non-combat initiative?


Advice

1 to 50 of 106 << first < prev | 1 | 2 | 3 | next > last >>

Here's the skinny...

My group's currently exploring Baphomet's corner of the abyss. They made it to his capital city and were summoned by a Nalfeshnee. When they entered it's throne room, it teleported in, wielding a golden sword, at which point I requested initiative. They killed it before it got to act, at which point I had to laugh, because the demon's intent was to help them. Most of the group complained that I shouldn't have requested initiative when the demon had no intent on fighting, to which I responded that an initiative request is not character knowledge and should not dictate their actions.

The group is manhandling the AP, so I thought it a good time to make a point, which I also happened to think was pretty funny. What do you guys think? Was I reasonable, or do they have good reason to complain?


1 person marked this as a favorite.

So the demon in no way threatened them but they proceeded to kill it anyways?

Initiative =/= murder everything in sight.


At this point couldn't they help themselves? Evil is supposed to be selfish. In fact for the interest of keeping the game going I would allow it to be reeled back to where he teleported in.

As a side note, who in their right mind teleports in front of a bunch of armed adventurers completely unaware of what reaction it may elicit?


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Yeah.

In any campaign that doesn't have a focus on helping evil things, or is an evil campaign in itself, I'd kill the Nalfeshnee pretty much immediately upon being requested to roll initiative.

Initiative pretty much IS the beginning of combat.
Sorry, but that's a little bit of you changing their actions. You can't expect you asking them to roll the one thing that determines the order of combat to open a diplomatic solution.

Describing this as "funny" is kinda ridiculous.


Emmanuel Nouvellon-Pugh wrote:
At this point couldn't they help themselves? Evil is supposed to be selfish.

Again, sorry.

Evil does NOT have to be selfish.
At all.


2 people marked this as a favorite.
jimibones83 wrote:

Here's the skinny...

My group's currently exploring Baphomet's corner of the abyss. They made it to his capital city and were summoned by a Nalfeshnee. When they entered it's throne room, it teleported in, wielding a golden sword, at which point I requested initiative. They killed it before it got to act, at which point I had to laugh, because the demon's intent was to help them. Most of the group complained that I shouldn't have requested initiative when the demon had no intent on fighting, to which I responded that an initiative request is not character knowledge and should not dictate their actions.

The group is manhandling the AP, so I thought it a good time to make a point, which I also happened to think was pretty funny. What do you guys think? Was I reasonable, or do they have good reason to complain?

I would definitely complain, and this is a huge sign of adversarial dming and a dysfunctional gaming group. First, "making a point" is generally a horrible DM move to start with. If you are having an issue, discuss it out of character, openly, and deal with it, don't passive-aggressively set out to say "gotcha" to your players.

As for their complaints, they are indeed valid. Many "roletype" abilities do not function well within the initiative system, as abilities such as diplomacy and intimidate become non-functional in their social interaction roles. And yes, initiative by definition only happens at the start of a battle. If its not a battle, no initiative.

Basically, it sounds like you were angry that your players weren't playing like you wanted them to, and instead of talking it out, set out to ambush and punish them. You then seem to get surprised that they got angry.


Asking for initiative is like holding up a neon sign that reads 'fight now'. And your players started fighting.

What should yave happened is that you described the demon teleporting in, and then ask 'what do you do?'. That holds open the possibility of barter, escape, or whatever wackiness they can think of.

They migt choose to fight, but then it's their choice.


Initiative is not character knowledge. Your argument uses it to determine character actions, which is not how the game works.

I don't blame them for killing the demon outright, nor are they penalized in any way. In fact, I thought it showing up with a sword in it's hand was a great reason to immediately kill it. So did they, until they found out ooc that it wanted to help them. Then they thought it was unfair. So to sum it up, they made a decision using ooc knowledge, then acted as if they should have been able to act differently based on more ooc knowledge. I find the absurdity of that to be pretty funny.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Having it want to help them, and then losing that "ally", IS a penalty.

