After discussing Initiative with Winston (in the comments on “Take II“), I’ve revised Initiative yet again. This version combines some aspects of Take II and the original, and hence is Take 1.5 (halfway between each).
Before I post that, some blathering: I based the Initiative system off the psychological realities of battle. I did research into Boyd’s OODA loop, how Initiative (in the military sense) works, and how it underlies all conflicts, even non-military ones.
Take 1.5 reflects all of that… and none of it matters. A game mechanical subsystem has to stand on its own merits. It has to be fun to play on its own, no matter what research underlies it.
This is a common failing of RPG designers, both amateur and professional. (I’m on the amateur side of that line, just to be clear.) We write “realistic” rules that are an overly-complicated mess.
I do not want to do that with Destiny. I am committed to revising and polishing the game mechanics until they’re as simple and straightforward as possible. If I cannot find a way to implement the desired Initiative, I’ll go with a more traditional approach. I hope I won’t have to, but I will.
That said, I think the system is fairly unique (a plus) and I don’t think it’s complicated. Here’s how 1.5 works.
• Sides are called factions. These can be one person, an adventuring party, an individual military unit, an army, a business, a team of lawyers, whatever. (Depending on the nature of the conflict and the scope of this individual engagement.)
• “Initiative” represents one faction having the psychological advantage in an engagement. They are the aggressors, they are driving the pace of the combat, making decisions faster than their opponents. As the combat goes on, their opponents become more and more demoralized and disorganized.
• Any number of factions can be involved in a fight. At any given moment, either none of them has the Initiative or one does. Only one faction can have the Initiative.
• Combat is divided into 10-second rounds. (In basic combat. Round length can vary based on type of conflict and scope.) All participants can act once in any given round. (A change from Take II.)
• When no one has the Initiative, everyone acts in descending order of Dexterity. (In a physical conflict. In a business or legal conflict, this may be Intellect. In a social conflict, this would be Influence.)
• When one faction has the Initiative, members of that faction can act whenever they chose. They can go before everyone, after, or can interrupt the actions of people in other factions. (They lean out of cover to shoot, or stand up to throw a grenade, you shoot them. Some games call this “overwatch”.) If two players on the same faction want to act at the same time, use Dexterity. If that’s tied, their actions are simultaneous.
• When a faction has the Initiative, they can only lose it when someone else Seizes the Initiative. (There are specific rules for this, specifically the “plan and tactics” rules from Take II.)
• When a faction has the Initiative, each successful attack causes the enemy to become more and more disorganized and demoralized. This is represented by the Advantage bonus. This bonus starts out at +0 (the first round the faction has Initiative) and increases by +1 ever time a member of the faction successfully attacks the enemy (using a Combat Challenge or a Combat Interaction Skill.)
• Each round that passes without successfully pressing, the Advantage decreases. The enemy can regroup, reorganize, recover.
• When the Advantage exceeds the enemy’s Morale score, they break. (Morale only applies to extras. Leads, including all PC’s, are immune.)
The key to winning battles is to Seize the Initiative and Press the Attack. Go on the offensive, hurt the enemy, keep them disorganized, and continue hurting them until they are killed, surrender, or flee. “Keep up the scare.” These rules reflect that.