Thursday, May 30, 2024

Switching Initiative Systems

So I'm looking again at running OSE at the office after work.

On reflection I really do enjoy the chaos of ACKS' individual initiative system, and would be quite sad I think to adopt OSE's individual initiative, which is rolled once per combat.

I've been thinking some about multi-layered combat systems; combat systems as modules at different levels of abstraction which can be swapped between much like Traveller's mini-games.  Traveller has its main combat system, Snapshot at a higher level of detail, Striker at a greater scale...  We see this also in Chainmail, which is really at least three combat systems all in one book; the mass combat and man-to-man scale combat systems both use basically the same core mechanics, but then the jousting minigame is its own thing.

It has me thinking about under which circumstances one might choose to use individual initiative vs initiative by side (and, more generally, whether it makes sense to have another higher-detail combat system like AD&D's, Snapshot's, or Boot Hill's for single combat).

An even more amusing possibility than choosing between individual and by-side initiative for a given combat would be to move between them as a combat evolves.  Using initiative by side while the party is acting cohesively makes sense.  Once people start breaking morale and breaking ranks and the plan goes to hell, maybe it makes sense to switch to individual initiative.  As the combat becomes more chaotic, switch to an initiative system which evokes and adds to that feeling of chaos.  Maybe an encounter where the party lost surprise starts in individual initiative.  And maybe successfully rallying the party gets you back into by-side initiative.