Ten Favorite Game Mechanics – #9 – Initiative from FVLMINATA

This, of course, is one of my own creations. FVLMINATA as a whole is almost entirely Jason Roberts’, but this little bit was mine. Humility be damned, but I still think it’s one of the coolest mechanics around.

#9 – Initiative from FVLMINATA

If you’ve never played in one of my FVLMINATA convention games, you must simply imagine the devilish grin plastered on my face when the group first gets into a combat situation. My eyes twinkle as I say “Let me explain the initiative system of this game: Senators go first!” Players react in one of two ways: Stunned incomprehension, or immediate laughter.

In 2000-2001, it was almost a truism to say that game mechanics were the physics of the game world and the more “realistic” a game was, the better. Not that everyone believed that to be the case, but it was the common, accepted wisdom for a big chunk of the hobby. And more than the funny dice, or the Latin humors on the character sheet, or even the social interaction mechanics, the initiative system set FVLMINATA apart.

More than just being different than the norm, the initiative system focused on what the game was about: Rome as a living, breathing society. You may be fast, you may be strong, but if you’re merely a slave, how important can you be? FVLMINATA was anything but dungeon crawls in togas. How your character fit into the social fabric was more important than anything else. It was a game about who you were, more than what you could do.

And who knows? It might be that game again…

Up next: You want something that can crush a car and make you rich and famous? Not a problem.

3 thoughts on “Ten Favorite Game Mechanics – #9 – Initiative from FVLMINATA

  1. You’re describing an isolated implementation – what makes initiative cool in general? I’d argue nothing.
    –JM

  2. Yes, I’m talking about the specific implementation in FVLMINATA. The whole series is going to be about specific mechanics in specific games.
    Maybe I’ll do a follow-up series on “general RPG techniques” that would address what initiative is, why it appears so often, how else the same problems can be handled, etc.
    Jason, do you think I should retitle the entries to make the game-specificity more apparent?

  3. Up to you!
    Endgames got me all hot and bothered, because it is hard to do them in a way that does not add value, that’s all.
    –JM

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