Modifying initiative in the middle of combat.


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If a character (or enemy) has a condition effect them mid combat (deafness is the one in particular I'm thinking of) that modifies their initiative, does that only affect their NEXT initiative check, or would it drop them down in the initiative order of current combat?

Sczarni

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Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Initiative checks are made at the beginning of combat. In older versions of D&D you rolled Initiative every round. If you suffer a penalty to Dexterity or some other condition that negatively impacts your Initiative checks it won't have any impact on your current Initiative order.


Cool, thank you. :)


You absolutely can modify initiative during combat, look at the refocus option!

You aren't STUCK at your starting initiative.

You can also DELAY.

I would apply the change immediately, not in the next COMBAT. :D

Of course, things get weird if you start taking DEX damage...


alexd1976 wrote:

You absolutely can modify initiative during combat, look at the refocus option!

You aren't STUCK at your starting initiative.

You can also DELAY.

I would apply the change immediately, not in the next COMBAT. :D

Of course, things get weird if you start taking DEX damage...

NO! Just no. That way madness lies.

It will inevitably lead to someone effectively getting extra actions.


alexd1976, what is the 'refocus option'?

In the general rules there are only two ways to change your initiative, Readied action and Delay. Both are basically "I wait to act".

draykhar, basically, after initiative is rolled you can throw the numbers away, all that matters is the order at that point. (Note: the numbers will still be necessary if other combatants come into the combat later.) Both Readied Actions and Delaying concern themselves with where in the initiative order you take your action, not the actual number.

Sovereign Court RPG Superstar 2011 Top 32

Refocus is no longer an option in Pathfinder. It was a 3.0 initiative thing back when people didn't really understand how cyclical initiatives worked and thought having a higher number was somehow better after the first round. It let you as a full round action reset your initiative to whatever you would get rolling a 20. I only ever saw it used by indecisive players who wanted more time to decide what to do but didn't want to "waste" their turn - even though it basically did.

Functionally you get better results by simply delaying until after the last person in the round goes, if that was the effect you want.


Thanks ryric, I remember it now. Dang that was a long time ago. Unfortunately, I think some people still don't understand how cyclical initiatives work and still think a higher number after the first round is better.


Gauss wrote:

alexd1976, what is the 'refocus option'?

In the general rules there are only two ways to change your initiative, Readied action and Delay. Both are basically "I wait to act".

This discussion covers refocus.


Thanks Minah, I know what it is now, I just wasn't thinking of historical 3.0 terms. I still have my 3.0 books somewhere in a box deep in a closet.


ryric wrote:

Refocus is no longer an option in Pathfinder. It was a 3.0 initiative thing back when people didn't really understand how cyclical initiatives worked and thought having a higher number was somehow better after the first round. It let you as a full round action reset your initiative to whatever you would get rolling a 20. I only ever saw it used by indecisive players who wanted more time to decide what to do but didn't want to "waste" their turn - even though it basically did.

Functionally you get better results by simply delaying until after the last person in the round goes, if that was the effect you want.

Damn my dated knowledge. You could also ready an action to go before whoever is first in the round I suppose...

Better than refocus, which, as I recall with my old-man brain, was a full round action.


In any case, your initiative absolutely can change mid combat.


The question wasn't really whether or not your initiate can change, but whether your turn placement could be altered by, say, a change in your Dexterity score.

The answer is: your initiative roll is fixed upon having initiative order established. After the order is established, you can (and should?) ignore the actual numbers. To do otherwise would lead to the possibility of people either getting double turns, or alternatively, missing their turn entirely.


Byakko wrote:

The question wasn't really whether or not your initiate can change, but whether your turn placement could be altered by, say, a change in your Dexterity score.

The answer is: your initiative roll is fixed upon having initiative order established. After the order is established, you can (and should?) ignore the actual numbers. To do otherwise would lead to the possibility of people either getting double turns, or alternatively, missing their turn entirely.

Incorrect.

The OP asked if conditions affecting initiative affect initiative.

yes they do.

