Use Attack Bonus instead!
New Rule: Attack in attack bonus order instead of initiative order.
For example, if Abel is a Fighter with +37/+32/+27/+22/+17/+12/+6/+1 and Bart is a Rogue with +30/+25/+20/+15/+10/+5. A single round of combat would go:
+37: Abel hits hard, following with
+32: a backhanded strike. Bart reels, following through the spin with
+30: a strike against Abel’s side.
+27: Abel slashes upwards, catching Bart under the ribs
+25: Bart responds with a riposte
+22: Abel hits Bart across his face
+20: Bart locks blades, misses
+17: Abel pushes his back with a forceful strike
+15: Bart lunges, draws blood again
+12: Abel closes, misses
+10: Bart slices Abel’s side
+6: Abel feints, narrowly misses
+5: Bart follows through, hits again
+1: Abel misses wildly
Combats at high level should be faster and deadly. Gods do not fight other gods lightly.
Alternative: Each side rolls once per fight
; New Rule: Everyone can do one thing each turn; move, attack, cast a spell, etc. If one side surprises the other, it goes first. If neither is surprised, both groups roll 1d20 + highest DEX bonus on their side to see who goes first. Alternate between both groups from then on.
Once combat has started, no more rolling for initiative.
Using the highest DEX on each side makes it possible to use excellent scouts in order to get an edge on your opponents.
Whether one side surprises the other or not is decided by common sense. Surprise just makes sure you get to strike first. If your opponents are unsuspecting, they’ll have to spend their first round readying weapons, and thus it may be possible to hit them twice before they can respond, if you win the initiative roll. This enables you to ambush unsuspecting merchants, while keeping your guard up when moving through that mountain pass will spare you the worst.
That should encourage role-playing tactics instead of number-crunshing tactics.
Within each group, the higher DEX scores can choose to go first – but this is optional. Players are invited to go by seating order. 😉