As a player in a D&D 5e campaign, our party was presented with a battlefield with several different environmental features (in this case, a goblin cave entrance with an alarm system and two watchtowers). We ended up planning and deliberating how to approach this for about 15-20 minutes before deciding to stealth along the cliff and disable the alarm. During the planning, some players were getting in to it and enjoying the discussion, but others tuned out after about 10 minutes or so.

After the session, we all agreed that we probably spent too much time planning our approach. The DM was a bit frustrated with it, and suggested that next time there might be in-game consequences - "the goblins see you" or something to that effect. Is this a reasonable line of action, or should only social pressure be used to speed up planning? Or some other approach?


closed as primarily opinion-based by KRyan, Wibbs, DuckTapeAl, Chuck Dee, Joshua Aslan Smith Dec 19 '14 at 20:44

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Closely related: rpg.stackexchange.com/questions/13954/… \$\endgroup\$ – Erik Schmidt Dec 19 '14 at 18:07
  • \$\begingroup\$ There's no definitive answer to this question, which is why many are voting to close your question. If you take too long to plan, the DM may feel that the situation is losing urgency and/or impact that they were going for. Possibly they are also concerned it's slowing down the pace of the game and are trying to spur the game back into motion. This may be better settled by having an open conversation between your group and your DM to discuss your intended play style vs the intentions of the DM. You may find a better compromise there than trying to ask for a black or white answer here. \$\endgroup\$ – Maximillian Dec 19 '14 at 20:05
  • \$\begingroup\$ Fine by me. Thanks for your advice, everyone. \$\endgroup\$ – smcg Dec 29 '14 at 16:58

"Talking is a Free Action" is a well-known and commonly cited means of justifying actions like these, and there are really two different mindsets you can look at it with.

Talking is a Freeing Action

One viewpoint is that by planning or overplanning, you're actually getting better into character and more able to play your part well. Like running lines in a rehearsal, you prepare and then execute a plan. This extends the concept of "rounds" to a logical extreme: in combat, you're not expected to execute your actions in realtime; why should you be expected to do so in other situations?

Action is more Freeing than Talking

Of course, that can be taken to a ridiculous extreme, wherein you plan out breakfast with all the tenacity of the Allies planning D-Day. Other people prefer to speed up the whole process. The characters don't get fifteen minutes to plan this, they say - why should we? Allowances are made for the non-realtime nature of the game, but the emphasis is on speeding through planning and action, making the time scales feel as realistic as possible.

A little [less/more] talk, a little [more/less] action, please

Which viewpoint sounds better to you? To your fellow players and DM? Play styles are a major bone of contention in a lot of RP groups; don't stress too much about it, because there's not a "right way." Pick the way that feels best to the majority of your group, and try to accommodate the others, but if there's a big difference of opinion here (especially if the DM disagrees with the players) you may have to consider splintering the group.


It can be a reasonable consequence, if that's how the group wants to play.

In some games, you are expected to respond in real time to some events (such as social interaction, pause too long and it looks like you are lying, for example).

In some games, that's not true.

That said, it sounds like the GM is like "Hey, I'd rather planning time eat up only X amount of time" which can be reasonable. I've had players who would spend 20 minutes before opening ANY door, which, makes sense in games built around super-death-traps, but not so much for the kind of games I like to run - in this case, you should decide as a group what helps fun for the group as a whole.

It may also be a good technique to allow players to retcon communications DURING a fight:

"I give you the hand signal to push the barrels over on the goblins which we had planned earlier."

"I nod to you to cast the spell just before I attack him."

"When I pull the tapestry over his head, you know you should push him out the window, as we did back in the Marsaka affair a few years back."


Yes, it is true that "Talking is a Free Action". However, it is not an infinite action.

Just like 24, events take place in real time. If a party is spending 15 minutes talking about their approach, it does not mean time has frozen (short of a Time Stop spell). Minutes are passing while that discussion takes place. Guards are making patrols, people are doing things, the party is making noise talking out loud about their plans. Eventually some one is going to notice.

The GM should have no qualms about making events happen while you all stand around and plan. I GM that way and I find it makes everyone have more fun and get more involved by keeping things moving along.


You may get a few different answers to this question because of differing opinions on the matter. Here's mine.

As a person who is usually a GM, I allow players as much time as they want to plan an action as long as that is what they are doing. If the party is being productive and actually role-playing a plan, they are doing what role playing was intended to do. If however, it gets to where they are not making progress on a plan anymore, or there is too much argument (out of game), I will usually put my foot down.

The only time this might change is if I specifically told the group that whatever they were planning for was time sensitive. Example: The main antagonist has a hostage and is threatening to kill them if the party doesn't meet their demands. I am not going to give a group 15 minutes to make a plan in this case because it doesn't make sense. However, if they are raiding a fortress, I will probably give them all the time they need.


It depends a little on how you go about your discussion and a lot on GM style- this is how I would approach it:

Consider that if one was actually going to perform some kind of attack on a guarded location, you would be unlikely to hang around outside for half an hour discussing routes of entry, the best direction to attack from and so on. If I was running an adventure in this setting, I'd be making sure I asked the players what they were doing during this discussion and probably putting some kind of hazard in their direction in the meantime- at the very least I would probably be asking them to roll some perception and/or stealth checks just to keep them aware that they aren't in a completely safe environment.

However if they had decided to scout ahead ( or send someone to scout ahead ) and map out the terrain/investigate what is in the area, then head back to somewhere safe and make a plan there, it would be pretty hard to argue with that and the discussion could potentially go on for a while without having to worry about discovery, although if it worked out too long in game time, there's a chance things would have changed a little by the time the party got to their target area. Also of course they would only have access to the information the scouts had retrieved about the time that they gathered it, so if they missed something that might also make the execution of the plan a little more surprising.


Basically it is up to the DM. The point of the DM is to make sure that everybody is interested, and that rules are being kept to. So if certain members aren't really joining in, try and speed up the process and get them to have turns more often. Ways to make them go faster? the best way is to make things happen in the world around them. They might get noticed by people, maybe they should roll for stealth, and check they don't get noticed by guards. Just remember that all the players should be involved; thats the point of the party. Go with your gut feeling as a DM, and go with the best way to keep the party story flowing, it comes with experience.


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