A New Way to Track Initiative
Some things are meant to be. Like this…a new pizza/game store opened near my house. One of my good friends works there. They wanted to begin RPG nights. I run an RPG Instagram. She asked me to run a table. I said…YES please!
The store posted that I would be running an RPG one-shot table. I didn’t know what to expect, but when I showed up, there was a full table of 6 waiting for me. I had recruited my kids to fill in space if needed, but they ended up playing other games and I honestly couldn’t have asked for a better group of players.
When you DM, you plan, and I had planned some battles with multiple monsters. As I prepared, I realized that I was going to have to keep track of 9 or 10 spots in the initiative order and I wouldn’t know anyone’s name (real or character). This could get ugly. So, I did what I always do in a tight spot. I looked deep inside and asked myself the one question that has never steered me wrong: What would MacGyver do?
My kids rooms have a wealth of unique problem-solving items (just imagine what MacGyver could build out of that stuff!).
When you’re in a tight spot, Legos usually have the answer. Not only are they the most common man-made object on earth, but they come in a ton of different colors and sizes. I grabbed 6 differently colored 2x3 baseplates and added a selection of minifigs. The baseplates would keep the minifigs upright and serve as markers for the players.
When I arrived, I had everyone choose a color (even if they brought their own figurine) so during battle I could just call out that color’s turn (and save the embarrassment of admitting I didn’t know anyone’s name). For example, “Blue, it’s your turn.” “Orange, be thinking because you are next.”
The other thing I did to help was create “sliders” that sat across the top of my DM screen. They matched the baseplates. I’ve done this before, and when I use them, I like to keep them on the left until it’s someone’s turn and then slid the color going to the right to signal their turn (kind of like an abacus). I also made sliders of greys and blacks to track the bad guys.
As with all MacGyver tricks, it worked perfectly. I hope you’ll try it out and let me know how it goes.
May the dice be ever in your favor,