April 26, 2013

Initiative Tents

I've had some big scale, far reaching ideas on here lately.  Here's a practical tip:  An easy way to track initiative that justifies your use of a GM screen!

Give every player an index card or old business card.  Have them fold it into a tent and write their character name and initiative roll on one side, and their character name on the other. When they roll, record, and pass them up, you arrange them in order from first to last over the lip of your GM screen.  Then you make tents for your NPCs.  You can keep the NPCs out of the order until their turn comes up, preserving the chaos of the first round of battle.


The benefit of this system is that all the players can see the order, and they can see when they're "on deck" -- that is, when it's Bob's action, Chad knows he's coming next.  He can see it without craning over to look at a notepad or trying to read something written on the battle mat upside down.

In games with effects like 4e, you can use colored "sign here" tabs to indicate that certain characters have an effect with a duration on it.  That way you don't have to write down that "Ogre B is dazed"  -- ogre B has a sticky tab.  When Ogre B comes up, that tab reminds you he has an effect, and odds are you'll recall what it is (and if not, you can ask).

The players can re-use their cards.  They can even use the opportunity to draw their character, or a creative sigil that represents her.  At the very least, you're consistently using character names instead of player names!

You'll need one card for every "disposable" enemy your heroes fight.  My title changed at work, so I had a lot of leftover cards.  I bet you can find old business cards lying around, too, if you work in an office.  Or you can get index cards for cheap.