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I've been thinking that it would be great to have more roleplay during combat situations - talk to NPCs and fellow players, exchange banter, find out more about enemies by talking to them, generally use RP moments to make combat more fun.

Maybe even try to change the turn of battle sometimes - by tricking NPCs, or convincing them to give up or switch sides, stuff like that. But that is secondary to just making things more entertaining and fun with some improv.

But apparently there's a rule saying that every turn in combat lasts 6 seconds, and some other players argue that this makes it unreasonable/unrealistic for a character to speak longer than that.

To me this doesn't make sense, because in my opinion, that just removes a lot of potential for fun and roleplaying during combat for no good reason.

Is this actually true? According to the official D&D rules, do you have to limit your speaking to 6 seconds during the combat?

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    \$\begingroup\$ Are you asking this as a player, or as a DM? The DM has some wide discretion here while players generally don't, so that distinction matters. \$\endgroup\$ – DuckTapeAl Jun 1 at 6:09
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There are 6 seconds in a round, but...

On page 189 and 190 of the 5e Player's Handbook it states:

A round represents about 6 seconds in the game world ... you can communicate however you are able, through brief utterances and gestures, as you take your turn

The rules are pretty clear; a combat round lasts 6 seconds, and you can't speak very long during your turn. The players telling you that you can't perform long speeches or other roleplay during your turn are broadly correct, according to the rules.

However, the DM has broad discretion to alter the rules in order to make the game more fun for the players. This is often referred to as Rule 0: The responsibility to make a fun game, and the ability to selectively ignore or edit rules to facilitate that.

It sounds like you're looking for a game where the players can have actual conversations mid-combat in a more cinematic style. It's a common trope in other media for the hero and villain to lock swords and speak to eachother for a moment while the battle rages on around them, and it can be satisfying to emulate that sort of thing in roleplaying.

If you're the DM, you can talk to your players and make sure they want the same kind of game that you do. If the group all agrees that a cinematic style where players can have short conversations in a single round rather than just a few words, you can implement that immediately. If the players prefer a game where combat and lengthy rleplay don't mix, then it's unlikely that they will take advantage of such a rule change, even if you introduce it.

If you're a player, then you should talk to your DM. Let them know that you want more opportunities to be able to roleplay in combat. Tell them exactly what you say in your question here, and let them know your concerns and thoughts. If they agree, then they can make a rule change that lets you roleplay like this in combat. However, if the other players really don't like having that much roleplay in combat, then you might have to limit yourself to the "brief utterances" that are allowed by the rules.

One final thing you might try is to stay in the spirit of the rules, and try to intimidate, deceive, or otherwise hoodwink the enemies using shorter phrases. A simple "Cower, enemies, the cavalry is coming!" fits well within a 6-second round, and is possibly grounds for an Intimidate check to get your enemies to run away. You might not be able to have all the roleplay you want in a single round, but if you limit yourself to smaller outbursts, you can accomplish a lot of the goals you list without changing the rules.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ "If you're a player, then you should talk to your DM." - Why just the DM? Why not talk to the whole table? The way you've got this section just now it appears that the rest of the table won't get any say until it is implemented and they find they don't like it. I'd reword this to include the DM and other players from the get go, they may be onboard and love it which could sway the decision for the DM, they may hate it and be vehemently opposed which could also sway it. If you really think it should just be 1 to 1 I'd be interested in why? Otherwise good advise and a good answer. \$\endgroup\$ – RyanfaeScotland Jun 3 at 13:04
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On page 72 of the Basic Rules v1.0, it says:

The Order of Combat A typical combat encounter is a clash between two sides, a flurry of weapon swings, feints, parries, footwork, and spellcasting. The game organizes the chaos of combat into a cycle of rounds and turns. A round represents about 6 seconds in the game world. During a round, each participant in a battle takes a turn. The order of turns is determined at the beginning of a combat encounter, when everyone rolls initiative. Once everyone has taken a turn, the fight continues to the next round if neither side has defeated the other.

So yes, there definitely is a rule establishing that each round is about 6 seconds.

In addition, on the next page it states:

Other Activity on Your Turn

... You can communicate however you are able, through brief utterances and gestures, as you take your turn...

As such, there is also a rule that (effectively) restricts players or PCs from speaking for more than 6 seconds, and I enforce some urgency to communications for the group I DM.

Basically, long conversations and discussions aren't permitted. If the players try to discuss what to do, but take a long time to do so, I'll point out that A) they are in the middle of combat, and so their time to speak and communicate is very limited, and B) the enemy can hear whatever they are saying to each other.

I don't use a strict real life time limit of 6 seconds, but rather focus on whether or not the character's actions are reasonable for a combat situation.

You state:

... some other players argue that this makes it unreasonable/unrealistic for a character to speak longer than that.

To me this doesn't make sense, because in my opinion, that just removes a lot of potential for fun and roleplaying during combat for no good reason.

