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The Delay action says that you can return to the initiative order as a free action triggered by the end of any other creature’s turn. Can you ever become first in initiative by taking said action? Because the way I understand it, you can at best be second.

As an example:

  1. Assassin has rolled 20 for initiative
  2. Barbarian has rolled 18
  3. Champion has rolled 15
  4. Druid has rolled 10

If Champion wanted to delay they could wait for the end of Druid's turn, but by doing so the new initiative should be a 9.9 and not a 21, right? Same thing for Druid, if they wanted to delay they could wait for the end of Assassin's turn, having a new initiative of 19.9.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ @Caleth That looks like a good start to an answer, because it looks to me like it should resolve the querents problem. \$\endgroup\$
    – Someone_Evil
    Nov 16 '21 at 13:41
  • \$\begingroup\$ Is there a reason you need to be "first" in initiative? Is there a problem you're trying to resolve? If so, we need to know why being last in initiative (going before "first") isn't acceptable. \$\endgroup\$
    – Ifusaso
    Nov 16 '21 at 14:25
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There is no "first" in initiative outside of the first round

Per the Tracking Initiative sidebar,

Once the encounter’s order is set, it’s usually not necessary to track the original initiative numbers. The GM can create a simple list, use a series of cards or other indicators, or use a Pathfinder Combat Pad, which has magnetic markers to allow for easily rearranging the order.

Initiative is intended to be a cycle; going after Druid is the same thing as going before Assassin. Druid can't Delay to go "more" before Assassin, but anyone else trying to Delay to the "top" of initiative should be educated about the shape of a circle.

Technically, if you do keep the numbers, no

Because of the trigger being associated to the end of a turn, you will never truly Delay to be "first" of anything. But to that I ask... what if the Assassin delays? Who is then first in Initiative? Is it still the Assassin, with their higher initial roll, and they moved people to the new "bottom" of initiative? Or did they give up the pointless accolade to Barbarian?

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    \$\begingroup\$ Well, if the assassin delays and re-enters battle the first in initiative would become the Barbarian, and I would not say it's pointless. It's tactical, although maybe not in this instance. For example, let's say that there's an enemy that for a reason or another always attacks the barbarian, and the same barbarian goes down. By staying in that initiative order, the barbarian will ALWAYS go down before having a chance to act. But if the barbarian goes first they could at least get one or two attacks each round, because they could be healed by the druid before being attacked again \$\endgroup\$
    – Snakehelm
    Nov 16 '21 at 15:53
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Snakehelm "For example, let's say that there's an enemy that for a reason or another always attacks the barbarian, and the same barbarian goes down. By staying in that initiative order, the barbarian will ALWAYS go down before having a chance to act" No. "You immediately move your initiative position to directly before the turn in which you were reduced to 0 HP." The barbarian would go before that enemy on the next round. \$\endgroup\$
    – willuwontu
    Nov 16 '21 at 17:42
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    \$\begingroup\$ That aside, there's no functional difference between the champion delaying to an init of 9.9 vs. 20.1 aside from tracking rounds of combat for buffs and time. They wouldn't be able to retroactively go before the assassin, and they'll be going just before the assassin does in their new initiative position. \$\endgroup\$
    – willuwontu
    Nov 16 '21 at 17:47
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Snakehelm Except, there's no actual mechanical difference for being the first person to go in a round outside of the first round of combat. The only way it matters, is if there's outside based events occurring (like buff duration or a gate opening at the start of round X). Without such things, whether the champion delays to going before the assassin at 9.9 vs at 20.1 has no actual distinction. They're still the character going before the assassin now, and the assassin can still do the same things to control the pace of combat. \$\endgroup\$
    – willuwontu
    Nov 16 '21 at 18:51
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    \$\begingroup\$ Delaying to be first or last in a "round" also has absolutely no effect on round based effects, since they should be counted from the initiative they were activated at and they address that positive effects end when appropriate and negative effects happen anyway in the newruleset as well. "When you Delay, any persistent damage or other negative effects that normally occur at the start or end of your turn occur immediately when you use the Delay action. Any beneficial effects that would end at any point during your turn also end. " \$\endgroup\$
    – Ifusaso
    Nov 17 '21 at 16:53

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