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Maelstrom Initiative: A 5e Variant for Players and GMs who love speed, engagement, and immersion, but don't mind a few rules.

Maelstrom Initiative: A 5e Variant for Players and GMs who love speed, engagement, and immersion, but don't mind a few rules.

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D&D 5e Homebrew: Maelstrom Initiative

What is Maelstrom Initiative

Maelstrom initiative, unlike most other initiative systems for 5e, does away with the concept of turns, instead breaking each turn up over the course of a round. The D&D Players Handbook asserts that a round of combat takes six seconds, and all turns happen simultaneously, or near-simultaneously. When you sit down to play, however, it becomes immediately clear that the turns do not happen near-simultaneously. Each one is a laborious process of questioning, thinking, rolling, reporting and resolving, and they follow each other exactly, each player having an opportunity to take all of their actions, then pass it to the next player who will take their group of actions.

We all intuitively know that combat is supposed to be a disorganized, frantic struggle. But our combat system fails to capture this at the most basic level, and the alternative of 'the players state their actions and then the GM just says what he/she thinks should happen' is no longer a game - it's just an odd combination of collaborative storytelling and GM fiat.

This is what Maelstrom Initiative is able to do unlike any other initiative system. It provides a method and structure for simultaneous combat that keeps everyone constantly engaged and rewards teamwork and tactical planning.

Why use it?

As mentioned before, this is not for everyone. However, it has three main advantages over regular initiative:

Maelstrom Initiative is faster

To every DM or player who has ever suffered through a unnecessarily long combat, this is for you. In a regular initiative system, everyone has an opportunity to think on their turn. In Maelstrom Initiative, all players think about and choose their actions at the same time, drastically reducing time costs.

Maelstrom Initative is more engaging

To every DM frustrated with players who poke their phone while it isn't their turn, or to every player who has ever gotten bored while waiting for combat to slowly grind its way back to them, this is for you. Because each player's actions are broken up over a whole round, you are always deciding what you want to do first, and you are always on deck to act.

Maelstrom Initiative is more immersive

To everyone who has ever wondered why the paladin could run up and hit the goblin with her 5-foot long greatsword faster than the rogue standing next to the goblin could stab it, this is for you. Maelstrom initiative's more realistic event ordering eliminates almost all of the subtle immersion-breakers we regularly experience in D&D combat, making it feel far more realistic and exciting.

 
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File Last Updated:
December 07, 2018
This title was added to our catalog on December 07, 2018.