The Red Box Blog

Ramblings about D&D.

Rules Quirks – Movement

I don’t know if there really is a good way to do movement rules but, I feel that every version of D&D has left a lot to be desired. Since Wizards took over the speed of an unencumbered human has seemed somewhat reasonable, but the amount a person can carry before being slowed down is unreal. The TSR versions of the game suffered the opposite problem; characters moved along at barely a crawl.

The origins of these two quirks are video games and war games. Over the years D&D has become more and more entwined with computer games (each copying the other), where movement is fast and carrying capacity can be anything. But historically D&D grew out of war games which carried a very different attitude.

War games are a slow methodical experience; even those times that everyone playing is full of excitement, the games transpires very slowly. It is expected in a war game that everything will move slowly. In a war game it is not nearly as important that a rule be realistic as it is that it be fair. This is especially true for rules regarding time; during a war game nobody worries about time except in turns.

So, in early versions of D&D it wasn’t considered at all odd to say that a character could travel 120′ in a turn, even though a turn was 10 minutes. The explanation for this absurdly slow rate of movement was that characters were busy doing other things while they traveled (like mapping).

In a war game this rule makes perfect sense because in a war game if you have time allotted for an action either you take the action or you lose the time. But in reality, or an rpg, this rule is total nonsense.

First of all, it makes no allowance for times that characters aren’t taking the actions that are meant to be slowing them down. Second, even if they are taking them the amount of time alloted for these actions is grossly exaggerated. Third if character were spending so much time on these secondary action then a character’s speed (as determined by encumbrance rules) shouldn’t actually affect how far they travel in a turn.

The Remedy

The simple fix is to make one turn equal one minute for movement purposes.


September 8, 2010 - Posted by | Dungeons and Dragons, RPGs, Rules Quirks | , ,

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