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D&D 5E Using "Always On" Trapfinding Houserule - Need help with Time Management

Stalker0

Legend
So in my games I have used a houserule for a long time with the party rogue and traps. Instead of the Rogue going "I search for traps, I'm checking that for traps, is it trapped, etc etc", I just assume the rogue is always looking around for traps. When an actual trap is nearby, I give the Rogue an immediate check. If they succeed, they notice the trap. If they don't, they don't....and they don't get to try again.

In terms of the houserule itself, its worked wonderfully in many campaigns. However, for my next campaign, time is going to be a very big factor and I don't want to be as loose with the time spent doing searches as I have in the past.

So hence I've come here. What I'm trying to get are some default times for a party going through a room, with the assumption that the Rogue is taking the time to check things out. This is going to a middle ground between the rogue combing every little thing vs just taking a glance in the room and going. I do not expect this to be super accurate, obviously the amount of stuff in the room could have a huge variance....I'm just trying to come up with a number that is reasonable and easy to track, a number that if I quoted my players they may not fully agree with but wouldn't look at me like I'm crazy.

Generally I'm thinking of 3 standard sizes:

Small - This is like a 10 x 10 room or smaller, like a secret area or a closet or something.
Medium - A 30 x 30 room or the "standard dungeon room" for this purpose, maybe your standard long hallway that's 5-10 foot wide.
Large - A big room, maybe 60 x 60

And then of course I can just double numbers for really really big rooms. Again not trying to get super refined here, if I have a 40 x 40 I'll just call it a medium room and be done with it, etc. A small room packed with trinkets I may use the medium time for, etc etc. Just some standard times that I can mix and match easily as needed.

So now to the big questions: For these kinds of dungeon room sizes, what do you think is a reasonable amount of time to pass to represent the searching of the rooms for traps?
 

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Professor Murder

Adventurer
I have used something similar. I have every PC who would be able to find traps roll a check at the start of play, record it, and then apply it the first time they encounter a trap. When the scene is resolved, I have everyone check again, record the new results, an apply it the next time the encounter a trap and so on.
 

timbannock

Explorer
I believe 5e says you can effectively search a room in about a minute. B/X does a 10x10 area in about 10 minutes (1 turn).

I recently went with 10 minutes for a 30x30 area and used the DMG Movement on a Map pacing rules as per 10 minutes rather than 1 minute and assumed searching, and it's worked out well. You can use B/X and OD&D procedures by "turn" (10 minutes) and just use 5e for the rolls and DCs and it works really well.

More in depth:

 

Lyxen

Great Old One
So in my games I have used a houserule for a long time with the party rogue and traps. Instead of the Rogue going "I search for traps, I'm checking that for traps, is it trapped, etc etc", I just assume the rogue is always looking around for traps. When an actual trap is nearby, I give the Rogue an immediate check. If they succeed, they notice the trap. If they don't, they don't....and they don't get to try again.

You don't even need to houserule this, you know. The player is describing actions, but it's always the DM who tells when and if there is a roll.

At our tables, we use passive perception, and don't even ask for a roll, unless a PC has a particular reason to notice a trap (maybe from a description, maybe from logic, maybe just a hunch) in which case he just describes what he does, and the DM has all the options open (allow a roll, allow a hidden roll, use passive, use automatic success and failure, etc.) depending on the actual situation.

Ad by the way the same thing goes for perception, investigation and insight. We got completely rid of the metagame paranoia of always asking for checks, the players trust the DM not to screw them on purpose with "you should have checked, now you're dead" which are not fun to anyone but really the source of the paranoia.

Adventurers are professional, we are just assuming that they are vigilant and aware as much as their stats allow, and that they take the necessary precautions. And if they want to be extra careful in some areas because of reasons, then we allow that too.

As for the time it takes, first see the other threads about time, which can be as flexible as a DM likes, and why do you need rules for rooms, some might be bare, others cluttered, some clean, other disgusting, don't bind yourself with rules that you might want to break depending on the circumstances.
 

I generally break things down into minutes. Checking for traps while traveling requires a slow pace, just like stealth, so that's a built in time addition. Checking an object and disarming any found traps takes 1 minute. Searching a room is a minute, unless it's particularly large, but disarming the trap takes an additional minute.
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
I have three speeds for PCs: slow, standard and fast. Unless otherwise stated, in areas where you would expect to find traps I use passive perception, investigation and stealth not just for traps but also for anything they might notice or how loud they're being.

