Thursday, January 15, 2015

Playing Card Based Initiative System

I have been toying around with the idea of writing my own game for a while now. The particular game that I am working on is an Old West skirmish level miniatures game.  I guess that would be American West to anyone on the other side of the Atlantic that might be reading this.  Anyways it is about cowboys. More specifically it is a cinematic style shootout game. The goal is to recreate hollywood's version of the Old West more than anything based on hard facts.


I wanted a system that provided a random turn order that would reflect the chaos of a Hollywood Old West gunfight. Since the game is skirmish level each side should have about 5 to 10 models. Given the number of models, I came up with a system for using playing cards to determine the turn order.

Any feedback is appreciated. The rules are listed after the jump.


Playing card based initiative:  These rules provide the procedure for using a deck of playing cards for determining turn order for a miniature or role playing game.  The basic concept is that each character in the game will be represented by a card in the deck.  You shuffle the deck to randomize the turn order and then draw cards from the deck, allowing each character to act in turn. Once you have gone through the entire deck reshuffle and repeat for subsequent turns.

Building the initiative deck: The initiative deck will be a subset of a single standard playing card deck.
  1. Each character is represented by a single card.
  1. Keep a list of which card represents each character.
  1. If there are sides or teams, then each side should be represented by a single suit of cards -diamonds, hearts, clubs or spades.
  1. Cards are ranked high to low in the standard playing card fashion. See below for the full list. Aces are ranked both high and low so characters represented by an Ace get to act twice.
  1. How to assign a specific card rank to a character will depend on the specific game and could vary greatly from one game to another. Basically more powerful or faster characters should have a higher card rank.
  1. The cards for all characters are added together along with the two Jokers to make up the initiative deck.  The jokers should be distinguishable as a "red" and "black" joker.

Using the initiative deck:  Going through the entire initiative deck and letting each character act in turn is called a round or initiative round. Perform the following steps for each initiative round during the game.
  1. Shuffle the initiative deck and place it face down near the game area. There should also be space for a discard pile and for one face up "waiting" card next to the deck.
  1. Draw the top card of the initiative deck. 
  1. If you drew a joker perform the following steps, otherwise go to step 4.
    1. If you drew the red joker, then place it in the discard pile and reshuffle the waiting card and the remaining initiative deck. Go to step 2.
    1. If you drew the black joker, then draw the top card of the initiative deck and place both cards in the discard pile. Go to step 2.
  1. If there is a face up card waiting next to the initiative deck, compare the rank of the new card to that of the waiting card. Otherwise go to step 5.
    1. The card with the higher rank may either act now or wait to act later. The lower rank card is forced to pick the other choice. Place (or leave) the waiting card face up next to the initiative deck. Go to Step 6.
    2. If both cards have the same rank, then the new card must act now. Go to Step 6.
  1. The card may choose to delay its turn and wait to act later.  If it does, place the card face up next to the initiative deck. Go to step 2.
  1. The character represented by this card performs his turn based on the game rules.
  1. Place the card in the discard pile.  Unless the card is an Ace and this is the first time the character has acted this turn, then put the card face down on the bottom of the initiative deck instead.
  1. If there are still cards in the initiative deck, then go to step 2 and repeat for the next card.
  1. If there are no cards in the initiative deck, but there is a waiting card then the waiting card must act now. Go to step 6.
  1. Once all cards have been drawn and all characters have acted once (Aces twice), then the round is over. Go to step 1 and repeat for the next round.

Card Ranks (high to low)
-----  Elite Ranks
A - Ace
----- Leader Ranks
K - King
Q - Queen
J - Jack
10 - Ten
---- Experienced Ranks
9 - Nine
8 - Eight
7 - Seven
6 - Six
----- Inexperience Ranks
5 - Five
4 - Four
3 - Three
2 - Two
----- Elite Ranks (Second Action)
A - Ace

Thanks for reading if you made it this far! Let me know what you think by leaving a comment.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...