Content of the article: "How do you guys handle your players initiating combat?"
So I recently had a situation with my players where they initiated combat but were not very thrilled with how I handled it. Long story short, my players found themselves in a situation where they were surrounded by enemies who had weapons drawn on them, but initiative had not been rolled yet because I was giving them an opportunity to try and talk their way out of it. Suddenly, one of my players said they wanted to cast a spell, so I told them all to roll initiative. Once initiative was rolled, my player asked "so do I cast my spell?" My response was "when it gets to your turn you will use your action to cast the spell." To this she responded "oh, well if I had known that I would have done something different."
So here is my issue: from my point of view, this was a situation where no one was surprised, therefore everyone is ready for a fight. Casting a spell is a fairly obvious procedure meaning that when you begin casting the spell, everyone is going to react. Therefore, I had everyone roll initiative to see if any of the enemies were quicker on the draw when they see her start to cast a spell (represented by their initiative). Anyone who had a higher initiative than her were able to take their turns first and do something before she was able to actually finish casting her spell, then on her turn she casts her intended spell.
From my party's perspective, they feel like if one of them does something that would instigate a fight then they should be able to complete that action, then initiative kicks off. I would agree with this, but it gets kinda hairy when the party does in fact have surprise. I feel like it is slightly unbalanced to give the party the opportunity to perform some sort of action (like cast a massive AoE spell), then have an entire round where the enemies are surprised, and then have another round where the entire party could potentially act before the enemy has a chance to. Maybe I'm wrong about that, idk. Part of me says "well just make that initial action the first round of combat when they have surprise," but then in the case of them not having surprise I run into the issue I previously stated.
So now I'm torn because I want to be consistent and balanced, but I also want my players to have fun and feel like they have some aspect of control over the situation. How do you guys handle this kind of situation? Thanks!
I hope this question makes sense. As I was writing it I started to think that it might just look like gibberish.
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