The question was asked in a way that revealed an incomplete understanding of the rules, but changing an enemies initiative does, in fact, change the enemies initiative.

Unless penalizing initiative doesn't actually penalize initiative.

I could be wrong?


So to those who say initiative placement cannot be modified in combat, would you mind explaining how one is supposed to use the initiative modifying aspect of the Unprepared Combatant spell?

Bear in mind it's from Ultimate Magic, not exactly a fringe resource.

As for somebody gaining a second round? So long as the caster can't do that to himself I don't actually mind.


kyrt-ryder wrote:

So to those who say initiative placement cannot be modified in combat, would you mind explaining how one is supposed to use the initiative modifying aspect of the Unprepared Combatant spell?

Bear in mind it's from Ultimate Magic, not exactly a fringe resource.

As for somebody gaining a second round? So long as the caster can't do that to himself I don't actually mind.

It looks like the sort of thing that you would cast on an unsuspecting enemy before combat or during the surprise round.

It also looks like the sort of spell that should be a rule or a rogue ability.


Does anyone here actually think that initiative is a fixed number after it's rolled? Seriously?

Grand Lodge

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alexd1976 wrote:
Does anyone here actually think that initiative is a fixed number after it's rolled? Seriously?

Actually, as an experienced GM, I consider your initial Initiative score a throwaway number.

Once the starting order is determined, you can ignore the numbers. Between Delays and Readies, the initial Initiative order seldom survives more than a single round or two.

Yes, it makes adding reinforcements a bit more difficult, but, honestly, they should get added (invisibly) to the initial order, so you know when they are moving toward the fight, and when, exactly, they will show up.

Of course, for many combats, unless the reinforcements show up quickly, you are going into a new Initiative anyhow...


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Unless you do something special (see Special Initiative Actions), I do think initiative is a fixed number.

"At the start of a battle, each combatant makes an initiative check."

"In every round that follows, the characters act in the same order (unless a character takes an action that results in his or her initiative changing; see Special Initiative Actions)."


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alexd1976 wrote:

Does anyone here actually think that initiative is a fixed number after it's rolled? Seriously?

Seriously, yes absolutely! There are no rules for changing initiative after it has been rolled except by taking specific actions.


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alexd1976 said wrote:
Does anyone here actually think that initiative is a fixed number after it's rolled? Seriously?

Yes. I was surprised to find in this discussion anyone who thought otherwise.

Grand Lodge

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Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Their initiative order is set after the first round of the combat, only the player can change it using delay or ready after that

If you read the initiative entry it states it pretty clear.

PRD initiative

At the start of a battle, each combatant makes an initiative check. An initiative check is a Dexterity check. Each character applies his or her Dexterity modifier to the roll, as well as other modifiers from feats, spells, and other effects. Characters act in order, counting down from the highest result to the lowest. In every round that follows, the characters act in the same order (unless a character takes an action that results in his or her initiative changing; see Special Initiative Actions).

So unless you take a special action it does not change; even if their dex changes or they have a special condition

PRD Special Initiative Actions


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Byakko wrote:
After the order is established, you can (and should?) ignore the actual numbers. To do otherwise would lead to the possibility of people either getting double turns, or alternatively, missing their turn entirely.

It's possible to do this without things getting silly - you just have to apply a couple of extra rules to handle crossing the 'current initiative' barrier.

Example:
Cleric rolls 20 initiative
Vampire rolls 16 initiative
Sorcerer rolls 15 initiative

Round 1:
First, the Cleric casts Cat's Grace on Sorcerer - this increases the sorcerer's Dex by 4 and initiative by 2.
Now, on 17 Initiative count, it's the Sorcerer's turn. The Sorcerer casts Resist Energy.
Then, on 16 Initiative count, the Vampire casts a Unprepared Combatant on the sorcerer.
This reduces the Sorcerer to 13 Initiative. Since he's already acted this turn, he doesn't get to act again. (This is one of the extra rules.)

