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In basic D&D, how long does it take to do an action such as listening to a door, searching for traps, open a door, pickpocket? A whole turn? A round? Because 10 minutes is a bit long.

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2 Answers 2

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As with most of Moldvay common sense applies. Let's look at the time section of the rules (which okeefe has provided):

Moldvay Basic, page B19

TIME: Time in D&D adventures is given in turns of ten minutes each. A turn is not a measure of real time, but is a measure of how much a character can do within a given amount of time. A character may explore and map an area equal to his or her movement rate in one turn. It also takes a turn for a character to search a 10'×10' area, for a thief to check an item for traps, to rest or to load a bag with treasure. The DM should decide how long other actions that characters might try will take.

You can apply common sense to most of these. Have you listened at a door or seen someone do it in a movie or TV? How long did it take? I'd do things in units of minutes for ease of figuring a turn so I'd say one minute.

Opening a door is fairly instantaneous. Having to batter a door down is similar to combat so each bash would be one combat round in my estimation.

Searching for traps would arguably exploring and in fact if you read the time entry "for a thief to check an item for traps" is explicitly noted. In fact, if I was risking life or death on a poison needle ten minutes does not seem too long.

So, the key idea is apply common sense and your experience. Yes, D&D presents a fantastic environment but you're still playing essentially a human (yes, even if you're a dwarf) doing human scale things most of the time. Just decide, based on experience, that it takes X minutes and keep a running total of minutes to get turns.

Finally, the idea of turns is an organizing factor for the GM's convenience more that a boardgame type formal structure. Turns govern movement, resources, and wandering monsters. I speak to my players in terms of "that takes about 5 minutes" or "that'll take a minute" and keep track of minutes adding up to turns behind the screen.

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These listed actions take a turn, and other actions are at the DM's discretion. A turn is probably a good default.

Moldvay Basic, page B19

TIME: Time in D&D adventures is given in turns of ten minutes each. A turn is not a measure of real time, but is a measure of how much a character can do within a given amount of time. A character may explore and map an area equal to his or her movement rate in one turn. It also takes a turn for a character to search a 10'×10' area, for a thief to check an item for traps, to rest or to load a bag with treasure. The DM should decide how long other actions that characters might try will take.

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Actually, the quoted section indicates it is 10 minutes. The phrase "not a measure of real time" isn't saying it's not 10 minutes in game but that you don't have to wait 10 minutes before starting the next turn. –  HerbN Jun 17 at 14:59
    
@HerbN Good point. –  okeefe Jun 17 at 16:08
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I can easily imagine a thorough listening at a door, opening a stuck door, and setting up a pickpocketing situation each taking up a turn. –  okeefe Jun 17 at 19:52
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each taking up a turn. –  okeefe Jun 18 at 12:40
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@NetHacker And also a turn together. Either are reasonable imaginings. Effectively, what's reasonable for you-the-DM to imagine is the answer to how long these things take. The game nails some things down, but expects you to fill in the details as you find it becomes useful/necessary to. –  SevenSidedDie Jun 18 at 20:47

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