Initiative and Surprise

I am in the middle of attempting to learn Fantasy Grounds ruleset writing and chose S&W Complete as my guinea pig :) This is why I will be from time to time posting seeking so me point of rules asking how it was meant to be interpreted. I can certainly adjudicate my own game but wanted to write the ruleset as close to the source as possible. So...

Does the following mean that if side B is surprised, side A goes through all the combat round steps without side B getting its complementary actions until this first surprise round is complete then:

1. Side A automatically wins initiative and goes first, but Side B gets to act on its portions of the combat round. In this setup, Side A gets to act first twice as it were. This is what I imply from the Combat Steps section (and what I would choose in game.)

2. Side A rolls initiative and only gets to go first if wins initiative and t hats the only reason it goes “twice” before side B. This is what I imply from the Surprise section.


Are either of those what was intended or a third option?






3. Determine Initiative: Each side rolls a d6 and the side with the highest result is the winner. One roll is made for each side, not for each individual. If this is the first round and one group was surprised, the other side gets to go first automatically, without having to roll a die.




If one side is surprised, the other side automatically gets to take action before the first initiative roll. If they also win that initiative roll, this means they will have taken two actions before the other side has a chance to do anything.



Shadow Demon's picture

My interpretation is that the unsurprised side goes through all phases without the surprised getting any action. The surprised side will continue to have to wait to act if they lose the first initiative roll. This works regardless of the combat sequence option chosen.

I get that, it is a clear reading of the "Surprise" section, which follows the "Determine Initiative" section by only a few paras. " If this is the first round and one group was surprised, the other side gets to go first automatically, without having to roll a die." but clearly they don't mean that if you win surprise you JUST go first that round. Neither of the two above make me think that.

So, I have to assume the last sentence in #3 above is an error? Is that how you read it?

Shadow Demon's picture

I think the only thing this sentence is stating is that the unsurprised group gets to automatically go first without rolling an initiative die on the first round. (Duh but S&W might as well spell out the obvious)  It is an exception for surprise only where one side could act first in the initial round without having to win the initiative roll.

I see that this sentence is a little clumsy but I really didn't notice because I not a really fan of the default S&W combat sequence. It is modfied Holmes which I don't think was ever used in the Original Game.  The Holmes #2 option works very well in a convention setting of 15 players by seating everyone in Dexterity order.  Otherwise, S&W Alternate Method #1 (or B/X and Labyrinth Lord for a cleaner presentation) is my personal favorite classic combat sequence.

Anything more complex from AD&D is a huge no-go. Although Jeff Talanian's version from Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea is the best AD&D-type sequence that I have seen.

Ah - OK - so it was meant to just state the obvious that in the first "surprise round" the surprising side get to go "first" (and "only") then one rolls for round 2 (whereupon, surprisers COULD end up going again 2x in row.)

I've only played AD&D in past, so trying to make sure grok it before I write it. (I never played 0E and probably only one long evening of D&D Basic in '83)


I'll have to see the ASSH thing you speak of ;)

Shadow Demon's picture

AS&SH divides the round into two phases into which different combinations can happen. For example, the simplest case is movement and/or a single attack.  

Phase 1 (attack) & Phase 2 (1/2 move or hold) OR Phase 1 (move 1/2 & attack) & Phase 2 (1/2 move or hold) OR Phase 1 (1/2 move) & Phase 2 (attack or move 1/2 & attack) OR Phase 1 (hold) & Phase 2 (attack or move 1/2 & attack). 

It has sequences for melee 2/1 and melee 3/1 for the fighter types as well as spell and missiles sequences.

Here is a link for free copy from RPGNow of the reference sheets which show the various sequences:

Nice thanks! Just got it from them - will check this stuff out on Saturday,