D&D 5E Dungeon Procedures in 5E

Li Shenron

Legend
I am a fan of exploration tasks for tactical reasons i.e. I like when each player has to choose one activity over the others.

But otherwise, I don't see the point of tracking turns by the minute, unless running a very special adventure with a ticking clock ("ah too bad, you took 28 minutes, you needed to make it in 27"). I know that Tomb on Annihilation is a timed adventure, but is the time limit defined in minutes or hours? Tracking time in broad strokes is more than enough is the vast majority of cases. For me it's good to have "turns" for tactical choices, but keep the length of each turn variable, essentially until there's an interesting event or a change in the environment.

Also, I've always felt that the movement pace is way too generous... that "normal" pace is actually the same as the combat speed, 30ft per round = 300ft per minute, and that is essentially based on a realistic human walking speed. But I absolutely do not think that someone walking down an unknown and potentially dangerous dungeon would move as the same speed they move when walking on a sidewalk...
 

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Reynard

Legend
But otherwise, I don't see the point of tracking turns by the minute, unless running a very special adventure with a ticking clock ("ah too bad, you took 28 minutes, you needed to make it in 27"). I know that Tomb on Annihilation is a timed adventure, but is the time limit defined in minutes or hours? Tracking time in broad strokes is more than enough is the vast majority of cases. For me it's good to have "turns" for tactical choices, but keep the length of each turn variable, essentially until there's an interesting event or a change in the environment.
Resource expenditure and random encounters are based on time, so you need precise timekeeping if you care about those elements (which IMO are fundamentally important to a dungeon crawl).
 

Li Shenron

Legend
Resource expenditure and random encounters are based on time, so you need precise timekeeping if you care about those elements (which IMO are fundamentally important to a dungeon crawl).
I care about resource expenditure, but in the vast majority of cases I still don't need minute-based timekeeping.
 

Orius

Hero
What I mean is mapping should slow down the movement rate and doesn't appear to.

IIRC, the old school rules were 10 minutes for every 10' square for careful exploration of new areas. If the party went through an area that had already been mapped, either leaving the dungeon efficiently or returning through cleared areas then they moved at a normal pace.

Usually, I have a fight take up a full minute regardless of how many rounds it took.

Searching a room should take 10-20 minutes. In 3e a Search check would take a minute and taking 20 on that was 20 minutes.

Random encounters I believe are usually checked about once an hour, but if the party makes a lot of unnecessary noise, that calls for an immediate encounter check. If you want to be hardcore, you check for an encounter after every fight.
 

Reynard

Legend
IIRC, the old school rules were 10 minutes for every 10' square for careful exploration of new areas. If the party went through an area that had already been mapped, either leaving the dungeon efficiently or returning through cleared areas then they moved at a normal pace.
Referencing OSE because I have it to hand, you move your movement every turn (10 minutes) accounting for "exploring, watching their footing, mapping, and trying to be quiet and avoid obstacles." In familiar areas they can move thrice that.
Usually, I have a fight take up a full minute regardless of how many rounds it took.
It is always 10 to account for post fight breath catching, wound binding and looting.
Searching a room should take 10-20 minutes. In 3e a Search check would take a minute and taking 20 on that was 20 minutes.
10 minutes per 10X10 section when specifically searching for traps or secret doors.
Random encounters I believe are usually checked about once an hour, but if the party makes a lot of unnecessary noise, that calls for an immediate encounter check. If you want to be hardcore, you check for an encounter after every fight.
In OSE or B/X it is once every 2 turns. Where my PCs are in Rappan Athuk it is once every 30 minutes -- hence why I am trying to find a nice middle ground that allows me to keep a precise log of time.
 

Orius

Hero
Well the stuff does tend to vary a bit between editions and I'm not really that familiar with 5e's specifics. Also, there are some things I just do the same regardless of edition because it's what I'm used to. I learned the game pre-3e so that lends itself to a more fast and loose style of play, and it's really not a big deal if you're consistent.

