[RPG] What happens if a Divination wizard uses the Portent feature to replace an enethe’s initiative roll, when the DM rolls once for a group of enemies

class-featurednd-5einitiativewizard

Say 4 goblins ambush a level 2 party, everyone is surprised but the Wizard decides to use his Portent feature to influence the initiative roll of the enemy. One of his portents is a natural 1, and he uses that die to replace the initiative roll.

Do all 4 of the goblins' initiative change to 1 or does just one goblin change?

Here's what I got from a reading of the PHB:

PHB 189

Initiative

… When combat starts, every participant makes a Dexterity Check to determine their place in the initiative order. The DM makes one roll for an entire group of identical creatures, so each member of the group acts at the same time…

Emphasis mine. Reading the bolded text, it seems that in cases of identical creatures, Portent can effectively cripple the entire initiative of the opposing team.

However, when you read the first sentence, it seems that the entire group shouldn't be crippled by a single portent roll as each creature should be rolling separately and the bolded text really just says, "hey, don't waste your time on rolling for each goblin. Just roll once and they all go together."

A big factor of my hesitance to rule on the side of the first interpretation, is that it seems too overpowered for a 2nd-level feature.

So which is which? Am I missing something?

Best Answer

No, this will not work.

The description of the Divination wizard's Portent feature (PHB, p. 116) says:

You can replace any attack roll, saving throw, or ability check made by you or a creature that you can see with one of these foretelling rolls.

An initiative check is an ability check so it is an eligible target for Portent. However, it only affects "a creature"; even though the DM rolls once for a group of creatures, this is a roll for each of the creatures individually, and the player can only substitute the Portent roll for one of the creatures. This effectively breaks the creatures into two groups of identical creatures - the one affected by the Portent and the rest who aren't.