Chainmail, OD&D, and the One-Minute Combat Round
Four Without Country

The One-Minute Combat Round Revisited

In “Chainmail, OD&D, and the One-Minute Combat Round,” I focused so closely on Chainmail that I neglected a thorough review of OD&D. In a comment on Grognardia, Zach Howard of Zenopus Archives points out the flagrant oversight.

In D&D (1974), after equating one turn to ten minutes, Gygax and Arneson state, “There are ten rounds of combat per turn” (The Underworld and Wilderness Adventures, 8). As Zach Howard writes, “This is the main reason that the combat round is typically interpreted as 1 minute long in OD&D.”

Indeed, in OD&D the length of a melee round is as clear as it is ambiguous in Chainmail’s Man-to-Man Combat section.

Furthermore, if Chainmail’s combat round is not otherwise “modified in various places” in OD&D, might we then apply the statement retroactively to Chainmail’s man-to-man melee round? In OD&D, a character gets one attack per one-minute round, so the same, a 1:1 figure in Chainmail. The question remains open.

Aside, if we need further proof that units in mass combat melee get only one throw of the dice per turn: it isn’t logical that opposing regiments could finish a melee in a single minute, while a couple of stragglers are still duking it out on the edge of the field.

Considering the clear definition of a round in OD&D, I retract the final conclusion made in “Chainmail, OD&D, and the One-Minute Combat Round,” that is, that the OD&D combat round must be less than one minute in length.

To the contrary, again if we can apply the statement in OD&D retroactively to Chainmail, Gygax and Perren do in fact intend the one-minute round for Man-to-Man Combat, and to be clear, in that one-minute round, each combatant gets one attack—a single throw of the dice.

I retain the other conclusions and observations made in the article. The conclusions, in particular, are that the length of a mass combat melee round in Chainmail is perfectly ambiguous, and that the man-to-man round is not specified.

In the case that the clear rule in OD&D is not a clarification but a modification to Chainmail, then the time scale in Man-to-Man Combat could differ from the mass combat time scale. I point again to the more articulated actions accounted for in Man-to-Man Combat—should one seek justification to change the rule and implement a shorter combat round in their OD&D game.


Thanks to James Maliszewski for bringing attention to the article and to Zach Howard for the comment.

An earlier version of this article did not allow for the possibility that the ten-rounds-per-turn rule is a modification of Chainmail to be applied in OD&D. The final paragraph has been edited accordingly. [05:03 25 July 2021 GMT]

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