Monday, October 29, 2012

Influences on Holmes Basic Initiative

In a Knights & Knaves Alehouse thread, Stonegiant wrote:

"It is also quite easy to see where [the Eldritch Wizardry alternate initiative] system [for OD&D] gave birth to the initiative system in the Holmes' Edition"

In response I wrote:

Holmes was certainly aware of this system, but determining sources for his initiative system is difficult. OD&D lacks initiative except for a statement that Dex determines "speed with actions such as firing first, getting off a spell", and Holmes includes a revised version of this that adds "strike the first blow". But the OD&D statement could be interpreted as either using Dex scores directly, or just a Dex initiative modifier (which is what Gygax actually suggests in the FAQ in Strategic Review). The Warlock Supplement (1975), which Holmes used extensively when he started playing, seems to be the first to explicitly suggest comparing Dex scores for order of spell casting. Eldritch Wizardry (1976) uses adjusted dexterity but only for actions other than melee or movement. Metamorphosis Alpha (1976) uses Dex scores to determine order of all actions in combat (missile or melee). I think Holmes was aware of all of these and synthesized them into his own form. The Holmes rulebook doesn't go strictly by Dex each round, instead using Dex separately in each "phase" of combat, using the same order of phases as Warlock (Spell, Missile, Melee).

See also:
The Influence of Warlock on Holmes Basic Combat, Part I

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