D&D (2024) The Importantance of Time


Victoria Rules
I think the big learning between Gary's time and our is the discovery that RPG as a medium is strong enough to support suspense without relying on time pressure. This might be most easily seen in computer RPGs, where time constraints has been almost completely abolished. Just interacting with the world can be made fun enough. And with the freedom RPGs offer, time limits often feeling like an unwanted constraint to what you can do and explore.

Time as a motivator to keep things moving is not really needed, as there are other motivators that still is strong. This as opposed to tactical wargames where the best move without any time constraints might indeed be to put both armies on their own easily defendable hill, and just stand there. Wargames didn't have the same alure of seeing what's behind the next door, or how the story will progress. Hence it was easy to underestimate how powerfull these would be.
Agreed, for the most part. Over-use of deadlines gets old real fast, from both sides of the screen.

That said, I maintain that tracking time is vital even when there isn't a deadline involved. Sure you can explore all you want, but how long does that take and what's happened elsewhere in the meantime?

Even more important if one embraces the resource-management side of the game.

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I think that some of these problems stem from shifting to 6s rounds from 1min rounds. There used to be pretty good guidance for a wide range of things that could be done in one round back in the 2e dmg that was also largely present in the phb. Here are a few examples
Concealed and Secret Doors
In addition to all other types of doors, the arcane archi-
tects of most fantasy buildings like to include a few secret
and concealed doors. These can range from simple priest-
holes to pivoting bookcases opening into hidden crypts. The
only limit is your imagination.
Secret doors operate differently from normal doors. First
and foremost, they must be found. This isn’t something that
happens without effort (if it did, the door wouldn’t be very
secret!). With the exception of elves, characters must search
for secret doors to find them.
Searching a 20-foot section of wall takes about 10 min-
utes, during which the characters tap, thump, twist, and poke,
looking for secret catches, sliding panels, hidden levers, and
the like. The exact amount of time can vary according to the
amount of detail on the wall.
A relatively barren wall section
will go fairly quickly, while one loaded with shelves, ornamen-
tation, sconces, and other fixtures will require more time. A
character can search a given wall area only once, although
several characters can search the same area.
Normally, when a character discovers a secret door, he has
found the means to open it. Therefore, no roll must be made
to open the door. In very rare cases, the character may dis-
cover that the secret door exists (by finding its outline, for
example) but not know how to open it. In this case, a sepa-
rate check must be made to open the door.
Secret doors cannot be forced open by normal means
although they can be bashed down with rams (at half the
normal chance of success). Indeed, it is even possible for
characters to see the secret door in operation and not know
how it is operated. (“You burst in just in time to see Duke
Marask, the vampire, disappear from sight as the sliding book-
case swings back into position.”) In such cases, knowledge
that the door exists will increase the chance of finding its
opening mechanism by 1.
It is a good idea to note how each particular secret door
works and how it is concealed. While such notes have no
effect on the mechanics of the game, they will add a lot of
flavor and mystery at the expense of a little effort. Which is
more exciting—to say, “You find a secret door in the north
wall,” or “You twist the lion-headed ornament over the mantle
and suddenly the flames in the fireplace die down and a
panel in the back slides up?”
Furthermore, colorful descriptions of secret doors allow
you to place the burden of remembering how a given door
works on the player characters—”What, you forgot what to do
to make that secret door open? Well, I suppose you’ll have to
search again.” If used in moderation, this will help keep them
involved in your game, encouraging them to make maps
filled with all manner of interesting notes.
A concealed door is a normal door that is purposely hid-
den from view. There may be a door to the throne room
behind that curtain or a trap door under the rug. The door
isn’t disguised in any way or opened by secret catches; it is
just not immediately obvious.
Any search for concealed doors will reveal them, and
once found they can be opened normally. Elves can some-
times sense concealed doors (if they make their die roll)
without having to stop and search. No one knows how this
is accomplished, although some theorize elves notice
subtle temperature gradients when they pass near these
The Combat

