Modifying initiative in the middle of combat.


Rules Questions

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Couple things:

1) As many people have pointed out, changing the modifier on a roll (whether it's a damage roll, a saving throw, or an initiative check) only affects future rolls and does not have any effect on previously completed rolls.

2) Every time someone mixes up the words "effect" and "affect", I cringe a little bit on the inside.

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The confusion some people have likely stems from the concept that a die roll can remain active and modifiable for extended periods. While there is no actual rule for this, it is almost required to smoothly adjudicate certain situations. The primary example of this is Stealth.

For example, a stealthy person approaches an observer. The GM wants to determine when the stealther will be spotted. Typically, the GM will have the checks rolled once and use those results for their entire movement that turn. This is done because if new rolls are required every time the circumstance modifier changes (for example, due to distance), the stealthy person is almost guaranteed be spotted due to the sheer number of rolls.

The above is somewhat of a rules hack, however, and is completely unneeded, unjustified, and counterproductive in the case of initiative rolls.


According sctrictly to the rules, the only two things that can modify your initiative order -during a combat- are Delay and Ready, so RAW answer is a simple matter.

That being said, I have to admit, in a house rule sense, that for me makes more sense that initiative could be altered during A combat, and for this reason, this question, on my opinion, is a good candidate for further study.

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I would like to point to a couple details regarding the discussion in place.

Saying that you can't modify a previous roll and apply the effects of the modification retroactively makes not much sense. We do it constantly on the game. Example: let's say you roll your stats. You roll 14 for your DEX. During a combat, your DEX get modified by -4, would you say that til the end of the combat you won't get that modification applied?

So the only reason we do not modify initiative order is not because we do not generally do it, but because we consider exhaustive the list of things that can modify that -specific- value during a combat.

Second consideration. Imagine this scenario, being 'E' enemy, 'Y' you and 'FH' your friendly healer.

Case a) E acts on 21, Y act on 19 and FH act on 17. On 21 E drops Y unconcious, on 19 Y can't act, on 17 FH puts Y above of 0HP but your turn has been wasted.

Case b) E acts on 21, FH act on 17, Y act on 15. On 21 drops Y unconcious, on 17 Y is healed and on 15 Y can act normally -although starts her turn prone-.

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All in all, I agree that rules wise your initiative order during a combat is not modified even if you become deaf or subject to DEX drain, I also understand the sake for this is simplicity, one of the pilars of a well constructed rules' system, but that happening is something I won't mind reconsidering.


Numarak wrote:

According sctrictly to the rules, the only two things that can modify your initiative order -during a combat- are Delay and Ready, so RAW answer is a simple matter.

That being said, I have to admit, in a house rule sense, that for me makes more sense that initiative could be altered during A combat, and for this reason, this question, on my opinion, is a good candidate for further study.

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I would like to point to a couple details regarding the discussion in place.

Saying that you can't modify a previous roll and apply the effects of the modification retroactively makes not much sense. We do it constantly on the game. Example: let's say you roll your stats. You roll 14 for your DEX. During a combat, your DEX get modified by -4, would you say that til the end of the combat you won't get that modification applied?

So the only reason we do not modify initiative order is not because we do not generally do it, but because we consider exhaustive the list of things that can modify that -specific- value during a combat.

Second consideration. Imagine this scenario, being 'E' enemy, 'Y' you and 'FH' your friendly healer.

Case a) E acts on 21, Y act on 19 and FH act on 17. On 21 E drops Y unconcious, on 19 Y can't act, on 17 FH puts Y above of 0HP but your turn has been wasted.

Case b) E acts on 21, FH act on 17, Y act on 15. On 21 drops Y unconcious, on 17 Y is healed and on 15 Y can act normally -although starts her turn prone-.

---

All in all, I agree that rules wise your initiative order during a combat is not modified even if you become deaf or subject to DEX drain, I also understand the sake for this is simplicity, one of the pilars of a well constructed rules' system, but that happening is something I won't mind reconsidering.

And what if:

Opponent initiative 16
Yours 15

Opponent attacks @16
You cast "lower init by 2" to him @15
Opponent attacks @14

Or:
Opponent init 16
Yours 15
Ally 17

Ally casts "raise init by 2" @17 with opponent target
Opponent's init goes to 18
Since we are already at 17 he list his turn

There are numerous problems with initiative altering that would require a huge set of rules to make them usable.

