Moving Initiative when getting Dying condition- why?


Pathfinder Second Edition General Discussion


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There must be a reason that the creature getting the dying condition moves their initiative to after that of the turn of the effect which caused the dying condition- whether it be a trap or an enemy's weapon.

But I can't for the life of me figure out why it's necessary to take that extra step. I assume it has something to do with the dying creature's turn and rolling to stabilize, to allow for their allies to heal or help? If that's the case, I thought combat generally took place at the same instant every round...

It's a hassle- yes, I know, a small one- for those of us who use pen and paper only to keep track of initiative and if you're like me, very meticulous and careful and orderly on paper. Once again- a small hassle, but one nonetheless that is time consuming for my games as I then have to start a new set of lines and round ticks since I use straight line paper to keep track.

I'm considering houseruling it out, but wanted to make sure it wouldn't cause issues with the balance of the game.

Shadow Lodge

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Basically, it's because you could be taken down by a crit (therefore starting at Dying 2) and if your turn happens to be next, you could crit fail your check, drop to Dying 4 and die 'instantly' without anyone having a chance to save you, which would be a bit of a bummer...

The rule makes certain your companions should have an opportunity to save your life.


It gives your allies more time to heal you before you start making death saves.

Imagine that a dragon is going on initiative 23, and you're on initiative 22 with 1hp. The dragon critically hits, taking you straight to Dying 2.

With the rules as written, you allies have a whole round to heal you!

With your houserule, you could die if you roll poorly on your recovery check - and no-one has any chance to intervene. If you're out of hero points, and/or are already wounded, the odds get even worse.

There are few options to make tracking initiative easier in person. One is to use magnetic strips on a whiteboard, like the official initiative tracker. Or, if you use a GM screen, you can write everyone's name on a separate piece of card that you fold in half and drop over the top of the screen. You can physically adjust the order of the bits of card to reflect changes in initiative.

Both methods also make it super easy for the players to see who's coming up next, which I find helps to speed up combat.


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no good scallywag wrote:
I thought combat generally took place at the same instant every round...

Ish

The narrative is that everything is happening more or less at once, but the rules work on every turn completing before the next one begins.

As the other have said the order change is to ensure that your allies have a chance to help you before you make the death check


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no good scallywag wrote:

I thought combat generally took place at the same instant every round...

I think that the default rule is more realistic, as it makes sure that 1 round passes before the you possibly die. Otherwise, it is a crapshoot: it can be an instant later, or 1 round later depending on where you happen to be in initiative.

The fact that there are turns is already an artificial construct - this prevents the construct from having perverse results.

Shadow Lodge

Small point to add to the discussion of why this is to the player’s benefit.

When you gain the Dying condition, you move to just *before* the creature that knocked you out, not *after.* This way all your companions and you will get a chance to act before the creature goes again.

Liberty's Edge

If you do not want to start a new set of lines, just have the time fly by during the dying creature's next turn : absolutely nothing happens, as if the creature was not there. Of course the creature's turn after that works just as usual.


I'd advise you to refrain from houseruling it, as the whole Dying mechanic has a small chance to turn on the players (don't forget that only significant NPCs don't die instantly on reaching 0 hp from a lethal blow).

Let's suppose this rule didn't exist. Your character has low HP, and plays just after an enemy.

  • - The enemy strikes, and your character falls from taking a critical hit.
  • - Your character instantly goes to Dying 2.
  • - Your turn begins. As you're Dying, you have to roll a flat check against 10+your dying value, so 12 in your case.
  • - You roll a 2. You miss the DC by 10, it's a critical failure. So your dying value increases by 2.
  • - You're at dying 4, your character dies, and nobody or nothing could have done anything to save you between the time you were struck and the time you died, making the whole dying system useless and extremely frustrating

Even in its lowest possible probability, there's a minimum 0.5% chance for that scenario to happen (an enemy crits, then you critfail at dying 2). And if that happens, it means that for the whole turn, noone in your group thought useful to help you in any way. Which means that the group made a conscious choice not to save you.

