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Timekeeping for DMs

It is pitch dark. You are likely to be eaten by a grue.

Turn mode

Every sixth turn, tell them “scratch light”.

What they can do in a turn:

Most of the time you don’t have to measure movement. In known space or outdoors you can move quickly (or you’re in hour mode), and in unknown dungeon space, interactions are going to most likely be within 60′ of each other. They’re not gonna say “we stumble unseeingly through the dungeon and don’t do anything or interact with anything for three rooms but in that fourth room we’re gonna examine the furniture if there is any.” More likely, they are going to be cautious, ask you questions… in other words: interact with things!

In the rare case that you do find them doing a lot of movement in the unknown&dangerous dungeon space, but nothing you think qualifies as interactions, you can divide the map into 60′×60′ zones. Speed 20′ is one zone, speed 30 is one-and-a-half, and speed 40 is two.

That’s also a good zone size if a chase breaks out. In that timescale, with speed 20′ it takes three “moves” (a dash gives you an extra move) to get to the next zone, with speed 30′ it takes two. Speed 40′ you can think of as two 20′ “moves”.

Writing that makes me reconsider how I describe rooms sizes. I’ve been doing the “five-foot wide corridor, thirty by twenty room” etc. Maybe I shouldn’t. That can also cut down on my counting. I will still say if a room is bigger, or corridor is longer than the edge of their light source, or in dim light. Even walking to the edge of dim light (on a 20′/20′ source like the Light spell) and asking me again what they see is something that comfortably fits without me having to charge a turn.

Six turns make an hour.

Hour mode

Every hour, tell them “scratch light”.

What they can do in an hour:

Hex point of view

(Double the times for difficult terrain.)

speed 6-mile 10-mile 24-mile
20′ 3h 5h 12h
30′ 2h 3h20m (10h→3) 8h
40′ 1h30m (3h→2) 2h30m (5h→2) 6h
50′ 1h12m (6h→5) 2h 4h48m (24h→5)

Many hex crawl or point crawl modules come with their own time-to-hex or time-to-point abstractions. Those systems are often worth using for those particular areas.

8h mode

What they can do in 8h:

7×3×8h makes one week.

Week mode

What they can do in one week:

Four weeks make a month.

Month mode

What they can do in one month: