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  • House Rule Question, Initiative

    So I'm relatively new to Savage Worlds. Picked up the system around the time of the first Rifts kickstarter. Have run a few times, and I'm trying to get my group together to do virtual sessions. The issue is with the initiative system in the rules as written, using playing cards. This is awkward enough at the tabletop, but gets oh so much worse online through Discord or other chat program. Has anyone come up with a decent alternate system?

  • #2
    It works great in person and on online gaming platforms such as Fantasy Grounds and Roll20.

    That said, I can see why you would want to do something else for Discord or if you do not have access to a proper online gaming tool. I would recommend rolling 2d10, where two 10s are a Joker. Otherwise you go down in order. I am not sure what to do with a tie, though. Either concede or try to interrupt each other?

    Comment


    • Deskepticon
      Deskepticon commented
      Editing a comment
      Ties can go to character with highest Agility, then Athletics (similar to how suits are tiered). After that, flip a coin or just count them as simultaneous.

  • #3
    If you're rolling dice, you could add a separate d4 roll for "suit", which would help break up ties. But making a 20 a Joker means a "Joker" will come up about 1/4 times as often than with a real deck, which short-changes PC's with Joker-based Edges. Don't know how to fix that. Also, 2d10 has a "bell-shaped" distribution, so you'll get 9-13 way more often than other numbers, making for way more ties than usual.

    Since the hosting web site can probably roll any die, you might consider a d14 and a d4 (separately) to simulate card number and suit. A 14 and a 3 or 4 being a Joker would give about the right chances of getting a Joker in a deck.
    Savage Summaries-RAW, with added info from Clint:Combat Actions,Cover,Healing,Using Powers,Grappling,Chases (all SWD)
    Also:Persuasion (SWADE),Better Bosses (SWADE),Handling Illusions (SWADE), Better Combat Rating (system independent)
    And:historical tech levels,generic SW sci-fi tech levels (both system indepdent)

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    • #4
      Getting a Joker is normally 2 out of 54, or 4 out of 56 in a 4-Joker deck (there are a few).

      So, instead of just getting a Joker on two 10s, I would say get a Joker when one die is a 9 or 10 and the other is also a 9 or 10. That is pretty close to the same math. Except that each time a card is drawn, the pool changes, so the probability of getting a Joker if none has been drawn yet increases with each non-Joker draw. However, this should probably work well enough for a non-card game.

      Last edited by SeeleyOne; 08-12-2021, 10:17 PM.

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      • #5
        Seems like switching to dice would have negative implications for Edges as well as Jokers as noted above.
        Why not just use a simple card drawing tool, like this one: https://deck.of.cards/ or this one https://deckofcards.net/

        Part of the system's meta is the increasing likelihood of drawing Jokers or specific cards needed by edges as combat progresses. That increased intensity of combat as time wears on is part of the mechanical feel of Savage Worlds and would be diminished by dice use.

        Switching to dice would make the Hesitant hindrance more brutal, since the benefit of cycling the deck is gone. It would make Quick, Level Headed, and Tactician less useful as cycling the deck is gone, and would negatively impact how often Calculating and Mighty Blow hit as combat drags on. I'm probably forgetting other Edges too.

        You'd also miss out on the increased likelihood to hit a Joker (awarding Bennies) when combat has dragged on and resources are spent.

        To me, it seems it would negatively impact several of the underlying Mechanics of the system. This is why I recommend something like the websites above.

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        • #6
          It's also worth noting that several virtual gaming table tops have card decks built in, or even Savage Worlds specific accessories/tools.

          We play online with Roll20 and use a built in Action deck, for example.

          Comment


          • #7
            Savaged.us has an initiative tracking tool. I haven't used it but it looks cool and I've been told it works really well. You can deal cards and copy paste the results into Discord. In fact this is something that the new Threads feature in Discord would be really good for. For players with Level Headed, Quick, etc. you show players their options in a thread without losing track of the initiative. I don't think you have to be a paid subscriber to use it but you can check it out and see.

            Your online tools for the Savage Worlds RPG

            Comment


            • broxen
              broxen commented
              Editing a comment
              Didn't know they offered this. Awesome!

          • #8
            You could also have the GM draw cards for people. The players should already trust the GM (I would not game with a GM that I did not trust), so while it passes the burden to the GM, you still get the same effect of drawing from a deck. Bonus points if you can draw to a camera that players can see as that makes it kind of exiting where you draw and see the back and then flip it over for a reveal to yourself and everyone.