A whole part of PF2 is about avoiding frustration from Save or Die effects, that's also why the incapacitation rule was created. And having your character die from sheer bad luck without any chance for anyone to do anything would be bad design in a game talking about heroes going through epic adventures. And if you look at it, anyone can save you : in 3 actions, another character can Stride next to you, Interact to draw a potion, and Interact to make you drink it while you're downed.

In grittier settings, with a high chance to die from almost anything, I think that rule would be less useful, but still interesting to have.

Sovereign Court

no good scallywag wrote:
There must be a reason that the creature getting the dying condition moves their initiative to after that of the turn of the effect which caused the dying condition- whether it be a trap or an enemy's weapon.

Moved to right BEFORE the next turn of the cause of the Dying condition. Not after.

no good scallywag wrote:
But I can't for the life of me figure out why it's necessary to take that extra step. I assume it has something to do with the dying creature's turn and rolling to stabilize, to allow for their allies to heal or help?

Yes, exactly that.

no good scallywag wrote:
If that's the case, I thought combat generally took place at the same instant every round...

That's just a convenient story we tell, in practice turns are sequential.

Also, even with that pleasant fiction, moving the turn makes sense. That way, after being dropped, it takes ~6s before the first Recovery check regardless of why dropped who, instead of sometimes it being much faster and sometimes it being much slower.

no good scallywag wrote:

It's a hassle- yes, I know, a small one- for those of us who use pen and paper only to keep track of initiative and if you're like me, very meticulous and careful and orderly on paper. Once again- a small hassle, but one nonetheless that is time consuming for my games as I then have to start a new set of lines and round ticks since I use straight line paper to keep track.

I'm considering houseruling it out, but wanted to make sure it wouldn't cause issues with the balance of the game.

When I run at the table (nowadays..) I prefer to use stack of small cards with names on them for initiative, instead of writing down a list. It's easier to reorder the stack if someone ends up Dying or Delaying. And use of Delay is pretty common when players start to do more advanced teamwork, like waiting until after the bard opens their mouth to Strike, or people waiting until after the sorcerer uses Demoralize so that as many people as possible can take advantage before the enemy reduces their Frightened condition again at the end of turn.

So basically: your method is not ideal for when players start doing the fun, cooperative, teamwork stuff (and also not ideal for when they're bleeding out). It may be better to adapt the method than to change the rules.


It’s “you could bleed out / die in 6 seconds” as opposed to “you bleed out / die possibly immediately”

The rule establishes that you get about 6 seconds from a fatal wound to the first check in terms of time per round.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

If you want to house rule it do it as so- You roll your stabilization roll at the start of the turn of the creature/hazard/etc that brought you to zero.

Don't change initiative, just change when stabilization happens. Done.


Reckless wrote:

If you want to house rule it do it as so- You roll your stabilization roll at the start of the turn of the creature/hazard/etc that brought you to zero.

Don't change initiative, just change when stabilization happens. Done.

And just skip your turn in between? Going again after the threat does?

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Maybe not. Say your your turn comes two or three away in the init, your buddy is next, and they heal you up, you get your turn. If you go RIGHT after the monster, sure you loose your turn. Adds a bit of urgency to the situation.


Reckless wrote:

Maybe not. Say your your turn comes two or three away in the init, your buddy is next, and they heal you up, you get your turn. If you go RIGHT after the monster, sure you loose your turn. Adds a bit of urgency to the situation.

True, I guess. If you get healed between the time you went down and your turn, you'd be back up and able to act. If you're not healed until after your turn, you lose a turn.

Shadow Lodge

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Beyond being knocked to 0 HP, you should see players using the Delay action fairly frequently, so initiative changes are actually somewhat common in PF2e.


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Great points everyone. Looks like I will keep that rule in.

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