Sunday, November 4, 2018

Updated Initiative Rules

The initiative rules in the early drafts were effective, but frankly I just didn't like them. They didn't fit with the rest of the system. After a few experiments, most of which I'll mark as failed, the following was decided upon. It does a few things:

  1. It allows for a GREAT initiative roll to really impact how much time you've got to do things. surprising the enemy is bad-ass again.
  2. It is easy math that the players can do and doesn't depend (as much) on what other people rolled. 
  3. Spending END on initiative makes sense now (had little impact before)
  4. Additional Initiative dice have a better impact as well, making that a worthwhile advance.
  5. The ambush rules are much clearer and a good ambush plan GUARANTEES the entire party will go first and quickly if it is well executed and really makes it likely if at least somewhat well executed.

In General

  1. Everyone makes a Ranked INIT Action Roll.
  2. Highest initiative roll starts on Count 0
  3. Each additional character starts on Count (highest roll - their own roll)

Initiative Roll
Initiative Count
 (12-8) = 4
(12 - 4) = 8
(12 - 11) = 1
Gang of Ghol
Pack of Giant Rats
 (12 - 7) = 5

  • The combat count starts at 0.
  • Any character with an initiative count of 0 gets their next declared action at half speed.
  • Combat count increments as normal/everything else is the same
Situational Awareness


Alert characters are on guard and specifically watching for danger in a specific location roll initiative with Advantage. For example, watching a door or hallway while the rest of the group is doing other things.


This is a character’s general state. No modifiers t the roll.


Characters that are distracted because they are engaged in other activities such as arguing, picking a lock, or searching an area are distracted. These characters roll initiative with Disadvantage.


An ambush is when a character or group has a specific plan of attack and knowledge of their enemy and the situation. Kicking down a door where the enemy and specific terrain is unknown does not count an ambush, but it may catch the targets distracted.

Ambushing Unaware Targets

An unaware target is unprepared for a fight. When ambushing unaware targets. The character that rolled the highest gets an initiative count of 0 and all other characters in the group get an initiative count of 1. The unaware targets will have AT BEST an initiative count of 5. The entire target group must be unaware of the attack.

Ambushing Aware Targets

If the target group is aware of a possible attack but still being ambushed, the ambushers roll with Advantage but the target of the ambush rolls based on their situational awareness (Alert, Wary, or Distracted), which can be different for different members of the group.
Note: one can be alert or ambushing but not both)

A surprised character has an initiative count that has not yet been reached. Once a character's first  initiative count comes up they are no longer surprised. Surprised characters may still defend themselves, but do so at Disadvantage. Shields may only be used if they were readied before the combat began

Mitigating Surprised

A character may grab another character to mitigate their surprise. Average the current and surprised character's counts. The mitigating character has no penalty to defend and can step in and take the hit from any incoming attacks.

Sorrow in Haven Monsters and Books

The last edits are being completed on the first draft of Sorrow in Haven. The 'beta' copy of the book has been made (and some obviously adjustments are in order). With that in the final stages, I've moved on to parts 2 and 3 of the project: the monster book and version 2 of the main book.

First, re-creating all of the 'classic' monsters is not a particularly fun or rewarding experience. So for the most part I decided simply not to. The majority of monsters are new creatures, things that haven't existed before. As I was writing, though, I realized that some of the classic monsters should show up. Most of them have been included in the "Creatures of Dust" group - these are the more common creatures that characters (and players) may know about.

I'm going to break the monsters into 3 volumes, just for management purposes. Creatures have a "class" that is similar to level and are rated A-E based on where they might show up in a dungeon. The Threat value for individual creatures varies on a given class, but overall, higher threat is a 'higher' class rating. Volume 1 will contain classes A&B, volume 2 C&D, and volume 3 will have class E, Astral, and Gloom encounters. Volumes 1 and 2 will contain 132 monsters, volume 3 128 monsters, and both will have appendices for some extra fun (although I'm not sure what just yet).

Main Rules v2
The rewrite of the main rules is for two purposes. The first is to add new details, rules, and concepts into the official rules. The second is to expand on some concepts that are touched up but not explained as well as I'd like or need to be updated/revised/expanded. The game is the same, just with some more polish on it. All of that comes together to create a single book that is an entire game, including some monster highlights, so a new GM or player can pick it up and jump right in.

That is the fun part, isn't it? Earlier in the year I had a MASSIVE data loss situation. Entirely my fault, although i'll blame technology for as much of it as I can get away with. The monster collection had to be entirely recreated, the dungeon generator I use for inspiration also needed to be (and is still in the process) of being rebuilt from the ground up. So next year? I plan to have the main text completed by the end of June 2019, then the art and editing and all that fun stuff needs to happen. SO this whole project might be ready in 2020. Let's say 2020. 

Then I will consider if a Kickstarter is worthwhile. Not really to MAKE money (which would be cool) but to share my project and maybe break even. I'm doing this as a labor of love and will have everything completed and payed for and ready to go if/when a kickstarter happens, so it all comes down to production, which is going to be all done by hand. Because I can. and no PDF because I don't want to make that. I know that a lot of folks will not want such a thing, but i'm old school and like my books.

Recent Play Reports
I've been pretty awful about posting play reports on the blog. I mean clearly, this is the first thing posted in months. But the good news is that a massive and wildly complex adventure came to a close. It was a hard test of the rules and 99% of things worked out. More interesting, is that the first game being run by someone OTHER than me is happening! We've had one session which was awesome. Another session is pending, but work travel (not just mine) has borked things up a bit. In any case, the game goes on!