Questions tagged [initiative]

For questions about the rules governing the order of action in turn-based combat systems, commonly known as "initiative".

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Can I choose to delay my turn in combat?

In D&D 4e there was an option to Delay your initiative: Perform your actions as desired and adjust your initiative to your new position in the order. Does this rule to change initiative ...
Adrian's user avatar
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25 votes
5 answers
15k views

Does a controlled mount share its rider's turn?

From "Controlling a Mount" on p.198 of the Player's Handbook: The initiative of a controlled mount changes to match yours when you mount it. It moves as you direct it, and it has only three action ...
Sebkha's user avatar
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16 votes
4 answers
14k views

When exactly does combat start and surprise take effect?

Say I'm going to ambush an orc. I successfully sneak up on him and I attack. The DM determines that the orc is surprised. The orc happens to get an initiative roll of 19, while I get a 10. How would ...
Ponggoleechee's user avatar
65 votes
7 answers
18k views

What happens when initiative allows a player to act before the player that started the combat?

This example is a somewhat simplified version of what happened during the last game I DMed for a bunch of friends. A party of PCs was trudging through the woods when they happened upon a very small ...
Kangaxx's user avatar
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25 votes
5 answers
5k views

When do player characters leave turn-based action (i.e. initiative order) if they are in a hostile area?

In most circumstances, it is easy to determine when turn based combat ends: One side is completely killed, unconscious or has fled All parties declared truce But when in a hostile area, like a ...
Thyzer's user avatar
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16 votes
4 answers
16k views

How do I handle initiative when a new force joins a combat that's already in progress?

I am DMing a small hunger-games-like adventure where there are multiple parties of NPC who also are participating. It is pretty likely that the PCs will happen upon some of the NPCs fighting some ...
Teralynx's user avatar
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6 votes
5 answers
4k views

Can any actions happen at the same time/instant?

I don't know if this is philosophical or physics...but hopefully we don't have to go there: Inspired by: Does the Spirit Guardians spell stack with multiple casters? How do you determine the '...
Ἄρτεμις's user avatar
52 votes
3 answers
7k views

When and how does combat start in a standoff?

I run Adventurers league at a local game cafe with a veteran group that has lots of experience playing prior editions. However these players knowledge of the rules is an amalgamation of 5e rules and ...
Passiflora's user avatar
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17 votes
4 answers
6k views

How can I solve burst damage problem when rolling group initiative?

Problem The PHB states, at p. 189 The DM makes one roll for an entire group of identical creatures, so each member of the group acts at the same time. Honestly, I usually ignored this one, except ...
HellSaint's user avatar
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51 votes
9 answers
13k views

What to do when surprise and a high initiative roll conflict with the narrative?

Consider the following situation. Two creatures A and B sneak up on a creature X, successfully remaining unnoticed by it. Without signalling this to B in any way, A then throws a dagger at X from its ...
Mars Plastic's user avatar
  • 4,967
71 votes
2 answers
108k views

Does Bard's Jack of All Trades grant them greater initiative?

Bards get the ability "Jack of All Trades" which reads: Starting at 2nd level, you can add half your proficiency bonus, rounded down, to any ability check you make that doesn't already include ...
GMNoob's user avatar
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29 votes
4 answers
6k views

What happens when your group is victim of a surprise attack but you can't be surprised?

My character was unaware of a group of bandits, but my character cannot be surprised (I have a Weapon of warning) but the rest of my group is out of the range of my weapon of warning, do I get to ...
Pandora's Mox's user avatar
18 votes
2 answers
4k views

How does attacking during a conversation affect initiative?

Say the party is smooth-talking a guard, and the rogue loses patience and throws a dagger. Combat ensues...is the next step to roll initiative? If so, does the rogue's thrown dagger not count as his ...
Draygonia's user avatar
  • 426
13 votes
3 answers
41k views

When do you receive a bonus action and reaction?

When you start combat, after determining surprise and establishing positions; you roll for initiative. At this point, do all combatants have a reaction or bonus action even if they are not first? For ...
Mighty Scrimpa's user avatar
12 votes
4 answers
2k views

Initiative: Do I lose my attack/action if my target moves or dies before my turn in combat?

I am new to 5E. Something I am wondering about is if I declare that this turn I am going to move X feet and attack target A and then move X feet and attack target B, what happens if my target moves or ...
Goodlifelarry's user avatar
9 votes
2 answers
1k views

How do I resolve RAW and 'common sense', with the phrase 'When you roll for initiative', when combined with initiative variants?

There are two class features, Perfect Self (PHB p. 79), and Relentless (PHB p.74), which contain the phrase 'when you roll for initiative.' Both allow the character to recover some expendable ...
Daniel Clery's user avatar
46 votes
6 answers
68k views

How high can a PC's initiative bonus get?

