How Many Fucks Do We Give About How Long A Turn Is?

No matter how short the round is by the rules, I always allow a good soliloquy.

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I occasionally care a little bit when I am translating modules from a one-minute round system to a 6-second round system when something is supposed to be happening during combat that is described in minutes. If a pool is filling with lava during the combat in 1E it feels reasonable to be concerned. A four-minute combat (or 10 minutes if we assume a 1 turn min) means a lot of lava flow. The same combat in 5e might take 30 seconds. I feel I need to change the size of the lava pipe or the description or something to make the lave filling threatening. So–when out of combat timing matters during combat, I start to think about it. Otherwise, most of the D&D-style games have fairly clearly outlined action economies based on rounds, and the length of the round doesn’t matter. Call of Cthulhu is more nebulous, but still more about numbers of actions than time.

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I usually measure those types of things (e.g. Lava fills a pool/room) in rounds. I do that because it’s how my group and I think of time. If the round is 1 second or 10 seconds or a minute or whatever we don’t care.

As soon as initative order is determined, and X starts to happen (lava levels raising!), then we know how fast things are going. What we care about is “X is happening every round! we only have about Y rounds left!!”

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I definitely try to write that way, but a lot of the older “rulings” stuff is written less technically. And there have been a few that just seemed stupid when converted from one-minute rounds to six-second ones. It’s really over for publication that I concern myself because there are so many types of people use the material. If I’m running at a table, it’s all rounds.

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I think those things matter in reference to each other. Rounds matter, because that’s the measuring stick. Either rounds for an action, or actions per round. Do they matter in relation to real time (back to your actual question)? Probably not. There are things like Fafhrd mentioned, where you have a timer of something, then they matter. I’ve had times where they matter if there’s a chase/ flight simultaneous to combat. But even running a non-round system like HackMaster, in which combat is measured seconds, I still don’t note that time in relation to time of day. They’re just kind of asynchronous to one another.

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In gaming you don’t need passage of time, you need sequence of events in a series. Players need to know how many actions they can take within a given series. Tension is built and released within players by altering the number of actions and the sequence of those events.

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On the positive side, perhaps a more useful time conversion is rounds(aka actions) per play-hour.

For example, when I run a one-shot adventure (such as Thunderlock Barcrawl) for my FLGS, Games of Berkeley, the players have until shop close of 9pm to exit the adventure. If they do, they win, if they don’t, they lose.

image

The comic book/module it comes with says the characters have “two hours to best the dungeon (allowing enough time to take a Short Rest if necessary)”. As written, this is actually quite absurd at the table - as it removes all sense of time pressure as maybe a dozen game-round-seconds pass before there’s a call for that first rest, then after that, there’s more than enough game-time to complete the crawl. BUT, THE PLAY TIME IS THE TRUE LIMIT! That is where the tension comes from.

So - that’s how I run it:

  • Typically it is about two hours of play-time. That is the limit. I do not mention the game-time limit in the module. No one cares.
  • I run the entire crawl under initiative (rounds-based play - everything’s expressed in actions.)
  • No rests
  • I have the clock in the game store represent the limit at the Thunderlock bar:
    “1 hour till closing! You’ve still not unlocked the last room!” announces the tavern keeper from the darkness above your group…

So - rounds (or more properly player-character actions) per play-hour is probably the most important “time-related” metric to me: Are my players able to express themselves at the table through character actions often enough to feel engaged? This is true also for campaign sessions, and even when not in combat.

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I’m intrigued by this module. Any link to where one can get it?

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Thunderlock Barcrawl was the adventure in issue #0 of Rolled and Told, published by Quillion.

Readable here:

https://readcomiconline.to/Comic/Rolled-Told/Issue-0?id=136999

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It is whatever narratively make sense. Rounds, turns, action or are just abstract constructs for our form of make believe. Arguing about how long a round is and or how long it takes your make believe warrior to swing a sword is insane. It is almost at the Monty Python level of absurdity.

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Here’s a thought for this topic. To me, an rpg round is like a quantum particle in superposition. It has no definition until a gamer looks at it, then it informs a specific length of time.

This is important for some games that are reliant on tracking, bookkeeping, and resource management. If someone plays OD&D as written, it’s important that ten rounds of combat comprise one turn, and six turns are an hour.

Because light sources burn out. Monsters might show up at specific lengths of time.

Taking just OD&D’s one-minute game round as an example, it might be possible for a designer to describe abstracted combat (comprising multiple attack attempts) as taking a round. Perhaps someone could argue that a character can fire a bow only twice in such a time frame. But it’s certainly nonsensical for many other actions described as taking a round (for gamist balance regarding action economy) to consume an actual sixty seconds of time.

My point is that rounds, looked at in one way, are actual measures of time. Another, they’re just turns (gamist). It’s very difficult for a game to achieve a full simulation of “reality.” Rounds in D&D, in some cases, are proscriptive in the way Magic-users are disallowed armor. There’s no other (real) reason for this prohibition than that MUs get to cast spells, and others don’t. In a similar way, a one-minute round is used to constrain some potentially “unbalancing” actions. In other words, rounds are defined only when they need to be. When the time-frame doesn’t make sense, players usually shrug their shoulders and say, “Oh, well,” because to redefine the superposition, in these cases, threatens to dematerialize the elaborate structure of the game itself.

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One of the first things that really started to annoy me about taking the six second round literally are all those videos that started going around where people were showing trick shot archers taking 20 shots in 6 seconds and demanding that expert archers be redesigned around this paradigm.

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That went through a Rolemaster community to which I’m privy. I shared it myself, then someone told me, “Yeah, that guy clearly has like +180 in Missile.” Then I understood. :grin:

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I only worry about it if there is a reason to in the story. Like having to defuse a bomb that is counting down from 1:07. Other than that, no big deal.

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This is why if I’m going to do something like “you have a limited time to escape or defuse the thing,” I’ll state it in-game terms, rather than “real world” time, so there isn’t any confusion about how long players have to deal with the situation.

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It’s all I care about. I’ve written epic eddas, sonorous sonnets and even a raunchy limeric about the length of time consisting of the enigmatic turn. All of you haters don’t recognize what’s important to the sanctity of the game…

Specific attention to the passage of time down to the turn. -egg

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“Sanctity of the game” :rofl::rofl::rofl::rofl::rofl:

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Beat me to it. The most important thing in games. I only want to play in games where time is meticulously tracked. I will fist fight anyone that disagrees!

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I resubmit.

I love games that just use REAL units of time instead of abstracts.

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Is there “really” any real unit of time? Isn’t time just a abstract thought? Don’t we just exist in the moment of reality, or just a little in past. Just as long as the impulses of or senses make it to our brains?

Obviously, I stand in the abs… whatever works best when I need it to.category.

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