They didn't think it having a sword was a good reason to kill it, they thought that you having them roll initiative was a good enough reason to kill it.

Initiative is the speed you react to a threat, a combat force.

Having the demon want to help them, and then them roll initiative, is absurd.

If I was one of your players, you'd find it hard to convince me to continue playing. It's ridiculous. Insane even.

Not hilarious.


5 people marked this as a favorite.

You don't tell people to roll initiative unless there's a fight.

You just don't.


@Bigrig No, it's not a penalty. He could have wanted to help by wishing them good luck. That's not the case, but it doesn't matter. In this case, he was going to offer help that they no longer needed. But again, it doesn't matter.

They didn't know the demon wanted to help them. You using ooc knowledge is absurd, ridiculous, and insane. If you were one of my players, you would have an impossible time convincing me you weren't a metagamer.


DominusMegadeus wrote:

You don't tell people to roll initiative unless there's a fight.

You just don't.

I suppose the rule does state that it's rolled at the beginning of combat, but I hadn't really thought about that at the time. I kind of think that's a broken rule, because its a green light out of game that a character in game wouldn't have, but it's a rule none the less.


Then you tell me.

What were your players supposed to think? What was supposed to happen?


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Out of character knowledge? Really?
That's stretching it.

So how do you do held actions?
"You don't know when he goes, so you can't hold your action."

What about villains?
"He goes before you."
"My initiative was a 40!" (somehow)
"How do you know that? He goes first."

And actions?
"I charge the monster."
"Oooh, sorry. You don't know what initiative is, so he's already gone."


jimibones83 wrote:

Initiative is not character knowledge. Your argument uses it to determine character actions, which is not how the game works.

I don't blame them for killing the demon outright, nor are they penalized in any way. In fact, I thought it showing up with a sword in it's hand was a great reason to immediately kill it. So did they, until they found out ooc that it wanted to help them. Then they thought it was unfair. So to sum it up, they made a decision using ooc knowledge, then acted as if they should have been able to act differently based on more ooc knowledge. I find the absurdity of that to be pretty funny.

How Combat Works

Combat is cyclical; everybody acts in turn in a regular cycle of rounds. Combat follows this sequence:

1. When combat begins, all combatants roll initiative.

2. Determine which characters are aware of their opponents. These characters can act during a surprise round. If all the characters are aware of their opponents, proceed with normal rounds. See the surprise section for more information.

3. After the surprise round (if any), all combatants are ready to being the first normal round of combat.

4. Combatants act in initiative order (highest to lowest).

5. When everyone has had a turn, the next round begins with the combatant with the highest initiative, and steps 4 and 5 repeat until combat ends.

You keep claiming player knowledge, but initiative is both player and character knowledge. Telling players to roll initiative is explicitly telling them a combat has begun, as that is the only time initiative is rolled. You are telling them the creature has begun attacking them, as that is what an initiative check means in pathfinder. Initiative is literally the measure of how fast the characters react to the attack.

Sovereign Court

6 people marked this as a favorite.

sounds like you came to the forums to justify your actions and you're not getting the response you wanted. :P

Scarab Sages

2 people marked this as a favorite.

I sometimes have the players go into initiative when there's something time sensitive, or when there's some sensitive diplomacy going on where a lot of different people want to say different things, or when there might be combat starting, but it depends on exactly what is done in what order. That just gives it an order of action, and heightens tension. But I always make it clear that we're going into initiative for that reason.


jimibones83 wrote:
DominusMegadeus wrote:

You don't tell people to roll initiative unless there's a fight.

You just don't.

I suppose the rule does state that it's rolled at the beginning of combat, but I hadn't really thought about that at the time. I kind of think that's a broken rule, because its a green light out of game that a character in game wouldn't have, but it's a rule none the less.

Initiative SHOULD be an indicator that combat is about to begin.

Dragon roars, orcs charge, kobolds ready crossbows, etc.
It SHOULD be quite obvious.


That's up to them, but initiative is not character knowledge, so it shouldn't be a factor. But, it does say to roll it at the start of combat, so I guess by the rules I should not have told them to roll it. It's not a big issue here though, because they already received all the help they needed elsewhere.


