[RPG] What are turns and rounds and how long are they each


In AD&D a turn was ten 6-second rounds during combat.

So when I read in D&D 5e that the Thief's Sneak Attack ability says "Once per turn you can deal an extra 1d6 damage", is this saying that abilities like this (e.g. Sneak Attack, Colossus Slayer, etc.) can be done every 6 seconds (i.e., once a round) or once a turn, i.e. once a minute?

My current understanding is that these abilities can be done once a minute.

But then the PHB describes a turn as an action of some sort in the round. This is where I get a little confused.

I have had discussion about this with my group of players, and I am using 1 minute turns. Am I wrong?

Best Answer

D&D 5e turns are completely different from AD&D turns, and only share the name. The AD&D meaning of “turn” as being ten rounds* in combat time (or ten minutes in exploration time) last appeared in AD&D 2nd edition, and has been eliminated from editions newer than 1999.

In D&D 5e, a turn has the same meaning as it does in a card game or similar: a PC gets their turn to do something within the round. It is not a measure of time, but of opportunity to take actions.

So a rogue can Sneak Attack once per turn within a round, which usually means once per 6-second round. However, if a once-per-turn ability can be used as a Reaction, that means they may use it on their turn and on any other combatant's turn, making for more than once per round. (This usually means at most twice per round though, since there are limits on the number of actions available to a character on their turn and off their turn.)

* Incidentally, AD&D rounds are 1 minute each, not 6 seconds each, which makes an AD&D combat turn 10 minutes long.