Initiative is a system of determining the order of actions in battle. Before the first round of combat, each combatant makes a single initiative check. Each round, the participants act in order from the highest initiative result to the lowest. Initiative is of great importance in pencil-and-paper D&D games. In Neverwinter Nights 2 (NWN2) however, this roll is of diminished significance due to overlaying the turn-based combat of D&D with a real-time gaming environment.

Generally, initiative carries more importance in low-level environments where characters (and their opponents) have only one attack per round and/or a low number of hit points, in which case killing an opponent first to avoid their attack(s) may be the difference between life and death.

Use: Automatic, when applicable

The initiative check roll is a d20 plus the character's dexterity modifier, plus bonuses from feats. The three feats that improve initiative are:

  1. blooded (+2)
  2. thug (+2)
  3. improved initiative (+4)

Since players only see the results of their own initiative check roll, results are opaque; they may only guess if they are successful against their opponent(s).

An initiative check is performed once when combat starts, then is remembered for as long as the creature remains in combat. Whenever multiple creatures attempt to act simultaneously, their actions are taken sequentially instead, going in order from the highest to the lowest initiative roll.

In many cases, however, this sequential order in NWN2 is overridden by the surprise moment, which may apply to any creature, (N)PC or otherwise. Examples of a character attack using the surprise moment include:

  • with ranged weapon from distance: the ranged attacker will always start first if attacking a melee character, since the melee opponent has distance and cannot reciprocate the attack (however, see combat note two below)
  • from shadows: such attackers will, if undetected, always start first as the target cannot see them
  • from out of view at a non-playable creature: the attacker may start first, if the creature does not notice them before attack
  • with a sneak attack: whether or not an attack is a sneak attack is determined at the start of a flurry and applies to all attacks in that flurry, so the order of attacks within these flurries is of diminished importance

In imprecise terminology, having quick fingers beats good rolling.

The surprise moment applies only for the first round. In subsequent rounds, the start of flurries for both melee creatures is arranged per initiative.

Combat notes[edit | edit source]

NWN2 uses a hybrid of turn based and real time game play and, as such, initiative usually only benefits the first melee strike of any encounter:

  1. Casters are completely unaffected by initiative; its impact is relevant only when two characters engage in melee combat against each other
  2. In cases when combat is started by a character with a ranged weapon and the melee opponent rushes to meet the ranged attacker (and the ranged character keep firing in this closing distance), initiative may apply once distance is closed to melee range
  3. Prior to initiative creatures may also be flat-footed, losing their Dexterity modifiers and dodge bonuses against ranged attacks

Gameplay Notes[edit | edit source]

  • Number of attacks, creature speed and weapon reach may also influence first strike
  • In order for initiative to apply the attacking character must initiate combat and not delay in their action; waiting for an attacking opponent will forfeit first strike. Due to the limitations of initiative, it is generally not recommended to take feats that improve initiative.
  • To avoid always losing first strike, characters may charge their opponent. Other methods to improve the effective of initiative are to combine with other feats such as using Hide in Plain Sight immediately after their first strike or quickly switching to Parry mode. However (with practice, default action hotkey) timed strikes with weapons of longer reach, as well as use of stealth and/or ranged attacks are more reliable methods of gaining first strike: (Initiative ranged shot, moving target penalty and mission volley bonus all in one screenshot)

External Resources[edit | edit source]

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