I recently posted about variant XP and Hero Point rules I wanted to use in my Emerald Spire campaign. Today I’d like to share a simple house rule I’m using to speed up combat in that same campaign because sometimes it’s the little things you do behind the screen that make the game run smoother.
First of all, I like to have combat sheets for every encounter. I keep full statblocks for every NPC and monster my PCs will encounter. Sometimes I’ll include rules and spell descriptions. This does take considerable time to put together but I have all the rules references I’ll need right at my fingertips.
Lately, instead of having the NPCs roll for initiative I’ve assigned each NPC an Initiative Score and placed that on the statblock instead of the normal modifier.
The Initiative Score is typically equal to 10 (or 11 in the case of named NPCs) + the character’s initiative modifier. Situational modifiers might adjust the current score up or down. In this system, PCs roll initiative normally and the NPC acts on the same count as his or her initiative score. It’s that simple.
What this does for me is by removing this single die roll I can focus quickly on getting all the PC’s initiatives logged and then dive right into combat. This is even better when there are multiple NPCs.
Using this house rule isn’t a big change but so far it has really helped me keep combat scenes moving along quickly.