Friday, 7 March 2014

Light is Initiative

So, having multiple kinds of Lume (Bio, Chem, Oil etc) is bullshit. Its like having people keep track of different kinds of currency. No-one is going to do that in D&D.

Keeping with my pattern of forcing complexity off the roll and onto the system, I will be making all Lumes transferrable into each other, no-matter what kind of lamp they power.

My ‘logic’ for this is that people will swap lumes back and forth depending on what they need, will keep a stash of different kinds and that any merchant or non-hostile NPC will be so used to exchanging one kind of lume for another that the process passes without comment.
Now this is bullshit, but it’s a better kind of bullshit than having like four or five kinds of different light on your sheet and they do not interact.

Now Lumes power Lamps.

Your lamp is particular to you, they all have different qualities and are a bit special in different ways. Its one thing you have to remember and its yours. Like a weapon. Lumes just power the lamp. (Look out for Lamp table next issue.)

Other kinds of light-producing thing are hived off as particular items.

And lamps, or lights, are initiative.

If someone does not have a light they must be with someone who does, not alone. A PC is either carrying a light, or states they are ‘with’ someone who is. They are assumed to be within the radius of that light when they perform their actions.

This makes sense because if you are exploring an underground area with no light you will need to stay near people who have it. You don’t have much of a choice about that.

During normal exploration all you need to stay aware of is who you are with. If Tom and Joe are holding the lamps then you say ‘I am with Tom’ or ‘I am with Joe’. You are assumed to be within their radius during exploration.

Then a fight breaks out. Roll initiative.

Group Initiative

Whoever has the brightest light is ‘caller’ for that side. They roll the initiative die.

During that sides turn, the person with the brightest lamp decides who in their group will go in what order. They cannot control what the PC does only when they act. Obviously groups can and should negotiate this and talk about it.

In our example Tom has the brighter whale-oil lamp. The players win initiative. Tom has Lisa and Jerry in his group. He decides Lisa goes first, then Him, then Jerry.

Then Joe, who has a less-bright candle lamp, has steve and bob. Joe decides who goes fourth fifth and sixth. They take their actions.

Individual Initiative

Only people with lights roll initiative. If the group are facing some Drow with one low-light lamp then the Drow, Tom and Joe all roll. No-one else does. Tom wins, then Drow is second, Joe is third.

Tom decides who out of his group will act in what order. Then the Drow act, then Joe decides his groups order and they act.

‘Dark’ Players

If someone wants to go off on their own into the dark, they can. They act after every lit person. So if there was a seventh player in out example above, they would act after everyone else.

One Side Dark

Some underground creatures use no lights.

In this case, if the PC’s have lights then they always move first. Light is a bitch to carry around but it does have some advantages, it transmits sensory information faster than anything else so a lit group will always be a fraction of a second faster than something which does not see.

These animals can still get in a surprise round to begin with though.

All you have to remember is who you are with.

If you have a lamp its qualities will be written right there on your sheet. (I will put it under the right of the stat-encumbrance system.)

You have to fight as a team but you should be doing that already.

Lifting a lamp up will almost always take one hand. So you lose the use of that hand, but you gain a superior strategic awareness and a lot of responsibility. You are the caller for your little mini-group.

Yes you can hold your action if you absolutely insist. But only within your group. You can go last of your lamp-group if you must seize control not only of what you do, but also when you do it. Of course you could just talk to your lamp holder about that. Or get your own lamp. Or join Joes group and explore with him for a while. The lamp-holder decides but they don’t decide alone, they just have final responsibility.


  1. I think I'd be satisfied with a light-casting item initiative bonus, with some effective radius notes. Balances the cost of a fine lantern...

    1. Won't be doing that. I hate 'bonus' items and calculating things. I also hate putting numbers on things.

  2. Wizard with light magic and low DEX agrees. Thief-Archer votes for overland adventuring...