Slow speed uses passive with advantage (+5), standard is passive, fast is passive with disadvantage (-5). Then I adjust time based on their stated speed. If searching I also take into consideration how careful they're being during the search which varies from leave no trace to "just toss the room" which may or may not make sense for your game.

There are times when I'll still just run through things with checks if it really makes sense or makes for a dramatic scene.
 
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aco175

Legend
Would Cunning Action affect any of this? If the rogue can use an bonus action to Fast Hands and do certain things like open locks and disarm traps to make things go faster. Although the basic Cunning Action says that it can be used in combat. I have allowed some of this to be used out of combat.

The basic search around for traps and secret doors and such should take some time. I like @Oofta idea to put it back on the players and for them to tell you how fast or slow they are doing this. If you have the players roll, you can use the DCs of 10,15,and 20, but I may allow a certain guarantee of success for only 5ft or movement and half speed means you are DC15. full speed while searching means you should miss some things, so DC20.

I have seen groups with standard procedures for things to make the game run easier. Standard door procedure means that the rogue will check for traps and locked before the fighter does something and the ranger is covering with X and the mage with Y. This was more 1e/2e with more traps and insta-kill/gotcha stuff.

Standard search around may also just be a time like 1 minute/5ft square. You can add another minute for large items in the square. So if you have a 10x10 room (4 minutes) and a desk in one corner (+1minute), and a coatrack in another (+0 being little) you have a total of 5 minutes. A deep search of double this (10minutes) can mean that they auto-find anything there at the loss of time.
 

Stalker0

Legend
I found this article online: D&D 5E – Tracking Time in a Dungeon

Which seems to have some good metrics. So if I converted it to kind of my designs it would look like this:

Normal Room (30 x 30 or lower): 10 minutes. Players can double the time to get advantage on roll. Room filled with stuff could take x2/x3 that time.

Disable Trap / Pick Lock: 5 minutes

That allows me to do time in 5 minute increments which I think is pretty solid (can track it on a D12 and then on the 12 that's an hour).

Do people think that is reasonable enough?
 

GMMichael

Guide of Modos
@Stalker0 you need a matrix here, something like:
Room SizeLow RiskMedium RiskHigh Risk
Small1 minute5 minutes10 minutes
Medium2 minutes10 minutes20 minutes
Large4 minutes20 minutes40 minutes

Because, well, if a sorceror has been laying Summon Vecna traps, the rogue better be damn sure that there isn't one in the room.

Having set off my share of traps in Skyrim, I can tell you that there is no such thing as Passive Perception. You're either actively looking for traps, or you're actively making sure there's not a Draugr Deathlord in the next room.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
I'm currently playing a gnomish artificer with a Passive Investigation score of 24. The GM has largely decided to just run with that - the guy is freaking Sherlock Holmes, and only misses details laid by the most master of trapmakers. I don't have to spend time, as this is a passive score - if the details are in his sensory range, and the DC to find the thing is lower than his passive score, he just gets it.

Yeah, the GM can only rarely surprise us with traps or secret doors. That's okay. A PC spent the effort to build his skill that high, that's what you get.

If the PC in your game wants to search everywhere, you might consider asking them to build for such an arrangement - it just makes life easier.
 

Helpful NPC Thom

Adventurer
So in my games I have used a houserule for a long time with the party rogue and traps. Instead of the Rogue going "I search for traps, I'm checking that for traps, is it trapped, etc etc", I just assume the rogue is always looking around for traps. When an actual trap is nearby, I give the Rogue an immediate check. If they succeed, they notice the trap. If they don't, they don't....and they don't get to try again.
Good policy.
So now to the big questions: For these kinds of dungeon room sizes, what do you think is a reasonable amount of time to pass to represent the searching of the rooms for traps?
I measure out time in intervals of ten minutes, just as Gygax intended. Assuming checking for traps, characters can move through one large sized room cautiously--that's moving quietly, checking for traps, etc.--every ten minutes. One large room equals two midsize rooms or three smaller rooms. Corridors follow the same principle.

If the characters want to speedrun, they can move twice as fast, but they aren't sneaking around or finding traps.
 

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