After the last campaign that I ran came to a close one of my players suggested that I bring my Playing Card Initiative System up to 4th edition standards. We had tried using the Action Point system from The Last Gasp and found that it seemed a bit too fiddly ( I mainly saw the players not moving very much or, in one case not running from a cave lion at full speed to avoid running out of AP… I loved the idea, but it just didn’t seem to work with my group.
The Playing Card Initiative System (PCIS) was originally made for 3rd edition and I used it a lot back in the days before 4th edition was released. So it has been playtested over 15 years ago with the older system.
The PCIS recreates the ebb & flow of a chaotic fight in the same way that The Last Gasp does with Action Points. It also adds some meta-game excitement with the card draw each “round” (in the PCIS you draw a hand for a 13 second “round”).
The only drawback is that each player needs their own deck of playing cards. I just bought a bunch of packs and provide them for everyone.
There are two files. The version that is for players and single NPC’s (or just important ones) and a GM version for multiple NPC’s (which would be crazy-making to draw hands for and keep straight).