I don't know, maybe they could have requested help with something else they might have needed help with?


Kysune wrote:
sounds like you came to the forums to justify your actions and you're not getting the response you wanted. :P

I posted pretty unbiasedly. Just because I disagree doesn't mean I was fishing for justification. I won't change my mind just because 5 people line up and disagree without good reason. Dominus and Calth have made good points though

Sovereign Court

jimibones83 wrote:
That's up to them, but initiative is not character knowledge, so it shouldn't be a factor. But, it does say to roll it at the start of combat, so I guess by the rules I should not have told them to roll it. It's not a big issue here though, because they already received all the help they needed elsewhere.

Maybe you shouldn't have told them the Nalfeshnee's intent but left it a mystery. This particular occurrence is not a big issue but if you're intent is to do this in the future multiple times just to "make a point" you'll probably be GM'ing an empty table. Some things are better left unsaid and the players don't need to know EVERYTHING.


bigrig107 wrote:

So how do you do held actions?

"You don't know when he goes, so you can't hold your action."

Thats ridiculous. There no initiative roll in real life, but you can still pause for someone else to act.

bigrig107 wrote:

I don't know, maybe they could have requested help with something else they might have needed help with?

Or maybe not, thats my point.

EDIT* I mixed this up with other stuff in my head. To re-address it, they certainly could have, as they still could have once initiative was rolled


Kysune wrote:
jimibones83 wrote:
That's up to them, but initiative is not character knowledge, so it shouldn't be a factor. But, it does say to roll it at the start of combat, so I guess by the rules I should not have told them to roll it. It's not a big issue here though, because they already received all the help they needed elsewhere.
Maybe you shouldn't have told them the Nalfeshnee's intent but left it a mystery. This particular occurrence is not a big issue but if you're intent is to do this in the future multiple times just to "make a point" you'll probably be GM'ing an empty table. Some things are better left unsaid and the players don't need to know EVERYTHING.

If my group is anal enough to quit over such a thing, I'd rather have an empty table anyway. But, now that I see you are only suppose to roll at the beginning of combat, I guess I won't be misplacing it again


I used that as an exaggerated example, sorry.

You can't use "maybe not" as justification for taking the option away from them


I didnt take the option away from them. They could have easily told it to drop its weapon instead of charging it, or handled it countless other ways.

Lantern Lodge

I think you did right. Something teleported in, and the characters acted fast and decided to kill it before it could say anything. Seems normal to me.

This is perfectly fair, so long as you use initiative in other like situations.


This is the AP with all the demons?
This is a powerful demon?

Yeah, it's dead in my book if it's "threatening".


bigrig107 wrote:

This is the AP with all the demons?

This is a powerful demon?

Yeah, it's dead in my book if it's "threatening".

Yes

Somewhat (compared to them at this point, but would normally be quite powerful)

I agree. I saw no problem with killing it.

Also, I addressed one of your posts above incorrectly. I edited my response to fix it though.

Sovereign Court

jimibones83 wrote:
Kysune wrote:
jimibones83 wrote:
That's up to them, but initiative is not character knowledge, so it shouldn't be a factor. But, it does say to roll it at the start of combat, so I guess by the rules I should not have told them to roll it. It's not a big issue here though, because they already received all the help they needed elsewhere.
Maybe you shouldn't have told them the Nalfeshnee's intent but left it a mystery. This particular occurrence is not a big issue but if you're intent is to do this in the future multiple times just to "make a point" you'll probably be GM'ing an empty table. Some things are better left unsaid and the players don't need to know EVERYTHING.
If my group is anal enough to quit over such a thing, I'd rather have an empty table anyway. I have no intent on it happening again though, since I now see that it says it's only to be rolled at the start of combat

Out of all I said there, I was hoping you would have taken the rest to heart and not that one line. The point is, leave some mystery to the world. The players don't need to know what's behind door #2 if they picked door #1, especially if it's just going to make them upset.


