Psh, I only just realized that apart from a couple posts at the beginning of the month, I didn’t actually tag most of my “NaGaDeMon” entries as such. So I’m going to try and make up a little for lost time by flagging some of my new entries that are related — rather than going back and reorganizing anything.

I saw a post over at Hack & Slash about initiative this morning, and it reminded me about a rule I decided on that I hadn’t mentioned yet:
“Monsters go first.”

Part of the reason for this is so I can create related rules like “traps go first,” and such so the players will always know exactly where they stand. My justification boils down to this: they made the first move by rolling up characters, or by opening the door, which means the next move goes to the monster or the trap.

It removes a lot of the ambiguity of play by putting the emphasis on players responding to whatever just reacted to them. When a player says they open a door or treasure chest, they’re telling you their first move — after that it’s the job of the module (or game master) to say what’s on the other side, or what they find.

My experience is that simply saying, “Okay, now what?” really puts a player on the spot. Sometimes it takes a lot of courage to muster up that initial, “I open the door,” and it doesn’t behoove anyone to delay the action — not to mention the number of times I’ve had players delay their first turn anyway.

Really, with an action system that makes an extensive use of interrupts and reactions, it makes a lot of sense to give players the option to open with said actions, rather than waiting until after their first turn or so, when they aren’t prepared to use them, but rather have to look for opportunities.

Some classes will of course break this rule — as there will be classes that break just about every other rule — and those will be scouts and thieves and the like, who will get features like, “Haste” and “First Strike,” a la Magic: the Gathering.

I mean, let me pose a question for you — When is it more awesome to go first in combat? When you roll high, or when your class allows you to?

I think having the expectation that certain characters will always go first, and that most will react to the monsters (who go first), will help speed up combat without sacrificing the maps and miniatures that — well, at least some of us love and have grown accustomed to — I know they aren’t for everyone.