Liberty's Edge

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There are a couple of things I don't understand in this discussion from the "initiative changes mid-combat due to effects, etc" camp.

1. Everyone of you have stated at least once (often multiple times) that (essentially) the initiative penalties apply, but not bonuses.

2. Everyone of you are blatantly ignoring the word CHECK in the spells/abilities/conditions that modify "initiative."

In response to Point 1: Logically, if a penalty can lower a character's initiative mid-combat, then a bonus can increase a character's initiative mid-combat. Therefore, if in the combat I act on 15 and enemy A acts on 14, and if I then increase enemy A's initiative by +2 or more, enemy A loses its action this round. If I can change its initiative to 12, then I can also change it to 16. Since 16 has already happened, ENEMY A LOSES ITS TURN. You absolutely CANNOT have it one way and not the other. Therefore, in a party with 2 casters, all we need to do is keep changing enemy initiative to higher and lower values and we can totally prevent them from ever acting. Game over. Enemies act on 14 which I change to 16 at initiative 15, then allied caster at 13 changes it back to 14. Wash, rinse, repeat. Guess I know what to spend all of my gold on as a caster: Wands to modify initiative.

In response to point 2: You are ignoring the word check. Reread that. Now read it again. And a final time. Any ability/spell/feat/etc that affects an initiative check ONLY affects the initiative check. Period. If you cast a spell on an enemy that applies a -2 penalty to initiative checks AFTER initiative has been rolled, the spell does NOT modify that enemy's position in the initiative order. The check is over. IF you have a rule/spell/ability/feat/etc that specifies it modifies a character's initiative rather than its initiative check, you may be able to make an argument that you can change that character's position within the initiative sequence established at the beginning of the round.


Numarak wrote:


I would like to point to a couple details regarding the discussion in place.

Saying that you can't modify a previous roll and apply the effects of the modification retroactively makes not much sense. We do it constantly on the game. Example: let's say you roll your stats. You roll 14 for your DEX. During a combat, your DEX get modified by -4, would you say that til the end of the combat you won't get that modification applied?

So the only reason we do not modify initiative order is not because we do not generally do it, but because we consider exhaustive the list of things that can modify that -specific- value during a combat.

All you've done here is shown that you don't actually understand what is being said.

If I have a strength of 18, and make an attack, I get a +4 to my attack roll. So if I roll a nat 16, my end result is 20.

If later in that combat I get hit with a ray of enfeeblement, dropping my strength by 4, my strength is now effectively 14. We do not retroactively go back and change my previous roll of nat 16 + 4 = 20 down to 18. However, any future rolls we make in that combat based on strength now only get a +2 instead of a +4.

No one has ever said the relevant stat isn't adjusted. We've only stated that past rolls made based upon that stat are not retroactively adjusted. All future rolls will certainly use the new value.

Its the same with init. If I have a total init bonus of +4, and roll a nat 16, I get a 20 for my init score. If during the combat something applies an penalty to init checks (such deafness -4) then that -4 will be applied to any future init checks I make, but we do not retroactively apply it to any init checks made in the past.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

The real issue is that some spells and other effects appear to say '-X penalty to initiative' rather than '-X penalty to initiative checks'. So kyrt and adam appear to believe that when it says 'initiative' it means 'initiative count' rather than 'initiative check'. Understandable, but I don't believe they have any grounds to claim that those of us who disagree with them are 'making up houserules'. You know, beyond the regular interpretation of the rules that GMs already have to do.


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TriOmegaZero wrote:
The real issue is that some spells and other effects appear to say '-X penalty to initiative' rather than '-X penalty to initiative checks'. So kyrt and adam appear to believe that when it says 'initiative' it means 'initiative count' rather than 'initiative check'. Understandable, but I don't believe they have any grounds to claim that those of us who disagree with them are 'making up houserules'. You know, beyond the regular interpretation of the rules that GMs already have to do.

Have they actually provided any spells or conditions that just say initiative? Deafness says initiative checks. Unprepared combatant says initiative checks. Was there another I missed?

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