Initiative, as I have discovered over the past ten years or so of blogging, is an extremely popular subject among the participants of the gaming blog-o-sphere. Good grief! It seems that gamers, especially D&D types, are absolutely obsessed with Initiative. I see more posts and articles about that aspect of the game than any other single element.
This has lead me to the conclusion that A) those who have created and worked on D&D over the years have no clear idea what they wanted to do when designing the Initiative system B) since the rules they designed are absolutely daft! Just terrible. C) Those who play the game and blog about it on the internet definitely feel this way.
Wha...? I'm wrong? How could this be? I am merely an outside observer taking in what I see. If the Initiative system isn't woefully flawed why is it modified and remade so often in so many ways?
Humans are so confusing.
Back to the Initiative rules from Wares Blade. I simplified things a little and will try to keep the description of this idea pretty simple as well.
Basically, Initiative is a number on your character sheet. You roll one 10 sided die, add the result to the number on your sheet, and you get your Initiative for the combat you're about to be in. Now here's the fun part...You can take away points from your Initiative Number and use those points to 'Avoid Attacks'.
Imagine you have a 5 Initiative, you roll a 5, and now your Initiative for the battle is 10. You take away 4 points and now have an Initiative of 6. Your 4 points buy you two Avoids. Twice during the combat, you can say that your PC avoids an attack that would have hit them.
In game, the idea is that you are quick enough, perceptive enough, and skilled enough to predict an enemy's move and dodge or deflect it. Mechanically, this gives characters with low Health Points and poor Armor a better chance of survival. In Wares Blade, where early stage Wizard and Clergy PCs have more support style abilities and magic in addition to being rather fragile, having the capacity to Avoid a good number of attacks while going last each round is a pretty fair trade off.
Anyway, I just thought the idea was interesting. In play it worked pretty well, with the Avoids giving the feel of a fight where blows and slashes were deflected by the Warrior's sword, the Wizard's cleverness, and the Professional's skill and agility.
Are there any other systems that use something similar? I'm curious as I am still planning to devise a Dark Crystal game.