Initiative Card House Rules

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Rambling Scribe
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Initiative Card House Rules

#1 Postby Rambling Scribe » Tue Feb 17, 2009 11:32 pm

As I mentioned in another thread, I'm messing with my initiative cards so that I get more out of them.

My basic idea is that certain cards will give bonuses or penalties to certain activities. Along with this, I will allow characters with feats that allow them to discard and redraw low cards to keep their low card if they want the bonus.

I'm looking for ideas for card effects. My plan is to write the effect right on the card so that the player doesn't need to remember or look it up.

I'm planning currently to give bonuses on 2s, 5s, 8s and jacks and a penalty on aces.

I'm hoping to thematically tie each suit together, but we'll see how that works.

For 2s, I'm thinking +2 to your roll if you use total defense, +2 to your roll if you perform a test of wills, +2 to a trick, and +2 to pace.

For 5s, I want to do some things like allow aim as if you had marksman edge, and withdraw from combat without giving free attack.

For 8s, I was thinking half the penalty for MAP, half the penalty for wild attack, half the penalty for... I'm not sure what else.

For jacks, I want to give bonuses to things like recovering from being shaken; situational things that the player probably doesn't control directly.

For aces, I want to give minor penalties like -2 pace with no running, -2 melee damage, stuff like that.

My goal here is twofold. I want to encourage my players to use more options in combat, and I want the initiative cards to have a bigger impact on the game.

Anyone have any comments or particular suggestions for bonuses or penalties?
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#2 Postby Control » Wed Feb 18, 2009 1:12 am

+ or - 2 is a big deal in savage worlds, you may want to consider dropping them to 1 each. I do like the fact that you are including tests of will and tricks. As a player I'd rather see cards with both plus & minus. For example a card could grant a +1 to he player's parry and prevent running to simulate a piece of terrain in the combat that can be ducked behind but also must be moved around.

You may want to take a look at the adventure deck cards for inspiration as well. Also keep in mind how these may interact with edges like quick that let you draw multiple cards. Do the bonus or penalty stack, or are you only affected by the one you actually use.

I personally think this will add a layer of complication the game does not need and may interfere with the FFF. But by writing the modifiers right on the cards you may alleviate that some what.

Good luck, and as usual your fellow savages will be interested to hear how it worked out, if you and your players liked it or not.
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Re: Initiative Card House Rules

#3 Postby AFDia » Wed Feb 18, 2009 6:32 am

Rambling Scribe wrote:My goal here is twofold. I want to encourage my players to use more options in combat, and I want the initiative cards to have a bigger impact on the game.


I don't know if it's the right way to reach this goal.
By giving such high bonuses or penalties, you restrict the players in their options (because one option - depending on their initiative card - is just much better than any other option).

A better way to encourage them to use more options in combat would be rewarding them with bennies for good ideas or cool actions.

Although I think it restricts their "free choice of options", it sounds like an idea which could work indeed (if you write the text on the cards) and of course you will get a combat with many different actions. It's just not my way to reach this goal, because I would go with bennie-rewards.

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#4 Postby Rambling Scribe » Wed Feb 18, 2009 8:19 am

I definitely agree that +2 is huge, which is why I was limiting +2 bonuses to deuces. I'll consider dropping it a little. OTOH, none of the +2 bonuses apply to directly damaging effects, which is a limiter on its own.

I was alternatively considering giving a bonus that increases the die size of the skill in question, or that allows a bonus wild die on a skill.

The bennie reward is a nice incentive, but it doesn't apply directly to the effect in question necessarily (and I don't want to force it to since that could mean a worse roll on the reroll). I guess I have a third motive that control alluded to: I want the card effects to add to the description of the combat. Giving a bonus or penalty (or both) that applies to the current situation only has a straight forward descriptive potential. Control's example about getting a bonus to cover but a penalty to movement because of terrain is an example, but so is "you take a moment to survey the situation, and notice a pattern in your enemy's behaviour you think you can capitalize on." You're going on deuces, but take a +2 to trick.

I do like the idea of balanced bonus with penalty on some cards. I think I'll try and do that with jacks.

For multiple-card-draw effects, my intent is that the players choose which card to go on (for level-headed), or choose whether or not to draw the second card after seeing the first (for other effects). In both cases, they get the bonus for the card they are currently acting on. This is actually one of the reasons I chose 2s, 5s, and 8s for the better bonuses. 2s are the worst initiative card, but it might be worth keeping one for the bonus. 5s are right on the border for a redraw from Quick (edge), and 8s are right on the border for a redraw from Quickness (power) with a raise. Players acting on two cards (from Quickness) only get the bonus for the given action, although in theory they could get two different bonuses over the course of the round from two different cards.

As always, thanks to everyone for feedback!
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#5 Postby Clint » Wed Feb 18, 2009 10:31 am

Rambling Scribe wrote:My goal here is twofold. I want to encourage my players to use more options in combat, and I want the initiative cards to have a bigger impact on the game.


Rambling Scribe wrote:I guess I have a third motive that control alluded to: I want the card effects to add to the description of the combat.


