At last, I think we have it!
Our last Labyrinth Lord session was the testing ground for a new initiative system, designed to fulfill the following goals:
1). Cope with mounts and mounted opponents.
2). Allow lightly armoured combatants to move and attack quickly (provide the opportunity for combatants to trade defence for offence).
3) Be quick and easy to use (must not get in the way of the game).
We have tested a number of initiative variants over the past couple of game sessions, as we hit the limit to the continuious initiative system we were using when we wanted to include mounts into it.
So without further ado, here it is, the Four Phase Initiative system...
Each round is divided into four phases. The phases are Mounts, Scout, Infantry and the second Scout phase.
In the Mount phase, all mounts move and some (like the warhorse) which are trained to fight, may attack. A mounted knight can also strike with his lance in this round, although doing so means he must switch to a melee weapon to continue fighting but cannot do this til the following round.
In the Scout phase, any combatant wearing studded leather or lighter armour can act, providing he is not using a ranged weapon. Note that the scout phase occurs twice in a combat round. This allows scouts to move quickly through terrain and potentially make two melee attacks per round as they are unhindered by heavier armour. Of course; they put themselves at increase risk by not wearing heavier armour. Note that a scout may throw items in this phase, he just cannot use a bow or crossbow in it.
In the Infantry phase, anyone wearing heavier armour than studded leather OR using a ranged weapon, gets to act. The majority of characters will end up in this phase.
Within any of the phases, the combatants act in an initiative order. The combatant with the highest, gets to act first. It is calculated like so:
Base move rate (12 for most races or 9 for dwarves and halflings)
- Dexterity modifier
- Intelligence modifier
- Armour modifier (chain -0, banded -1, scale -2, splint -3, plate -4)
-1 if using a shield
-4 if dual wielding.
Example: Boris is a human. His initiative order value is 12 -1 [Dex mod] -2 [scalemail] -1 [shield] = 8
Note that there are no 'weapon speed' modifiers to any of this. This is because weapon reach would probably cancel out any benefit of a small, fast and light weapon. A man with a dagger against a man with a longsword must somehow get inside the swordsman's reach to use his dagger, elminating his speed advantage.
Ranged weapons are always used in the Infantry phase because they must be aimed before they can be fired. We do have a house ruled exception - in the very first round of combat, crossbows may be fired in the scout phase but after this may only be fired in the infantry phase. We house rule this to represent the fact that a loaded crossbow can be fired before most people can act when battle begins.