The fact that you went in initiative order, allowing them to kill it, and letting him wait until they had gone, kinda makes me think you wanted them to kill it.


FrodoOf9Fingers wrote:

I think you did right. Something teleported in, and the characters acted fast and decided to kill it before it could say anything. Seems normal to me.

This is perfectly fair, so long as you use initiative in other like situations.

thank you sir. I was beginning to think no one was going to see my point.

Still, I have to admit when I made a mistake. The rules do say to roll at the beginning of combat. To me though, thats in the eye of the beholder, and I don't think an initiative roll should be a factor in deciding it. The only way to really break that habit is to show them why they shouldn't do it with an example.

And this isn't a huge issue with my group or anything, it was just a rare opportunity I decided to use as such.


Kysune wrote:
Out of all I said there, I was hoping you would have taken the rest to heart and not that one line. The point is, leave some mystery to the world. The players don't need to know what's behind door #2 if they picked door #1, especially if it's just going to make them upset.

Apologies. I actually did absorb the important part, I just didn't comment on it. Yur right though.


bigrig107 wrote:
The fact that you went in initiative order, allowing them to kill it, and letting him wait until they had gone, kinda makes me think you wanted them to kill it.

It didn't matter much. A single attack threw the chance for anything else out the window. There's no way it was going to forgive their attack and continue to offer aid. It's a high ranking c-e demon, full of pride, rage and hate. An insult is enough to provoke it's rage for sure, let alone an attack.


That's the point I'm trying to make.

You can get a few words in before it starts, just like you can talk after an enemy gets down to a certain number of hit points.

Talking is that one free action that can be taken any time.


Sure, he could have teleported in and began speaking immediately, but thats not how it happened. He took a half a second to gaze upon his guests, at which point they were already charging him. My point is not that it couldn't have went the way your describing, its that either way is reasonable


You forced it into combat, when you asked for initiative.
Which shows that he was visually aggressive.
Not just showing off.
Actually making a move towards them, with his sword drawn.


Initiative pretty much is character knowledge because it is rolled when a direct hostile action is taken if you had the Demon teleport in and one of your players said the took out their weapon and attacked then they shouldn't have a reason to complain, but by having it teleport in telling them to roll initiative you forced combat and they are right to be upset.

Also during the Demon's surprise round(which it probably should have gotten) or anytime before, during, or after a players turn you didn't have it voice it's non-aggressive intentions(speaking is a free action that can be done at anytime.

Liberty's Edge

2 people marked this as a favorite.

Which happened first? Did they immediately charge the demon so you asked for initiative rolls OR did you ask for initiative rolls as soon as the demon appeared so they charged it?

I think this point is critical


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Marc Radle wrote:

Which happened first? Did they immediately charge the demon so you asked for initiative rolls OR did you ask for initiative rolls as soon as the demon appeared so they charged it?

I think this point is critical

I think Marc Radle asks a VERY good question.

I am currently running a game with Non-Combat Initiative. I am running a group through The Haunting of Harrowstone and from the time they walked up to the front of the Prison, I have had them in initiative. It has slowed the game down a bit (I do break initiative if they are going to make a big move through cleared areas of the dungeon), but it was the only way that I could see to make the Haunts work in a way that was actually creepy and effective.

Otherwise the game worked this way:
Rogue: "I walk carefully into the room, checking for tracks.
GM: "Roll initiative."
*Rolls*
Everyone: "I delay for the cleric"
Cleric: "I walk in and channel energy."
*Haunt ends*

It has worked. My group has been creeped out more than once.

Once we are out of the haunted prison, we'll be back to "Initiative means we are about to FIGHT!"


3 people marked this as a favorite.
jimibones83 wrote:


The group is manhandling the AP, so I thought it a good time to make a point

No. You do not 'make a point'. This is awful GMing.

Initiative is defined as 'start of combat'. You can use it to signal a need for more careful play as with the above haunted house situation, which is perfectly fine... but you need to have a precedent for this because it is not RAW and your players have no reason to believe anything but 'start of combat'.