Round 2:
The Cleric casts a buff spell.
Since the Sorcerer is currently on 13 Initiative, the Vampire is next on 16. He casts Dispel Magic on the Sorcerer. He fails to dispel the spells he wanted to dispel, instead dispelling Unprepared Combatant. This raises the Sorcerer back up to 17 Initiative. Since he's crossing over the current Initiative barrier on an increase, he gets to act again immediately after the Vampire. (This is the other extra rule - otherwise the Sorcerer might miss his turn entirely.)


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alexd1976 said wrote:
Does anyone here actually think that initiative is a fixed number after it's rolled? Seriously?

Rolling for initiative is a Dex check(and is explicitly stated as such in the combat chapter). Like every other check in the game, you roll 1d20 and add your current modifier to find the result of your check. The result is the creature's initiative. A creature's initiative doesn't change when it's initiative modifier changes, just like a creature doesn't suddenly fail a save they made 5 minutes ago when a buff boosting Will runs out. Once it's rolled, the creature's initiative is set, and no changes to their initiative modifier affect it in any way.

Naturally, things like the delay action which explicitly change the creature's place in the initiative order do change the creature's place in the initiative order(duh).

Matthew Downie wrote:
...

It's possible to patch the rules to make it work, but is it worthwhile adding a bunch of messy and counter-intuative complexity? An example of what I mean by this is that Helpless causes a creature to have effectively 0 dex. This means that depending on how the initiative is arranged, a creature that was sleep'd or something and gets woken up after their turn may or may not lose a turn of actions because of initiative running past their normal initiative value depending on what the initiative value of them and the waking ally are. It even encourages PCs and NPCs to exploit this by delaying down to allies immediately below them in the initiative order so that a disabling condition that affects initiative doesn't cost them a turn.

It's possible, but I would flat out call it a bad idea.


alexd1976 wrote:

Does anyone here actually think that initiative is a fixed number after it's rolled? Seriously?

Yes.

If I make an attack, and something later in the same round reduces my strength, I don't go back and adjust my attack roll and re-determine if I hit or not. The number was rolled and the results were determined.

You only roll initiative once - at the start of combat. Anything that adds bonuses/penalties to an initiative check after the fact don't matter - the check was already made.


Wow.

Interesting responses guys.

When I asked if you thought initiative was a fixed number, there was clearly a miscommunication on my part.

Do you think initiative cannot change? THAT is what I meant by fixed number (a number that can't be altered).

The rules have stated that delaying and readying can alter your place in the initiative order... so... um... how is that not changing your initiative score?

So I will ask a different question now.

If you ready an action, does your place in initiative change when that action triggers?

I really hope the answer is yes, because if it isn't, I would LOVE to hear your explanation.


bbangerter wrote:
alexd1976 wrote:

Does anyone here actually think that initiative is a fixed number after it's rolled? Seriously?

Yes.

If I make an attack, and something later in the same round reduces my strength, I don't go back and adjust my attack roll and re-determine if I hit or not. The number was rolled and the results were determined.

You only roll initiative once - at the start of combat. Anything that adds bonuses/penalties to an initiative check after the fact don't matter - the check was already made.

Interesting, though unrelated, example.

Changing your STR score affects your chances to hit in the future...
Changing your initiative will obviously change your place in the attack order...

Or do you not agree with this?

If you delay, do you not go later in the round?


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Paizo Superscriber; Pathfinder Companion Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

I don't know if everyone feels the same as I do, but here's my take.

Initiative is rolled. Right now, everyone has an initiative value that we use to determine initiative order. Once order is determined, the initiative value is thrown away.

Delay and ready move you within the initiative order. But there's no difference between delaying to be after another person who was also on 20 originally (but had a lower modifier) or someone who had a 17 delaying to be after someone who had a 10. The order is all that matters once you're in it.

Ready works out the same as Delay but by putting you above the triggering person's place in the initiative order.

Edit: From my perspective, the question boils down to "If I got a 20 and you got a 21 on initiative, what happens if I cast cat's grace on myself, increasing my initiative modifier by 2? Does my initiative become 22 and put me in front of you next round?" My answer is no. That's the impression I get from your later posts, alex, but I don't like putting words in others' mouths.


