[RPG] 1d4-round cooldowns—how do they work


Or: what is the minimum amount of time between dragonbreaths?

I've always been of the impression that, in D&D 3.5, a roll of "1" on a 1d4-round cooldown meant that the creature in question could use the ability in the next round. However, I've sometimes run into people who think it works differently, that a roll of "1" means that they can't use it in their next turn ("they must wait a whole round to use it again, after the turn they used it").

The relevant text of the true dragons' breath weapon is as follows:

Breath Weapon (Su): Using a breath weapon is a standard action. Once a dragon breathes, it can’t breathe again until 1d4 rounds later. If a dragon has more than one type of breath weapon, it still can breathe only once every 1d4 rounds.

There's similar text in other monsters, such as the ghost's telekinesis ability:

When a ghost uses this power, it must wait 1d4 rounds before using it again.

I am of the opinion that the definition of a round would imply that a "1" means the cooldown ends just before the creature's next turn, but some people I'm talking to don't think so.

A round can be a segment of game time starting with the first character to act and ending with the last, but it usually means a span of time from one round to the same initiative count in the next round. Effects that last a certain number of rounds end just before the same initiative count that they began on.

Is there any statement in the game's rules, including Dragon Magazine and the Rules Compendium, that specifies that these cooldowns work in a particular way? If there isn't, what about from supplemental, but not quite game rule resources, like Rules of the Game and Sage Advice articles, or the much-maligned WotC FAQ?

In the absence of that, is there a statement of the developers' RAI anywhere (i.e. a cited forum post, public chat log, or similar; not another rule that has been read as implying something about this one)?

And finally, if there is outright nothing stated about this issue, can anyone cite an English language grammar rule that would solve it?

Best Answer

Per Draconomicon page 22, if a dragon uses its breath weapon on round 1 and then rolls a 1 on the d4 check, the dragon is next capable of breathing on round 2. This is specifically given as an example in the sidebar, spelled out unambiguously. Cheers!

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