One thing that has never really jived well for me was movement in combat (in D&D, usually) in the way that each character gets to move and then do their action. One at a time. Even though it represents action from all the characters, the step-by-step movement seems disjointed.
However, there is another game that I was once very much into called Car Wars by Steve Jackson that did movement in a very different way. Combat was actually broken down into one second turns, and then further into five 1/5th of a second phases. Car Wars is a very tactical game. Such short combat turns really won’t work with D&D, but one aspect of Car Wars that I think could be used possibly is the way that movement happened during each turn.
Depending on your speed, your car would move one car length (approximately) at each phase that coordinated with your speed. For example, if my vehicle was travelling at 50 miles per hour, I would move it one car length forward at each phase. At 60 mph, I would move two car lengths (one inch in-game) at phase 1, and one inch at each of the next four phases, for 6 inches total.
Now, to understand how this is really different, every player would move their vehicle one inch at each phase. You don’t move your entire distance all at once. If you are only going 10 mph, you’d only move once at phase 1 and have to wait for the rest of the turn to finish.
I’m probably not explaining this very well. Here’s a small snapshot of the grid used for movement in Car Wars. Each number in the grid represents how far you would move your vehicle when the GM tells you it’s a new phase.
I hope that makes more sense. My point to all this is trying to figure out how to use this in D&D. All characters on the field would move forward one grid square at a time, with faster moving characters moving further in each phase.
This movement would be outside of initiative, though. I think initiative would only come into play when attacks happen, as the characters close in to melee range.
This might REALLY slow down combat, though, although maybe not.
Here’s how I see this working in a traditional tabletop game, using D&D as my example. Initiative is still rolled at the beginning, but movement starts right away for everybody. Let’s say for example that in this combat, there is a party of four PC’s, each with a standard move rate of 6 , and four Hobgoblins with a movement rate of 8. This is just an example… I know Hobbies don’t have a move of 8. Initiative is rolled, and the eight characters have initiatives of:
PC’s: 14, 13, 13, 8
Hobbies: 17, 16, 7, 7
On the very first phase of combat, each character moves only one square (in 4E) or 5 feet (5E), but from lowest initiative to highest. This represents the higher initiative characters able to respond to the slower characters and adjust their movement. However, the Hobgoblins would move two squares at phase 1 and 6 because they can move a total of 8 increments per round. My movement grid for this has 6 phases instead of Car Wars’ 5.
A standard combat round consists of only 6 phases (about one per second). On the first phase then, the Hobbies would move two squares while the PC’s move only 1 square. They would move that first movement in reverse order of initiative, with the two 7’s going first. If no one has gotten into melee range, a second movement round starts, and the same thing happens.
When any two characters get into melee range, that is when initiative really kicks in. Even if it is the lower initiative character who moved into range of the higher character, the higher initiative character gets to attack first.
Movement and standard or attack actions would have to be able to be split up in this system. I don’t believe 4E lets movement be broken up like this, but if you used this idea, you’d have to allow it.
Characters that have a movement rate slower than 6 (or 30 feet), would begin their movement in the phase AFTER 6 minus their movement. For example, a monster slug with a movement of 4 would move their first square in phase 3, and then again in 4, 5, and 6. It is possible to create a grid very much like the example above that would let slower characters space their movement out throughout the round, though.
The grid picture I’ve attached above shows when each character would move in each phase. Double XX’s mean two squares or two 5′ increments (4E or 5E, respectively). I’ve changed the double move phases, so my example of the Hobgoblins above is slightly incorrect. I’m just too lazy to go back and fix it, LOL.
This system does grant a huge advantage to ranged weapon attacks. In the very first phase of combat, any and all ranged attacks can happen regardless of initiative. If your Wizard had an initiative of 6 in the example above, but his attack was a ranged spell attack, he would resolve that attack immediately. If there are several characters performing ranged attacks, they would resolve them in correct initiative order. They can, of course, hold their attack until a more opportune moment.
Also, to possibly prevent over-powering ranged attacks, a GM could rule that ranged attacks or spell attacks (or anything else with a range like that) could take a certain number of phases to complete. For example, who is to say that a 1st level spell only takes a phase to complete, but a 5th level spell might take 2, or 3, or even 5? Drawing, nocking, and loosing an arrow could take a total of three phases, with the actual attack rolled at the third phase. A GM could also rule that initiative is used alongside with this new movement system; you can’t start your movement or your actions until your initiative count, regardless of whether you are using ranged or melee weapons.
If your character is doing a double move like a run (a DASH in 5E), you just double the amount of squares you move each phase. If you decide to start running mid way through the round, you move double moves on only your remaining phases. If you are running and you decide to slow down midway, you only move 1 square from that point forward. If you don’t start moving until after the first phase, you simply lose that potential movement and move when the next phase allows you to move.
I’m a bit unsure how charging in 4E would work, though. I’m not sure exactly how charging works, honestly. The description is a bit vague.
This would take a LOT of playtesting to see if it would work. I honestly don’t think it would slow down combat very much at all, and it might actually make combat more dynamic, if not realistic. PLEASE tell me what you think of this idea!