Wes Baker

#RPGaDAY2020 Day 11: Stack

August 11th, 2020

Initiative has been done in different ways in many games:

  • Individual initiative: everyone rolls a d20 and adds a bonus
  • Side-based initiative: roll a d6 for your side and whoever rolled highest goes first
  • Save-based initiative: make your dexterity save and go first
  • Action-based initiative: pick a fast action and go before the enemies, slow goes after
  • Card-based initiative: draw a card and whoever has the highest/lowest number goes first
  • Popcorn initiative: you’re first, pick who goes after you (PC or NPC)

And so forth and so on. There are so many ways to do it and they all have their merits. I’m currently enamored with side-based as I like seeing what a party can do to make the best of their situation. However, I find Troika’s Stack initiative very interesting, if not a little unwieldy. Here’s how it works:

  1. Get a container (bag) and a bunch of tokens (dice, poker chips, M&Ms, whatever) of different colors
  2. Assign each character in combat 2 tokens and add them to the bag (e.g. each player will have two tokens, but those 5 automatons they’re fighting will contribute 10 tokens)
  3. Add one token of a different color

Now, when combat starts, draw one token and that character acts. When you draw the unique token the round ends and all of the drawn tokens go back in the bag. With this, no one knows how many actions they’ll get or when they’ll get them. A round can end after one swipe or everyone could go and the round-end token could be drawn last. It’s not ideal for everything, but it can add some fun chaos.