As a player, how would you feel about your DM doing this?


Advice


Just asking for any thoughts on this :)

I've always felt when the DM said roll for intiative that it had always had a weird immersion breaking effect on my tables, combat mode engaged I guess. So would it be weird if your DM completely handled initiative? What I mean is that he has every players initiative and all their modifiers, situational stuff and all, and had pre rolled initiatives for the encounters, that way fights are literally just jumped straight into?

I swear everyone breaks character when that's said at my tables, every time. I feel like this could help narrative bits being done in combat would be much easier to do without this break.

As a player, I'm thinking of requesting a trial of this "house rule" at my table. I know it's seems like asking a lot of the DM but I'm willing to roll out each PC's I initiatives for 15 encounters each session for him if he'd trust me :P, but seriously that bit may be hard sell.

Anyway what's your thoughts on this?


It's more work for the GM but if he's okay with that then I don't see anything wrong with it - so log as the others are all on board


It's just another set of dice rolls, but I get ya. Perhaps if he spun the call for initiative into narrative?

"The Chieftain rebuffs your Bard's ploy of diplomacy to deescalate the standoff. With a sweeping gesture, he commands his tribe to attack."

Phrased/stated in a certain way, myself as a DM and my players would already be rolling dice on top of each other to establish initiative or even force a surprise round.

To keep my games from devolving to plus or minus I try to interpret into story the results of my Players and NPCs rolls for effect, but far from every single one because of the monotony of trying to Hollywood every single action- I'd be beatboxing the entire fight and monologuing even the lowliest goblin afterthought.

Liberty's Edge

Before we get into the dialogues, I will often call for initiatives. This allows me to make sure nobody is left out that wants to contribute, and allows bargaining gone bad to flow into combat easily. I don't worry about action limits until the combat action starts. I have also found that when the party has a diplomancer, there is a sense of urgency that usually leads to better roleplaying before he rolls the check.


Its a little extra work on the DM's part, sure, but not all that much that I wouldn't consider such an experiment. If it is known as such by everyone involved I see no reason why anyone should balk at a trial run. I eagerly anticipate the results as I also find asking for the initiative roll to be disruptive to immersion.


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Some GMs choose to ask players to roll several dice before the game starts, and they mark them down without telling them what each roll is for. They can then use these rolls for stuff like initiative, allowing them to keep the game going instead of pausing it to roll at that point. ^^

Side Note: Some players have optional initiative-affecting abilities. Calling out for rolls does give them an opportunity to use those if they want to, so that's something that should be considered by tables where it's relevant...


Bunch of extra work for very little payoff. People usually know when things have dropped into the crapper and "roll initiative" is usually the signal that the GM gives to the players.

The vast majority of the times that I have seen this it is the GM metagaming and trying to finesse a surprise round and/or gain a full round's worth of actions during a surprise round.


Its different, but I have actually toyed with the idea myself.

I don't think its a problem so long as you tell your players before you begin the game.

I've also thought about requesting my players give me there skill bonuses so I can roll "passive" perception checks for them and other things where I don't want them to know/infer the result of the outcome based on calculating their roll.

It does take away some from the player's agency, but at the same time it also adds back in some mystery to game.

As long as everyone is cool with these sorts of changes in the beginning, it shouldn't be a problem.

Grand Lodge

I've played at lots of tables where GMs hand out a notecard and say "give me 8 initiative checks" and the GM randomly picks one when/if a combat happens. They'll usually ask for other stuff on the card, too (perception mod, anything noteworthy, etc).

Sovereign Court

claudekennilol wrote:
I've played at lots of tables where GMs hand out a notecard and say "give me 8 initiative checks" and the GM randomly picks one when/if a combat happens. They'll usually ask for other stuff on the card, too (perception mod, anything noteworthy, etc).

We used to have a sheet like the above that would go around after every time the players leveled. It had saves, ACs, and a few skills on the list. That way the GM could roll a few things on the characters behalf privately. I didn't have a problem with it but I believe it became just another chore for the GM so we haven't used it in a long time.

