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

Our group writes the names on pieces of colored paper, about half the size of 3x5 index cards. These are folded in half and the names of each combatant written twice upon the card, so that it forms a ...
keithcurtis's user avatar
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104 votes
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How to break the "Death Loop" resulting from unfortunate initiative order

You could break out of the loop if the druid had any healing potions and 1 spell slot remaining upon realizing the loop existed. Here's the general flow: Enemy orc's turn finishes, with friendly orc ...
CTWind's user avatar
  • 19.4k
80 votes

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

I recently saw an excellent post by Matthew Colville on Twitter and use a slightly modified version of this system. It consists of a dowel rod and clothes-pins with names written on both sides for the ...
Blue Ryno's user avatar
  • 750
62 votes

When and how does combat start in a standoff?

You were right! In that type of situation, everyone is ready to begin fighting at any moment. Everyone basically is 'readying' for their fight - not just the PCs. Readied Actions These actions do ...
NotArch's user avatar
  • 125k
62 votes

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

The narration of the event seems strange to you because you are confusing the planned order of events with the actual order of events. The plan was that the encounter begins when A throws their ...
krb's user avatar
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59 votes
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How high can a PC's initiative bonus get?

I'm going to disregard any DM sanity here, and assume anything and everything published is on the table and can be mashed together... Attributes - +10 +10 from any attribute, because there are ...
T.J.L.'s user avatar
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56 votes
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How does combat start when one PC is not seen as a threat?

In this scenario, your bandits were no doubt taken by surprise when one of them got shot. Unless there's some sort of telepathy or pre-planning involved, I would've ruled that the other PCs were also ...
Kyyshak's user avatar
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56 votes
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If I start combat by making an attack, does a high-initiative enemy see it coming?

Intent is not execution I think the issue here is a disconnect between intent and execution. You might say "I'm done with this, Reynald pulls a dagger and stabs him, sneak attack." But that'...
Darth Pseudonym's user avatar
55 votes

Ambushed while Sleeping (with a Watch)

The DM controls the narrative, not the mechanics Random encounter during a long rest, with a watch, is a very common situation. What is the correct way to resolve it? The "correct" way ...
enkryptor's user avatar
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51 votes
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Can I delay my turn to the end of a round, by not rolling for initiative?

Just skip your first turn Let's imagine the initiative order is You > Rogue > Enemies > Wizard > Fighter. You want to delay your turn such that the order is Rogue > Enemies > Wizard > Fighter > You. ...
Joe's user avatar
  • 1,884
49 votes
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What happens when your group is victim of a surprise attack but you can't be surprised?

You take your turn and can act as normal The Weapon of Warning (DMG, p. 213) states: [...] you and any of your companions within 30 feet of you can't be surprised, except when incapacitated by ...
linksassin's user avatar
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46 votes
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Is There A Non-Homebrew Way To Add Proficiency to Initiative?

No. There are a number of abilities that come close, but there is currently no official method to add your proficiency bonus to the Dexterity check you make for initiative. The Barbarian gains ...
Miniman's user avatar
  • 144k
46 votes

How to handle initiative for a sleeping creature?

Since the goblin is sleeping, you could rule that the rogue surprises the goblin and gets a free round of actions before the goblin can react. In this case initiative is rolled as usual, but only the ...
kviiri's user avatar
  • 54k
46 votes
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What to do when surprise and a high initiative roll conflict with the narrative?

Yes, That Description is RAW That is the way mechanics happens in RAW. How you narrate that to make sense is up to you. Remember the rules have to be turn based to make it run and everything that ...
J. A. Streich's user avatar
45 votes

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

The Rogue could attempt a Grapple. Athletics may not be a Rogue's strong suit, but you mentioned that the Rogue was having trouble dealing damage anyway. So instead of attacking, the Rogue could ...
user48255's user avatar
  • 11.8k
45 votes
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How does attacking during a conversation affect initiative?

