In Basic Roleplaying, time is an important factor, mostly to determine what happens in what order, so that game mechanics are applied when they should be. Remember that in-game time is usually not equivalent to time actually spent playing. Sometimes, the gamemaster may need to summarize the events of many days in a single sentence, such as “It takes you a week to reach Constantinople,” while at other times, particularly during combat, the actions of only a few seconds of time can take several minutes or longer to resolve.
Following are the important distinctions of game time:
4.1 Narrative Time
Narrative time is the amount of time taken when the gamemaster is narrating to the players, or when the players are discussing plans. Unless there is a specific reason for it, most actual roleplaying takes place in narrative time. When roleplaying, narrative time resembles real time, where a conversation takes as long to have as it takes to play. If a game session includes lengthy travel, or periods of activity where exact time is not of the essence, then time is compressed greatly to a few moments of game time. The description of travel time to Constantinople (above) is an example of this. If large amounts of time are being dealt with in this fashion, the gamemaster should allow for the player characters to perform any activities that could fit into this timeframe, within reason.
4.2 The Turn
When it’s important to take note of the exact passage of time, but not in actual combat, time is measured in turns. Each turn equals five minutes (25 combat rounds). Turns are used for general movement when there is no conflict or other event that must be handled on a minute-by-minute basis. It is also a general measure for how long certain activities take, particularly actions that are not during combat, such as picking a lock or finding a book in a library. In these cases, the gamemaster may rule that a certain task takes a specific number of turns to complete.
4.3 The Combat Round
A combat round is used during combat sequences, when it’s important to note exactly what happens and in which order. A combat round consists of 12 seconds of fast-paced activity. If the combat takes more than one combat round, another combat round begins immediately after. Combat rounds are repeated until the combat is over. A character usually gets one attack or other action and can potentially make multiple defensive actions in a combat round. During a combat round, if a character does nothing else, they can walk about 10 meters or run about 30 meters and still be able to watch what is going on nearby, parry incoming blows, and react to emergencies.
4.4 Skill Time
Following are examples of the game time required to perform a single use of a skill. Some skills can take a variable amount of time and are listed in each appropriate time category.
- A few seconds to an entire combat round: Most attacks and parries, Artillery, Brawl, Dodge, Drive, First Aid, Heavy Machine, Hide, Jump, Listen, Pilot, Ride, Sense, Shield, Sleight of Hand, Spot, Stealth, Swim, Throw, some characteristic rolls.
- 1–5 minutes: Appraise, Art, Artillery, Bargain, Climb, Command, Demolition, Drive, Etiquette, Fast Talk, Fine Manipulation, First Aid, Fly, Gaming, Insight, Heavy Machine, Hide, Knowledge, Language, Listen, Literacy, Medicine, Navigate, Perform, Persuade, Pilot, Repair, Ride, Sense, Stealth, Strategy, Swim, Technical Skill, Track, some characteristic rolls.
- 5–30 minutes: Appraise, Art, Bargain, Climb, Command, Craft, Demolition, Disguise, Etiquette, Knowledge, Language, Medicine, Navigate, Perform, Ride, Science, Sense, Status, Strategy, Swim, Technical Skill, Track, some characteristic rolls.
- 30–60 minutes: Appraise, Art, Climb, Command, Craft, Demolition, Drive, Etiquette, Fine Manipulation, Fly, Heavy Machine, Knowledge, Language, Medicine, Navigate, Perform, Persuade, Pilot, Psychotherapy, Repair, Research, Ride, Science, Status, Strategy, Swim, Technical Skill, Track.
- Six hours to many days: Art, Craft, Psychotherapy, Repair, Research, Strategy, Teach, Technical Skill. The gamemaster may require multiple successful skill rolls for extended research, study, or a complex task.