Enhanced Existence Take Initiative Overhaul (5e Variant Rule)
From D&D Wiki
Enhanced Existence Take Initiative Overhaul
While the Enhanced Existence Magic Overhaul ups the maximum potential of magic users creating an even more ludicrous gap between them, this ruleset (Designed to be used in tandem with the others) hopes to reinvent the most otherwise arbitrary common roll in the game in order to make Initiative mean something more than turn order and have non-magic classes not left in the dust. Before we begin, much like with the first part of the Enhanced Existence Overhaul every mechanic within should also be useable by the NPCs just as much as the party in order to keep things as balanced as they can be.
The Initiative Action
The way the ruleset primarily alters initiative is by adding a new type of action, called your Initiative Action. You can take one Initiative Action on your turn if you are level 3 or higher (For NPCs, if their CR is 4 or higher) unless otherwise stated, and creatures with Legendary Actions can spend one Legendary Action on their turn to preform an additional Initiative Action (They can do this up to 3 additional times if they have the Legendary Actions for it). At level 10 (CR 12) and above, creatures that use Brutal Styles or Dexterous Styles (Detailed below) can use two Initiative Actions on their turn instead, and at level 17 (CR 20) they can use three. An Initiative Action is separate from a normal Action, you do not spend your Action to perform an Initiative Action unless the cost in the description of an Initiative Action says otherwise.
Taking an Initiative Action requires having some initiative to spare, as they tend to cost some of your initiative to use. To proper convey this, think about initiative in a fight as not simply the outcome of a roll, but also a pool of points, Initiative Points if you will. Your Initiative Points no longer just decide your placement in turn order, but what you can risk to make more potent use of your turns. Keep in mind the creatures using this are still spending their initiative on abilities, their placement in turn order can permanently change for the rest of the fight when this occurs.
Combat Styles are the things you use your Initiative Actions for. For any given action, there is a minimum level (Effectively equivalent to CR for NPCs) the creature must be to use it. There are three types which are each used by specific classes, and those classes do have access to the other types. If you multiclass, you do not gain access to the other types, and only use the type of your original class. That said, the list of Actions still goes off of your total character level, not that of the single class the type you're using is grounded in. So for example if you were a level 10 Fighter and multiclassed into a level 1 Wizard, you would act as if you had 11 Fighter levels when determining what Initiative Actions you can preform. You decide whether or not you preform an Initiative Action if you meet the requirements for one, it does not automatically happen.
Homebrew And Variant Classes
The classes listed below are only those found within the 5e PHB. Other classes may exist in your game, and if so, the DM decides which one (And only one) of the Combat Styles your class has. As a general rule, classes that rely on Strength use Brutal Styles, those that rely on Dexterity use Dexterous Styles, and those that have full spellcasting (Spellcasting that reaches 9th level spells without multiclassing) use Willful styles.
Brutal Styles are feats of strength and field presence used by Barbarians, Fighters, and Paladins.
- Flourish (Costs 1 Initiative)
- Level 3: If the last (Or only as the case may be) melee attack during your attack action hits, roll an Intimidation check contested by the target of your attack's Insight check. If you succeed, the enemy is Frightened of you until the end of their next turn. If it's Hit Point total is lower than 10% of its maximum, you have advantage on checks made to get a sentient target to surrender. If the target succeeds, it is immune to your Flourish for the next 24 hours.
- Full Attack (Costs 3 Initiative and your Move Action)
- Level 3: You take an additional attack action instead of using any movement. You cannot use this attack action to cast a spell. You can only use this Initiative Action once per turn.
- Rise (Costs your Bonus Action)
- Level 5: Your Initiative raises by 1. Your Initiative can't be raised above twice your character level this way, and can't be raised above 20 this way.
- Over Reach (Costs 5 Initiative)
- Level 7: Your AC drops to 0, allowing any attack to hit. Your next attack this turn is a critical if it hits. Your AC returns to normal at the end of your next turn.
- Challenge (Costs 1 Initiative)
- Level 9: You make an Intimidation check against a creature, that is contested by that creature's Insight check. If you succeed, the creature is fooled into focusing on you instead of others on its next turn. If you fail, the creature cannot be fooled by your Taunt for 24 hours. A creature that is reading your mind has advantage on its Insight check against your Challenge.
- Brutal Flourish (Costs 3 Initiative)
- Level 11: You can cast a mean-faced presence that people don't want to mess with, and because of this you have advantage on the Intimidation check of your Flourish. If the target's Hit Point total is lower than 25% of its maximum, you have advantage on checks made to get a sentient target to surrender.
