There is one universal fact about any RPG ever made. This fact is that your GM is not able to interact with every player in combat all at once, and then respond in like with all of the monsters back to the players. There are systems made to limit help with and skilled GMs can make initiative battles more fun, but the truth remains that initiative is inevitable. Sometimes it can even get frustrating or boring to wait. The heavier the grind the longer the wait, and on top of that it’s important to respect the initiative turn of your fellow players. We all need our chance to shine and do our awesome combat things. So without further ado, here are some things that any player can do while waiting for initiative!
- First thing that players should do is decide if they have to use the bathroom: Playing RPGs is a lot like going to the movies. If you’ve gotta go you do not want to miss the important parts. I would not go so far as to say that other players turns are unimportant, but it is a section of time where the attention is not focused on you and should not potentially be focused on you until everyone is done playing. Timing is key here though. Make sure to wait until the end of your turn to allow for maximum initiative time.
- Figure out what you are doing next: When you are not acting the battlefield is still moving and so it’s important to plan ahead what your player is doing. This step is just to make sure that you know what you will be doing on your turn. It’s important to know your action because when the spotlight is on your character you want to be responsible. Remember everyone is waiting to see what you’ll do, and knowing your action will really get things going. Try not to ask other players questions or hesitate on actions. Instead use that small piece of downtime to plan with other players and get your strategy going.
- Know your character: There are a lot of things going on in character sheets. Base stats, extra abilities, items, magic, and so many more things that your player can do. I have been playing RPGs for a few years now and I still forget some aspects of my games. Take some time to go over your character sheet, reread your spells, and go through your inventory.
- Celebrate with friends: A party that rolls together has fun together so get into the game. If someone makes a high dice roll or does some incredible feat then cheer them on! If they critically fail or take a lot of damage then empathise. That kind of support from around the table makes having the initiative more fun. Besides that it’s definitely more fun than waiting around a table.
Those are some of my favorite things when waiting for initiative, but there are also things that you should not do when waiting for initiative.
- Do not compare your characters: Sometimes teasing about character strengths and weaknesses is part of the tabletop interaction. If that’s the case then have fun because that is always the ultimate goal when playing these games. That being said, in most cases you probably don’t want to do that to strangers or people who are unfamiliar/uncomfortable with that kind of humor. If the intentions are taken wrong then you become “that one person who is always heckling everyone” or maybe even “That guy.” So try not to be mean on the table top.
- Try not to do anything distracting: Honestly this is my absolute biggest problem. Not as a pet peeve, but as something I do all the time. If waiting for initiative gets boring then it is really easy to get distracted from the game. For me I like looking at spicy memes when I’m bored. The problem with that is if I start bursting out with laughter at something that I think is funny at some random moment then I will ruin the immersion of the game. I’m not just talking about for myself too. Abrupt actions and showing around a funny meme can really take the attention away from other players and might end up ruining the immersion in a game. If this is not a concern your party then again. HAVE FUN. But be courteous of others when playing and be sure to take into account that while you are not directly doing anything, they are trying to play a game.
Trying out these simple things will really help when waiting for initiative. If you try them out then you might feel like combat is a little less grindy. Not only that but preparing and knowing what you are doing will actually make combat more fast and fluid!
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