Berinor wrote:

I don't know if everyone feels the same as I do, but here's my take.

Initiative is rolled. Right now, everyone has an initiative value that we use to determine initiative order. Once order is determined, the initiative value is thrown away.

Delay and ready move you within the initiative order. But there's no difference between delaying to be after another person who was also on 20 originally (but had a lower modifier) or someone who had a 17 delaying to be after someone who had a 10. The order is all that matters once you're in it.

Ready works out the same as Delay but by putting you above the triggering person's place in the initiative order.

Using the original posters question, how would you deal with the numerical penalty imposed by deafness?

I find it REALLY odd that some people throw the numbers out once they are rolled... this is a numbers game!


Paizo Superscriber; Pathfinder Companion Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

I wouldn't apply it after the fact. Likewise, moment of prescience or anticipate peril would seem strange to me if we had to decide if their bonus would apply in later rounds.

I see where you're coming from, but I only really view initiative rolls as coming up once - to determine who acts first. From there, it's just a matter of "everyone else gets to go before I go again." Dual initiative in mythic would throw a wrench in my model, though. I blame it, though. :-)


alexd1976 wrote:


If you ready an action, does your place in initiative change when that action triggers?

I really hope the answer is yes, because if it isn't, I would LOVE to hear your explanation.

Yes, your initiative changes in that scenario, based on actions the character chose to take. Getting hit with a deafness spell (or taking dex damage) does not change your already rolled initiative though - you already made that roll and got the results of it. Delay/Readied action are currently the ONLY ways to change your initiative for a given combat once rolled.

Deafness or dex damage, or any other penalty to init would come into play if those penalties were still in effect next time init rolls are called for (e.g., at the start of the next combat you are involved in). They have 0 effect on your initiative for the current combat.

The reason most people throw out the numbers is because they really don't matter once order is determined. For example:

If init rolls are 100, 10, 5, and 2. And I rolled the 5. If I delay till after 100 goes, does it make any difference if I delay till 99.9 or 10.1? No, I still go between the 100 and the 10 - the actual number simply doesn't matter. Even if the inits were 10, 10, 5, and 2, I can choose to delay till after the first 10 goes, but before the second 10 goes. We are now all at '10', but all that matters is the order.


bbangerter wrote:
alexd1976 wrote:


If you ready an action, does your place in initiative change when that action triggers?

I really hope the answer is yes, because if it isn't, I would LOVE to hear your explanation.

Yes, your initiative changes in that scenario, based on actions the character chose to take. Getting hit with a deafness spell (or taking dex damage) does not change your already rolled initiative though - you already made that roll and got the results of it. Delay/Readied action are currently the ONLY ways to change your initiative for a given combat once rolled.

Deafness or dex damage, or any other penalty to init would come into play if those penalties were still in effect next time init rolls are called for (e.g., at the start of the next combat you are involved in). They have 0 effect on your initiative for the current combat.

That is a very interesting way of doing things.

We apply penalties when they happen, not after.

*shrugs*

I would like to point out that nowhere in the books does it say to discard the numbers, it actually recommends writing them down...

Anyone else wanna chime in on this? If you penalize an opponents initiative, are you okay with it having no effect?


yes, once initiative has been decided for the combat status effects or anything that effects future initiative checks do nothing to the turn order of the current combat. Only delay and ready can change your order.


alexd1976 wrote:
bbangerter wrote:
alexd1976 wrote:


If you ready an action, does your place in initiative change when that action triggers?

I really hope the answer is yes, because if it isn't, I would LOVE to hear your explanation.

Yes, your initiative changes in that scenario, based on actions the character chose to take. Getting hit with a deafness spell (or taking dex damage) does not change your already rolled initiative though - you already made that roll and got the results of it. Delay/Readied action are currently the ONLY ways to change your initiative for a given combat once rolled.

