This is a follow-up question I had after reading the accepted answer in this related question.
A player is talking to an NPC and then decides to stab the NPC. Let's assume the tension is high enough that the NPC isn't "surprised" (they "noticed the threat").
The DM will ask for an initiative roll before the stabbing can take place, and the player will have to wait their turn in initiative before they can stab. At least that was the accepted (and most highly voted and undisputed) answer in the above linked question.
Let's say the NPC rolls a higher initiative than the player.
I can see two ways this could be ruled, but I don't know which is the "correct" one:
- The NPC had the higher initiative, so they are first in combat. The DM narrates that the NPC saw the PC readying their weapon, so the NPC decides to act accordingly (dodge, attack first, disengage and run, whatever...)
- The NPC had the higher initiative, so they are first in combat. However, they have no reason to be hostile yet, because the player has yet to attack. The NPC will use their turn resuming whatever they were doing before (most likely speaking to the PC)
Personally, I would tend to do the latter, seeing how in the other combat rounds we don't assume the characters can foresee the actions that happen in the round after their turn in initiative, but I'm not sure.
It might even get a bit more complicated even when the roles are reversed (as players are tipped of by the initiative roll, while the player character might not be)