I can't use the card initiative system for a web-based game that I have started. The web-page have a full dice-roller with lots of options, so... which are the best alternative ways to do initiative?

Please state procedure, with objective pros and cons if possible. Please try to keep subjective opinions to the comments, they are valuable for me, to avoid that the question is closed as argumentative.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Can you note write a virtual card dealer code? You could even find images for all the cards... \$\endgroup\$ Sep 30, 2011 at 16:06
  • \$\begingroup\$ I'm not the owner of the site (comunidadumbria.com). The site is quite complex and offers lots of features to play tabletop rpgs, including boards, dice-rollers, character portraits, notifications, etc, etc... rewriting all of this will take a team of five coders, working in their free time, two years (I know because they are just finishing a complete rewrite). \$\endgroup\$ Sep 30, 2011 at 16:10
  • \$\begingroup\$ Why not just use a real deck of cards and draw for everyone? Or do you want to preserve player-rolling? \$\endgroup\$
    – Zibbobz
    Oct 27, 2014 at 16:27

5 Answers 5


Roll d20. Count 20s as Joker. Reroll ties. Simple and dumb.

Sure, the probabilities are different, but you want something fast.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I'd like both answers. I choose this one because it's FFF even if it statistically less accurate. \$\endgroup\$ Oct 1, 2011 at 16:45

Dice Replacing Cards

There are 4 suits of 13, plus two extras (jokers). use a d12, d4 combo and you lose little. Use a d13, d4 combo, and you lose only the jokers.

The D4 reads as
1 Clubs 2 Diamonds 3 Hearts 4 Spades

The d12/d13/d14 reads as 1 Ace 2-10 same as shown 11 Jack 12 Queen 13 King 14 Joker

If you really want true duplication, use a d14 instead... and reroll results of Joker of Hearts or Spades. That gets you exact duplication of the deck. For lazy man, just Jokers of hearts and diamonds are red joker, and clubs and spades black.

The advantages: It generates the exact same spread for person 1, and no changes needed to rules. The disadvantages: each player is drawing from a fresh deck every time, so either you sequence them, rerolling later duplicates, or accept the small increase in chances of simultaneous actions.

Deal at Home

Dealing out the initiative at home, then simply telling people what they got, can work quite well. Only the GM really needs to have the knowledge, but players like knowing where they fall in the count... but the count really isn't very useful in online play anyway.

So, just deal out the initiatives, Private Message each player with their card, then call only those steps YOU know will be needed.

Drawback is that you might need to set aside a deck for the game if you are uncomfortable sorting, shuffling a partial, and then continuing...


We use the characters Agility stat with greater than 16 begin used as a Joker. The initiative edges instead give +2 to your roll. It is simple to understand and relatively quick. We did consider the d20 as per okeefe but we wanted the character agility to count. If we where to use the d20, we would probably add the characters Agility dice value as a bonus ie Ag d4 = +4, d8 = +8 etc.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I really don't like having yet another thing that Agility does. For as annoying an initiative system as Savage Worlds has, the one nice thing about it is that it doesn't make agile characters also react faster than everyone. It's already an overwhelmingly more useful than any other ability. \$\endgroup\$
    – Bacon Bits
    Jun 22, 2019 at 20:54

I wrote up an alternative a while back on reddit:


But here's the gist of it:

Roll d20 + Agility die to get a number from 2-32. Ties are resolved by the following:

  1. Agility die trumps, so if one person gets a 10 on the d20 and a 6 on the agility die, that beats someone who gets a 12 on the d20 and a 4 on the agility die.

After that,

  1. Wild cards beat regulars.
  2. PCs beat NPCs.
  3. If two PCs are tied, roll a d6: 1-3, the player on the left edges out, 4-6, player on the right.

Rolling a 20 on the d20 indicates a joker.


Two other systems :


create the "initiative" skill based on agility

create the "enhanced initiative" edge (required: Novice, AGI d8): gain +2 to initiative.

create the "greater initiative" edge (required: Veteran, enhanced initiative): gain +4 to initiative (not cumulative with "enhanced initiative").

Pro: easy to manage, quick die roll and result interpretation.

Con: creation of a new system for initiative, one skill and two edges more to invest points, non compatibility to other edges managing initiative (you have to abandon)


just use the score of the skill needed for the initiative to determine the rank : combat, driving, etc.

Two people with d8 act in the same time. It doesn't matter ! It's fun when the bullets fly !

Pro: realistic, funny situations, quick system, no die required, surprise is utmost important to gain advantage

Con: no surprise, allways the same action rank

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ The question asked for the pros and cons of suggested procedures. Please include them in your answer. \$\endgroup\$
    – Miniman
    Oct 26, 2014 at 23:15
  • \$\begingroup\$ You appear to have two accounts- you can request a merge, and indeed, if you were using the same account, you wouldn't have to get your edits to your own question approved. \$\endgroup\$
    – Chuck Dee
    Oct 27, 2014 at 14:53

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