Okay, based off these motives, let me toss out a suggestion and see what you think.

Base the effect off card suit instead of rank.

Hearts & Diamonds - No additional effect
Clubs - Character suffers a situation setback. -1 to Trait and Running rolls and opponents gain a +1 to Trait rolls specifically affecting him.
Spades - Character gains a situation advantage. +1 to Trait and Running rolls and opponents suffer a -1 to Trait rolls specifically affecting or resisting him.

Now, does it meet the goals? That's dependent, but in reverse order...

Add to description - It is a generalized effect, yes, but it is an effect on combat and requires description to work it in. To me it's a benefit that it isn't specified, so it can be whatever fits the situation. Slipping in blood, a ship rocking at the wrong moment, sun reflecting off a shield to distract... or a cat jumping out nearby distracting opponents briefly, a car driving by providing an instant of cover, a shock providing a surge of adrenaline...

Bigger impact on game - Black cards will provide an additional effect, so a 50/50 shot of affecting actions in some way. That will have a pretty big impact, but I think not unbalancing since odds are equivalent that it benefits or hinders.

More options in combat - While this doesn't specify options, it does actually encourage them using the "carrot" approach. The key is that the effect is both a +/- 1 for the character and opponents. That means any option that uses an Opposed Roll (each side rolling against the other) gets twice the benefit. If you simply attack, you just get +1 to hit, but if you use a Trick or Test of Will, you get +1 and the target is at -1 for a net 2 point difference. It also encourages using multi-actions since the bonus applies to any Trait rolls, so any two actions combined would only be at -1 instead of -2, and if one of those (or both) were Opposed Rolls, then they would actually be "free" since both the character and his target (or targets) would be at the same -1 penalty.

So, I think it might fulfill the motives. In addition, it doesn't require writing the effects on the individual cards. It's easy to know (and see quickly in the game) that black cards have an effect and red ones don't. Clubs, the lowest Suit, have a bad effect and Spades, the highest suit, have a good effect, so it is intuitive as well and fits the pre-existing expectation. And since it is basically one effect with a mirror image, it should be easy to pick up.

The same choice of card effects can still occur with the appropriate Edges, but since tied to suit instead of rank, there's no need to specify specific cards. The 2-5 of Spades is going to provide a benefit for a Quick character they may want, and if the higher card drawn for any of those abilities is a Club, it might be worth passing on to act slower without penalty.

Anyway, I can't know if it would work or not for any specific group, but it seems to me that it might be an option to reach those goals in a way that might run a bit faster and easier in game. Maybe not, but figured to throw it out there in case it might help.
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#6 Postby Rambling Scribe » Wed Feb 18, 2009 12:20 pm

As always Clint, that's a really elegant implementation, and really thoroughly examined.

In addition to the spade bonus encouraging using skills that double up rolling, I can see the club encouraging players to take the "defend" action or other actions that don't require a roll.

It's definitely easy enough to remember that I don't need to mark the cards, and it's more in line with the existing suit effects from the chase rules.

If I find that it's too big an impact, I could put a small mark on some black cards, use the same system but only have the marked cards give the bonus. It'd still be easier and less abusive to the cards than writing rules on them.

Thanks Clint!

I'll continue to ponder and experiment.
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#7 Postby dentris » Wed Feb 18, 2009 2:14 pm

One house rule i'm not personally using (since i like the system as he is) but thought of was about agility and it's role in initiative. In the official rules, the only thing related to agility and initiative is the requirement for the quick edge. Otherwise, it has no use whatsoever.

Since I'm a big fan of the FFF motto, i tried to find something that wouldn't add too much complexity to the rules.

New Derived Attribute: Speed

Speed is equal to 2+half the agility die + or - modifier.

When dealing cards for initiative, you may redraw any card lower than your Speed. (For example, if your speed is 5, you may redraw 4 and lower)


Quick (modified edge)
Add 2 to your Speed

Slow (new minor hindrance)
Substract 2 to your Speed
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#8 Postby Wendigo1870 » Wed Feb 18, 2009 3:26 pm

Would the redrawn card count? Or can you keep drawing anew 'till it is above your speed?

If so, I think it wouldn't work. 2's and 3's are almost useless then (only if someone has 'slow' the deck needs these cards.
Also, if everyone's redrawing cards the Jokers will come up much faster. With average speed 5, that would with normal SW-rules be like everyone has the 'quick' edge.
And it makes Agility that much more important compared to other Traits.
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#9 Postby Rambling Scribe » Thu Feb 19, 2009 1:07 pm

I actually like that initiative is not primarily dependent on agility. IMO the speed at which you act is more often dependent on skill at whatever you are doing. A spellcaster who is really skilled should be fast at casting spells, even if he is otherwise clumsy.

This effect is already reflected in the rules in the form of MAP; most players will only use it for skills at which they can reliably overcome the penalty.

The main exception of course being those who use it for skills they simply have to get really lucky on, in which case they are probably flailing around quickly and uselessly the vast majority of the time. I'm OK with that too.

[/my 2¢]
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