It can work out all right enough, though I can see some players having a huge problem with it because the fate, so to speak, is out of their own hands. Id talk it out with the table before a trial run. You might be odd man out with your immersion issue.


For a while, my group and I have been traking initiative in the way claudekennilol described and works fine for us.

Even if we never use them all (some times not even 1 of them) we use to roll initiative 10 times and, once we have writen it, the GM roll a D10 several times to choose the order of the initiative cheks.

We've tried to make the GM make all initiative rolls, but at the end, it was making us to stop before each fight as if everyone rolled his own check.


I never had a whole lot of "immersion" in my early games. We sort of played in a vacuum back then, just us, with little to no idea of how other people were playing the game. At my table, in the beginning, we sort of just talked about what our characters were doing, made a lot of jokes, asked each other a lot of out of character questions about how we were going to deal with different things as they came up, so when I would tell the players to roll initiative it sort of just blended right in with the feel of the game as we were playing it.

This history of mine has made it harder for me to adapt to playing with people today. I really treat the game as a game, and like to see players play it like a game, but instead so many players I encounter do not "get" that about me.

Sometimes I am really depressed by an encounter situation that might be confusing to the players and I see not one single player use the discussion thread to talk to any other player about what is going on, I just don't get it.


I will sometimes have everyone roll initiative early, so when we start the 'scene' we can get right into the fight.

I track everything on paper, so I take the extra time during role playing to have initiative written out.

Scarab Sages

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Maps, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

I would love to do this—I use HeroLab when I GM and my players give me copies of their character, so the tactical console generates initiative at each encounter. But my players absolutely want to roll their own initiative, so no. (Pre-rolling doesn't help; I still have to type in the initiative values anyway.)


We use d20pro so initiative rolls are just random (and crappy :) so this wouldn't quite work for us. Then again, 'time for initiative' doesn't really break me from character. I start fearing the dice more than usual, but that's nothing new.

The Exchange Owner - D20 Hobbies

I've done the "roll 6 D20's at the start of the game" and used them for secret rolls or init. It works well, and goes over fine for the players I've used it.

Liberty's Edge

Yeah I've always LOVED when my GM does secret rolls, anything to preserve the immersion. I've never considered Initiative before but I really like the idea... Like a LOT. If the players don't like the idea of having rolls taken from them you can, as mentioned before, have the players roll a bunch of D20s at the start of the session and write each result down to give to the GM along with the modifiers he needs for secret rolls (like Sense Motive, Perception, Initiative, perhaps some Knowledge too).

It only becomes an issue when you have a player with methods of boosting their initiative or the results of certain rolls by spending points or using a spell or something. Like my Investigator can dismiss Heightened Awareness for a +4 on Initiative. Not sure how that'd be resolved, perhaps the GM could (when the player has the ability available) ask the particular player how they'd like it sort out. Personally as a GM I'd be fully willing to ask said player at the point in the initiative where they COULD go if they activated the ability, if they wanted to. Like if they get 17 Init, 2 others get 22 and 20. After the 22 player I'd ask the Investigator with Heightened Awareness activated if he wants to dismiss it for a +4 boost.


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I'm failing to see how this would matter. Is your GM telling you when it's your turn(or various other things that typically happen once initiative is rolled) before asking for initiative? Because even if the GM doesn't say "Roll Initiative" he's still going to have to tell people it's their turn, etc.


The only problem I'm foreseeing is that unless these initiative checks were done before the game started or in a surreptitious manner, the immersion would still break because the party would observe the GM rolling 6 or 7 dice in a row and scribbling down numbers, thus intuiting that a combat is about to begin - which is the same problem you're describing when the players are asked to roll for themselves.


Claxon wrote:

Its different, but I have actually toyed with the idea myself.

I don't think its a problem so long as you tell your players before you begin the game.

I've also thought about requesting my players give me there skill bonuses so I can roll "passive" perception checks for them and other things where I don't want them to know/infer the result of the outcome based on calculating their roll.

It does take away some from the player's agency, but at the same time it also adds back in some mystery to game.