- Hold The Line (Costs 1 Initiative and your Reaction)
- Level 13: You make an attack against another creature within reach of your weapon an attack against you instead by catching the attack with your weapon. You can do this after knowing the attack roll.
- Pull A Muscle (Costs 5 Initiative)
- Level 15: You have advantage on the next attack you make this turn. If it hits, it is a critical hit. You take 2d6 necrotic damage after the attack, hit or miss. This damage cannot be reduced or avoided in any way.
- Omnivorous Slash (Costs 10 Initiative)
- Level 20: You make an absolute volley of attacks. You can make 5 additional melee attacks (That are not spells) this turn. A roll of a Natural 1 produces no negative effects for any attack you make this turn, including not being a guaranteed miss. At the end of your turn, you gain 1 point of Exhaustion. You gain this point of Exhaustion even if you are immune to Exhaustion. Once you have used this once, you cannot do so again until you are no longer Exhausted and complete a Long Rest.
Dexterous Styles are feats of skill and cunning used by Monks, Rangers, and Rogues.
- Feint (Costs 1 Initiative)
- Level 3: You pretend to attack one way when you're really attacking another way. You make a Deception check against a creature, that is contested against that creature's Insight check. If you succeed, your next attack that turn against the creature has advantage. If you fail, that creature is immune to your Feint for 24 hours. A creature that is reading your mind has advantage on its Insight check against your Feint.
- Discern (Costs 1 Initiative)
- Level 3: You attempt to discover the true nature of a creature's abilities. Make an Insight check against a creature you can see, contested by that creature's Deception check. A non-sentient creature has disadvantage on the Deception check. If you fail, the creature is immune to your Discern for 24 hours. If you succeed, you learn 1 of the following traits about the creature of your choice: Their Current HP, their AC, their Damage Immunities, Resistances and Vulnerabilities, their Condition Immunities, or their attack bonus and the amount of spellslots they have.
- Parkour (Costs 1 Initiative and prevents you from attacking this turn)
- Level 5: You focus purely on your movement. You have advantage on Athletics and Acrobatics checks made to move in special ways this turn, such as to run across a wall, run up a wall, make a long jump, or swim quickly. The distance you can move in such ways is doubled this turn as well, though it cannot surpass your remaining movement speed. However, you cannot use the attack action this turn.
- Interact (Costs 1 Initiative)
- Level 7: You split your attention without penalty. You can make a skill check or Use An Object Action. Your skill check cannot be an attack, such as a grapple.
- Taunt (Costs 1 Initiative)
- Level 9: You make a Deception check against a creature, that is contested by that creature's Insight check. If you succeed, the creature is fooled into focusing on you instead of others on its next turn. If you fail, the creature cannot be fooled by your Taunt for 24 hours. A creature that is reading your mind has advantage on its Insight check against your Taunt.
- Dexterous Feint (Costs 3 Initiative)
- Level 11: You can Feint with one hand and attack with the other, and if you do so you have advantage on the Deception check for your Feint. The other rules of Feint seen above apply.
- Dodge (Costs 3 Initiative and your Move Action)
- Level 13: You perform the Dodge action instead of moving.
- Sneaky Sneak (Costs 3 Initiative)
- Level 15: You use the Hide Action.
- Turn So Nice You Take It Twice (Costs 10 Initiative)
- Level 20: You take an additional turn, immediately after the end of this one. You have advantage on all attack rolls, ability checks, and saving throws until the end of that additional turn, including the rest of your current turn. Once you have used this once, you cannot do so again until you complete a Long Rest.
Willful Styles are feats of intellect and inner strength used by Artificers, Bards, Clerics, Druids, Sorcerers, Warlocks, and Wizards.
- Act (Costs 1 Initiative)
- Level 5: You can multitask something crazy. You perform a skill check or the Use an Object action. Your skill check cannot be an attack, such as a grapple.
- Determination (Costs 5 Initiative and possibly your Reaction)
- Level 9: You can recover 1 Hit Point while unconscious at 0 Hit Points at the end of your turn. Alternatively, you can prevent an effect that would kill you without dealing damage from killing you by using your Reaction, as your connection to magic protects you and sends a shiver up your spine. You can prevent such an effect even after you fail a saving throw against it. This action can be performed out of combat, but if it is, you have a -5 bonus to your next initiative roll unless you finish a Long Rest first. Once you have used Determination once in any way, you cannot do so again until you finish a Long Rest.
- Enrage The Caster (Reduces your Initiative to 1)
- Level 13: You cause a saving throw made against your spell to lessen or avoid damage to be at disadvantage, or cause your attack roll for a spell attack to be made at advantage. Alternatively, you may maximize the damage roll of your spell. Once you use Enrage The Caster in any way, you cannot do so again until you finish a Long Rest.