Deafness or dex damage, or any other penalty to init would come into play if those penalties were still in effect next time init rolls are called for (e.g., at the start of the next combat you are involved in). They have 0 effect on your initiative for the current combat.

That is a very interesting way of doing things.

We apply penalties when they happen, not after.

That's fine, its just not RAW.

PRD wrote:


In every round that follows, the characters act in the same order (unless a character takes an action that results in his or her initiative changing; see Special Initiative Actions)

That unless has a specific list of what alters the init. Taking a dex penalty, or deafness, etc, isn't part of the list.


bbangerter wrote:
alexd1976 wrote:
bbangerter wrote:
alexd1976 wrote:


If you ready an action, does your place in initiative change when that action triggers?

I really hope the answer is yes, because if it isn't, I would LOVE to hear your explanation.

Yes, your initiative changes in that scenario, based on actions the character chose to take. Getting hit with a deafness spell (or taking dex damage) does not change your already rolled initiative though - you already made that roll and got the results of it. Delay/Readied action are currently the ONLY ways to change your initiative for a given combat once rolled.

Deafness or dex damage, or any other penalty to init would come into play if those penalties were still in effect next time init rolls are called for (e.g., at the start of the next combat you are involved in). They have 0 effect on your initiative for the current combat.

That is a very interesting way of doing things.

We apply penalties when they happen, not after.

That's fine, its just not RAW.

PRD wrote:


In every round that follows, the characters act in the same order (unless a character takes an action that results in his or her initiative changing; see Special Initiative Actions)
That unless has a specific list of what alters the init. Taking a dex penalty, or deafness, etc, isn't part of the list.

Yes, I see that...

I'm just wondering, as a PLAYER, how you would feel about your spell (which gives a -4 to initiative to your opponent) not doing what it says during combat?

General rules are what you quoted, the spell is a specific exception, so would you really be okay with the GM telling you it fails because of a general rule?

What if you made a spell that ONLY affected initiative? Using the same logic as before, it would literally do NOTHING under your paradigm.


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It would do nothing during combat. But if you cast it before combat then it has full effect. It's like casting a mind effecting spell on an ooze or vermin. Not the right time for that spell.


Chess Pwn wrote:
It would do nothing during combat. But if you cast it before combat then it has full effect. It's like casting a mind effecting spell on an ooze or vermin. Not the right time for that spell.

So you don't use specific>general?


I do, but people aren't making initiative checks in combat, thus changing their future initiative rolls wont effect this combat.


There is no specific overriding general here. Deafness applies a -4 penalty on initiative checks. Initiative checks are only rolled when combat starts. (This goes back to the example of retroactively applying a strength penalty on attack rolls already made).

If I'm casting that spell in combat I'm interested in "Deafened: ...has a 20% chance of spell failure when casting spells with verbal components". I have no expectation of changing init order.


Interesting.

We keep track of initiative scores, and things that modify it, modify it.

Table variances happen I suppose.


Unprepared Combatant wrote:


School enchantment (compulsion) [emotion, mind-affecting]; Level bard 1, sorcerer/wizard 1, witch 1
Casting Time 1 standard action
Components V, S
Range close (25 ft. + 5 ft./2 levels)
Target one creature
Duration 1 minute/level
Saving Throw Will negates; Spell Resistance yes
The target takes a –4 penalty on initiative checks and Reflex saves.

EdIT: for those saying this spell shouldn't be cast during combat? You can't. The only time you can cast a spell on someone outside of combat is if they let you, if they want no part of the spell, then you're in combat and you're rolling initiative before the spell goes off [and your opponent very well may go first, supposedly sealing his position in the initiative order and making your spell useless.]


kyrt-ryder wrote:
Unprepared Combatant wrote:


School enchantment (compulsion) [emotion, mind-affecting]; Level bard 1, sorcerer/wizard 1, witch 1
Casting Time 1 standard action
Components V, S
Range close (25 ft. + 5 ft./2 levels)
Target one creature
Duration 1 minute/level
Saving Throw Will negates; Spell Resistance yes
The target takes a –4 penalty on initiative checks and Reflex saves.

At my table, using that in combat might result in an enemy acting AFTER a character instead of BEFORE.

*shrugs*

I wouldn't cast that BEFORE initiative... because, you know, you can't.


alexd1976 wrote:

Interesting.

We keep track of initiative scores, and things that modify it, modify it.

Table variances happen I suppose.

Yeah, house-rules happen all the time

Sczarni

Starfinder Charter Superscriber

There is much reading comprehension fail going on in this thread.

The OP's question has been answered. I suggest we let this thread rest.

Grand Lodge

alexd1976 wrote:

Interesting.

We keep track of initiative scores, and things that modify it, modify it.

Table variances happen I suppose.

So, please explain to me what you do for someone who Readies an action and it goes off. Does their initiative number change, or just their place in the order?

Similar question for Delays. I get a 23 for Initiative, and decide to Delay until after George, who got a 16. Do you change my number to 15, then? And what if someone or something else, with a higher Initiative modifier, is already in the order at 15? Would you let them go before I come out of Delay, or after?

Also, as mentioned, if you are in combat, get hit with a Will save effect, make it by 1, then, later in the same combat, get hit with 4 points of Wisdom drain or damage. Since your Will modifier will have just taken a -2 penalty, do you then retroactively then fail that earlier Will save?

And how do you deal with the Dex modifiers presented by such common spells as Enlarge Person or Reduce Person?


Neither for Readies. A readied action doesn't change initiative it's just acting out of order.

Delays- on the other hand- change the character's initiative value for the duration of the combat. As for delaying until after someone and before someone else that's not an issue, you just get a decimal initiative value.


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Actually kyrt-ryder, a readied action going off DOES change your place in initiative to right before the character who's action triggered it.

CRB p203 wrote:
Readying an Action: You can ready a standard action, a move action, a swift action, or a free action. To do so, specify the action you will take and the conditions under which you will take it. Then, anytime before your next action, you may take the readied action in response to that condition. The action occurs just before the action that triggers it. If the triggered action is part of another character’s activities, you interrupt the other character. Assuming he is still capable of doing so, he continues his actions once you complete your readied action. Your initiative result changes. For the rest of the encounter, your initiative result is the count on which you took the readied action, and you act immediately ahead of the character whose action triggered your readied action.

Grand Lodge

kyrt-ryder wrote:

Neither for Readies. A readied action doesn't change initiative it's just acting out of order.

Delays- on the other hand- change the character's initiative value for the duration of the combat. As for delaying until after someone and before someone else that's not an issue, you just get a decimal initiative value.

No, AoOs are acting out of order, Readies change your position in the Initiative order, just like Delay does.


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Gauss wrote:

Actually kyrt-ryder, a readied action going off DOES change your place in initiative to right before the character who's action triggered it.

CRB p203 wrote:
Readying an Action: You can ready a standard action, a move action, a swift action, or a free action. To do so, specify the action you will take and the conditions under which you will take it. Then, anytime before your next action, you may take the readied action in response to that condition. The action occurs just before the action that triggers it. If the triggered action is part of another character’s activities, you interrupt the other character. Assuming he is still capable of doing so, he continues his actions once you complete your readied action. Your initiative result changes. For the rest of the encounter, your initiative result is the count on which you took the readied action, and you act immediately ahead of the character whose action triggered your readied action.

Heh, I pride myself on rules knowledge and I still occasionally find unintentional houserules I've had/used for the duration of my time with 3rd Edition.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Companion Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
thorin001 wrote:
alexd1976 wrote:

You absolutely can modify initiative during combat, look at the refocus option!

You aren't STUCK at your starting initiative.

You can also DELAY.

I would apply the change immediately, not in the next COMBAT. :D

Of course, things get weird if you start taking DEX damage...

NO! Just no. That way madness lies.

It will inevitably lead to someone effectively getting extra actions.

How? If someone has acted he has acted, even if his initiative change and he would go after the current initiative number.

I don't see why a detrimental or beneficial effect shouldn't have its full effect.

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