Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Pathfinder Musings: Card-Based Initiative

Occasionally, I like to experiment with different interpretations of familiar rules. Usually, I do this to see if an alternate method might be better than the official rule. However, I sometimes just mess with the rules to see what will happen. 

This is one of those times.

While the initiative system presented within the Pathfinder RPG Core Rulebook works fine, I wanted to see what an alternate initiative system might look like, one loosely based off the initiative system found in Savage Worlds. Feel free to use it in your games. Just remember this is mostly an experiment and hasn't been tested yet. 

This variant requires the use of a regular deck of playing cards with the Jokers removed. At the beginning of combat, each player is dealt a number of cards equal to 1 + the player's Initiative modifier. For the time being, ignore the positive or negative elements of the modifier. This means a character with a -2 Initiative modifier would receive three cards, even though the character possesses a negative modifier. 

Once the cards are dealt, the players with positive modifiers keep the one with the highest value while players with negative modifiers keep the one with the lowest value. For the purposes of this variant, aces are treated as a result of one. The player with the highest value card goes first, with each player following them in order of descending value. Players who receive cards that possess the same value act in order of the suit of the cards (Spades > Hearts > Diamonds > Clubs). 

For those wishing to include the Jokers, use the following additional rule. Players who are dealt a Joker ignore the other cards, keeping it no matter what. The player with the Joker decides where they fall in the Initiative order. If two players were dealt Jokers, the player with the colored Joker chooses first. Game Masters looking to shake up combat can deal out new cards each round, gathering the old cards and re-shuffling the deck.