Dragon Warriors* has fairly straightforward and simple rules that often remind me of gamebooks like Lone Wolf and Fighting Fantasy. One of the things I ran into as I was reading the rules again that I thought would bother me was the way weapon damage is calculated, or rather, isn't. If you hit an opponent and roll over their Armor Factor, you inflict a set amount of damage based on the weapon being used.

As I said, I thought this would bother me, and the editors of the revised rulebook must have anticipated this, as they included an optional chart telling how to roll damage for different weapons. However, when I started running the game, I decided to stick with the original rules as written before I started mucking around with them. First, I wanted to understand the system and the intent of its authors, Dave Morris and Oliver Johnson.

Difficulties with the Basic Initiative Rules

As it turned out, the fixed weapon damage didn't bother me at all. What did bother me was the way you determine the order in which combatants get to take their actions: they go in order of their Reflexes characteristic score, highest to lowest. Combatants with the same score go at the same time. Now, there are a couple of stumbling blocks here, at least for my taste.

One is that monsters don't have Reflexes scores. You're told to roll 3d6 once for all of the monsters in the fight, and use that for their Reflexes (for this purpose, at least). This means that if you're fighting five feral dogs, all the feral dogs go at the same time. This is a little unrealistic, but realism isn't really a major concern in role-playing. It does keep things streamlined and simple, so I'm willing to go with it.

Another, bigger problem for me is that this system means the player characters will always go in the same order, every single time they get into a fight. To make matters worse, characters with identical Reflexes scores will always act simultaneously, in every combat. It's workable, but quickly becomes repetitive and silly when you're describing battles in narrative form, as I'm doing for this PBP campaign, especially when you consider that the player character party we're currently using has the following Reflexes scores: 14, 14, 14, 13, 10. Our Barbarian*, our Assassin*, and our Knight* would always act simultaneously under the rules as written. That would get old fast.

Suggested Alternative Rules

So, here is my simple fix: at the start of combat all combatants (including groups of opponents, at the GM's option) roll a d8 and add their Reflexes score to determine the order in which they take action. This order holds throughout that particular combat.

I'm using the d8 because I think a d10 or higher value die will add too much variability, and because I think the d6 is boring. The variability thing could be complete ******** - I suck at figuring out probability curves and don't really care to improve. But we'll see how it works soon enough - I am trying this in my PBP.

Note: This article was taken with permission from the DingeonSkull blog (link below).
External Link:

Skill Roll Initiative


For variable initiative, have characters and monsters make a skill roll against their Reflexes (2d10). The highest margin of success (or failure) goes first. Monsters would need to roll 3d6 (to set their Reflexes) before making the skill roll.
Eg. Reflexes of 14 and I roll a 10 on 2d10, I have a margin of success of +4 to compare to everyone else.

More pages