Since the release of Mike Mearl’s Greyhawk Initiative system in the Unearthed Arcana for this month, the internet has become riddled with alternative initiative systems for 5e. While generally I’m excited by any attempt to innovate in D&D, I’ve found that most of the proposed variations (including even the Greyhawk Initiative variant) don’t seem to be based on creating interesting play behavior but just in modeling some past version of D&D or a different game (I’m of the opinion that the Greyhawk Initiative variant was mostly influenced by Mearls’ love of Warhammer games and Warhammer’s general method of splitting rounds into ranged, melee, and magic phases).
With that in mind, I’ve created my own take on the initiative variant system that’s meant to reward less common actions in combat with better initiative values. In this variant, the Sterling Vermin Initiative, casting spells and attacking use the slowest initiative dice while using items, dodging, and other indirect combat tactics are prioritized.
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