Today I have a question for you guys. it has been a long time since I've worked on a system, any system, but my brain has been turning that way again. Maybe it's because I need to kick myself to start shopping around the two games I have done and ready, or maybe it is just my brain finally waking up now that I have time again. Either way, I thought it would be fun to put a mechanic out there and see how you guys think it might work out. The idea for today is for an initiative system. So, take a moment, read the mechanic, and tell me how you think it would work.
The idea for this is based on two things. One is that each character would have a statistic called "Reaction." A character's Reaction would determine their initiative, with the higher the number meaning the better the person's initiative. Each character would only have one major action a round (attack, defend, dodge, move) with maybe the possibility for some free actions thrown in.
With this, combat would work like this. When a round started, the GM would start at 0 and work their way up. As the timer reached each character's Reaction they would have to act. However, at any time during the statement of that action someone with a higher Reaction could interrupt with their action. Multiple interrupts would be handled with the highest Reaction having priority.
GM: Ok, starting the round off we have Reaction 0...1...2...3..alright, on 4 the street thug is going to pull his pistol and shoot at Trevor.
Trevor: When he goes to aim at me I'm going to dodge behind the mailbox for cover. I got a 21 on my dodge check.
GM: Alright, the thug misses as you get behind cover before he can get a shot of. On five, the other thug is going to throw a molotov cocktail.
Sarah: I want to shoot it out of his hand!
Jessica: I just want to shoot him!
GM: Alright, well Sarah has the higher reaction time, do you want to change your action?
GM: Ok, so Sarah shoots the molotov out of the thugs hand, at the same time Jessica drops the thug with a well placed arrow. Moving on..
and so on.
On the good side, I can see this making for more dynamic combats. Restricting the players to one action means they have to choose between defending themselves and attacking. How they do that is up to them obviously, but it is still there. It also allows people with higher initiative to see what happens before they act, and choose when they want to go which gives them more control over the round. However, using that interruption also leaves them vulnerable to other actions. In the example, Trevor dodged the pistol, but he used his action and now may be caught if another thug tthrows something like a molotov behind his mailbox.
There is also the fact that it is easy to understand and has no dice rolls to determine order. Moving lowest to highest, with highest always being allowed to interrupt, is easy to explain and go with.
On the con side, it could put too much pressure on players to use interrupts. There is also a bit less dynamic in an individual round since if I have a higher Reaction, I will always have higher priority than you. These could both be fixed with other modifiers (surprise modifiers, etc) but that would be for a different post.
I can also see things getting bogged down more than usual where multiple people want to use their interrupt on the same person. If someone pulls a rocket launcher, and the whole party wants to stop him, who is locked in? Who isn't? You could again use priority to determine this (like in the example where Sarah was given the option to change her action but not jessica) but it is still a problem. Especially when two people have an equal Reaction and both try to do something.
What do you think? Would this work? Do you think you'd enjoy a game with this as the initiative mechanic? Sound off in the comments.