Adventure Trove: Combat 103
The only remaining mystery in combat is how do you handle initiative. The basic idea is that the fastest characters start going on Phase 1, and their own actions add their action costs to this value to determine their next acting phase. The Game Master calls for the next phase, and if the next fastest characters go they act, and so on, until everybody has acted. The cycle proceeds until the scene is over and that’s it.
But how do you determine the initial order? Adventure Trove uses Initiative modifiers, tactics modifiers, and a simple die roll to shake out the starting order. So first you need to decide how many groups get their own die. Normally this would be every unique character and each squad. You may decide squad leaders, though unique, are using the same die as their minions. Next you roll opposed Wits-Tactics for each side. The winner gets to add their extra successes to their initiative bonus, so this roll can be very important if the initial order is vital for the plans of the Heroes.
Lastly, each group, or unique character, rolls 1D6, and adds their modifier. The characters with the highest total go first, and everybody else shakes out into the order after them. This may seem complicated, but really it’s about as much trouble as people go through for initiative in most games, the only difference is that the Tactics skill has a direct impact on initiative and having a decent tactician on your side can be a real help. Conversely, while it is helpful to always win that roll, it isn’t critical to do so. Having a high initiative score, or rolling luckily contributes as much or more to the initial phase order.
As each round is roughly 30 seconds worth of time, you can use that to fudge when further combatants might show up to enter battle. The same mechanic handles delayed entry to battle, such as characters who are ambushed during the first round.
For example, if the heroes involved in the skirmish are scouts who are traveling some ten minutes walk ahead of the rest of their group, then once the sounds of battle ring out, it is likely that the main force will rush to engage, a process which might only take them 2 minutes of running. So the main force is slated to approach the combat after 4 rounds have passed.
Once they arrive, those entering a combat also roll a D6 for each group, and add their initiative to the total. They don’t get to roll Tactics as they are entering a fight already in progress. Tacticians can take actions to roll the skill for other effects during combat once they enter it. This value is then subtracted from 10 to find the Ones place of the Phase they will be able to act. The Tens place is 10 times the next round’s number.
So in the example, the reinforcements show up in round 5 after hearing the sounds of fighting. This means they will get to act in round 6. When they get to act depends on their initiative total. A character or squad with a 6 gets to take his first action on Phase 64, while one with a total of 2 begins on Phase 68.
That is initiative in this system in a nutshell. You allow for tactics, which can make a good roll better, or keep your side from going much slower than their opponents. Then you determine when the characters get to act. They take actions of varying time lengths, and that determines who goes next. Player choice drives this much more than it does in a system that relies upon types of actions. If characters are unable to act during the initial phases of combat, become paralyzed, or arrive late there is a natural way to fit them into the cycle.