The Combat Round
If an encounter escalates into a combat situation, the time scale of the game
automatically goes to rounds (also called melee rounds, or combat rounds).
Rounds are used to measure the actions of characters in combat or other intensive
actions in which time is important.
A round is approximately one minute. Ten combat rounds equal a turn (or, put
another way, a turn equals 10 minutes of game time). This is particularly
important to remember for spells that last for turns, rather than rounds.
But these are just approximations--precise time measurements are impossible to
make in combat. An action that might be ridiculously easy under normal
circumstances could become an undertaking of truly heroic scale when attempted in the
middle of a furious, chaotic battle.
Imagine the simple act of imbibing a healing potion. First a character decides to drink the potion before retiring for the night.
All he has to do is get it out of his backpack, uncork it, and drink the
contents. No problem.
Now imagine the same thing in the middle of a fight. The potion is safely
stowed in the character's backpack. First he takes stock of the situation to see if
anyone else can get the potion out for him. However, not surprisingly,
everyone is rather busy. So, sword in one hand, he shrugs one strap of the pack off
his shoulder. Then, just as two orcs leap toward him, the other strap threatens
to slip down, entangling his sword arm. Already the loose strap keeps him from
fully using his shield.
Holding the shield as best as possible in front of him, he scrambles backward
to avoid the monsters' wild swings. He gets pushed back a few more feet when a
companion shoulders past to block and give him a little time. So he kneels,
lays down his sword, and slips the backpack all the way off. Hearing a wild cry,
he instinctively swings up his shield just in time to ward off a glancing blow.
Rummaging through the pack, he finally finds the potion, pulls it out, and,
huddling behind his shield, works the cork free. Just then there is a flash of
flame all around him--a fireball! He grits his teeth against the heat, shock, and
pain and tries not to crush or spill the potion vial. Biting back the pain of
the flames, he is relieved to see the potion is intact.
He quickly gulps it down, reclaims his sword, kicks his backpack out of the
way, and runs back up to the front line. In game terms, the character withdrew,
was missed by one attacker, made a successful saving throw vs. spell (from the fireball spell), drank a potion, and was ready for combat the next round.
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