How can I handle many different initiative values in a non-standard initiative system?
This is a problem that came up in a recent (Roll20) session of the German RPG "Splittermond". Splittermond uses a time bar as it's initiative system (see below for a short info on this system) and because of this system, every combatant has his own initiative score. With a group of players and, for example, a group of 5 bandits, this results in 9 tokens on the initiative bar at a time. And it is very likely for the pcs to get access to animals or followers fighting with them.
Handling this number of combatants in Roll20 can be a hassle, as there is no fixed initiative order and speeds of various combatants can be hugely different, Actions out of turnorder also adding to the confusion. This ultimately results in a lot of time beeing wasted shuffling around the initiative tokens on the bar and constantly changing if they are in the fore- or background.
How can I streamline fights against groups of enemies in an online environment, where the initiative changes constantly and it takes a long amount to even see who's turn is up next?
Splittermond's Initiative System
Splittermond (which is available for free in german) uses an initiative track for it's combat system. You can see an example of that track in this free pdf. Every time a character does something, he advances a certain number of "ticks" (spaces) on the track. If someone is on that position on the track already, the "newcomer" is put behind the other character to show that he is last on that tick. At the beginning of combat, everyone starts at their initiative Score (determined by attributes) - 1d6.
The turn order is then determined by going along the track, with the characters on the lowest numbers beginning and the game advancing along the track.
As every action (even each weapon) has a different speed and thus takes a different amount of time to complete, each character/token on the board needs it's own initiative score (with bigger monsters even having multiple initiative scores) and is treated separately, which can get pretty crowded. (image by me, from our roll20 game)
Speed of some actions: Moving (5 Ticks); Running (10 Ticks); Attacking with a dagger (6 Ticks); firing a ranged weapon (3 Ticks); reloading a heavy crossbow (24 Ticks)