In D&D (Moldvay 1981 Basic rules) turns are 10 minutes each, used for normal adventuring time. When an encounter occurs, time shifts to rounds (10 seconds each). This means 60 rounds equates to one normal turn.

On page B23 of the rulebook, Moldvay states, "An encounter rarely takes as long as 60 rounds. When figuring out the amount of time spent in a dungeon, consider any encounter (including combat) of 60 rounds or less to have lasted on full turn."

My question is, does anyone bother keeping track of rounds during an encounter, because of the above statement? If every encounter takes a minimum of 1 turn, and rarely - if ever - goes over that time, why bother keeping track of rounds at all?

Thanks for the feedback.


4 Answers 4


Usually one doesn't count the total rounds of a combat just to do it. You might be counting them because of spell durations or other specific reasons. In general you're concerned about overall passage of time because of torch and other large scale durations, which is why this rule exists, so players don't say "well that only took three rounds so we move on and our spells and stuff keep going till the next encounter right! And that's only .03 of my torch duration, right?"


Some groups and GM's do track time that closely. It's actually not that hard to track - just a tally mark per round.

It's also useful to track rounds for other reasons: spell durations, mostly, but some other effects have limits as well.

So, even if the average fight lasts a mere 10-20 rounds, tracking the number of rounds takes a tiny amount of space, and isn't usually wasted effort.

Most, however, simply consider a fight to take one turn, and don't worry about it.

Either is a viable way to play.


There's basically two reasons to track rounds.

Duration Effects

First, duration effects - magical spells, poison, and other such things can make it worth tracking rounds.


Second, and more commonly, was reinforcements. A fight makes noise, and nearby monsters may notice and decide to come jump in. This means tracking round by round movement and distance matters as well.

A lot of older modules had dungeons that were war-camps - which meant you had sentries, defensive rooms, and quick-response groups that would grab their weapons and run out when they heard trouble.

If you were lucky and finished a combat before more enemies arrived, those few rounds might be the only thing that allowed you to spike a door shut, retreat to a safer location or set up a key trap or hazard to delay the next wave.

Of course, if neither of the two are in effect, you didn't bother tracking rounds.


We didn't track it "back in the day," for a reason that the Twilight: 2000 games caught on to:

Even brief combat is mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually exhausting out of all proportion with the time taken.

The "full turn" rule worked out as a way to account for this.


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