So, I'm considering using initiative in some non-combat situations in my upcoming Greyhawk campaign. Meaning, when it comes to moments during a session where players are all telling me (as GM) what they want to do pretty much all at once, there are times when I feel I need to give them some structure/order. There's so much going on at the table during a typical RPG session that I feel I need to do something to keep things organized. Mostly to make things easier on myself.
And it's not just my current group that has made me think about this. From the very beginning of my roleplaying life, I've felt some frustration when my players are all talking at once. So now I'm thinking I need some "democratic" way to determine who gets to talk to me first, second, etc. and not just "around the table from left to right." So, since this is an RPG, we let the dice decide.
I'm not saying my players are disorganized. I'm just thinking that sometimes they are all excited and have ideas they want to execute, and things get a bit disjointed. I think our sessions would benefit from determining just who gets to act in what order for non-combat situations.
I've been searching the blogosphere for prior mention of this concept but haven't found anything so far. I'm not thinking that I'm some great innovator with this idea, though. I'm sure someone else has thought of/used this before. I'm very curious to hear from someone who might have used this in a campaign.
I guess I'm wondering if this sort of thing could be considered too much of a "hand holding" on my part. I suppose one would say that the onus is on the players to discuss what they are doing and report their decisions/actions to me in as coherent a manner as they can muster. They need to be the ones to make sure they coordinate their efforts and act as a cohesive unit. And if they're all talking to me at once and declaring actions, then I need to tell them to take a moment and get organized.
And hey, sometimes that player "chaos" of indecision and overlapping/competing goals is great, and totally natural/realistic. That's why I'm saying that I won't use it all the time. Just when I'm feeling overwhelmed or if it seems the players are feeling overwhelmed, or both.
But sometimes there's the situation where one player wants to suddenly make a decision that could affect the whole party ("I'm going to pull that lever over there to see what happens.") and I want there to be a chance for someone else in the party to interject/intercede/ interrupt said action. That's one of the moments where I think I should say "Ok, everyone needs to roll initiative to see if someone gets to do something before you pull that lever."
And then there's the question: is this where the caller concept comes into play? I've tried using callers in my prior gaming life and in my current roleplaying endeavors, and it seems to not go over so well. The players still seem to want to talk directly to me. And truth be told I'm more comfortable with that.
Please let me know your thoughts! All advice is welcome.