Note: This article reflects the updated initiative rules from The Flower of Battle, not the method described in the core rulebook.

Very rarely do both opponents attack simultaneously; that kind of thing might look neat, but it's not for those who wish to live a long time. At the beginning of a melee, duel, bout, or any kind of combat mess each character must secretly decide whether they are going to attack (assuming the attitude of an “aggressor”) at this time or hold back and see what their opponent plans (taking the roll of a “defender”). If enough time is available, both parties should declare a stance; this is done out loud, and should be done without hesitation (see Stances).

When time slows to Combat Rounds each active character takes one red die and one white die into their hands. After stances are declared (if there's time), the Seneschal calls out “throw,” and each combatant drops one of those two dice onto the table, a red die indicates aggression and a white die indicates defense. If a combatant fails to throw any die down, then that character has hesitated and may only defend one full Exchange (see Surprise).

Each aggressor, in order from lowest Reflex to highest, now declares how many dice from his Combat Pool are being spent on the attack, where the attack is aimed, and what maneuver (if any) is being used. Defenders now (in response to their attackers) declare how dice from their Combat Pool are going towards defense, what kind of defense they're using, and what maneuver (if any) is being used.


Matters grow especially messy should both combatants attack (throwing a red die). A contest of Reflex (with the combatant's ATNs for Target Numbers see weapons for weapon ATNs) determines whose strike lands first. Remember that no defense is possible in the middle of an attack, so the loser of this contest usually ends up dead.

This process (red and white dice) is only used at the beginning of a Bout or following a Pause (see below).

In all other rounds the winner of the previous exchange either takes or retains initiative.

Buying Initiative

Buying initiative, or the preemptive strike, is the art of the samurai or the gunslinger (in our case, Bladeslinger) waiting for your opponent to strike, then attempting to beat him to the blow.

Initiative is usually bought in one of two circumstances:

  • When two combatants attack simultaneously.
  • When a character who has previously declared defense wishes to attack instead.

In either case both attackers have committed themselves and may not withdraw, which may cause a real mess.

To buy the initiative, declare an attack instead of a defense. Assign dice and an attack location as usual, and pay an additional activation cost as determined by the table below. This attack is now your declared action for the exchange, and cannot be altered.

Having paid the activation cost, both parties roll Reflex against their own weapon’s ATN, in the same manner as the roll when red/red has been declared, and all the same modifiers apply (such as +1 Reflex for thrusting attacks in the case of a tie). The winner’s blow lands first and the losers' blow second. In the case of a tie on both the roll and the raw Reflex scores, then the original attacker’s blow lands first (this is the risk for trying to steal initiative).

At the Seneschal’s option, either or both parties may be allowed to add CP into their Reflex pool for this roll – he who is prepared to invest more into the attack may well have that pay off…

To determine the activation cost for buying initiative, look at the table below, and reference your Proficiency with the weapon you are using. This is your raw Proficiency, remember, not your Combat Pool.

Proficiency Activation Cost
0-4 +5CP
5-9 +4CP
10+ +3CP

Weapon Length and Initiative

When opponents with weapons of differing length both strike at the same time, the longer of the two weapons is more likely to strike first. When rolling Reflex to determine whose blow lands first in a red/red or buying initiative situation apply range penalties to the relevant die pools.

Evasion & Initiative

There are three forms of evasive maneuver, each of which has a special effect on initiative.

Full Evasion, when successful, results in a full pause in combat. Stances may be adopted, red and white dice selected, etc. It is as though a new fight has started (with any carryover Pain and Bloodloss thrown in the mix, of course).

Partial Evasion does not take the initiative by default. The defender may spend an additional 2 CP to buy the initiative after a successful Partial Evasion.

Duck & Weave automatically treats the opponent as having just botched an attack, winning initiative and applying a CP penalty to the opponent.

rules/initiative.txt · Last modified: 2014/01/03 23:30 (external edit)
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