The rogue starts to throw a dagger The rogue's attempt to attack initiates combat, with all the normal rules. The actual throwing of the dagger happens on the rogue’s turn (if they still can and want ...
Dale M's user avatar
  • 211k
43 votes

Interaction between Subtle Spell, Initiative and Alert Feat

Rule 0: You can. But you can't - and you probably shouldn't. Combat starts when the intent to attack starts (attack or do something else harmful). You should roll initiative, and, if the player ...
HellSaint's user avatar
  • 37k
43 votes
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If an NPC and a PC roll identical initiative who goes first?

In the rules for initiative, the Player’s Handbook suggests the following: If a tie occurs, the DM decides the order among tied DM-controlled creatures, and the players decide the order among their ...
Thomas Markov's user avatar
42 votes
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How can I solve burst damage problem when rolling group initiative?

Thinking like a monster There's no question: focus fire is a good idea. No matter how you look at it, the mathematics are in your favor if you try to injure one enemy until it is down, and then move ...
Gandalfmeansme's user avatar
41 votes
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When do player characters leave turn-based action (i.e. initiative order) if they are in a hostile area?

You enter turn-based action when you need to track time* that closely. You leave it as soon as you don't need that close tracking. Turn-based time tracking dominates combat, but it can also be used ...
nitsua60's user avatar
  • 102k
40 votes

If I start combat by making an attack, does a high-initiative enemy see it coming?

They noticed the threat. Your second bullet simply does not fit the situation you have described. It says: The NPC had the higher initiative, so they are first in combat. However, they have no reason ...
Thomas Markov's user avatar
38 votes
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Can a PC target the monster with the highest initiative?

You risk creating an atmosphere which is toxic to your own game if you concern yourself with this kind of nuance of speech. You have established that the action would have been completely permissible ...
Dewi Morgan's user avatar
  • 2,718
37 votes
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Can you take actions after being healed at 0hp?

The Fighter must wait until round 3 During round two in your scenario, when the Cleric heals the Fighter, the Fighter's turn has already ended for that round, so they would need to wait until the next ...
NathanS's user avatar
  • 79k
36 votes
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Will rerolling initiative each round stop meta-gaming about initiative?

Your problem as described doesn't sound like meta-gaming. It sounds like making tactics, and working together. You should encourage this! If your team can act faster than the goblin, it makes perfect ...
Stalemate Of Tuning's user avatar
36 votes

Would this house rule on initiating combat be balanced?

A bit of a frame challenge here... Surprise works fine as is, and you don't need to mess with it. You're either not narrating it properly or your players are not sticking to their own plan. In your ...
T.J.L.'s user avatar
  • 48.7k
34 votes

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

You don't declare your actions beforehand; you just take them. Chapter 9 of the PHB/basic rules describes how actions in combat work. The "Combat Step-by-Step" sidebar in the "The Order ...
V2Blast's user avatar
  • 49.9k
34 votes
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What is the impact of moving a fallen PC in the initiative order?

This rule helps avoid Healing ping-pong! I find it helpful to consider the inverse -- what might happen when the initiative order doesn't change. (Sadly, I mention this from personal experience ...
Raven Dreamer's user avatar
33 votes

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

This sounds like a textbook case of surprise. In general: Determine surprise. The GM determines whether anyone involved in the combat encounter is surprised. Establish positions. The DM decides where ...
Punintended's user avatar
  • 2,364
33 votes

Would this house rule on initiating combat be balanced?

I would like to offer a different perspective Initiative says: At the beginning of every combat, you roll initiative by making a Dexterity check. Initiative determines the order of creatures’ turns ...
Glenn Driver's user avatar
  • 2,749
33 votes
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Can I use Flash of Genius on an initiative roll?

You can take reactions outside of combat. As evidence of being able to take a reaction in response to a relevant trigger outside of combat, consider the spell feather fall: Choose up to five falling ...
Thomas Markov's user avatar

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