Variant: Left/Right Initiative
This variant of Initiative eliminates the bookkeeping of the official rules.
- At the beginning of combat, everyone must roll for Initiative (Dex).
- The DM makes one roll for the enemy with the highest Dex to represent the enemy side.
- The DM may roll at Advantage in special circumstances (a boss fight, or they greatly outnumber the PCs).
- The side with the highest individual roll goes first.
- The players automatically win if there is a tie with the DM, or if they roll a natural 20.
- The player with the highest roll is designated the First Player.
- If there was a tie between players for the highest score, they roll iniative again and the higher roll wins.
- On the players' turn, play always starts with the First Player.
- After the First Player takes their turn, they decide whether play proceeds Left or Right around the table.
- When all players have taken their turn in order, it is the DM's turn.
- On the DM's turn, all enemies take their actions in any order.
- Play continues back and forth between sides until combat is over.
The element of surprise (and the resulting loss of turns) is often a point of debate within games.
To avoid this conflict and speed up the action, assume that in the dangerous world of D&D, no PC or NPC would be completely unprepared for danger. Therefore, no one should lose a turn due to surprise.
However, if the DM decides one side has the element of surprise, they automatically win initiative.
The PCs still roll initiative to determine the First Player.