TimeLines for various actions
One of my hated things in AD&D is time keeping. It's not so bad during
overland movement and such, some simple math and a map solves that problem.
It's when we decend into the bowels of the earth in search of things to kill
and treasure to collect. This is where it gives me fits.
Add to this the variety of things the average dungeon delver wants to do.
Search for traps and secret doors seems to be on the top of everyone's list.
Easy enough but how much time did all these searches take? Once again, my
little mind is quickly overwhelmed and I just give up keeping track of the
passage of time.
The books lend little to this problem. They seem to have two speeds; the
crawl and the stroll. The first will detect everything within a 10 foot
radius but you will only transverse a mere 60 feet in an hour. The other
you'll blindly stroll into everything but will cruise along at a blistering
7200 feet per hour. Certainly there has to be a compromise.
Well, I have some ideas on this..... obviously. Let's break movement
rates down into catagories.
1. Comprehensive Search - Rate: 1 foot / minute
This will give everyone with detection abilities a normal roll to detect
whatever they are looking for. Obviously a good thing but the drawback is the
speed. Creeping through a dungeon at this rate you are bound to bump into
something nasty, trust me.
2. Stalking - Rate 5 feet / minute
Probably a more logical pace, like that of a stalking hunter. Those in the
front can detect for things but at 3/4 of thier normal chance to succeed.
3. Slow & Steady - Rate: 10 feet / min
Used when you wanna make tracks but still keep an eye for surprises.
Detection rolls are 1/2 normal.
4. Hurry along - Rate: half normal (move x 10 / 2 per min)
Used when you have minimal attention to the walls and floors. Detection
rolls are 1/4 normal.
4. Lets MOVE - Rate: normal dungeon movement rate (move x 10 per min)
No chance to detect as you blaze through the dungeon. Used when something
nasty is chasing you.
While we are on time issues lets cover some abilities and the time it takes
to accomplish them:
Racial Abilities: d10 min (dwaves, elves, gnomes, half-elves, halflings)
Search a 10 foot section of wall, floor, ceiling, etc: 10 min
Open Locks: d10 min
Find Traps: d10 min per item/small area
Remove Traps: d10 min
Detect Noise: 1 min
Cast Spell: 1 min+
Turns are made up of rounds. One turn is approx 10 minutes and there are 10 turns in a round.
But these are just approximations--precise time measurements 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, but, not surprisingly, everyone is rather busy. So, sword in one hand, he shrugs one strap of the pack off his shoulder. 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' first wild swings. He gets pushed back a few more feet when a companion shoulders past to block their advance. His companion bought him a little time, so he kneels, lays down his sword, and slips the backpack all the way off. Hearing a wild cry, he instinctively swings his shield up 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 to remember not to crush or spill the potion vial. Biting back the pain of the flames, he is relieved to see the potion is still intact.
Quickly, he gulps it down, reclaims his sword, kicks his backpack out of the way, and runs back up to the front line. In game terms, the character withdrew, was missed by one attacker, made a successful saving throw vs. spell (from the fireball), drank a potion, and was ready for combat the next round.
In one round, you can do the following:
Make an attack (make 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)
• Drink a potion
• Light a torch
• Use a magical item
• 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 and drawing another.
• Drop excess equipment, such as backpacks, lanterns, or torches.
I think the biggest misconception is the Find Traps / Remove Traps / Open
Locks cycle. To actually make these three rolls it can take anywhere from
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