An initiative roll is made whenever a character enters combat or is the recipient of a harmful spell (such as darkness). This roll is used to determine the order in which creatures act in combat, which is of great importance in pencil-and-paper D&D games. In Neverwinter Nights, however, this roll is of little to no significance, due to overlaying the turn-based combat of D&D with a real-time gaming environment.
- blooded (+2),
- thug (+2),
- improved initiative (+4), and
- superior initiative (+8, replacing the bonus from improved initiative),
so the highest bonus from feats is +12. This roll 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.
While this may sound important—and is important in pencil-and-paper—this sequential order is, in Neverwinter Nights, in most cases overriden by the surprise moment:
- character attacking with ranged weapon from distance will always start first if attacking on melee character since he is in distance and cannot reciprocate the attack
- character attacking from shadows will always start first as his target cannot even see him
- character attacking from corner at non-playable creature may start first if the creature won't notice him before attack (since creatures in these cases act only once per 6seconds)
(In imprecise terminology, having quick fingers beats good rolling.)
Also, casters are completely unaffected by initiative and its important that initiative applies only when two characters attack each other.
Initiative will work in first round only if two characters with melee weapons will attack on each other from distance. However the surprise moment applies only for first round. In subsequent round, the initiative start flurries for both creatures arranged per initiative. Flurries in subsequent round doesn't overlap - each flurry will trigger actual damage before creature with lower initiative start her flurry giving the initiative real effect.
In case when combat started character with ranged weapon, when his target approach him in melee (and ranged character keep firing in this distance), initiative applies the same way as for two melee characters.
- One significant case where initiative does not matter in Neverwinter Nights, but is crucial in pencil-and-paper, is the determination of when an attack qualifies as 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 the flurry does not matter.
- Non-playable creatures when ambushed in the first round will repay attack immediately when they are hit no matter of initiative. Due to this fact, their attack flurry may overlap with player and they will attack before player's flurry apply damage, so even if the first flurry should kill them they will be still able to harm character attacking this way.
- Initiative is most useable in low level environments where characters have only one attack per round and a low number of hit points, in which case avoiding any attack may be the difference between life and death.