I was ready to post pt 2 of my blog series on high level adventures, but recent discussions on the forums and discord server about initiative caught my eye and I had a few thoughts.
While I’m shying away from writing about rules (everyone has their own strongly held beliefs), I’ve always felt that initiative was a critical, but overlooked, component to Arms Law. One of my best working house rules was adopting a d100 initiative system and including it into the allocation of OB process. I wrote about it back in 2016. We use the allocated skill bonus all the time, but my rules around “combat spheres” is only used for 1 on 1 combat with disparate weapon reaches due to it’s complexity with multiple combatants.
In the RM combat system, attacking first can be the difference between winning or losing a battle. In many cases, a good hit and critical will be the result of a very high or open-ended role and the first to inflict a stun or similar effect is going to give the advantage. Thus initiative is no less important than the OB or the allocation to defense for parrying. The balance between attacking fast, attacking hard or defending can be real player strategy. For my players, the process is so intuitive and natural they probably assume it was baked into RAW.
Opportunity Action is also Lost Opportunity.
The second aspect to our initiative system that we’ve fiddled with is in regards to “Opportunity Action”. In our game, a player can delay their action until later in the tur, but it will cost them 50%. (-50 penalty). This not only reflects the lost time in waiting for in turn developments (we use a 5 second round) but also the precious seconds in processing unfolding events and then deciding how to respond. Allowing the player full action later, or at the end of the round, might risk them getting attacked but gives them too much agency. I don’t know if this our own invention or something I picked up from a early companion or someone’s house rules, but it works very well.
Initiative in High Level Play.
Ultimately, this touches upon our own analysis of high level play. At 50th level, the allocation of OB between initiative, offense and defense can make the difference between success and failure.