Are there any rules - be they official or side-bar optional ones - as to what happens when a player rolls a 1 on their initiative roll?

Is the initiative roll something you can critically fail at?


4 Answers 4


There are no official rules in Dungeons and Dragons version 3, 3.5 or 4 to additionally penalize a character who rolls a 1 on their initiative roll. (Other than seeing most other folks go before them.) :)

  • 5
    \$\begingroup\$ Neither in OD&D, the BD&Ds, or AD&D (either edition). \$\endgroup\$ Nov 12, 2010 at 20:23

Nothing usually, like a skill check it cannot be critically failed because that does not make sense. If you want, I have used the following house rules (DND3.5):

  • Finish adding your initiative together:

    • Higher than something you are fighting (eg. an ooze), you go last for the first round and then in the normal spot for the rest.
    • Less than everything, miss the first round and then you go as normal.

However, I'm not a complete monster, it works in the other direction too.

If you get a score 10 or more higher than EVERYthing/EVERYyone else:

  • You get an extra partial/swift/standard action for being just that aware/quick.
  • *For rogues sneak attack does not apply because if they are going first you will get sneak attack on the creature anyway and I'm afraid of that many d6s.

That's my personal ruling, no real rule for it that I know of.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I love the ruthlessness of it! But I'm confused by the "Higher than something you are fighting" part... should that read "Lower than..." \$\endgroup\$
    – LeguRi
    Nov 12, 2010 at 14:34
  • \$\begingroup\$ @LeguRi: I read it as "If you roll a 1 AND are not the worst init, you go last in the 1st round, then move to your init count. If you roll a 1 AND have the worst init, you get skipped in the first round." \$\endgroup\$
    – yhw42
    Nov 12, 2010 at 20:41
  • \$\begingroup\$ @yhw42: that's it, you have it \$\endgroup\$
    – thefemmedm
    Nov 13, 2010 at 8:30

You accept it as a face-value, adding the eventual +4 modifier for improved initiative.


The fact that the player will most likely go last is bad enough. Sometimes bad rolls happen, in cases like initiative and damage (not attack roles) there is no need to add any additional effect.


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