Turn Length Poll Results

Again digging through a directory of older poll results I neglected posting on the blog (apparently there's a couple from over a year ago I never documented -- awkward!). This one here is from when I pointed out that the word "round" never appeared until OD&D Vol-3, and that therefore when Chainmail and OD&D Vol-1 spell durations are given in "turns", it might be better to interpret them in terms of what we now think of as "rounds". This poll was somewhat inconclusive, with a fairly uniform distribution across the options given -- narrowly led by the "1 minute" option, which is to say, "Vol-1 turn" = "AD&D or B/X round". Since then, I've indeed run my OD&D games assuming that spell "turns" are really "melee turns", i.e., "rounds". This makes for potent spells with shorter durations that pass within the span of a single combat session, as opposed to lasting throughout several exploration activities. I kind of like this, since it (a) heightens the drama of conserving and then using spells mostly in dangerous situations, (b) reduces routine "buffing" long before combat, and (c) has a certain elegance that we don't need to track many ongoing effects after combat. But it does surprise some players, and I've gotten some warnings that it might make for some unbalanced (too low-powered) spells; and it does wind up coincidentally stumbling into widely-criticized 3.5-isms (but counteracting some others). It's tentatively worked for me so far, but I'm not going to be dogmatic about it.


  1. Interesting post. In chainmail there were multiple rounds of combat per turn. So while a wizard could throw a fireball once per minute a fighter could land many telling blows during this time--the only limit i guess, was the fatigue imposed on meleers.

    The analogy would be a fighter gets 1 attack each segment while a wizard casts one spell per round--which is kind of what the offical lankhamar rules do in d&d which but shifted up one scale of time.

  2. "In chainmail there were multiple rounds of combat per turn."

    No, I don't see any source for that.

  3. Simply look at the rules for fatigue in combat, 3 rounds of combat makes you fatigued, not 3 turns of combat.

    I too thought as you did, until a poster at 0dd74.proboards.com in the CHAINMAIL section convinced me otherwise. The thread is titled, "melee rounds" and I think you would enjoy reading it.

    combat rounds are referenced in the man to man section as well as the description of calvary as they attack as one category lower on the first round of battle if they don't start the turn with a move.

    CHAINMAIL has a system of rounds and turns and there are multiple rounds of combat per 1 minute turn.

  4. Okay, that's a very good observation. I'm convinced: by the letter of the rules Chainmail can have multiple rounds of combat per turn. Thanks for that.

    Although the reason this happens is because basic combat continues indefinitely within a turn cycle until one unit breaks morale; and since that almost always happens (only 0-19 on 100 scale has "melee continues"), it seems like turns will have usually just one round of combat (i.e., rarely multiple blows from fighter-types).


  5. Actually a roll of 1-59 maintains order it's just that 20-59 means they get pushed back it takes a 60+ to make the enemy retreat, rout, or surrender, even the example gygax gives for morale on the page you cite implies another round of combat between the 10 heavy horse and 20 heavy foot.

  6. Indeed, the last sentence of the examole has the heavy foot moving back 1 move in good order, the heavy horse continue the charge and, "melee continues that turn".

    This is where fatigue comes in. Both sides have moved and melee this round already and will soon have a fatigue penalty.

  7. But the heavy horse example involves of the special charge rule: "Victorious charging units must continue to move out the balance of their charge move, in the direction first indicated, providing they attained victory before melee or during the first round of melee." [p. 15]

    In any other case even the morale 20-100 results such as "back 1/2 move" would end combat for the turn.

  8. If you look on pg 16. Micelleneous information: troops can move up to 6" once a round of cbat has begun provided they start within 3" of the melee and may enter melee the next round.

    The charge rule I think "forces" those that charge to continue the fight (for example if the rout is a trap in order to swing hidden troops aroud to flank), but those using normal moves can opt to move the remainder of their mvt. Rate provided it isn't more than 6"

    So even a rout doesn't necessarily end the turn if if the other side charged (I think charging was pretty common anyway given the impetus bonus many troops get)

  9. But the p. 16 rule is only for an active melee that you want to pull a 2nd unit into. Once a unit backs away for any reason (20-100+), the melee still terminates and the rule doesn't apply.

  10. Check out my post in the thread. I lay out the argument that yes non-charging units may move to continue to attack an enemy that has fallen back in good order in round 2.


  11. After all, on pg. 16 it says that, "after the 1st round troops not in combat from the flanks and the rear may move to attack the enemy" in round 2.

  12. Still only makes sense in a case where the units remain in contact (0-19 morale result). It doesn't say the the whole unit moves, only "excess troops... from flanks" (p. 16), i.e., what's called "wrapping" in later games. And that's undefined without existing contact.