As long as everyone is cool with these sorts of changes in the beginning, it shouldn't be a problem.

I do similar for those things that I want the players to not even have to consider meta-gaming. Typically this is perception (I keep "take-10" perception #s and AC's on the back side (which faces me) of our initiative tracking tepees.

Another common one is detect traps, if the PC rolls a 1 on detect, its just too tempting for other PCs to decide to wander over to the other side of the room as the rogue tries to pick the lock/open the door...you know....just in case. If I roll the dice and tell them they didn't find any traps, they may form a habit of doing the same thing just to be safe, but its done more in character rather than as a result of what everyone saw was the rogue's check. Trap checking is a bigger deal in our home game because other than pits and other large type reflex traps only rogues can detect them.

I'm not sure Ini would change things once combat is imminent; and surprise falls more back to passive or active perception checks.


One suggestion I got from the Alexandrian is rolling initiative at the end of the encounter, for the next encounter. We use an initiative tracker, so it means the only who has to give an initiative is the GM. I'm not sure it preserves the immersion, but it speeds up encounters and it makes surprise encounters that much more of a surprise.

Liberty's Edge

Artoo wrote:
I'm failing to see how this would matter. Is your GM telling you when it's your turn(or various other things that typically happen once initiative is rolled) before asking for initiative? Because even if the GM doesn't say "Roll Initiative" he's still going to have to tell people it's their turn, etc.

Its about surprise mostly, making surprise encounters feel surprising as well as being mechanically surprising. The players won't know their initiative ahead of time so can't plan out the first turn and don't know who is or isn't surprised until they act. It certainly makes ambushes and such harder by making it genuinely more surprising.


I have been using The Alexandrian's method of having the players roll initiative at the end of the encounter for the next one. I really like it, they still get to roll and I can go seamlessly from narrative/exploration to combat time.


Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Maps, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

That idea works best if the modifiers to initiative do not change from the end of one combat to the beginning of the next. While for most characters the modifiers do not change, for some they can change considerably.


Whether I mind the idea or not depends on the GM. Some GMs play it exactly as rolled. Some firmly believe in fudging dice to make a good story. If they're in the former camp I'm quite content for them to roll, if the latter, not.
Have a bunch of different coloured D20's for the job and then it's only one roll (though multiple notations).


As a house rule up front? I guess I wouldn't mind.
BUT if rolling initiative breaks your immersion wouldn't rolling an attack or a save do the same thing? Are you planning on rolling everything?


Aranna wrote:

As a house rule up front? I guess I wouldn't mind.

BUT if rolling initiative breaks your immersion wouldn't rolling an attack or a save do the same thing? Are you planning on rolling everything?

There is a pretty big difference between halting the game for 5 seconds while a single player rolls a check and halting the game for 5 minutes while the players all roll their own checks and the GM rolls half a dozen to a dozen times for his own creatures and there is some back and forth getting the numbers from the players' heads onto the GM's sheet and the GM sorts out who goes in what order and so on and so forth. Even if we accept that the "problem" with both of those is the same*, there is an enormous difference in magnitude between the two.

*It's not. I can say from personal experience that the pause in the game for rolling initiative does feel like a metaphorical boxing bell.


Well, there's always having the GM roll initiative for all of the creatures before the game. XD


GM Rednal wrote:
Well, there's always having the GM roll initiative for all of the creatures before the game. XD

That comes with the baggage of the GM having insight into every battle, which might influence their actions.

It's not an insurmountable issue, but needing to play the segregation of knowledge game with most monsters might be considered a "downside" for the GM.

There is also the fact that it tells the players what parts of the session are "on script". The extra dice rolls will telegraph impromptu encounters made up by the GM on the spot. Again, not a show stopper, but it's a downside.


GM 1990 wrote:

I do similar for those things that I want the players to not even have to consider meta-gaming. Typically this is perception (I keep "take-10" perception #s and AC's on the back side (which faces me) of our initiative tracking tepees.

