View Full Version : D&D 5e/Next Shadow of the Demon Lord Style Initiative for 5e

2017-07-13, 10:06 AM
So inspired by Mike Mearls and Rob Schwalb's Shadow of the Demon Lord, I modified the SotDL initiative system for 5e. You can read about why on my blog (https://worldbuilderblog.me/2017/07/13/shadow-of-the-demon-lord-initiative-for-5e/), but the system itself is below. Let me know what you think. I'd love constructive feedback. Thanks to all you awesome people.

Shadow of the Demon Lord Initiative in D&D

I've proposed a super simple version of Shadow of the Demon Lord for 5e initiative in a previous blog post. Here's a fuller version:

At the start of each round of combat, each creature declares if taking a fast, medium, or slow turn. The following describes each turn category:

Fast Turn. You take only a bonus action, action, or move your speed.
Medium Turn. You take any combination of two of the following: bonus action, action, or move your speed.
Slow Turn. You take a bonus action, action, and move your speed.

The round of combat then proceeds as follows:

Player characters taking a fast turn.
Monsters taking a fast turn.
Player characters taking a medium turn.
Monsters taking a medium turn.
Player characters taking a slow turn.
Monsters taking a slow turn.

Player characters and monsters in each turn category decide among themselves the order in which they act. If player characters cannot determine an order, the DM determines it. This could also be determined by allowing the character with the higher Dexterity score to go first or an opposed Dexterity check.

If a creature decides to change the type of turn it wants to take during a round, they can change to a categories at anytime, provided the creature has not already acted that round and the turn category has not already been completed for the round.

Creatures that are surprised take no actions during the first round of combat as normal.

Variant: Side Initiative

Allowing players to always go first means monsters die quicker, which also speeds up play, but for some groups, this isn't dangerous enough. If you want to change up the player/monster dynamic, you can roll for side initiative at the start of each round (this is discussed in the Dungeon Master's Guide). If the players win, they go first in each turn category. If the monsters win, they go first in each category.

2017-07-13, 11:23 AM
Keep in mind that some classes and builds rely on Bonus Actions just to keep up with their counterparts. Two-weapon fighting martial characters need a bonus action to compete with the damage of two-handed weapons or the security of shielded/ranged builds. Monks and Rogues need their bonus action to compete with more powerful and less fragile classes respectively.

This means that these characters are forced to take a Slow turn (Move + Action + Bonus) to accomplish what their counterparts do in a Medium turn (Move + Action), and these characters are forced to take a Medium turn (Action + Bonus) to accomplish what their counterparts do in a Fast turn (Action). It's unfair to nerf their initiative like this, and it's also pretty silly that the fastest characters in the game (Rogues, Monks, two-weapon fighters) would act last round after round.

Instead, bonus actions should be thought of as an extension of a character's action/move. The only bonus actions powerful enough to be seen otherwise already have a resource cost (Bardic Inspiration dice, Ki points, etc) and don't need to be further penalized by reduced initiative.

TLDR: There should be fast turns (move or action) and slow turns (move and action), both of which can include a bonus action.

2017-07-20, 09:07 AM
UPDATE: Thanks to lots of awesome feedback, including GlacticAxekick's, I have updated the initiative system. What do you think of the changes? Link to update below!


Thanks for that!