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I’ve been considering using the Judge’s Guild Ready Ref Sheets to streamline initiative in my White Box games.  If you haven’t seen the Ready Ref Sheets, they were released in 1978 as a referee’s aid for OD&D. They have some really great random tables and include the usual monster listings and attack tables. I bought two physical copies a few years ago at the original cover price.

Ready Ref Sheets

Anyway, one of the  tables in the book is titled  ‘Weapon Priority’. Here it is:

ready ref sheets initiative system

The way I would use it as a player would be to pre-calculate my priority number by weapon. That probably won’t change much, unless the character’s dexterity changes, or they lose their armor to a rust monster, say. For spellcasters, I would write down my priority number by spell level, or note what it is when reading a scroll. As a referee, I would make the priority number part of a monster’s stat block. That would speed up combat a bit, by removing the need for an initiative roll. But what I really think is neat about this is that it would allow players to make tactical decisions around weapon choice. If I were playing a fighter, I would make a point to carry a longer weapon like a spear, and a missile weapon, in addition to a sword. As a M-U I would favor memorized spells over reading a scroll, given a choice.

The note at the bottom “In case of a tie compare actual dexterity ratings” is interesting. That seems to imply that monsters have a dexterity, which implies this table was created with Holmes Basic in mind. The copyright date supports that, although the combat tables reference the Greyhawk OD&D supplement, not Holmes. Both would have been in print at the time the Ready Ref Sheets were published (note in comments – according to Zach Howard/Zenopus, this table first appeared in 1976, in JG’s Thunderhold, so it pre-dated Holmes Basic).

Has anyone used this system in their games? I’d be interested to hear how it plays.