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Author Topic: Help w/ D20 mod: Making initiative more TROS-like  (Read 4249 times)

Posts: 756

« on: December 12, 2003, 06:37:37 AM »

I'm not sure how many d20 players/designers the Forge has, but I thought I would ask this question anyway.

Inspired by TROS, I've thought about making a mod (or whatever you want to call it) to the d20 combat system. Among a number of additions to the system, I've thought about changing the initiative mechanic to one where combatants can take and then hold initiative, ie continue attacking until their opponent seals initiative. I will play test this idea a bit with my gaming group once its done, but I thought I would ask for some help with the prelimanary ideas.

(I'm not trying to emulate TROS in d20, I'm mostly just trying to break up the IGO-UGO mentality.)

I should also say I don't have much experience with TROS, I've mostly just played the quickstart rules, So there might be nuances of that system that I haven't pick up on. (I would like to play it more, but it would be hard to get my friends to switch from d20).

PREREQS: (1) I use a 2d10 mechanic, not a d20. This obviously changes the probability making middle number more likely and extremes less likely.
(2) I will be playing a fantasy setting, so combat will mostly be swords, armor, magic, etc.
(3) I will be using Ken Hood's martial arts system (along with his Grim-N-Gritty HP rules), where players are able to choose a number of different "maneuvers." I assume I will need to modify and/or add maneuvers to better suit the initiative system once I'm done.
(4) Both attacker and defender will roll to determine the outcome of a melee exchange, ie attacker rolls to attack, defender rolls to defend. (Armor will be seperate from the attack roll, and will absorb damage, per the GnG rules).

OK, so my basic idea is. Initiative will be tied to the attack roll. In general, the attacker will keep initiative unless the defender beats him by a certain number, probaly 10. (Other effects will probably to tied to the attack roll as well, most notably critical hits).

How is initiative determined at the start of combat? I thought about doing the same thing as TROS (both combatants simply declaring if they attack/defend), but thought it might suit d20 better to just have a contested initiative roll (probably their attack bonus + an initiative bonus). Deciding initiative would be a seperate action from determining the order of individual combatant's turns.

That all alone sounds like it would work, but then I start thinking about d20 combat a bit more. Specifically, the way they structure rounds. In TROS, it seems that once characters are engeged in melee, they sorta get shut off from the rest of the world. In d20, the round is structured so that each combatant takes their turn, then another person goes. Using the style of initiative that I'm proposing, two combatants engaged in melee wouldn't really have seperate turns, but their turns would be combined. Soooo, would it be best to run a battle like TROS, where combat focues on one encounter before moving onto the next, or would it be doable to still go from encounter to encounter each round?

Also how to deal with all the different action types - move actions, standard actions, and full-round actions? In particular, full round actions. How would they play into things, if you make one round equal to 2 exchanges like in TROS?

Thanks for any ideas/ advice! Also, if this has already been discussed, I would gladly accept a link to the thread! (I tried a search but didn't find any meaningful threads on the subject.)

--Timothy Walters Kleinert
Jack Aidley

Posts: 488

« Reply #1 on: December 12, 2003, 06:58:57 AM »

My reaction to your post is pretty short.


I don't mean this to be rude. But why are you doing this? From what you've described the game you describe is wildly different from 'normal d20, so why cling to its remenants at all. Why not abandon d20 altogether? Why not just use TROS? Or just use TROS's combat mechanic?

- Jack Aidley, Great Ork Gods, Iron Game Chef (Fantasy): Chanter

Posts: 130

« Reply #2 on: December 12, 2003, 07:48:29 AM »

I think you may be falling into a trap that I find myself in all too often.  When I'm inspired by a game mechanic, I often find myself pulling across other mechanics tied to it.  "Package syndrome," so to speak.  And, that's what it looks like here.  For example, you really don't need the "two exchanges per round" idea, because it loses a large portion of its effect without die pool management.

First, what I do is take a single mechanic you like, and see how it can be worked in by itself.  Like you said, D20 melee is out and open to the world.  Say you want to include the concept of holding initiative.  In D20, initiative is who goes first, not who goes.  So, perhaps a successful melee attack would lower the enemies initiative.  If it's the idea of the melee exchange, then you need a rule that establishes a group of characters within melee range as a single melee.  So, within that group, initiative and attack rules would be different.  Then, you might want to rewrite the AoO rules to reflect, and even compliment this new setup.

These examples are by no means thought out in any detail.  I'm sure you could come up with better ones.  The point being, that a full on package port is often more trouble than it is worth.  But I'm just one person, with one opinion, and by no means an authority on the matter.

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http://machmoth.tripod.com/rpg">Cracked RPG Experiment
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Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters

Posts: 10459

« Reply #3 on: December 12, 2003, 02:54:38 PM »

I'm really confused. I'd have to see what the maneuvers look like, and get a better example of play to comment on the suggested system.

If there are no maneuvers that can make defending a better option than attacking, then all players will always want to attack. In which case, TROS initiative isn't going to work, IMO.

If you want to get away from IGO/UGO, then I suggest the following. Both players declare how they're attacking, and roll their offense simultaneously. The one that rolls higher, applies that roll as an attack using the normal rules against the other characters defense (TN or a second roll, your choice). That's the whole round.

