I just turned 50 this year, so I'm not just a #Dad, I'm also now officially #Old, which means I can still laugh at ancient comedy routines in black and white. If you have no idea what I'm talking about, take 6 minutes and relive one of the most famous comedy routines of all time - Who's on First? by Abbott and Costello. You'll be glad you did! I just watched it again and legit laughed out loud multiple times.
But you're not here for the comedy, right? Instead, we are going to start a deep dive into combat encounters because there is a LOT to unpack. There are a ton more standardized combat options in Corefinder, including lots of universally usable actions of various types, and we'll definitely be delving into those. However, a lot of what's going into Corefinder is rooted in the mechanics of the Pathfinder RPG, but condensed and streamlined, and sometimes that means making sure to explain things that might otherwise cause confusion or argument. Best to make things as clear as we can!
Initiative: Who Goes First?
At the start of an encounter, each creature rolls an initiative check. In most combat encounters, where each side is aware of the other and is ready for danger, this is resolved as a Dexterity check, adding any other modifiers that may apply. In social encounters, this is resolved as a Charisma check.
Once initiative is rolled, creatures act in order of their result on the check, starting with the highest result and going to the lowest. In the case of a tie, the character with the higher bonus goes first. If still tied, roll again to see who goes first among those tied.
You retain your initiative count even if you are unable to take actions or choose to take no actions on your turn.
Triggering Initiative: In some cases, rolling for initiative happens in response to an event or action, like a trap triggering. In this case, resolve that triggering event before rolling for initiative, even if that triggering event has ongoing actions (such as complex trap or an active hazard, like a burning building or a flooding cave) that occur on its initiative count in later rounds.
This rule applies to events that happen to the creatures present in the encounter, not actions by the creatures in the encounter. As long as all creatures are aware of each other and in a typical adventuring situation, beginning any hostile action triggers the normal sequence of initiative. One creature may reach for its weapon, or raise their hands to begin casting a magical spell, or tense their muscles to charge, but that does not mean they automatically get to go first in combat. The initiative roll determines who actually gets to act first. Initiative reflects a creature’s reaction time and instincts; their opponent may start to make the first move, but a higher initiative roll than their foe indicates that they were ready to strike or react faster and get off the first shot or movement or whatever action they seek to take.
Alternative Initiative: In some cases, it may be unclear whether each side is ready for a dangerous situation, either through being unaware of other combatants entirely, or aware that they are present but unaware that they pose a potential threat. In such situations, the GM may have you substitute one of the following skill checks in place of a Charisma or Dexterity check to determine initiative.
Combat or Exploration Situations: Perception or Stealth check
Social Situations: Bluff or Sense Motive check