[RPG] How to have creatures move in formation


Here's the scenario.

A group of 4 adventurers move into a room of 5 highly trained kobolds who employ group tactics. Their main strategy is shield walls with kobold-sized pikes. They try to form up but their initiative rolls are all over the place.

A shield wall works by everyone moving together, your shield protecting not only you but the soldier to either side of you and those behind you. If a soldier moves forward in front of the formation, not only are they exposed but there is a weak point in the formation that the enemy could exploit.

If the initiative is mixed up where 1 kobold takes a turn then 1 adventurer has a turn, then no matter what they do the shield wall will collapse as they won't be able to stay in formation.

How do I advance the shield wall without having gaps if the kobolds' turns are all mixed up?

Can I set movement as a reaction, so that when one moves, the rest follow? Can I have them skip a turn and so they all can move at the same initiative step?

Best Answer

A houserule I use occasionally is to allow creatures (not players) to voluntarily drop their place in the initiative order, a combination of rolling one initiative for a whole group and readying actions in order to act simultaneously.

Roll all the initiatives separately, then when it gets to a creature you want to be 'in the group' have them ready an action to take with their comrade. When it reaches their comrade's turn in the initiative order the readied action triggers and you simultaneously drop that creature's place in the initiative order.

Mechanically this is the same as rolling initiative for all the creatures in a group but then giving the whole group the lowest initiative rolled as a nod to how hard it can be to 'form up' and organise into a unified fighting force. Thematically it's nice to describe the soldiers bringing their pikes to bear/the thieves giving each other a subtle nod/the wizards holding out their arms in preparation. Doing this description in different places in the initiative order can give the players a bit of a heads up that when their enemy does move it's likely going to hurt so they can prepare defences or try to disrupt the 'formation', and the payoff if a Paladin PC notices all the enemy archers are readying to fire at the frail old wizard PC just in time to stick himself in the way is very satisfying.

Related Topic