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Initiative Options

This document collects various options to help a GM decide how they want to handle initiative in their Pathfinder Fate Accelerated campaign.

Initiative has become something of a hot topic in recent years, with some gamers not caring and others having very strong preferences or opinions on the matter. But either type of gamer can rest easy, as Pathfinder FAE is agnostic to initiative. A given group can use whatever initiative mechanism they want. However, a few options are specifically called out below.

Option: Default Quickness

Just using the Fate Accelerated default option of basing initiative on the Quick Approach can be used as is.

Option: Narrative Driven

In this option who goes in what order is determined by the events in play in a given scene. In other words, what makes the most sense in the current scene, or what provides the most drama. If it is unclear, the GM decides who goes in what order. If an order is chosen but a player really wants their character to go first, they can spend a Fate point to do so.

A good rule of thumb for using this sort of initiative is to consider how interesting or impactful it might be for a given character to go next. Aspects are a good guide for this, as is emerging play. In the case where two or more characters going next would be equivalently interesting, have them go simultaneously and see if that makes things even more interesting.

Option: Approach Driven

Using this option initiative is decided by which Approach a given character wants to use for their action, following a progression.

When initiative starts to matter to the story the GM picks a relevant Approach such as Quick and says something along the lines of "Who is acting quickly?". Any characters or NPC's using Quick to resolve their actions then go in bonus order; any ties are considered to occur simultaneously. The GM then says "Who is acting cleverly?", and repeats the process.

The following progression is given as a default as in a physical combat the progression is assumed to start at Quick, but this could change based upon the situation. In an ambush or stealthy scenario the progression could be started at Sneaky, then flow to Careful, then to Quick, and so on. In an academic encounter it might start at Clever. Whatever makes sense in the situation.

Quick -> Clever -> Forceful -> Flashy -> Sneaky -> Careful

Using this method Mooks that lack a relevant skill-like ability or Approach generally go last, unless the GM chooses to treat a particular Mook as acting a certain way as fits the scene.

Option: Chart Driven

Using this option the GM maintains an initiative chart starting at 0 and going up to 10 or higher. At the begining of each exchange in a conflict, each player places a token representing their character on the chart on the number equal to their Quickness plus any relevant Stunts. The GM does the same for NPCs. A player can invoke a relevant Aspect to gain a +2 bonus and move their token up accordingly.

The GM then starts counting down from the top of the chart.

When the first token is encountered, if it is a player character's token that player may take their character's action, or choose to allow any other player character who has not yet gone in the exchange to take their action.

If a GM's token is encountered, the GM may take an action for any NPC that has not yet gone in the exchange. If both a player character and a GM token are encountered, the player character token is resolved first.

A player may choose to use their character's action for the turn to create advantage against an Average (+1) difficulty to attach the situational Aspect Improved Initiative on themselves. They may use invokes on this Aspect in following exchanges to boost their initiative in those exchanges.

Option: Baton Pass

Use a prop of some sort to indicate initiative; which we will refer to as the baton.

When a scene starts, if a player character is driving the action or initiating a conflict, that character's player gets the baton. If the GM is springing an ambush or otherwise forcing a conflict on the player characters the GM gets the baton.

In any given scene, whoever currently has the baton chooses a player character that has not gone yet in the exchange to go next (they may choose their own character), or allows the GM to take an action for a GM controlled character.

If a player character is chosen to go next, the baton is passed to the GM. If the GM is chosen to go next the GM passes the baton to a player of their choice whose character has not gone yet.

At any time if a player whose character has not gone yet or the GM wants the baton, they may pay a Fate point to the person who currently has the baton to take it. Note that Fate points paid by players to take the baton away from the GM go to the GM's pool of Fate points.