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 Post subject: Initiative rules
PostPosted: Wed Aug 28, 2013 1:24 am 
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Joined: Mon Aug 26, 2013 1:09 am
Posts: 45
Stumbled upon another slight problem during our test play that may need clarification:

Initiative order is set once, at the beginning of a battle, and then it can change during Upkeep. Actions changing initiative order happen in Initiative order, right?

So imagine the following situation: Dwellers 1, 2 and 3 are camping by a fire. Dweller 2 was supposed to keep watch but failed his check, and now, a polar bear is suddenly upon the dwellers.

Initiative order due to surprise:
Polar bear
D1
D2
D3

Now Upkeep happens. Polar bear does nothing; it is already the first in the round. Dweller 1 spends a rune to move up a rank in Initiative order. So does dweller 2. Dweller 3 has a Passive Skill that allows him to change his initiative by 1 rank during upkeep and does so. New initiative order:

D1
D2
D3
Polar bear

Initiative order just got turned around. Polar bear has tons of runes it could spend, but its turn in initiative order is already over (it did nothing), so it can't even act before Dweller 3 (and maybe get a few of his In-Hand runes out of the way with Mental damage).

Next turn comes, initiative order is still as above. D1, 2 and 3 are comfortable with where they are in initiative order. The polar bear spends a rune to move up, so it's now

D1
D2
Polar Bear
D3

A turn afterwards (assuming everybody who's below the bear wants to move up in the order, and so does the bear):

D1
Polar Bear
D3
D2

A turn after that:

Polar bear
D3
D2
D1

And after that:
D3
D2
D1
Polar bear

It seems weird to me that you cannot "counter" someone moving before you in initiative order by using powers or spending runes. Having the element of surprise isn't really an advantage (unless you count that the others have to spend a rune to act before you). Was that intentional, or am I doing something wrong?


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 Post subject: Re: Initiative rules
PostPosted: Wed Aug 28, 2013 10:00 am 
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Joined: Sat May 11, 2013 8:30 am
Posts: 77
Taleweaver looks like you are playing this right. Initiative is very dynamic and it is important players load up on Initiative based powers (especially at higher levels). By burning runes to go ahead of the bear, the players have lost potential actions this turn (their hands lost a rune). If I were running this combat, I would be picturing that the bear comes crashing into their campsite, it's not sure of which players becomes the appetizer and sets the contingency action of eating anyone that comes into melee range. Are you guys playing Fafnir light rules? If so then forget contingency. If you are playing Fafnir then the players lost two-thirds of their first turn, 1 rune to move up in initiative, another to pick up weapons and perhaps even another to get up. I'd allow them to play runes, but as the Norn, you can always limit what their opening round options can be based on the scene you have laid out.

In subsequent rounds, the system guarantees that no one can monopolize the top spot. In a 2 combatant fight, you can have a swap that occurs every round. An in multi-combatant fights, some interesting strategies develop on how to move around in the initiative ladder in order to maximize effectiveness. The Norn can also have some fun giving his monsters 'tactician' as a passive. I personally love how initiative becomes more than just turn order, it has some strategic elements as well leading players to some good planning discussions.


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 Post subject: Re: Initiative rules
PostPosted: Wed Aug 28, 2013 12:06 pm 
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Joined: Mon Aug 26, 2013 1:09 am
Posts: 45
Hm. If that was intentional, it is weird, because it nerfs builds strong in dealing Mental Damage, who profit most from going first in initiative order. If you start out high in the initiative stack, you get handed down easily (and, unless having a passive power, need to spend runes yourself to get back up), and if you start out low, you have to gradually work your way back up. The system actually rewards builds that are low in the initiative chain due to Contingency (you still get to do actions before it's your turn) and due to the fact that at the end of turn, everyone else has moved and you can easily choose where you will be during the next Upkeep, avoiding Auras or getting in position for your own Aura to work its magic.

Alright then.


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 Post subject: Re: Initiative rules
PostPosted: Wed Aug 28, 2013 8:16 pm 
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Joined: Thu Apr 25, 2013 10:39 am
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By design, as beta proved that both dwellers and denizens need an "escape hatch" during upkeep to avoid any locks that could come from someone always going first. In fact passive powers that allow for a swap without spending runes becomes a very valuable asset when dealing with mental damage attacks that can wipe a hand. The design was meant for a very dynamic list, allowing for an organic free-flowing ranking.

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 Post subject: Re: Initiative rules
PostPosted: Wed Sep 04, 2013 5:33 pm 
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Joined: Thu Apr 25, 2013 6:29 pm
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We just saw this happen in our most recent session. Our 12 foot tall half-troll decided he didn't need to put up with the tiny security guards blocking our path. He lifted his hand up to swat the little men out of his way. Here's the result:
Initiative at first upkeep round - Troll (everyone hereafter is randomly placed), Rager, Guard 1, Skald, Me (eater of eyes!), Guard 2, Guard 3, Master of Ratatosk (tm) (you'll have to ask Andrew about it).

After upkeep, our Troll who was building up a major swing ended up going second to last by virtue of our MoR's kindness. How does this work? From a storytelling standpoint, I say we were in a tense discussion and everyone was watching everyone else suspiciously. Our Troll begam an aggressive act and a quick battle broke out. By the time his arm was ready to strike, every enemy was dead. Everyone was amused except for our ineffective Hulk. For the record, I didn't need to lift a finger in that fight either.

How do you deal with this kind of situation? I suggest that Norns take the storytelling into account for when something like this happens. If everyone is actively ready for a fight, they get to take part in the upkeep phase. It's up to the person going first to jockey for FIRST. If they're asleep, or have failed their Perception check, they don't (certain actives may give them SOME help in that regard).

If all else fails, one possible contingency "trick" would be to set an active that changes your initiative spot (e.g. Repositioning - page 257) with the trigger of "If someone jumps ahead of me in Initiative". There are ways to handle this trick too, so nothing is fool proof; Initiative is dynamic.


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