Rules Index | GM Screen | Player's Guide

Chapter 9: Playing the Game / Encounter Mode


Source Core Rulebook pg. 468 2.0
An encounter is played out in a series of rounds, during which the player characters, adversaries, and other participants in the encounter act in sequence. You roll initiative to determine this order at the start of the encounter and then play through rounds until a conclusion is reached and the encounter ends. The rules in this section assume a combat encounter—a battle—but the general structure can apply to any kind of encounter.

Step 1: Roll Initiative

Source Core Rulebook pg. 468 2.0
When the GM calls for it, you’ll roll initiative to determine your place in the initiative order, which is the sequence in which the encounter’s participants will take their turns. Rolling initiative marks the start of an encounter. More often than not, you’ll roll initiative when you enter a battle.

Typically, you’ll roll a Perception check to determine your initiative—the more aware you are of your surroundings, the more quickly you can respond. Sometimes, though, the GM might call on you to roll some other type of check. For instance, if you were Avoiding Notice during exploration (page 479), you’d roll a Stealth check. A social encounter could call for a Deception or Diplomacy check.

The GM rolls initiative for anyone other than the player characters in the encounter. If these include a number of identical creatures, the GM could roll once for the group as a whole and have them take their turns within the group in any order. However, this can make battles less predictable and more dangerous, so the GM might want to roll initiative for some or all creatures individually unless it’s too much of a burden.

Unlike a typical check, where the result is compared to a DC, the results of initiative rolls are ranked. This ranking sets the order in which the encounter’s participants act—the initiative order. The character with the highest result goes first. The second highest follows, and so on until whoever had the lowest result takes their turn last.

If your result is tied with a foe’s result, the adversary goes first. If your result is tied with another PC’s, you can decide between yourselves who goes first when you reach that place in the initiative order. After that, your places in the initiative order usually don’t change during the encounter.

Step 2: Play a Round

Source Core Rulebook pg. 468 2.0
A round begins when the participant with the highest initiative roll result starts their turn, and it ends when the one with the lowest initiative ends their turn. The process of taking a turn is detailed below. Creatures might also act outside their turns with reactions and free actions.

Step 3: Begin the Next Round

Source Core Rulebook pg. 468 2.0
Once everyone in the encounter has taken a turn, the round is over and the next one begins. Don’t roll initiative again; the new round proceeds in the same order as the previous one, repeating the cycle until the encounter ends.

Step 4: End the Encounter

Source Core Rulebook pg. 468 2.0
When your foes are defeated, some sort of truce is reached, or some other event or circumstance ends the combat, the encounter is over. You and the other participants no longer follow the initiative order, and a more free-form style of play resumes, with the game typically moving into exploration mode. Sometimes at the end of an encounter, the GM will award Experience Points to the party or you’ll find treasure to divvy up.