AD&D 2e, Learn the Game

Combat in ADND 2e, Part 4: Initiative

So I really like the way that D&D 2e asks for us to determine initiative. Each side (the DM and the players) roll a single d10. The lowest result goes first and that side acts before the other. Now this result can be modified by various situational modifiers (for example being “Slowed” will add 2 to your result) but by and large this is a simpler, and quicker initiative system than was found in 3e.

Now there is a criticism of this initiative method mentioned in the PH:

Some people believe that using a single initiative roll for everyone on the same side is too unrealistic. It is, admittedly, a simplification, a way to keep down the number of die rolls required in a single round, allowing for much faster combat.

Cook, 125

The solution to this criticism is to either add complexity to the initiative system by adding additional modifiers or by adding modifiers and having everyone roll individually. Which, to me, misses the point of the simplified initiative system.

We’re looking for speed in combat.

Adding complexity slows down the game and makes combat take longer. This is expressly one of the things that I hate about D&D 3e because combat takes forever.

I’m all for having a caller and allowing the players to decide a strategy each round because, even though it slows things down, it sounds fun to get to strategize with your buddies. But I’m against rolling each round and adding complexity to the initiative sequence.

Works Cited

Cook, David “Zeb,” et al. Player’s Handbook for the AD&D Game. USA: TSR Inc, 1996. pg 116, 125 PRINT

5 thoughts on “Combat in ADND 2e, Part 4: Initiative”

  1. I just love how the designers give you options. Sometimes you might want a simplified initiative system, other times you might want speed factors and the like. They don’t tell you the-one-true-way to run your game; the rules really are guidelines in AD&D 2e.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Absolutely!

      One of the things that I have loved about learning this system is how many variations they offer you in the PH alone! In 3e most of that is saved for the DMG so there are nowhere near the options available to you from the get go

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Even if side-initiative is in effect the players still resolve their turns serially. With side-initiative it’s determined by plan (if the group has a cohesive plan, that is), or it’s determined by whoever shouts the loudest, (or the DM insists on going around the table).

    From experience I can say there’s not much speed advantage in that versus each player rolling individual initiative and the DM then counting upwards. (A further optimisation has the DM asking if anyone beat the lowest monster initiative and proceeding by jumping to the next monster initiative).

    Individual initiative brings a little gamble to the combat — will the plan play out as envisaged, will luck be on the PCs side?


    1. Hm.

      It’s been my experience that when you run individual initiatives that there is rarely a cohesive plan with the players as they tend to think first of themselves instead of the team. Perhaps that’s just the area I play in.


      1. Sorry, when I say inidividual-initiative I’m also assuming the AD&D declare-before protocol. It’s mostly the latter that drives plan cohesion — certainly have been in a few games where there was no declare-before and then individual-initiative simply resulting various PCs dashing off to the side to loot some chest or body.

        Liked by 1 person

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