Yesterday I ran my first all-day (8 hour) D&D 5e session in quite a while. Of course, I used Next Turn! The app held up like a champ — I can’t imagine running a game without it anymore. I had prepped by entering all the monster stats I needed (attacks, saves, vulnerabilities, etc.), and having that info at my fingertips on the combat screen was incredibly useful. No flipping through notes, books, or index cards!
But, that is not the point of this post. This time, I used my built-in optional (house) rule of re-rolling initiative for everyone each round. In addition, I used the option of NOT grouping like critters, i.e., when 6 goblins attacked, they each got their own initiative roll. There is nothing written up for this in the book, but it is an obvious extrapolation. I assume it is left out to simplify managing combat. I’m used to games like Shadowrun where we re-roll every round, and folks are more spread out.
I have to say — I REALLY enjoyed using these options in D&D. Not clumping up the monsters just feels both more fair (I hate the never-ending rain of death they create when grouped), and more realistic. And with Next Turn doing the work for you — it comes at no cost. But what really shown, in my opinion, was the re-rolls every round. Instead of the combat falling into a predictable rhythm that the players could use to plan around (e.g. I know the rogue will go third, so I’m going to attack the bugbear to setup the backstab), the players were left guessing — or at least, had to adjust on the fly. I think this made the combats much more dynamic — more chaotic (in a good way). Tactics like coordination were still possible, but while in one round the tank might go before the rogue, in the next, the rogue might have to ready an action and wait for the tank. Tons of fun this way! I also think it much better represents the reality of the ongoing combat and jockeying for position and advantage that the combat round is meant to represent.
Needless to say, this would have been a royal PITA without my app to do it automatically. With it, I simply glanced down at the screen and could see the order. I could choose to share that with the players (even hiding the monsters before doing so), or not. Does it surprise you that I did not let them know what the order would be? 🙂
What do you think? Interested in randomizing initiative every round? If so, I have an app that can make it easy to do! 🙂