Usually, most PCs rely solely on their Dexterity ability score modifier for their initiative; however, there are ways to get bonuses to initiative. How high can this bonus get? For example, there's ...
NathanS's user avatar
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21 votes
3 answers
3k views

If an attack alerts someone to your presence, can their initiative save them from being surprised in time?

In D&D 5e "Surprise" is a condition that can affect a creature during the first round of combat, only until the end of their turn: [... T]he GM compares the Dexterity (Stealth) checks ...
Isaac Reefman's user avatar
20 votes
6 answers
5k views

How does having monsters of the same type go at the same time affect balance?

I'm running a group of 6 PC's through HotDQ. All of them are new to 5e and we just started, so the combat is pretty slow, and some of them aren't all that excited about combat to begin with. I'm doing ...
SirTechSpec's user avatar
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12 votes
1 answer
16k views

Unearthed Arcana Ranger: Does Natural Explorer apply all the time?

I have a player who's using the new Unearthed Arcana Update Ranger. They argued that should have advantage on initiative and on their first turn during combat all of the time. As a level 1 ability, I ...
Jamie Brace's user avatar
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11 votes
3 answers
12k views

How to determine initiative for a summoned creature entering an ongoing combat?

Lets consider that a creature is summoned during an ongoing fight: Does it roll initiative normally? Does it have to wait a whole round to act? Can it act before other creatures (assuming it's got ...
Seyres's user avatar
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10 votes
3 answers
1k views

Is it possible to have a surprise round if your opponent is aware of you, but unaware of danger?

I couldn't find the proper answer for this question. There may happen scenarios with some doublecrossing used-to-be allies, but is it mechanically correct to allow the traitor to have a surprise ...
Momonga-sama's user avatar
  • 9,963
9 votes
3 answers
16k views

How do I handle initiative and turns for a group of monsters?

A monster group consists of three kobolds. Firstly, as DM do I roll initiative once for the whole group? Secondly, when it is the kobolds turn, do I roll a separate attack for each kobold? If so ...
user51341's user avatar
34 votes
5 answers
3k views

What is the proper use of initiative for a cautious encounter?

I DMed a specific situation last night, and I'm not totally sure that I handled it in the right way. For the last two sessions, the team has been facing off against a clever homebrew wraith (less ...
adavo's user avatar
  • 311
19 votes
4 answers
4k views

Does a legendary action occur “outside” of a turn?

The rules for legendary actions state: A legendary creature can take a certain number of special actions — called legendary actions — outside its turn. Only one legendary action option can be used at ...
Dale M's user avatar
  • 211k
19 votes
7 answers
3k views

Is this alternative initiative house-rule balanced?

As a fairly new DM, one thing that has commonly occurred in my sessions so far is my PC's starting combat outside of initiative. For example after a telepathic conversation with a Nothic was going ...
BradenA8's user avatar
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17 votes
3 answers
3k views

Is initiative ordinal or numerical?

Is the term “initiative” in D&D 5e combat the number that you roll, or your order in the combat turn?
SevenSidedDie's user avatar
16 votes
2 answers
5k views

Does initiative change in combat?

As far as I'm concerned, you only roll initiative at the beginning of combat and keep those rolls for the rest of the encounter. If that's the case (if it isn't, why?), what happens when the ...
Masclins's user avatar
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15 votes
2 answers
2k views

Can an enemy "surprise" a character with the Alert feat by readying the Attack action before initiative is rolled?

My character with the Alert feat was attacked and received damage pre-combat. Specifically, our party was walking through a dark cave, and on the ceiling there was a swarm of insects (that none of the ...
Snowbody455's user avatar
13 votes
4 answers
2k views

How do creatures moving on the same initiative handle the effects of Sleep and Hypnotic Pattern?

Imagine a small group of goblins moving on the same initiative that are hit by hypnotic pattern. When one goblin that was not affected uses its action (or an attack) to wake its ally that failed the ...
ToweringDandelion's user avatar
7 votes
3 answers
2k views

How to handle some new NPCs who enter a fight in progress?

I am GMing for the second time in my life, and do not know how to handle this situation: There are 5 PCs who walk through this map. In almost every room there are a couple of NPCs who might or might ...
mawimawi's user avatar
  • 3,354
1 vote
2 answers
3k views

For creatures animated using Animate Dead spell, whose initiative do they act on?

Regarding the initiative of creatures animated by the use of the animate dead spell. Is it correct that if there is more than one creature, they share the same initiative? Or can they just be ...
Seig Soloyvov's user avatar
61 votes
18 answers
19k views

How to break the "Death Loop" resulting from unfortunate initiative order

In a recent session, an encounter with a single particularly tough Orc (who was my doppelganger, trying to kill me) left the party dealing chip damage a few rounds at a time while they attempted to ...
Xirema's user avatar
  • 52.6k
53 votes
25 answers
25k views

Need way to physically track initiative in face-to-face D&D game

Just DM'd my first ever non-online game. We had an absolute blast, 10/10 would play again, but keeping track of initiative in combat was terrible. I had chosen to just list their character names (and ...
Alex's user avatar
  • 8,110
28 votes
2 answers
7k views

Can I use Flash of Genius on an initiative roll?

