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When designing combat rules for Wrath & Glory, something that I knew I wanted was an initiative system that would encourage teamwork. We experimented with several different approaches, but the one that satisfied our design goals was an initiative system that promoted a back-and-forth flow between the players and the Game Master.
Here’s how it works: The players and NPCs controlled by the GM take turns, one at a time, until every character involved in the combat has taken a turn. The players choose one from their side, then GM chooses one from his side, and so on.
However, it is not entirely that simple! Both the GM and the players have resources they can spend to alter this setup. For the Game Master, he can spend his GM-resource—called Ruin—to act first instead of the players. And for the players, there’s a group resource called Glory that they can spend to Seize the Initiative.
When you Seize the Initiative, your side can have another character act before the GM’s forces’ turn. So, if the players choose to have Michael act first, they can then spend Glory at the end of his turn to nominate another player—in this case, Wendy—who can then take her character’s turn. You can only Seize the Initiative once before the other side gets to take a turn.
This ensures that there’s a flow to a combat scene, a back-and-forth where both sides get to take actions in rough proximity to one another. This also allows for that teamwork I was talking about earlier! If the warband was facing a tough opponent, for example, Michael could use his character’s turn to make an Interaction attack and render the opponent vulnerable, lowering its Defence. This sets up Wendy to take advantage and land a solid hit, potentially shifting more dice into the damage roll!
If there’s ever any doubt about who acts first, the characters simply roll their Initiative attribute and compare icons, with the highest number of icons acting first. In the case of a tie, player characters win over NPCs, and if the tie is between two players or two NPCs, the players choose who goes first (or the GM does, in the case of the NPCs).
This initiative system comes in handy when the GM is controlling several opponents during the combat. Sometimes, enemies who are individually weak—called Troops—can form a single group that acts at the same time. This is called a mob, and mobs act and attack much like a single character. The GM doesn’t roll ten individual attacks for a mob of ten orks, for example. Instead, he makes a single roll, and the orks gain a number of bonus dice equal to half their size (so in this case, +5d). Mobs can also split their attacks if they’re fighting multiple opponents, and the GM can, if they wish, split up a mob on their turn so that there are more than one group of enemies acting in the combat.
Now you have an idea about how initiative works in Wrath & Glory—plus some info about mobs, which are quite fun to fight (although they can be dangerous in large numbers!). Stay tuned to the Ulisses North America website as we reveal more about Wrath & Glory, Warhammer 40,000 Roleplay!
-Ross Watson, Product Line Manager