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I'm dusting off the Moldvay Red Basic Rulebook (1981) and taking a stab at figuring out some of the rules that I, frankly, didn't fully understand when I was a kid.

On B19, under the MOVEMENT section, he writes, "All characters are able to move 120' in one turn when exploring a dungeon."

Also on B19, under the TIME section, he writes, "A character may explore and map an area equal to his or her movement rate in one turn."

So lets say I've just entered a large cavern, maybe 300' by 300', for the first time, and so I've just started mapping this area. If my movement rate happens to be 120', does that mean I can explore all the area within a 120' circle around me? Or does it mean I can explore one 10'x10' block at a time, in any direction, changing directions at will, up to 12 blocks total?

This was never fully explained in the rulebook, unless I missed it. As kids, we ended up putting this rule aside and just saying 'you can explore this room during this time.' But it always bothered me a little, knowing we weren't following the intended rules.

Does anyone know the right way to follow this rule?

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I would take "explore and map an area" to be 12 10' square blocks. With the common sense provision that you can see anything that your vision allows you to. If they can see across the entire cavern in question then interpret as 120' of perimeter per turn.

Remember in the absence of a specific rule older edition D&D referees were expected to apply their common sense and make their rulings from the viewpoint as if the person was really there. Unlike today it was the only thing we could do as there wasn't a lot other games to take examples from.

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The common-sense thing is especially easily overlooked today. Most systems were (and still are) designed that way. (+1) –  SevenSidedDie Dec 2 '12 at 18:30
    
Thanks for the comment. I'm thinking about implementing Moldvay's version of D&D as a CRPG, that's why I'm asking about the gritty details. As I'm learning, this version of D&D might not apply well to a computer game. –  dvanaria Dec 3 '12 at 8:04
    
I would take a look a various Adventure Games, MuDs and MuSHs that were developed over the late 70s and 80s before deciding it unsuitable. Many of them were little more than clones of various forms of D&D. And not in the least were SSI's Gold Box Series. –  RS Conley Dec 3 '12 at 14:41
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