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            • #9
              Originally posted by SeeleyOne View Post
              You could also have the GM draw cards for people. The players should already trust the GM (I would not game with a GM that I did not trust), so while it passes the burden to the GM, you still get the same effect of drawing from a deck. Bonus points if you can draw to a camera that players can see as that makes it kind of exiting where you draw and see the back and then flip it over for a reveal to yourself and everyone.
              I am the GM, and I was looking for a way less awkward than the cards.

              Comment


              • AndrewKennett
                AndrewKennett commented
                Editing a comment
                When we play by Skype I get one of the players to deal the cards and keep track of initiative. Works well since he doesn't have dice at home I have to roll for his character

            • #10
              Another vote for roll20. Been using it for over a year during the pandemic.

              In addition to allowing easy dealing of cards for initiative, it can handle bennies, power effect templates, a decent character sheet that let players roll with just a click, and lets you upload custom maps and tokens. And you can get all of that for free.

              It has it's own built in text and audio chat, though our group prefers Discord for audio.

              Comment


            • #11
              Originally posted by Mad Paladin View Post

              I am the GM, and I was looking for a way less awkward than the cards.
              While I acknowledge that everyone has their own preferences I'm a bit puzzled what do you find awkward. When I first read about cards I frowned at the idea but when I tried it I immediately loved it. Compared to other initiative systems I know (die roll, comparing stats, bidding) I find cards to have several advantages:
              - perfect ordering, no draws,
              - graphic (easy to see the order by comparing cards on the table), no need to write anything down
              - dynamic (order can change each round),
              - allows for special effects like misfortune on clubs and Jokers

              For online sessions there are a lot of tools which make handling initiative easy, already proposed in this thread. Furthermore, like others have already noted, Action Deck is referenced in many places, you would have to put some more work to hunt them down and adapt.

              Comment


              • #12
                I've never had an issue with card-based initiative, but if I HAD to use dice I would have every participant make an Agility roll (+2 for Quickness, -2 for Hesitant, free re-rolls with Level Headed, etc...). I'd allow the use of Bennies to reroll. Not sure how I'd represent getting a Joker...probably just abandon that mechanic altogether until I was able to get everyone using cards again.

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                • #13
                  Originally posted by mikeawmids View Post
                  I've never had an issue with card-based initiative, but if I HAD to use dice I would have every participant make an Agility roll (+2 for Quickness, -2 for Hesitant, free re-rolls with Level Headed, etc...). I'd allow the use of Bennies to reroll. Not sure how I'd represent getting a Joker...probably just abandon that mechanic altogether until I was able to get everyone using cards again.
                  Using your system of making an agility role wouldn't it be better to have them roll in additional dice kind of like with frenzy.. Then if they have level headed they take the higher die and if they have hesitant they take the lower die. I think +2 for quickness sounds right.
                  I think Joker would be if your roll was 2 Raises or more over the next highest initiative.

                  Comment


                  • #14
                    Originally posted by zgreg View Post

                    For online sessions there are a lot of tools which make handling initiative easy, already proposed in this thread. Furthermore, like others have already noted, Action Deck is referenced in many places, you would have to put some more work to hunt them down and adapt.
                    I'm okay with doing those adoptions. See, the issue isn't with virtual tools, it's the cards themselves are... intrusive, is the best phrase I can think of. I know that the cards have been a thing since they did the first edition of Deadlands (and even moreso back then). But having to use that deck for JUST THAT is enough of a shift that it doesn't feel natural, and for our group it breaks the flow. A paradigm shift without a clutch, as it were. We have had similar issues in the past with Fate and it's specialized dice (despite otherwise liking the system), and with... all the strange stuff Fantasy Flight does (that didn't last as long). So yeah, I can probably come up with something (some combination of Quickness or Notice with mods). Of course, there are other initiative systems that don't involve rolling anything, but still have a good flow (the recently developed GYRO system is one). I was always a fan of the old West End d6 system, where you rolled perception and the lowest roll declared actions first, but the highest roll ACTED first (which would go well with a notice/quickness roll... hmmm maybe roll both and add?).

                    Thanks for the votes on Roll20, everyone. I have been eyeing it as a possibility. Glad the support is in there.

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                    • #15
                      There are some other mechanics that use cards, too. Chases, Dramatic Tasks, Interludes and many adventures feature them in place of rolling on random tables. They are not *just* for determining initiative.

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