Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Time and Tide

Recently I've had cause to reexamine the way that combat rounds work one 2e. I've played with the Combat and Tactics 15-second combat round since time immemorial. However, C&T advises that spell durations be substantially reduced to fit with the new round time.

Thus, a spell that lasted for one minute now, in combat, lasts for 15 seconds-- fully 1/4th of it's original duration. This makes certain magics much less impressive, useful, or sensible. Why, for example, do they last so much longer when no one is fighting? I considered toying with an explanation based on ability to concentrate and the relative speed of casting, but that just puts a band-aid on the problem.

I'm not going back to 60 second combat rounds (way too long!) so I'm thinking of extending spell times back to their original length, that is one round of normal duration (one minute) would be 4 combat rounds (60 seconds). I'm not sure if this will make magic UNSTOPPABLY good (heat metal, for example) but I can't think of a more elegant solution. If anyone has solved this problem I'd be keen to hear about it.


  1. One of the very few house rules I used with 1e AD&D was to use the six-second segment, rather than the one-minute round, as the basic unit of combat. I left spell durations and, more importantly, casting times alone, however.

    One of the effects was to increase the sword and sorcery feel of magic use. Frex, instead of casting a fireball or a lightning bolt each round, now the three segment casting time was significant - it took TIME to get off that powerful combat spell. It placed a premium on fighters protecting magic-users - that lightning bolt could be disrupted by an arrow hit in any of those three segments - and made magic more challenging to use effectively.

    1. Interesting, and certainly worthy of thought. I might adapt that to the 15-second round, with a suitable meditation on how long precisely it takes to cast a spell; 30 seconds? 45? I'll have to look over the 1e books again and get a better feel for the six-second segment, as I don't think that was ever presented in 2e material.