Momentum and Initiative

So right off the bat, I did steal the word Momentum from Modiphius Publishing’s phenomenal 2d20 system. Just the word, though, not the mechanic. Honestly, momentum is really the only good word for what I’ve come up with though.

Let me explain:

I was listening to a YouTube post by DungeonMusings where they were streaming a role playing game, and I heard them making some comments about initiative. That’s when it dawned on me: I hate the initiative roll. It’s either only once at the beginning of combat, or at the beginning of each round of combat. Neither of those work for me. If it’s only once at the beginning, it’s too static; real life is too dynamic for just one initiative roll. If it’s at the beginning of each round of combat, it’s too random; there’s nothing that really explains why the initiative would change round-to-round other than just pure dice chance.

So here’s my idea. Warning: it’s a bit crunchy. Just about everything I think of or design seems to add more work to games. It’s not done on purpose, it’s just the way I think.

Let’s say that initiative is rolled at the beginning of combat just like normal in whatever game you’re playing. From that point on, the events in the first round and every round after directly affect the initiative of the following round.

During the first round, after initiative is rolled, every single successful roll by any character is tallied and added to the total successes scored by their side or team. That roll could be a “to hit” roll, a skill check, a defense or saving throw roll, whatever. As the round progresses, that tally begins to climb. However… if any characters on either team fail any roll such as a missed attack roll, save, whatever, that team’s tally resets to zero.

Momentum only builds upon success, and breaks on failure.

At the end of each round, whichever side has the most successes wins initiative for the next round. Also (optionally), the amount by which they win initiative would work as a pool of points that the winning team could apply to any roll of any characters on their side. So if the PC’s win initiative by six more points than the monsters, then the PC’s can divvy up those as six +1’s that any player on the PC’s side could use for whatever they need… as long as the rest of the group agrees.

Yes, I know this could VERY easily be exploited by any side. They could try to make as many rolls as possible during the round to try to get as many bonuses as possible. Yet, if ANY of those rolls come up a failure, they’ve just lost their entire team’s tally and reset it to zero. They would have to carefully think about what they’re rolling and why.

I believe that this system could add a new dynamic to the combat round, and maybe make them act more as a team in order to try to be as effective as possible without taking too many undue risks. Only one initiative roll would be needed at the very beginning of the combat, and each team that scores the most successes now not only has initiative but also some bonuses that could help them stay in the lead.

Their enemies, upon seeing that the other team has momentum building, would have to work to their own strengths to try to force the enemy to try something desperate and maybe force a failed roll.

Also, I truly don’t think this would add much at all to the number-crunching and note taking during combat. It’s just adding successes. Fairly straight forward. Failure resets a team back to zero. Higher score wins initiative for the next round.

PLEASE tell me what you think! Is this worthwhile? Is it just more random blathering garbage? Would this work? Would you use it at your table? If you do, can you please tell me how it works out? I’ve got no gaming outlet except for this blog and watching other people play online, so any interaction by you the reader means quite a deal to me.


EDIT: I can’t believe I missed this. There’s an obvious error in this that didn’t even occur to me until just a few days ago.

This system works on a team concept, i.e. initiative is awarded to an entire team, instead of each character. I don’t like team initiative. I’d change this system to individual successes. After the first initiative round, each character would tally their own successful rolls. Then, initiative from that point on would be determined simply by who has been the most successful.

The GM could easily just combine all the bad guys into a single pool, but only the most successful monster’s rolls would be counted, not the whole team.

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