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When the DM is rolling initiative for its monsters, does their Dexterity modifier apply, or does the DM just roll a d20 on its own?

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    \$\begingroup\$ I’ve rolled back to revision 4 where you added the tag, your later revisions were a completely different question, I would recommend posting that question as a new question post. \$\endgroup\$ Oct 7, 2022 at 0:59
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    \$\begingroup\$ We should maybe have asked for it previous, but maybe just for questions going forwards: what have you done yourself to resolve this? Where have you looked and not found an explanation and/or what explanations have you found but which have failed to resolve this for you? \$\endgroup\$
    – Someone_Evil
    Oct 7, 2022 at 10:22
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    \$\begingroup\$ That said, I think your second question should be wholly covered by: How do I handle initiative and turns for a group of monsters? (if not, you're free to ask a new question which explains why) \$\endgroup\$
    – Someone_Evil
    Oct 7, 2022 at 10:24

2 Answers 2

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Their Dexterity bonus applies

The rule on initiative (PHB, p. 189) is not player-specific:

Initiative determines the order of turns during combat. When combat starts, every participant makes a Dexterity check to determine their place in the initiative order.

"Every participant" includes monsters and NPCs, too.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ What if it's a group of monsters/NPCs? \$\endgroup\$
    – Benny S.
    Oct 6, 2022 at 22:42
  • \$\begingroup\$ @BennyS. Please clarify your question first, by adding the tag of the game version you play, for example dnd-5e, if you play fifth edition D&D. This qeustion would be a new question, although with only my answer, I would be OK if you expanded your question to include it. But currently the question is closed, and without you helping us by clarifying, there is little I can do to help \$\endgroup\$ Oct 6, 2022 at 22:46
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    \$\begingroup\$ @BennyS. as Eddymage quotes in his answer below, identical creatures all go on the same initiative. So, if you had, for example, 3 goblins and an ogre, the DM rolls one d20 for the goblins, and adds +2 for dex - all of the goblins act on that initiative count. The DM rolls a separate d20 for the ogre, subtracts -1 for its dex, and the ogre acts on that count \$\endgroup\$ Oct 7, 2022 at 16:14
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The rules for initiative are the same for all the creatures involved in a fight.

The rules for rolling initiative read (emphasis mine):

Initiative determines the order of turns during combat. When combat starts, every participant makes a Dexterity check to determine their place in the initiative order. The DM makes one roll for an entire group of identical creatures, so each member of the group acts at the same time.

Since the initiative roll is a Dexterity check, it means that even the creatures controlled by the DM roll a d20 and add their DEX modifier: this roll is made by the DM.

As a confirmation of that, in the section on combat in the Dungeon Master's Guide (page 247), there is no different rule for rolling initiative for DM-controlled creatures (emphasis mine):

This section builds on the combat rules in the Player's Handbook and offers tips for keeping the game running smoothly when a fight breaks out.

After that paragraph, there is some guidance about how to track initiative.


Anyway, the DMG (page 270) presents some variants to determine the initiative at the start of a combat. For example, one is called "Initiative Score":

With this optional rule, creatures don't roll initiative at the start of combat. Instead, each creature has an initiative score, which is a passive Dexterity check: 10 + Dexterity modifier.

With this variant, there is no d20 roll to be made.

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