I disagree. I feel that having players remain in character helps with the immersion of a combat setting. That said, there's no reason for the DM to not allow role-play during combat, if it makes sense.

For example, a PC could try to defuse a combat situation, and all characters (PCs and enemies alike) could "pause" while the parley is occurring.

Ultimately, I've found that not allowing long discussions during combat helps keep things moving. Now, the player themselves can be given some time to think of what to do, or ask rule clarifications, etc, but I find it fun (and my players are pretty happy in general with my DMing) to not have talking be an unlimited "free action".

Games in general are in large part resource management, and I believe treating the time you have available to speak/plan/parley/etc in a combat situation is just another example of that.

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Yes, 6 seconds per round also applies to speaking

From the Basic Rules under The Order of Combat we have:

A round represents about 6 seconds in the game world. During a round, each participant in a battle takes a turn.

Next, under Your Turn we have:

On your turn, you can move a distance up to your speed and take one action.

Then under Other Activity on Your Turn we have the first mention of communication:

You can communicate however you are able, through brief utterances and gestures, as you take your turn.

From the Actions in Combat section we have the rules on what you can do with your action. There is no specific action for communicating but we do have:

When you describe an action not detailed elsewhere in the rules, the DM tells you whether that action is possible and what kind of roll you need to make, if any, to determine success or failure.

From this we know that your turn must fit within 6 seconds. That you only have one action and your movement. If you wish to communicate it must be as "brief utterances" or otherwise use your action. Even when using your action it must fit within your turn of 6 seconds.

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There are 6 seconds... but this is fine.

There's no particular exception for dialog to the rule that rounds are six seconds. But:

  1. Actually, six seconds is time to say a couple of sentences. You don't have time for a whole soliloquy, but there's comfortably room to talk a little bit — and easily time for a quick quip.

  2. Lots of non-speaking actions that nominally fit in the six seconds are … kind of pushing reality. Like, there's time to cross a normal-sized room, climb up a ladder, open the trap-door at the top, read a spell from a scroll, and then also load a crossbow.

Given the second, it's really better to read "six seconds" as "a loose increment of time something like six seconds". Just like no one questions whether you can fit movement, object interaction, action, and bonus action into a "six second" round, I've never seen anyone question whether a character can say three sentences on their turn rather than just getting out a grunt and a word or two.

In other words, there's plenty of reasonable room for "brief utterance" to include the roleplay and back-and-forth you want.

As a practical matter, if you're trying to do something like actually persuade an enemy to switch sides, where what you're doing requires a skill check and possibly an opposed roll or save, most DMs I've played with would rule that that this requires using your action on that turn. This generally fits with the "Improvising an Action side bar in the PHB, which specifically mentions intimidating an enemy and calling for a parley with a foe. That section doesn't directly say "and these actions take six seconds", but there's a strong implication that a skill check and some dialog to go with it can fit into your action in a combat round.

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If you start monologueing instead of attacking, maybe the opponent will also stop attacking and listen, like on Buffy the Vampire Slayer or other shows/movies.

But the clock is still ticking on spells of 1 minute duration, and Barbarian 1 minute Rage, so yes RAW you need to model this as not attacking for some rounds, not stretching out one round to have a chat.

Especially because the opponent might not stop attacking, and reinforcements running toward the fight keep moving.


I can't comment on whether it would actually be fun or a good idea to simulate a pause in combat for banter using DnD round mechanics, but RAW is very clear about a round being a fixed amount of time.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Have you tried these ideas out at a table? adding that to your answer is what differentiates idea generation (which we don't do and shouldn't upvote) and a great answer thats backed up. \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Jun 1 at 22:10
  • \$\begingroup\$ @NautArch: No I haven't, this is purely made up. I removed the 2nd section of untested suggestions, limiting this answer to pointing out some RAW consequences. \$\endgroup\$ – Peter Cordes Jun 1 at 22:32
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A round, 6 seconds

Well you as all the other said, there are only 6 second per round, and it applies also when you speak.

But...

There is multiple round in a fight. A character can start soliloquizing in a round, and continue its speech the next round.

An example: https://youtu.be/m_mPE9gcQJo?t=75

In this scene, Gandalf speaks to Theoden for multiple round, while his fellow PC are using their rounds to fight with NPC.

But beware, while doing this, it can be difficult for a spellcaster to cast a spell (due to verbal components), and if taken a hit, it might be difficult to continue speaking (might vary with CON of the characters).

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Are you suggesting that a casting a single-action-to-cast spell with a verbal component could be prevented by damaging the caster? \$\endgroup\$ – Pilchard123 Jun 3 at 9:02
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Pilchard123: I think what he's actually saying is that you might not be able to cast spells with verbal components if you choose to take multiple rounds to speak, since you'd be interrupting the speech with the verbal components - and that someone hitting you might interrupt your speech. \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Jun 3 at 20:28

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