Like I said, I'm not familiar with 5e, but I'm pretty sure the rules really are there. It's just not obvious to newer players. An experienced DM who understands how things used to work can probably figure it out though.

Though there's another rule that's not entirely explicit: don't be a slave to the dice. This comes up in situations where say the party knows they're running low on resources and makes every sensible attempt to withdraw. In that situation, you go easy on random encounters even if BTB you're technically supposed to roll one right now. Little things like that. D&D isn't a video game, and just as a player doesn't need to ruthlessly minmax against an unthinking and uncaring AI, the DM doesn't need to act like one either. You take the gloves off when they're being reckless, foolhardy or just plain stupid.
 
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Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
Here's something I wrote up, chiefly for explaining to players new to a focus on exploration how things work. It's based on 10-minute increments which I feel fits better in the game. In this particular game, I have random encounters checks every 2 hours, often I'll change that to 10 minutes or an hour in other adventure locations. I also separated keeping watch for monsters and staying alert for traps, which in some games I lump together into on ongoing task.

Moving Around
As you travel about the dungeon, you can choose to engage in an ongoing task. You cease to engage in this task when you stop to explore a given area more thoroughly. Common travel tasks include, but are not limited to the below. The associated passive check is provided, if there is a check at all.
  • Keep watch for lurking monsters (passive Perception)
  • Stay alert for signs of traps (passive Investigation or Perception)
  • Search for secret doors (passive Perception)
  • Draw a map (proficiency with cartographer's tools)
To have a chance to notice lurking monsters or signs of traps at the front of the party, you must be in the front rank of the marching order.

To draw a map, you must have both hands free and the appropriate tools. A map of an entire floor of the dungeon can be used to deduce the location of secret doors and chambers. There is no associated check to draw a map.

If you engage in any task other than keeping watch for lurking monsters, you are automatically surprised if a lurking monster is trying to sneak up on you.

Thorough Exploration
When you decide to stop traveling and explore a given area, the exploration phase begins. An area of 1000 square feet or smaller can be explored in 10 minutes by one person.

After the DM describes the environment, take turns describing what you want to do for the next 10 minutes. Common tasks and associated skills include, but are not limited to the below. An ability check is not required to resolve every task.
  • Check for Traps (Investigation or Perception)
  • Figure Out a Trap* (Investigation)
  • Disable a Trap* **(Thieves' Tools)
  • Keep Watch (Perception)
  • Forage (Survival)
  • Loot (Perception)
  • Perform a Ritual
  • Pick a Lock** (Thieves' Tools)
  • Search for Clues (Investigation)
  • Search for Secret Doors (Perception)
  • Figure Out a Secret Door* (Investigation)
  • Track (Survival)

Working Together. Instead of performing a task by yourself, you can work together with someone else. By working together, you grant advantage to the character leading the effort. You can only provide help if the task is one that you could attempt alone and when working together would actually be productive.

* The task preceding this task must be successfully completed before you can undertake this task.

** A character with Fast Hands can perform this task as well as another task of their choosing.
The cool thing is, this is pretty much just a restatement of the rules as written.
 

The travel rules work just as well for a dungeon as they do for overland travel. I generally break things down into 1 minute increments, making it easy to track progress by ticking them off. Combats require 5 minutes, since the remaining time is used to regroup, check wounds, and loot unless the group specifies otherwise, in which case it's rounded up to the nearest minute. I tried using 10 minute increments, but it made small interactions (doors, traps, etc) take an unreasonably long time to resolve.

One thing I've houseruled is breaking up "watching for danger" and "noticing the unusual." The former is the usual watching for monsters to avoid surprise using Passive Perception, but also includes hidden trap triggers like tripwires and the like. Some things are obviously seen, but not understood why they're important (particularly signs of traps and secret doors), which is why they use Passive Investigation to determine. Not only does this make more sense to me, but it helps differentiate Perception and Investigation.
 


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