Every single DM in the world tracks initiative and combat a little bit differently, and apparently there’s a lot of discussion on How to Do It. It’s simple.
At the very basic root of it is a decision: digital or not?
If you’re going digital, your primary options are improved-initiative.com (what I usually use) or a virtual tabletop program like Roll20 or Fantasy Grounds.
If you’re going paper-and-pencil (or pen or whiteboard marker), it’s actually pretty dang simple. No need to complicate things!
- Everyone rolls initiative. You roll for monsters.
- You put your monsters down on the paper roughly where you think they’ll end up. It’s okay to leave space on the page.
- You ask for initiative rolls.
- You slot people in.
A couple tricks to make life easier:
- Just use your player characters’ first initials instead of writing the full name.
- I like to write on the page the monster’s AC to the left of their name, then the total HP to the right, so during players’ turns I don’t have to keep referring to the stat block.
- Instead of subtracting down HP to zero, add up using hashmarks. It can be quicker.
Think about your process for a bit and streamline it, and you’ll find that tracking combat is really not that big a deal.
Lesser Temple of the Heretics – Dyson’s Dodecahedron
Building a D&D Pantheon – Part 3 – RJD20
Nine Trade Gods and their Worshipers – DMsGuild – $0.99
DotMM Companion 8: Slitherswamp – DMsGuild – $1.50
Now get out there and tell a story!