I've recently picked up D&D 5e, and watching some You Tubes, noticed that some DMs do not reveal monster initiative during the first round, and the players only learn of the monsters initiative, when the monsters first take their turn. My table has always let the players know what order the monsters would take their actions in, so that high initiative characters could make the best choices.

I'm wondering if there is anything RAW that states if the DM is compelled one way or another to reveal monster initiative.

  • \$\begingroup\$ DOH, the DMG specifically mentions in the "running the game" section, that either or anything the DM wants to do, reveal, or not reveal is fine by the rules. Of course I turn right to it as I double check my question. Answer below also follows the logic, in that it doesn't require either method. \$\endgroup\$
    – JPicasso
    Oct 7, 2016 at 3:28
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ A small answer summarising what you found would be a great addition to this page. (It's ok to answer your own question here!) \$\endgroup\$ Oct 7, 2016 at 15:11

2 Answers 2


From the SRD:


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 GM makes one roll for an entire group of identical creatures, so each member of the group acts at the same time.

The GM ranks the combatants in order from the one with the highest Dexterity check total to the one with the lowest. This is the order (called the initiative order) in which they act during each round. The initiative order remains the same from round to round.

If a tie occurs, the GM decides the order among tied GM-controlled creatures, and the players decide the order among their tied characters. The GM can decide the order if the tie is between a monster and a player character. Optionally, the GM can have the tied characters and monsters each roll a d20 to determine the order, highest roll going first.

Nowhere does it state that the GM must reveal what he rolled for monsters, as such it can be left up to GM discretion.

Also note that it doesn't state that the players need to reveal their initiative roll to other players. They only need to let the GM know so he can rank them in order.

I've played in games where players initiative checks are secret because we don't know what order people are going to go in. It can make the first round of combat more interesting as people have to make choices without complete information.

  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ Good answer: this answer could be improved by mentioning fun house rule: speed factor initiative. This takes the fun of the first-round uncertainty and dials it up. AngryDM has a fun article about it: theangrygm.com/… \$\endgroup\$
    – PipperChip
    Oct 6, 2016 at 22:11
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    \$\begingroup\$ briddums: if you do take @PipperChip's advice and mention speed factor initiative, note that it's not (necessarily) a house rule: it's presented as an alternate initiative scheme in the DMG. (pp.270-271) \$\endgroup\$
    – nitsua60
    Oct 7, 2016 at 2:30
  • \$\begingroup\$ @nitsua60 By "house rule" I merely mean not standard; I suppose it was an error on my part to call it that. :\ \$\endgroup\$
    – PipperChip
    Oct 7, 2016 at 11:05

The rules do not even state when the players are to reveal their initiative. There are several options to run it that are all within RAW:

  1. The DM starts counting down from a number that he thinks is higher than the highest possible ini. When a player hears his ini called out or when a monster's ini comes up this is announced and the one takes his turn.
  2. Everyone states their ini, they are noted.
  3. Every player states their ini, they are noted with the monster's ini not yet revealed.

Every option has its own merits. With 1: It is more surprising and there is less metagaming with delaying/readying actions. With 2: the GM can easily delegate handling ini to one of the players. With 3: the players (characters), who know each others well, can better work as a team but the monster's turns are still a surprise.

  • \$\begingroup\$ It might be worth mentioning that three possibilities broadly along these lines are given in the DMG o pp 247-8. \$\endgroup\$
    – Ubiquitous
    Nov 2, 2017 at 7:59

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