Yet Another Initiative Variant

Dynamic Initiative

At the beginning of each round, each creature decides what actions it wishes to take on its turn. It consults the table below (or the DM) to determine what Initiative Die it rolls. Then each creature rolls its Initiative Die then adds its initiative bonus to that roll. If you would take multiple actions, use the smallest die of the chosen actions.

Initiative dies
Die Action
1d20 Do nothing
1d12   Dash, Disengage, Dodge
1d10 Attack (light weapon), Any other bonus action
1d8 Attack (normal weapon), Cast a cantrip
1d6 Attack (heavy weapon), Any other action
1d4 Cast a spell (casting time 1 action)
1 Incapacitated
Action type Roll
Dash, Disengage, Dodge 1d12
Weapon attack (light weapon) 1d10
Use an object 1d10
Any other bonus action (e.g., class features) 1d10
Weapon attack (normal weapon) 1d8
Cast a cantrip 1d8
Weapon attack (heavy weapon) 1d6
Any other action (e.g., search, hide) 1d6
Cast a spell (casting time 1 action) 1d4
Incapacitated 1

Special cases

  • A creature may declare that it is not going to move on its turn. This provides advantage on the initiative roll.
  • A surprised creature adds -10 to its initiative result and cannot take reactions until the end of the round.
  • Any effect that would grant a bonus to your initiative roll, you instead increase the size of one die (d4 to d6, etc).
  • Any effect that would grant you advantage on initiative, you may apply that as usual to the initiative die you roll.
  • You may no longer ready an action but instead you may delay your turn until another point in the order. If several creatures delay, the original order remains if several choose to act at once.
  • Anything with a duration that lasts until the end of your turn, instead lasts until the end of the round where the turn took place.
Special case Effect
No movement Advantage on the roll
Swap gear Disadvantage on the roll
Surprised -10 to the initiative roll, no reactions

Changing your mind

If a player decides to perform an action other than what they declared, they may choose instead to use a Reaction and perform an action from the options with a Initiative Die of greater or equal size to the one they prepared.

If a creature declared that it is not going to move, it may not voluntarily move on its turn.


Order of declaring actions

The DM declares enemy actions first. This makes encounters easier, which the DM should compensate for.

  • For example, this allows a player to choose a quick Dodge if the DM hints that a dragon is going to use its slow breath weapon.
Use 1d10 for bonus action spells?
  • Advantage: enables fast reactive healing using Healing Word.
  • Disadvantage: need to decide between action/bonus action spells when declaring your action.
Should movement cost extra?

Not in general. But adding an option to improve the initiative roll by promising not to move adds additional strategic options.

  • Realistically, if a melee attacker charges a ranged attacker, the ranged should go first. The ranged attacker would opt to not move to improve the odds of going first.
Roll20.net macro

&{template:default} {{name=@{selected|character_name}}} ?{Action| Do nothing (d20),{{Do nothing=[[1d20 + [[0.01 @{selected|initiative_bonus}]] &{tracker}]]| Dash, Disengage, or Dodge (d12),{{Dash, Disengage, or Dodge=[[1d12 + [[0.01 @{selected|initiative_bonus}]] &{tracker}]]| Attack (Light Weapon) (d10),{{Attack (Light Weapon)=[[1d10 + [[0.01 @{selected|initiative_bonus}]] &{tracker}]]| Other bonus action (d10),{{Other bonus action=[[1d10 + [[0.01 @{selected|initiative_bonus}]] &{tracker}]]| Attack (Normal Weapon) (d8),{{Attack (Normal Weapon)=[[1d8 + [[0.01 @{selected|initiative_bonus}]] &{tracker}]]| Cast a Cantrip (d8),{{Cast a Cantrip=[[1d8 + [[0.01 @{selected|initiative_bonus}]] &{tracker}]]| Attack (Heavy Weapon) (d6),{{Attack (Heavy Weapon)=[[1d6 + [[0.01 @{selected|initiative_bonus}]] &{tracker}]]| Other action (d6),{{Other action=[[1d6 + [[0.01 @{selected|initiative_bonus}]] &{tracker}]]| Cast a Spell (d4),{{Cast a Spell=[[1d4 + [[0.01 @{selected|initiative_bonus}]] &{tracker}]]| Incapacitated (1),{{Incapacitated=[[1 + [[0.01 @{selected|initiative_bonus}]] &{tracker}]] } }}

;
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