- Totalitaria (Costs 10 Initiative and some of your Maximum Hit Points)
- Level 20: You force your spell to work. You take an amount of necrotic damage equal to 10 times the level of the spell, and lose an amount of Maximum Hit Points equal to the damage taken. This damage and reduction cannot be reduced or avoided in any way. Every target of your spell fails its save, or your spell attack automatically hits. Damage dealt and healing done by the spell is maximized. Dispel Magic and Counterspell also automatically succeed regardless of what level they're cast at. Wish behaves as in line with your wording as possible without being twisted (It can still fail outright, but DMs should allow for more powerful Wishes than a person casting the spell normally would be capable of succeeding at). Creatures that are immune to your spell are treated as if they were not, the spell working normally for them instead of automatically succeeding. This can be used against a creature with Reflective Carapace, or similar features that reflect spells. This can only be used with a spell of first level or higher, and once you have used Totalitaria once, you cannot do so again, ever. Nothing short of a deity can restore your reduced Hit Point Maximum, and if it was reduced to 0, you are disintegrated and killed after your spell ends, and can only be brought back to life by a deity if this occurs.
Villainous Styles are a variant rule of this ruleset that can help turn the tide if it feels like you're giving the players too much power. They should never be available for the players, only the foes they face. A foe can have Villainous Styles in addition to another type of style if deemed appropriate.
- Legendary Action (Costs 3 Initiative Per Each Legendary Action Required And Requires Legendary Actions)
- Perform one of your Legendary Actions during your turn, without using any of your Legendary Actions for the round.
- Lair Action (Costs 3 Initiative And Requires A Lair.)
- Cause one of your Lair Actions to occur.
- Terrifying Foe (Costs 5 Initiative)
- Gain advantage on your next attack this turn, or give one creature of your choice that can see or hear you disadvantage on their next saving throw this turn. If you deal damage with the attack or ability that causes the saving throw, you deal additional psychic damage equal to your CR or level (Whichever is higher). If the target is immune to the Frightened (Or Terrified instead if using the Enhanced Existence Truly Mortal Overhaul) status aliment, using Terrifying Foe on them fails.
- Plot Twist (Costs 10 Initiative And Can Only Be Used Once On A Given Villain)
- You reveal a unusual new feature of the DM's choice (That you secretly totally had all along, ha HA!) that doesn't exist on normal foes. The feature can be a class feature, such as Second Wind, or a feature unique to certain NPCs, such as a Terrasque's Reflective Carapace. DM Note: If you decide to give your villain the Spellcasting feature using this, it's highly recommended you plan ahead as its complexity would make it difficult to form a spell list on the spot. However, Innate Spellcasting, which is limited to specific spells and a limited number of uses each day, is much simpler to add on the spot. It's recommended that for balance sake, if you give a creature Innate Spellcasting for a certain spell using this feature, only give it one spell, and gauge its level to the amount of uses that spell gets. In general, a level 5 or higher spell should only be able to be cast this way once, especially 8th and 9th-level spells.
Heroic Rise Variant Rule
The normal version of the ruleset can take initiative away, but provides very little in recovering it. Using this rule, players regain 1 Initiative at the start of their turn while they are under their original Initiative roll (Or score if you use that). Since the DM is most likely going to be keeping track of Initiative, this makes it even more tedious, but at the cost of players being able to recover from spending a lot of Initiative. This is why it's a Variant Rule, so you can decide for yourself. If you do use it, it's recommended you keep two separate Initiative lists, one for their original rolls, and one for the changes thereof. To make it easier, you can think of their original initiative roll as their maximum initiative, with their current initiative being separate. This doesn't alter the Rise Initiative Action however, so if the player rolls less than 20 initiative their "maximum" can be raised.
Group Initiative Variant Rule
To make turn order simpler, you can have the entire party roll initiative as a group, taking the average of all initiative rolls to determine the group's initiative. You can have all the enemies do so as well or roll individually. You can also reason that certain groups, such as a neutral party like civilians or separate villain party with different goals, also acts separately from the opponents, creating multiple groups in an encounter. If used with the rest of the ruleset, this would mean that a single party member using an Initiative Action takes initiative from the whole party, requiring more cohesive teamwork to win. If you do so, it's not recommended to make the opponents act individually (Except the above examples and similar reasoning), since they'd have more resources to work with and have an inherent advantage over the party.
There are some alternative methods to the group average you can use for group initiative, including but not limited to:
The highest initiative out of the group's rolls.
Only having the character with the highest initiative modifier roll for the group.
These and other methods can be used to make the role of less magically-inclined classes more potent.