[RPG] Does the “6 seconds per round” rule apply to speaking/roleplaying during combat situations


I've been thinking that it would be great to have more roleplay during combat situations – talk to NPCs and fellow players, exchange banter, find out more about enemies by talking to them, generally use RP moments to make combat more fun.

Maybe even try to change the turn of battle sometimes – by tricking NPCs, or convincing them to give up or switch sides, stuff like that. But that is secondary to just making things more entertaining and fun with some improv.

But apparently there's a rule saying that every turn in combat lasts 6 seconds, and some other players argue that this makes it unreasonable/unrealistic for a character to speak longer than that.

To me this doesn't make sense, because in my opinion, that just removes a lot of potential for fun and roleplaying during combat for no good reason.

Is this actually true? According to the official D&D rules, do you have to limit your speaking to 6 seconds during the combat?

Best Answer

There are 6 seconds in a round, but...

On page 189 and 190 of the 5e Player's Handbook it states:

A round represents about 6 seconds in the game world ... you can communicate however you are able, through brief utterances and gestures, as you take your turn

The rules are pretty clear; a combat round lasts 6 seconds, and you can't speak very long during your turn. The players telling you that you can't perform long speeches or other roleplay during your turn are broadly correct, according to the rules.

However, the DM has broad discretion to alter the rules in order to make the game more fun for the players. This is often referred to as Rule 0: The responsibility to make a fun game, and the ability to selectively ignore or edit rules to facilitate that.

It sounds like you're looking for a game where the players can have actual conversations mid-combat in a more cinematic style. It's a common trope in other media for the hero and villain to lock swords and speak to eachother for a moment while the battle rages on around them, and it can be satisfying to emulate that sort of thing in roleplaying.

If you're the DM, you can talk to your players and make sure they want the same kind of game that you do. If the group all agrees that a cinematic style where players can have short conversations in a single round rather than just a few words, you can implement that immediately. If the players prefer a game where combat and lengthy rleplay don't mix, then it's unlikely that they will take advantage of such a rule change, even if you introduce it.

If you're a player, then you should talk to your DM. Let them know that you want more opportunities to be able to roleplay in combat. Tell them exactly what you say in your question here, and let them know your concerns and thoughts. If they agree, then they can make a rule change that lets you roleplay like this in combat. However, if the other players really don't like having that much roleplay in combat, then you might have to limit yourself to the "brief utterances" that are allowed by the rules.

One final thing you might try is to stay in the spirit of the rules, and try to intimidate, deceive, or otherwise hoodwink the enemies using shorter phrases. A simple "Cower, enemies, the cavalry is coming!" fits well within a 6-second round, and is possibly grounds for an Intimidate check to get your enemies to run away. You might not be able to have all the roleplay you want in a single round, but if you limit yourself to smaller outbursts, you can accomplish a lot of the goals you list without changing the rules.