Springing this on to your players to 'make a point' is just adversarial and not funny in the slightest, as your player outrage makes clear enough already.

Liberty's Edge

bigrig107 wrote:

Evil does NOT have to be selfish.

At all.

Just out of curiosity, how do you have Evil without including selfishness? Isn't that part and parcel of the definition?


Grima wormtongue serves Saruman. Saruman serves Sauron. These evil villians behave with evil even though they are cooperating.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

You have to know that asking for initiative in and of itself sets up expectations in the players. And frankly, you banked on that.

Initiative can be used out of combat in some capacities. I've done it before and it can be useful to track who does what when (often as a prelude to combat, though). However, when I do ask for initiative in these contexts, I try to make it clear to the players what I'm asking for and why. Usually something along the lines of - "Hold on. Everybody is doing something slightly different. Let's roll initiative so I can keep track of who is doing what." - is more than sufficient.

But if you've never asked for initiative outside of the onset of combat, why would you expect your players to react any differently other than to assume that combat is about to begin?


Mindless undead can be evil in Pathfinder... somehow.

This reminds me of a similar 'making a point' situation I read where a GM said, "You're walking along in the wilderness..." and put all the character miniatures on a map. They all immediately started casting buff spells on themselves. Then, nothing happened, because there was no enemy, and the GM asked why they cast the spells. This was to remind them not to metagame. The players accepted this lesson.

It's actually reasonable to roll initiative in a potential combat situation. A dangerous creature has appeared. Do you attack it or stop and talk? If you stop and talk, you lose initiative. But if you're not doing a 'gotcha', you should probably say, "It hasn't taken any aggressive action... yet." Because 'roll initiative' implies that it has.

Scarab Sages

You description the demon telepoting in while holding a weapon is an in-character reason for attacking on it's own. You asking for an initiative roll is further showing hostile intent on the part of the demon, as initiative is rolled when a creature is making a hostile action to start combat.

If you didn't want the PCs to attack the demon, you should have had the demon appear with the weapon sheathed, and had it talk to them instead of just "roll for initiative".

You forced the combat because you were trying to screw over your players, and they are right to be upset.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

(responding to the OP -- just skimmed the responses)

Regardless of the rules, you're a GM and the players expressed resentment at the way this was handled. They're not wrong.

It seems like you were more interested in proving your players were trigger happy than making the game play out well.

You control the entire context of the world for their characters. You understood the implications of initiative and allowed them to proceed under those assumptions, then told them the assumptions were wrong.

I personally hate it when a mechanical technicality affects the in-game events. I also hate finding out how rules will be enforced after the fact.

I don't approve of the method you've laid out here, and I'm glad that there are signs of self-examination in your coming here and asking us about it. I commend you for that.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Matthew Downie wrote:
This reminds me of a similar 'making a point' situation I read where a GM said, "You're walking along in the wilderness..." and put all the character miniatures on a map. They all immediately started casting buff spells on themselves. Then, nothing happened, because there was no enemy, and the GM asked why they cast the spells. This was to remind them not to metagame. The players accepted this lesson.

What lesson? That the GM will fake you out sometimes?

That you should wait to cast buff spells until it's too late?

The game is pathfinder, not simon-says.

We assume initiative means combat because it almost always does, and the only situations we've ever seen where it doesn't appear in this thread and were contrived specifically to fool us.

It's bad GMing, knock it off.


I think the thing is ... cues. A lot of players, when you say "initiative," they hear "buttwhoop time." I would give my players a secondary cue. "Roll for initiative." After they do that, I'd look at the first player and ask for a Sense Motive roll (with a ridiculously low DC) that would yield a little info: "The demon does not seem to be preparing for combat." If I'm asking for skill rolls despite rolling initiative, that's my players' cue that something is up.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

This is what you did.

1 to 50 of 106 << first < prev | 1 | 2 | 3 | next > last >>
Community / Forums / Pathfinder / Pathfinder First Edition / Advice / non-combat initiative? All Messageboards

Want to post a reply? Sign in.