Anyone play with out initiative? Or individual turns?


In one of Hanks videos he recommends the Dungeon Craft YouTube channel and he has a really interesting take on combat, no initiative and everyone rolls at the same time thus making combat quick and chaotic.

Has anyone tried something similar?


I’ve watched this video and I don’t see how it makes anything faster honestly.
Maybe it is different in practice or with his group, I could imagine more discussion and back and forth about someone’s actions using this method over ICRPG’s simple circle logic.


I think it might be quicker because it eliminates the initiative phase.

I’m more interested in the idea of making combat seem hectic and the idea that if two opponents are engaged in melee for example that they are acting simultaneously and not waiting for their turn.


Or everyone declare actions, and then roll.

In reality there are still probably turns as outcomes are tabulated, but not waiting for outcomes and calculations to what is best now.

Fireball center of room, swirling sword at those 3, heal sleepy head, lay there waiting to be healed.

Everyone rolls for hit and effort.

Players declare results, GM declares results. Next round.

Rinse and repeat. Would probably keep the dice rolling, dissuade looking things up in books…

Keep things moving.

From a mechanic point of view, damage and effects take place at the end of the round…

I know there is a game I played that used that…but forgot the name.


I’ve done it, & I love it! Something about the strict ordered initiative always rubbed me wrong. Although it took me years before some of my super strict buddies would let me try getting away from it.

Not sure if this is exactly what the Prof. is intending, but here’s how I do it. Everyone still takes discrete turns, the whole “everything happens at once” part is mostly conceptual. There’s no initiative roll. I describe the scene, & the players can jump in whenever they want to do something. Everyone gets the normal amount of prescribed “actions” that they normally do, & once you’ve taken your action for the turn you’re done, until everyone one else who involves themselves takes theirs(usually within an instant of eachother, so the actual narrative unfolds “at the same time”). The DM just moderates this, controlling the flow of time, trumping actions as needed, & adjudicating any conflicts.

Think of it more like a conversation than a strict order of battle. We are just telling stories here after all.

“But what about Initiative?!?”, the disturbed players ask.

“It’s called “taking the initiative”, not “rolling initiative”.


Haha yes!

I’m still using initiative in my group but will probably adopt something along these lines.


I enjoy it more, things just flow a bit better. More naturally. It encourages players to be active & engaged.

As the DM you might have the tendency to hold up your finger & tell them to hold on until you’re finished with your own yabbering, before hearing what they’re asking or wanting to do. Try to resist this urge.

I find that if you at least listen to them for a second to figure out what they want or intend, & you can decide how to proceed. Things turn out better. Gives you some inspiration as well.

If there’s a competition for who goes first, like in a duel or a game of slaps, you just do an opposed Dex check. Easy peasie. Otherwise, action always follows thought (unless you’re a zen master) so speak up!


Good general advice for most situations.


I have been running my own home-brew RPG for a couple years without initiative and it’s worked out quite well. I don’t use an “everyone at once” combat sequence that is stated in the video, though I find it interesting and a good ponder. In my game I use action/reaction and let things flow organically based on cinematic action. Everything starts with defining the scenario to the players and asking them how their characters will react. Every participant gets a single action on their turn or a reaction off-turn in a round (I use tokens to keep track). The key is to run the opposition with realistic intention (no standing statically waiting to get clobbered round after round), are they aggressive? will they try to flee? are they trying to accomplish something aside from killing the characters during combat (closing a door, setting a fire, waking an ancient beast) . Part of what makes all this work is the use of opposed rolls and part of it is just being relaxed and letting a story unfold, I have found initiative works against interesting cinematic narrative (I am sure there are those who can pul it off but I have struggled with it).


What I usually do is let the party discuss what they will do as a whole group and decide the order which they will do it at the beginning of each round. Where this falls apart is 1) the self appointed ‘tactician’ of the group usually starts dictating how everyone should start to move and; 2) when they come to action it, then it gets rather boring for some of the players in a larger group.

I believe one of the intentions of the turn based system was to act as a mechanical way to tone down the influence of the ‘tactician’, allowing each player to control their destiny.

@rpgerminator I like your idea. Could you add a non-binary dice system on the Attempt roll to extend it further. If the player rolls 3 or more under the target then the enemy they are fighting get some kind of reactionary boost. 3 above target gives the player a better action etc? Do you find then that the GM actions interweave with the actions of the players, or do you still have a ‘GM turn’ after the players where the enemies perform their actions? Is a discrete GM turn even necessary?


I’m sure something like this could be worked out but would require some testing. I personally would probably not want to add another level of complexity there but I can see where some may like it. I do have a variable target number based on action/reactions though. My home-brew system runs with different dice dynamics but I will try to convert the concept into ICRPG terms. An opposed roll is equivalent to rolling D20 plus stats against each other (the opponents roll = the target number) with the winner doing damage. However, this would negate the rules of armor in ICRPG and is where more tweaks would need to be made. Once a combatant has used their action or is in a compromised position anyone else attacking that combatant for the rest of the round makes an EASY roll to hit that combatant.

Yes, the actions of the player characters and GM are absolutely intertwined because actions and reactions are resolved together using opposed rolls, this cuts down on combat time considerably. There are situations where combatants are not opposing each other such as movement or non-combat actions such as picking a lock, climbing, etc., in this case I simply follow the cinematic story of the combat sequence.

No, because of the structure of the action/reaction there is no need to do that. I have never been a big fan of the “two sides” breakdown of combat because it is slow and can cause boredom for the players. My goal in playing this way is to keep the action moving and to keep combat time down as much as possible and by using opposed rolls this cuts a combat sequence nearly in half.


For mundane things I use the ICRPG move from the left counter clockwise rule and then on the next one I will go clockwise to mix it up. Players are fine with it. In combat type situations where turns are more important, I simply base it on two things… if a character is faster than the rest (they most likely go first) and who is closest to the monster naturally goes first. People tend to blurt out what they want to do and I’m okay with that… I would rather have them voicing their moves randomly which mimics thinking in real time anyway. If you snooze… you lose basically. Been doing this for years and sure, sometimes it gets super crazy and as long as you can handle it all being thrown at you all at once from the players and you can take what they say and form it into a fair narrative… it all goes well. We all have our styles. Mine resembles how I live my life… chaotic. lol


I use simple initiative. Roll to see who goes first. Go clockwise after the first person. :sunglasses:


I tried this system, but the players didn’t like it. They wanted initiative rolls back.


Which system? The one in the video or ICRPGs circle system?
Maybe it doesn’t matter :slight_smile: