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One of my players (elven fighter) read this: in the AD&D 2e PHB and decided to search every room at least 10 times:

Secret doors (those constructed so as to be hard to notice) and concealed doors (those hidden from sight by screens, curtains, or the like) are difficult to hide from elves. Merely passing within 10 feet of a concealed door gives an elven character a one-in-six chance (roll a 1 on 1d6) to notice it. If actively searching for such doors, elven characters have a one-in-three chance (roll a 1 or 2 on 1d6) to find a secret door and a one-in-two chance (roll a 1, 2, or 3 on 1d6) to discover a concealed portal.

Can you do this in AD&D or is this search a one-time opportunity for each room/hallway?

To avoid confusion, I really am asking about the searching, not elves' special “walk-by” ability to notice concealed doors. I'm also aware that finding is only the beginning and doesn't necessarily reveal how to open what the PC finds.

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I think the official answer is it's a one-time deal. But lots of people allow re-rolls.

A guy in this discussion says you can't. A guy on this blog says you can (though "old school D&D" may not refer to AD&D).

As the blog says, multiple searches and/or multiple party members searching is the best way to ensure you find all the secrets. As both sources mention, one way to help combat too much searching is rolling for random monster encounters. Searching takes 10 minutes per square (not sure if that's house rules or DMG, but is the number from the discussion thread). So searching every inch of every room a dozen times is going to take a lot of time. Monsters can appear, your characters get hungry, run out of lamp oil, etc.

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    \$\begingroup\$ From the Players Handbook (chapter 5): 'A turn is equal to 10 minutes of game time. Turns are normally used to measure specific tasks (such as searching) ...'. However, searching a body takes one round (1 minute). So, I don't think the 10 minutes is per 5 foot square. \$\endgroup\$ Aug 28 '15 at 8:24
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    \$\begingroup\$ Thanks for the clarification. I remembered combat "turns" being 1 minute, couldn't remember the round/turn distinction. I think searching a body would be much faster than examining a room for hidden doors, although I've never really tried either. Also, both of my links say it's searching a 10'x10' square, which is 4 times the area. \$\endgroup\$
    – MichaelS
    Aug 28 '15 at 8:34
  • \$\begingroup\$ This point doesn't get enough attention, from that blog. Not sure if this is relevant to your answer. "I also wonder if this is a case where it's wise to designate a "caller" even though in most parties there isn't usually one regardless of the recommendation of the rule book. Leadership and decision making pay off big time in the game. Individualism tends to lead to lackluster performance." \$\endgroup\$ Aug 28 '15 at 14:00
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Yes, you can search multiple times. It is limited by time/danger though: each search of a 10'×10' section takes ten minutes (1 turn).

Searching a 10'×10' room 10 times would take an hour and forty minutes, which will eat up torches, lantern oil, and trigger a few wandering monster checks. It would also waste a lot of time if the adventure is time-critical; even if not, wasting time gets them closer to needing to stop and eat rations again. Players are free to make that trade-off, but in my experience they rarely do when they're reminded how long one search takes.

Of course, if you're ignoring time and wandering monster rules, the limitation disappears and you might as well just stop using secret doors in your adventures. In that case you're into house-ruling territory already (even if accidentally), so you'd be justified in modifying the search rules to give them a different kind of limit, such as your suggested 1-chance-only rules, to keep secret doors relevant.

I wouldn't recommend ignoring those rules though—the time and wandering monster rules are well-tested and add much more to the game than just limits on searches. Without them you erode or outright lose critical pieces of the game that motivates players to care about their resources (time, hit points, light, food, safety) and strive for improvement in all their resources instead of just the ones for combat effectiveness.

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The AD&D 2nd Edition Dungeon Master's Guide states on page 130 in the section on "Concealed and Secret Doors"

A character can search a given wall area only once, although several characters can search the same area.

So no, your player shouldn't have his character search 10 times.

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