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Keeping track of initiative

Posted: Sat Apr 13, 2013 9:40 pm
by Putraack
I've only run Traveller a few sessions, and I was recently reviewing the combat rules. Initiative, and the dynamic element, seemed the first thing to go out the window.

How do the rest of you keep track of the changes in PC/NPC initiative during combat? I tried using a magnetic board, with character names written on magnetic strips with wet-erase marker (works great for D&D). That got tiresome, since we also needed to record the initial roll, and re-sort them all at the end of the round. After a few rounds of that, we tossed it and left initiative where it was. It might have hurt us that no one had experience with the system, and no one used hastening or reactions.

Suggestions?

Re: Keeping track of initiative

Posted: Sun Apr 14, 2013 12:01 am
by coldwar
Erm, can I ask you firstly, do you roll initiative each and every round?

I ask because I have encountered DM's of D&D doing this before. Is actually a mistake if you are. You just roll it once per encounter at the start.

Re: Keeping track of initiative

Posted: Sun Apr 14, 2013 12:55 am
by rgrove0172
Not a Traveller player but in many other games I use cards for initiative. Index cards are fine, but you can make cool ones for each character if you like, numbered NPCs. Then just place in the right order when initiative is dtermined. Simply pull a card and activate that person.

Re: Keeping track of initiative

Posted: Sun Apr 14, 2013 3:58 am
by hdan
I'm curious to know how other people do this too. I'm about to start an MgT campaign, and this will come up before too long I suspect. :)

MgT's dynamic initiative seems nice in theory, but as you suggest, all that dodging and recoil stuff is likely to make things confusing.

I'm planning to have each player track their current initiative number (roll it once, then keep track of any modifications), and I'll just call out a countdown and have people chime in when it's their initiative. The NPCs will be harder to handle. I may write down their "rolled" init and use a d12 to track their current init, resetting it to the recorded value when its their turn to activate, then adjusting it downward for any actions or reactions that eat initiative. (Or upward for Leadership tests....)

What do other people think?

Re: Keeping track of initiative

Posted: Sun Apr 14, 2013 4:51 am
by Nathan Brazil
Once everyone has acted a combat round is over and a new round begins. Initiative is not re-rolled but is dynamic, and may be adjusted up and down by actions taken during a round. CRB p.60
With rules as written, initiative is not too big a deal though surprise/ambushes are really deady (Prepared characters get an automatic roll of 12, unprepared have to roll).
Because of this, I have found I only need one card. I have three columns which I write once. Name, "Rolled Initiative", Dexterity to determine who goes first. Each round
1.Write the intiative number in a 4th column
2.See who goes next.
2.Modify for the round if character did something to lower their initiative.
3.Scratch out the initiative in the 4th column once the character has acted
4.Next round go back to step 1.

Unless you are doing a massive 20-30 character firefight, what's the big deal?

Re: Keeping track of initiative

Posted: Sun Apr 14, 2013 8:49 am
by GypsyComet
I built a magnetic initiative tracker from a craft store pencil box, adhesive-backed magnetic strips, pin backs for buttons or similar, and a large pile of letter beads. I use it for D&D, Pathfinder, IKRPG, and Traveller, though the number scale is calibrated differently for Traveller. Because the character tags stick up quite a bit, moving them around is not a big deal.

Re: Keeping track of initiative

Posted: Sun Apr 14, 2013 10:18 am
by alex_greene
I keep the numbers in my head, with a memory palace.

Re: Keeping track of initiative

Posted: Sun Apr 14, 2013 7:36 pm
by hdan
Nathan Brazil wrote:...I have found I only need one card. I have three columns which I write once. Name, "Rolled Initiative", Dexterity to determine who goes first. Each round
1.Write the intiative number in a 4th column
2.See who goes next.
2.Modify for the round if character did something to lower their initiative.
3.Scratch out the initiative in the 4th column once the character has acted
4.Next round go back to step 1.
Sounds good, and less accident prone than my d12 idea. I'll try it.

Re: Keeping track of initiative

Posted: Mon Apr 15, 2013 1:34 am
by iainjcoleman
I played a Traveller game at a convention. The game was run by a referee from Avenger Enterprises, and Gar Hanrahan himself was one of the players.

No one gave a toss about keeping track of intiative.

The initiative tracking scheme is one of those things that seems like a good idea on paper, but doesn't really work out in practice. Part of it is the nature of combat in Traveller: who gets to shoot first is very important, but after that most combats don't last all that long, because it turns out that hi-tech military small arms tend to result in short, deadly firefights.

Re: Keeping track of initiative

Posted: Mon Apr 15, 2013 7:07 am
by GypsyComet
It's the upstation bar fights that can take a while, especially when your engineer (who also happens to be an uplifted Orang) keeps messing with the gravity.

Re: Keeping track of initiative

Posted: Mon Apr 15, 2013 4:25 pm
by Putraack
coldwar wrote:Erm, can I ask you firstly, do you roll initiative each and every round?

I ask because I have encountered DM's of D&D doing this before. Is actually a mistake if you are. You just roll it once per encounter at the start.
No, we didn't. (That hasn't been part of D&D since before some of my players were born.)

The magnetic board may have to be enlarged, to allow for re-ordering of names.

Re: Keeping track of initiative

Posted: Tue Apr 16, 2013 3:34 pm
by mattman
I can't resist being the twit here:

How about a smartphone app that displays the player's initiative number hovering over his head when you hold it up to him or his chair? C'mon, get to it someone.

Re: Keeping track of initiative

Posted: Wed Apr 17, 2013 2:35 am
by GypsyComet
mattman wrote:I can't resist being the twit here:

How about a smartphone app that displays the player's initiative number hovering over his head when you hold it up to him or his chair? C'mon, get to it someone.
Because most consumer electronics are a bad idea at the game table.