" scenario.
  • edited April 2019
    This kind of mechanic is dead slow, and I personally like combat like I want my horses: fast and action-filled.

    Initiative is a strange thing, because it's a roll ... or whatnot ... that doesn't actually do anything in fiction. Imagine if every roll were a moment in fiction. Rolling dice would have the orcs and goblins staring at each other while the dice are resolved.

    It works, and games like James Bond: RPG, Deadlands, Feng Shui, and even D&D uses it in some form.

    James Bond had a bidding system. Bid high, and you act first, but what you bid is your difficulty.

    Deadlands had poker cards, and the game master then counted down from Ace down to duce. It was ... a bit too much waiting, to be honest.

    For Feng Shui and D&D, I used boards so it was easy to see whom was going next.
  • Yeah, I really wanted to erase the difference between "We Are In Combat Now" and our normal exploration mode. I'm pretty happy with our system where we just fight, pretty much, and only every now and then we bump up to the "walls" of the framework.

    Deadlands' system is really awful :bawling:

    Rickard, I've been wondering; did Feng Shui influence Matiné or did Matiné precede Feng Shui with a lot of the same ideas? I see a lot of similarities between the two♥
  • edited April 2019
    Feng Shui changed the way I looked upon roleplaying games, and the way of thinking as a game master in Matiné is strongly influenced from Feng Shui. :) "The map is not your friend", as an example.
  • Totally agree about the map♥

    I have one mechanism kinda inspired by Feng Shui's / Matiné's shot counter…

    normally every thing you do in D&D 5e costs an action, a reaction, or a bonus action. But as a house rule, we've added that you can spend the next turn's actions, in advance, to dodge. [In the RAW you have to dodge in advance, the equiv of assuming a defensive stance.] This makes dodging more reactive, much stronger and it also fucks with the turn order which is beneficial, makes it more dynamic. Much simpler and faster than things like 2e "weapon speed" modifiers & dice rolls every turn & I don't have to separate "announcing what I want to do" from actually doing/resolving it.
  • normally every thing you do in D&D 5e costs an action, a reaction, or a bonus action. But as a house rule, we've added that you can spend the next turn's actions, in advance, to dodge.
    Oh, I quite like that. Very cool. :smile:

  • It has turned dodging from something that is never used to something that is used very often. So not sure I found the lagom spot on the balance knob there♥
    But I'm having fun with it.

    In general I do like the idea of affecting your chances before you roll dice. Such as spending insp or dodging or going into some stance or w/e. I always thought it was weird that you'd hear "good job!" when someone rolled high. I mean, it was… random? But with this kind of "betting" you actually can feel some pride. "Wow, really good call that I dodged or I would've died" or "I… uh… yeah, I'm gonna risk not dodging, I need to get a hit in". Increases agency, choice & tactics.

    I really like "Fortune at the End". Set up your bets, be clear about the stakes, and then spin the chamber♥

    Kinda accidentally filled the niche of stances a la Heroes of the Fallen Lands pp 153-154, or All-Out Attack / Defensive Attack in GURPS. That wasn't the goal (I introduced the house rule kind of by necessity; I was fearing that if I went to a more loosey-goosey definition of turns and rounds people would be confused about when they should've dodged in advance. Not that anyone in our campaign at that point had ever dodged. This was a couple of months in) but it has worked really well to serve that purpose. It's kind of weak — you give up all attacks just so that enemies can roll at disad — compared to something like "you can have both you and the enemies roll at advantage by going offensive, or both roll at disadvantage by going defensive". Or even something equally expensive but in the other direction, "you can roll at advantage if you give up all defense".
    None of that has felt needed, the two options: dodging & not dodging has felt like it added a lot and is simple and clear and fast.

    I sometimes feel like dodging speeds fights up because there's one less player to act next turn, but, ofc it doesn't really, I think if anything it makes the fight as a whole last longer since the existance of dodging makes the HP clocks on both sides tick down slower. (Heroes dodging less chance of getting hurt and no chance of hurting enemy that round.) Not that our fights aren't fast, they are.

    I like that it's something that any class can do.

    I like that it makes other people get involved. "Oh, Samo is really under heavy fire, we better get over there and try to protect him."
  • @Rickard Oh yes it's slow. It's like slow motion actually.
  • So, why would I fold in this system?
  • @Paul_T because you are expending a resource and you've reached your limit. It's more like an auction than a poker game.
  • edited April 2019
    An auction indeed. It prompts the players to settle fast, or go to war ready to lose all they've got. Each raise is narrated as "a progress toward the action", slow motion style.
    I could name categories of actions (priority to defense, like dodgin) or ranged vs h-t-h but 1)KISS is my mantra and 2)It's not strictly about reflexes in combat. It's for these times when which character goes first is so important that two or more players could argue and we don't want that (the AW interrupt thread).
  • I see. So we’re assuming there’s a valuable long-term resource at play, outside of the initiative system? Like, say, you could wager your hit points or something as part of the auction?
  • Essentially HP. Secondary resources are optional. Healing is scarce. You're going down, but you can take a chance to establish how... winning an auction of course.
  • Soth and the upcoming Lincoln Green have awesome interrupt / initiative rules.
  • How do they work?
  • edited April 2019
    I've been following Epidiah Ravachol writing about Lincoln Green. Lots of neat ideas, some very specific in their lightness. The "safe way vs short way" I like a lot, it's very clear, simple, with some tactile tric trac.
    Here is your initiative, right there.
    The general idea is that every player plays when they want. A first arbitration is done with fiction in mind. Players have their "playing coins" in front of them, so they can see if they have played this turn. Then order is roughly organized with three steps increments (1 coin, 2 coins, no coin). It reminded me a bit of Les Combattants, with its advantages tokens economy, only without the clockwork queuing. I won't go into more detail, because I think the rules for Throwing in and Calling to action less useful and more complicated.
  • You can find LINCOLN GREENs here. Its very complex but I love the idea in theory. Need to test to see if it works. IMHO would be good for a combat heavy Theater of Mind type RPG.

    SOTH is way more rules light and narrative. I quote the free handout:
    Other Conflicts
    Establish current location and characters' intended actions.
    If a player wants to radically change their intended action, choose one:
    • To change an action without penalty, seize the initiative. (Cultists spend 1 Clarity; Investigators, 4 Suspicion)
    • Otherwise, the character changes actions but is at a disadvantage

    Keeper sets the duration of the round by establishing which character will finish their intended action first. Characters act in the following first to last order:
    1. Anyone who seized the initiative:
    * Cultists before Investigators
    * low Clarity before high Clarity
    * Tied Clarity, roll d6 (higher wins)
    2. Characters without a disadvantage
    3. Characters with a disadvantage
    For the last two groups, the action order is based on whether a character has superior position, resources, or capability (including a lack of injuries).

    Characters with more qualities act before characters with fewer.
    Break ties using 'Seize the Initiative' (above).
    If the next action's unclear, the Keeper
    • takes an action from the 'Make the cultists' lives as difficult as they deserve' list, or
    • ends the conflict.

    Player narrates their character's action. Keeper ensures the amount of action they narrate stays within the duration of the round.
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