The Artificer's Flash of Genius says: When you or another creature you can see within 30 feet of you makes an ability check or a saving throw, you can use your reaction to add your Intelligence ...
Ryan C. Thompson's user avatar
24 votes
4 answers
24k views

Is There A Non-Homebrew Way To Add Proficiency to Initiative?

I know in some homebrew classes, such as Matt Mercer's Gunslinger Archetype, you can add your proficiency bonus to your initiative modifier. Are there any ways of doing this in the official rulebooks? ...
Jamie Brace's user avatar
  • 8,442
24 votes
4 answers
48k views

Can you have advantage/disadvantage on your Initiative check?

From the rules, it seems that an initiative check is just an ability check. There are numerous effects that give Disadvantage on ability checks, and some that give Advantage. I don't see it called ...
Erik's user avatar
  • 81k
21 votes
2 answers
6k views

Should the DM reveal monster initiative?

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, ...
JPicasso's user avatar
  • 1,318
20 votes
8 answers
6k views

What's the correct way to determine turn order in this situation?

The situation: Four orcs, sitting around a campfire, are spotted by the party. Two more orcs are in a tent a couple meters away. The orcs do not notice the party. A Wizard casts invisibility on ...
Matteo Devi's user avatar
20 votes
3 answers
2k views

How to use table seating order for initiative without nerfing initiative-based features?

Although I've experimented with the alternative initiative rules in the DMG and with other ideas I've read about online, I always return to the standard initiative rules in 5e combined with initiative ...
Bloodcinder's user avatar
  • 30.1k
19 votes
3 answers
2k views

Are there any official rules for or even suggestion of using initiative order outside of combat?

This seems a little silly and possibly pedantic, but as I was writing an answer to An initial stealthy/surprise attack with subsequent adventurers entering combat afterwards?, I looked to find rules ...
mattdm's user avatar
  • 29.9k
16 votes
6 answers
5k views

What are the implications of replacing initiative with "Enemy Phase" and "Player Phase"?

Something I've been debating about implementing for my group is whether or not to throw out D&D's concept of initiative order for a less granular "Phase" -- all the players act, then all the ...
Raven Dreamer's user avatar
15 votes
5 answers
2k views

Should drawing weapons involve an initiative roll when combat isn't going to happen?

I need some advice on how to handle a troublesome situation. If my PCs are in a tense situation, and an NPC suddenly draws a weapon, should I ask my players to roll for initiative? Is this the most ...
Jain_Mor's user avatar
  • 257
14 votes
3 answers
3k views

How do you handle "until next turn" effects with the Speed Factor Initiative Variant?

The point of the Speed Factor variant is to make combat more unpredictable by varying turn order. From the DMG (p. 270): Under this variant, the participants in a battle roll initiative every round. ...
RedGeomancer's user avatar
  • 6,609
13 votes
5 answers
2k views

How does initiative work when teleporting into combat?

A Wizard PC Teleports their party from a safe place directly to the location of a group of foes, who the party intends to attack. If the foes did not know this was about to happen, they should be ...
Vigil's user avatar
  • 19.1k
13 votes
2 answers
1k views

What happens when two creatures actually share the same turn?

Related to this Q/A ("Does a controlled mount share its rider's turn?") where there doesn't seem to be a consensus on whether or not the rider and their mount actually share a turn. I am left ...
Exempt-Medic's user avatar
12 votes
2 answers
4k views

When do the objects animated by the Animate Objects spell take their turn?

The Animate Objects spell description says: You decide what action the creature will take and where it will move during its next turn, or you can issue a general command, such as to guard a ...
gto's user avatar
  • 5,266
11 votes
3 answers
2k views

Mechanical side effects of randomised Initiative in 5e

Initiative I am starting a new 5e campaign and I am planning to use randomised initiative. I feel recording initiative take too long, for both my players and me. I tried grouping monsters and pre-...
Mala's user avatar
  • 12.5k
10 votes
1 answer
977 views

If a character delays on their first turn in combat, are they still flat-footed?

Characters are generally flat-footed until their first turn in combat. However, the “special initiative action” delay allows you to take no action and then act normally on whatever initiative count ...
KRyan's user avatar
  • 352k
8 votes
1 answer
758 views

Can you choose to delay rolling your initiative?

This is a follow-up to this question, specifically to that answer. I understand the concern of wreaking havoc on the duration of spells and other effects by delaying your turn at will in the ...
Gael L's user avatar
  • 28.7k