I'm working on my own homebrew RPG system which I want to keep light on rules. Therefore I add only rules when they are needed. One rule which I did not use was an implementation of "initiative", where complete combat turns are subdivided into turns for each individual participant.

In combat everyone's actions happen at the same time. There is no order imposed by stats, dice rolls, or activity chosen, i.e. no initiative scores or initiative rolls such as in DnD 5e. It is more like melee from Warhammer Fantasy (the strategy game, not the RPG).

A combat is divided into turns. During each turn, all participants' actions are assumed to occur simultaneously. Attacks use a skill check with a modifier. Damage is static. Adjudication so far follows an arbitrary order. If a participant dies, this does not prevent them from acting during the same turn, just because the action killing them was resolved first.

I did like the feeling in general during playtest, however management of combat turns was very chaotic since I could obviously not do all the adjudication at the same time.

My question therefore is: What game mechanics can I use to facilitate combat adjudication without imposing an order of action? I prefer answers referencing published RPG systems. Ideally, the solution would be as simple as possible, only facilitating adjudication without posing restrictions on what can be done in the game.

The problem to solve is: How can the adjudication be made less complicated without introducing subturns for the individual participants?

Criteria for good answers:

  1. The solution should be mechanical instead of technical, i.e. based on game rules instead of relying on online tools or similar.

  2. Simple. The fewer rules the better.

  3. Preferably from published material. RPG material is preferred over other sources which are preferred over Homebrew.

  4. Non-restrictive. Mechanics are preferred that do not rely on a set of potential actions (even if "wildcard" actions are in the set)

    The criteria are ordered by importance.


2 Answers 2


Adjudication seems straightforward to me: Determine the results of all actions before applying the results of any actions. Or fake it by remembering each participant's status at the beginning of the round and using that status during all action resolutions. e.g., Even if someone has already been determined to receive a debilitating or fatal hit, they're still treated as uninjured when resolving their action for the round.

The bigger issue is in handling declarations, since you presumably don't want a player who declares their actions for the round later in the process to be influenced by the knowledge of what actions have already been declared by others earlier in the process. The traditional way of handling this in strategy games has been for each player to secretly write their orders for the turn, then simultaneously reveal the written orders.

Written orders quickly become cumbersome, however, so a number of more recent (or more beer-and-pretzels) games have turned instead to using cards or other physical artifacts to represent your choice of secret orders, which then allow for simultaneous reveals with lower effort than if you were using actual written orders. For example, in the 1980s strategy boardgame Shogun (later re-released as Samurai Swords, and then as Ikusa), players begin each turn by allocating plastic coins behind a screen for five different activities that can be taken during the turn and, if any funds are spent on hiring ronin, the ronin figures are placed on face-down cards representing the provinces where they are to be hired, which are then revealed when the ronin enter combat.

I'm not aware of any RPGs which have attempted to use similar hidden declaration systems, but the same methods used in strategy games should be directly applicable.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Battle For Rokugan uses a similar approach to Shogun \$\endgroup\$
    – Trish
    Commented Jun 30, 2020 at 11:51

What I've done in Dragon Eye is to use the dice themselves as tools.

Combat (or any complex conflict resolution) uses the same approach as yours: All actions are assumed to be resolved at the same time, with a few exceptions (special actions intended to interrupt someone).

To do that, everyone announces their basic action (fight, cast, run away, etc.) which determines what dice they roll. Then everyone rolls at the same time and allocates the dice to actions (a specific system detail I can't explain in full here). This fixes actions. There is a section at the bottom of the character sheet where players can put their dice.

Then all dice and choices are revealed at the same time. I can now resolve all actions in whatever order gives the scene the best dramatic impact or is most convenient. Resolved dice are removed from the table, so nothing is resolved twice or forgotten.


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