If you want to track "see-saw" effects, then record the margin of success of the winner. The winner gets that as a bonus to their next roll against that opponent. This will tend to build up meaning that more and more hits will start to accumulate, which is good for the drama. A character can negate an opponents bonus with a successful "full evade", or with any break in the fight, like other participants entering. If a character "full defends" or the like on a turn, he gets a big bonus to his roll (+10?), but doesn't get to attack if he wins. It's only good for stealing the initiative back.

Any good?


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Andrew Martin

Posts: 785

« Reply #4 on: December 12, 2003, 04:05:41 PM »

I feel the real problem you're facing or avoiding is this:

Quote from: timfire
(I would like to play it more, but it would be hard to get my friends to switch from d20).

Have you considered gathering your friends together, showing them the neat parts about TROS, showing them how swordfighting is better, magic is more better, and showing them your enthusiasm for trying it out for a session between regular sessions of D20?

Andrew Martin
M. J. Young

Posts: 2198

« Reply #5 on: December 12, 2003, 05:30:16 PM »

I'm thinking something very similar to what Mike suggested. Let me throw out the outline of an idea, and anyone can make of it what they will.

Each character has a defined chance to hit the other, which includes both offensive and defensive values.

Players (or player and referee) each roll against this. If neither succeeds, there is no hit. If only one succeeds, he has hit. If both succeed, the one with the better roll (in a roll under system, the highest; in a roll over system, the lowest) hits.

If a player hits once, he gets a bonus to his chance to hit on the next round-small but significant, I'd say ten percentage points but in something as grainy as D20 or 2d10 you might have to make it significantly more, maybe twenty or twenty-five (that is, +4 or +5). However, with each consecutive hit, subtract one.

This has several effects. First, assuming the characters are fairly evenly matched initially, it means that the character who hits once is more likely to hit twice, and still likely to get the third hit--but eventually the penalties balance the bonus and we're back to start. Even then, if one character significantly overmatches the other, eventually he will wear his own ability down to the point that the other has a good chance to get the hit.

It might make sense that those penalties accrued are removed slowly as well. In a fight with significantly mismatched opponents, this prevents the better from springing back to his initial value instantly, and so gives the underdog a fighting chance for a while.

It should create a shifting control of combat situation.

I've not seen TROS yet, so I don't know how like or unlike this is to what is done there.

--M. J. Young


Posts: 756

« Reply #6 on: December 12, 2003, 07:41:20 PM »

Thanks everyone for the replies. I could go into why I want to modify the d20 system, but I would prefer not to derail the thread (that could easily be its own topic).

Hmmm, I think I gave too much info in my initial post, and made assumptions about what people would know. Let me try to simplify things.  

(1) I'm trying to incorporate into the d20/DnD combat system a mechanic that allows a combatant to hold initiative, ie continue attacking unless the defender "steals" initiative. Different types of attacks/defenses would have different effects on initiative.
(2) The HP system is basically the same, except characters don't really gain significant amounts as they progress. Characters will only be able to survive 2, 3, or maybe 4 attacks before dying. High-level characters will only be able to survive maybe 1 or 2 more hits than low-level characters. I bring this up to point out that combatants won't be wailing on each other for rounds without end. I also bring this up because it ties into the maneuver and initiative thing. Combat will neccessarily be more strategic.

Anyway, I guess my basic question would be if I could change the initiative system in d20/DnD combat without a compete overhaul of the system.

To respond to a few things people have said...

MachMoth: "Package syndrome." Maybe I have done this, but the 2-exchange thing was actually an attempt to keep an assemblise (sp?) of seperate turns for each combatant (2 combatants = 2 exchanges per round).

Mike Holmes: I actually thought about having both combatants declare their attacks and then rolling, but decided I liked the idea of having a definitive attack and defense. The idea about just giving a bonus for each successful attack, rather than radically altering the initiative system (if I'm understanding you correctly) is an interesting one, I'll have to think about it.

Thanks for everyone's patience!

--Timothy Walters Kleinert
Drifter Bob

Posts: 166

« Reply #7 on: December 16, 2003, 08:06:21 PM »

Just to put in my $.02, contrary to many of the other posters, I think D20 can profitably be tinkered with, and it's a good idea to do so because it's so influential on the mass of RPG players.  Why not improve it?  The drive to make it better is part of what brought 3.XE in to replace 2E and revived the whole RPG industry.

Quote from: Mike Holmes
If you want to track "see-saw" effects, then

I addressed one way we used to this "see-saw" combat dynamic that you see in old swashbuckling movies in a follow up to the thread about my realism in melee article .... see the post about 4th from the top


That was not a system designed for D20 but with a little imagination I think you could actually do something like that in D20


"We can't all be Saints."

John Dillinger
The Benj

Posts: 12

« Reply #8 on: December 16, 2003, 11:19:24 PM »

One can also use the Fluid Initiative System from Spycraft.
Basic difference is that certain actions move your Initiative upward, while taking a large amount of damage will lower it.

Also, something I quite like is giving people a half-action on their Initiative count, then the other at their Initiative -10.

So you can start at 20 (or higher, if there's someone who's got higher), counting down. When you hit 0 (or lower, if there's someone lower), you add 20 to the count and start again.
This way, while it's cyclical, it also keeps constant 20-count rounds (about 0.3 of a second, not that it's that important).

Adding in Initiative damage means that when you take damage or are otherwise inconvenienced, you can slide down past your opponent's next action, giving them a chance to do it again.
On the other hand, it's not such a disadvantage that you can't turn the tables.
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