If an encounter escalates into a
combat situation, the time scale of
the game automatically goes to
rounds (also called melee rounds,
or combat rounds). Rounds are used to measure the actions
of characters in combat or other intensive actions in which
time is important.
A round is approximately one minute. Ten combat rounds
equal a turn (or, put another way, a turn equals 10 minutes
of game time). This is particularly important to remember for
spells that last for turns, rather than rounds.
But these are just approximations—precise time measure-
ments are impossible to make in combat. An action that
might be ridiculously easy under normal circumstances could
become an undertaking of truly heroic scale when attempted
in the middle of a furious, chaotic battle.
Imagine the simple act of imbibing a healing potion. First a
character decides to drink the potion before retiring for the
night. All he has to do is get it out of his backpack, uncork it,
and drink the contents. No problem.
Now imagine the same thing in the middle of a fight. The
potion is safely stowed in the character’s backpack. First he takes
stock of the situation to see if anyone else can get the potion out
for him. However, not surprisingly, everyone is rather busy. So,
sword in one hand, he shrugs one strap of the pack off his shoul-
der. Then, just as two orcs leap toward him, the other strap
threatens to slip down, entangling his sword arm. Already the
loose strap keeps him from fully using his shield.
Holding the shield as best as possible in front of him, he
scrambles backward to avoid the monsters’ wild swings. He
gets pushed back a few more feet when a companion shoul-
ders past to block and give him a little time. So he kneels, lays
down his sword, and slips the backpack all the way off. Hear-
ing a wild cry, he instinctively swings up his shield just in time
to ward off a glancing blow.
Rummaging through the pack, he finally finds the potion,
pulls it out, and, huddling behind his shield, works the cork
free. Just then there is a flash of flame all around him—a
fireball! He grits his teeth against the heat, shock, and pain
and tries not to crush or spill the potion vial. Biting back the
pain of the flames, he is relieved to see the potion is intact.
He quickly gulps it down, reclaims his sword, kicks his back-
pack out of the way, and runs back up to the front line. In game
terms, the character withdrew, was missed by one attacker, made
successful saving throw vs. spell (from the fireball spell), drank
potion, and was ready for combat the next round.
What You Can Do in One Round
Whatever the precise length of a combat round, a charac-
ter can accomplish only one basic action in that round, be it
making an attack, casting a spell, drinking a potion, or tending
to a fallen comrade. The basic action, however, may involve
several lesser actions.
When making an attack, a character is likely to close with his
opponent, circle for an opening, feint here, jab there, block a
thrust, leap back, and perhaps finally make a telling blow. A
spellcaster might fumble for his components, dodge an attacker,
mentally review the steps of the spell, intone the spell, and then
move to safety when it is all done. It already has been shown
what drinking a potion might entail. All of these things could
happen in a bit less than a minute or more, but the standard is
one minute and one action to the round.
Some examples of the actions a character can accomplish
include the following:
  • Make an attack (attack rolls up to the maximum number allowed the character class at a given level)
  • cast one spell (if the casting time is one round or less)
  • Use a magical item.
  • Drink a potion
  • Light a torch
  • Move to the limit of his movement rate
  • Attempt to open a stuck or secret door
  • Bind a character's wounds
  • Search a body
  • Hammer in a spike
  • Recover a dropped weapon
There are also actions that take a negligible amount of
time, things the character does without affecting his ability to
perform a more important task. Examples of these include
the following
  • Shout warnings , brief instructions, or demands for surrender -- but not conversations where a reply is expected
  • Change weapons by dropping one & drawing another
  • Drop excess equipment such as backpacks lanterns or torches
Much of that can also be found on 2e phb pg122. Not only did a whole bunch of stuff get condensed down to instantaneous rainman like efficacy with the 1min -> 6s shift the amount of stuff that could be done as a free action done alongside some other action kept growing (either explicitly implicitly or by rule zero & badly set player expectations using rule zero to plug holes in the ruleset)
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