Friday, September 07, 2012

D&DNext Exploration Quick Reference

A thread over at EN World a few weeks ago got me thinking about the importance of keeping time during an adventure- particularly during old school, dungeon crawl-style adventuring. All those little bits and pieces of information- how long a torch lasts, how long until a buff wears off between combats- start to actually matter once you start keeping track of how long it is taking your party to move through a dungeon, search rooms, and engage in combat. These type of rules were very important to early editions of Dungeons and Dragons, and they provide some of the raison d'ĂȘtre for exploration-focused classes like the Rogue and (in wilderness environments) the Ranger. If it doesn't matter how long torches burn for, how long buffs last, and whether or not that Thief can see effectively when he or she goes scouting, some of the flavor of an old-fashioned dungeon crawl is lost- and you might as well junk a lot of the mundane equipment in the gear lists.

With that in mind, I used the Labyrinth Lord rules together with some old 1/2e D&D references to come up with some quick and easy rules for keeping track of time, light, and movement inside a dungeon environment. The rules are intended to be used with D&D Next (I'll be using them with my PbP playtest), but are suitably generic that they can be dropped into most D&D compatible settings (though I do reference advantage and disadvantage in the lighting rules, to stay consistent with the playtest rules for blindness- you can easily enough sub your own penalties as appropriate). Credit to GX.Sigma at EN World for the original inspiration for these rules.

ItemBright RadiusDim Radius1Duration
Torch20 foot sphere40 foot sphere1 hour
Lantern, Bullseye60 foot cone120 foot cone6 hours/pint
Lantern, Hooded230 foot sphere60 foot sphere6 hours/pint

1.This region is considered Lightly Obscured for stealth/perception purposes.
2. As an action, you can reduce the light range of a hooded lantern to 5’ of Lightly Obscured shadow.

Light LevelAttack PenaltyDefense PenaltyPerception Penalty
Lightly Obscured-1 to hit-1 to ACDisadvantage
Total DarknessDisadvantageDisadvantageAuto-fail for sight-related checks; Disadvantage and a -4 penalty for attempts to ‘feel for’ something.

Exploration Movement is cautious movement that occurs typically in unfamiliar settings or in potentially dangerous (but not difficult, in the rules sense) terrain. Exploration movement is slow enough that you have a chance (Perception check) to avoid ambushes or detect tripwires and traps, but is not nearly as thorough as stopping to search the area that you are in. At Exploration Movement speeds, you will typically notice significant landmarks (places where a trail or corridor branches or intersects, trail markings, signposts, etc.) without needing to check against Perception. At faster rates of movement, your chances of noticing ambushes or traps are significantly penalized, and you may need a Perception check to avoid missing a turn-off or other significant terrain features (but you generally won’t run off the edge of cliffs or anything like that). At running/galloping speeds, you have no chance to detect ambushes or traps, and may blunder into unseen hazards (drop-offs, hairpin turns, low tree branches or doorways, raised thresholds) without warning. Difficult terrain reduces the movement speeds below by half; dim lighting provides a 25% reduction in the Exploration Movement rate, and total darkness reduces it to ⅓ of the values given below.

Base Move RateExploration Movement/MinExploration Movement/Turn
20 ft./rnd40 ft.400 ft.
25 ft./rnd50 ft.500 ft.
30 ft./rnd60 ft.600 ft.

ActionTime Taken
Check a 10’ x 10’ room for traps or secret doors11 turn
Search a 20’x20’ room21 turn
Short Rest1 turn
Long Rest8 hours (48 turns)
Listen for noise1 round
Force a door1 round
Search a 5’ square, piece of furniture, etc.31 round
Lock picking attempt41 minute
Attempt to jam or disable a trap51 minute

1. This represents a very slow, methodical search. If traps are present, a Perception check will reveal the presence of the trap, and if that is failed a Dex check will avoid triggering the trap.
2. This is a faster search, generally made after the searcher is confident that traps are not present. If a trap was missed during the earlier search, it will be triggered on a failed Dex check (or according to the specific rules for that type of trap).
3. This search is mostly used during combat timekeeping to reflect rifling through a desk looking for a key, or trying to find the trigger for a trap door or switch-controlled door on a wall or floor. Obviously, there is some subjective territory in between a focused search of a single portion of a room and searching the entire room, but that’s what DMs are for.
4. This reflects a single attempt- successful or not- at opening a lock. Depending on the rule variation in use, multiple attempts at a single lock may be possible.
5. This represents a single attempt to render a trap permanently inert. At the player’s choice, the trap can be either permanently jammed/disabled or effectively destroyed. If the trap is temporarily disabled, it can be re-enabled with another successful Disable Trap attempt. Failed attempts at disabling or enabling a trap may trigger the trap, and multiple attempts may or not be allowed at the DM’s discretion. Destroying a trap outright (burning it, hitting it with an axe) may also be an option, though they may be more likely to trigger the trap in the process.

A PDF version of these rules is available here: D&D Exploration Quick Reference

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