The earliest incarnation of D&D was an addition to the Animated driving car vlad and nikI shirt miniature war-game Chainmail. As such, it inherits some terminology from miniature wargames, and through them, from real military terminology. In warfare, “initiative” is the somewhat nebulous but vital sense of who is in a position to act or take control before their opponent can. Wargames have long simulated that concept through the turn order, and some introduced the concept of rolling for initiative (modified by circumstances or army statistics) to determine which player acts first. D&D inherited a version of these systems, which in turn was adapted by later RPGs.
Instead of Perception being a Animated driving car vlad and nikI shirt that you can assign Skill advances to, Perception is a separate stat similar to saving throws, with specific classes receiving advances with it while others don’t. Rogues start off as Experts with it, while most other classes start off merely Trained. This gets around the fact that everybody would always advance Perception given the chance, simply fitting its value to fit each class’s relative dependence on it. In an interesting twist, Perception now also serves as Initiative for combat instead of Dexterity — though there are rules whereby you might use some other stat or skill for it instead, depending on the type of encounter you’re running.
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It’s probably obvious that I don’t advocate Mind Flayers being used as small scale villains. They’re just not that great at being that thing in a Animated driving car vlad and nikI shirt with treasure. Save them for something big. They might have their use as an information-giving NPC, but their powers tend to either mean they can trivially defeat the PCs (if the PCs can’t resist their mental attacks) or the PCs can trivially defeat them (if the PCs can resist those attacks and draw them into melee), so they’re not great for random encounters. If the PCs do make deals with the Mind Flayers, remember the bit about them being alien intelligence and talking in pictures; make those encounters unique.
The conspiracy theories that people make fun of are the Animated driving car vlad and nikI shirt. Like faking the moon landings. Do you have any ideas what that would involves? You would need to film it on a sound stage, which is easy. But you also need to fake the rocket launch. You need to build the rocket, send it into space, bring the capsule back down. All without actually going to the moon. And all while the Soviet Union is watching eagle eyes, waiting for any mistake. And that’s not to mention the Apollo retro-reflectors, whose presence has been independently confirmed by observatories around the world. Faking just that part would be harder then the entire moon landing. But faking a moon landing at least has a motive. You want to win the space race. But who would want to convince everyone that the world is round instead of a flat? There’s no motive. And this is a conspiracy that would be impossible to carry out. Every scientist is lying? The entire GPS system is being faked? The Antarctic expeditions are all faked? Every airplane company is part of the conspiracy? They all have rounded windows to create the illusion of the curvature of the Earth?