AD&D initiative isn't horribly complex, but it is different than what my players are used to. And it's got a bit of a learning curve--simple enough once you've internalized the design ethos, but wonky during the learning process.
Unfortunately, I'm stuck gaming over a VTT, and some of my players have some learning problems that are going to prevent them from making a smooth transition from "new school" initiative to the older method. Without being able to explain things person-to-person, I'm not confident our group will be able to make the transition.
Heck, I'm not even sure I would be able to keep things straight once I get a couple of beers in me.
To keep our group from falling apart during our transition from 3.x to OSRIC, I've decided to hack into Savage World's initiative system. Sure, it's kind of weird to people used to d20 initiative rolls, but it's got a few things going for it too.
The Advantages of Savaging InitiativeFirst, it's easy to play on roll20.net. Just deal cards and count 'em down over voice.
Second, it's a smooth replacement for AD&D initiative. Initiative occurs in a different order every round. Players can declare their actions before drawing initiative. Initiative can be be improved/reduced depending on what actions a player declared. Spellcasting can be interrupted.
And finally, when it comes right down to it, I suppose I actually kind of like Savage World's initiative. It gets tense when you deal initiative face down and count down the initiative, not knowing who is going to get to act first.
The RulesBefore each round begins, players must declare what their characters are doing in the round. Once the actions are declared, players will draw from a standard deck of playing cards— jokers included—which is reshuffled each round.
- Draw two cards and choose the best if you are attacking with a weapon with a maximum damage vs. medium creatures of 5 or less, or if you are casting a spell with a casting time of 2 segments or less.
- Draw one card if you are attacking with a weapon with a maximum damage vs. medium creatures of 8 or less, or if you are casting a spell with a casting time of 5 segments or less. Also draw one card if you are closing with the enemy or taking other non-combat actions.
- Draw two cards and choose the worst if you are attacking with a weapon with a maximum damage vs. medium creatures of 9 or greater, or if you are casting a spell with a casting time of 6 segments or more.
Initiative occurs in the following order: Joker-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10-Jack-Q-K-A-Joker. In case of a tie, clubs beat hearts beat spades beat diamonds. The DM will count up the cards in order. It is the player’s responsibility to speak up when their card is called. No one goes out of order under any circumstances.
If a character has multiple attacks that round, they all occur when the character's card is called.
A character casting a spell with a casting time of less than one full round may be interrupted any time before his or her card is called. The spell takes effect when the character's card is called.
A character casting a spell with a casting time of one full round or greater may be interrupted any time before the round in which the spell is completed. The spell takes effect at the beginning of the round in which it completes.
If a player draws a joker, he or she may act twice in a round: once at the beginning and once at the end. On their second action, the player who drew a joker may take any action, provided it is different than the action taken at the beginning of the round. For example, a character who attacked with a longsword could then cast a spell at the end of the round, but could not make a second longsword attack. A character spending the entire round casting a spell does not benefit from drawing a Joker.
Sometimes, a player will wish to alter his or her action during the round, and do something other than what was declared. If the change is minor (for example deciding to attack the orcs instead of the trolls because another player has already wiped the trolls out) then the change can be made without penalty. Major changes (for example, deciding to cast a spell instead of attacking the troll) are not allowed.