Another common one is detect traps, if the PC rolls a 1 on detect, its just too tempting for other PCs to decide to wander over to the other side of the room as the rogue tries to pick the lock/open the door...you know....just in case. If I roll the dice and tell them they didn't find any traps, they may form a habit of doing the same thing just to be safe, but its done more in character rather than as a result of what everyone saw was the rogue's check. Trap checking is a bigger deal in our home game because other than pits and other large type reflex traps only rogues can detect them.

I'm not sure Ini would change things once combat is imminent; and surprise falls more back to passive or active perception checks.

I do want to caution GMs against using flat take-10 checks for PC perception checks because that is a HUGE disadvantage to the PCs. If you have four characters, all with a +10 and an enemy with a 21 stealth check, taking 10 means there's a 0% chance of finding the enemy. Rolling it out means that there is a 94% chance of finding the enemy. That's just the extreme example. If the enemy had a stealth check of 26, rolling out perception still gives that party a 68% chance of success.


Snowblind wrote:
Aranna wrote:

As a house rule up front? I guess I wouldn't mind.

BUT if rolling initiative breaks your immersion wouldn't rolling an attack or a save do the same thing? Are you planning on rolling everything?

There is a pretty big difference between halting the game for 5 seconds while a single player rolls a check and halting the game for 5 minutes while the players all roll their own checks and the GM rolls half a dozen to a dozen times for his own creatures and there is some back and forth getting the numbers from the players' heads onto the GM's sheet and the GM sorts out who goes in what order and so on and so forth. Even if we accept that the "problem" with both of those is the same*, there is an enormous difference in magnitude between the two.

*It's not. I can say from personal experience that the pause in the game for rolling initiative does feel like a metaphorical boxing bell.

Wow that seems hostile.

They are the same thing. Anytime you have to stop and reference mechanics like initiative or attack and damage modifiers you risk breaking immersion. Hence my question.

Oh and you have a strange group if they take 5 min to figure out initiative (something everyone in my group already knows how to do / and can do in less than a minute) vs 5 seconds to add up the various attack modifiers, damage modifiers, ect which wildly varies from player to player; I personally have seen this take as quick as 10 to 15 seconds from a prepared player to as long as 15 minutes from an unprepared caster.


MeanMutton wrote:
GM 1990 wrote:

I do similar for those things that I want the players to not even have to consider meta-gaming. Typically this is perception (I keep "take-10" perception #s and AC's on the back side (which faces me) of our initiative tracking tepees.

Another common one is detect traps, if the PC rolls a 1 on detect, its just too tempting for other PCs to decide to wander over to the other side of the room as the rogue tries to pick the lock/open the door...you know....just in case. If I roll the dice and tell them they didn't find any traps, they may form a habit of doing the same thing just to be safe, but its done more in character rather than as a result of what everyone saw was the rogue's check. Trap checking is a bigger deal in our home game because other than pits and other large type reflex traps only rogues can detect them.

I'm not sure Ini would change things once combat is imminent; and surprise falls more back to passive or active perception checks.

I do want to caution GMs against using flat take-10 checks for PC perception checks because that is a HUGE disadvantage to the PCs. If you have four characters, all with a +10 and an enemy with a 21 stealth check, taking 10 means there's a 0% chance of finding the enemy. Rolling it out means that there is a 94% chance of finding the enemy. That's just the extreme example. If the enemy had a stealth check of 26, rolling out perception still gives that party a 68% chance of success.

To clarify, how I use the passive is I assume as adventurers they're always just a little on alert and keeping situational awareness. So for example a couple of my players are over 20 on their passive at this point, therefore if there is something with a DC20 to perceive I tell them they notice it, they don't have to say they're listening, looking, searching, etc.

So on your example, if the PCs have no clue someone is hiding, and no reason to specifically be on lookout and they don't say they're looking for someone, then yes, that 26 stealth wouldn't be detected just with their normal level of alertness. however, if they were manning a guard post, or pulling night-watch where their entire focus is on looking/listening I'll have them roll opposed unless their passive +10 would already detect what ever was approaching.

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