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Thursday, January 3, 2019

Don't Hold Your Breath

How long can a character hold their breath, especially underwater?
There’s actually nothing that flat out states this in the OD&D rules, but there are some hints.
A character swallowed by a purple worm will die in 6 turns. (Vol. II, Monsters & Treasure, p. 15) 
The Bowl of Watery Death will drown a character in 2-5 turns. (Supplement I, Greyhawk, p. 52)
The average person in the real world can hold their breath for 2 or 3 minutes, so if it’s assumed the above is in “combat” turns, it’s a generous but still close to accurate number. As usual, it seems “just roll a d6” is a good default ruling. Throw in the Con bonus for extra variety and start making saves or adversity rolls every minute when the time is up.

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  1. I don’t know how it works in 0e. I use 1 minute combat rounds. It’s 1 round for low CON, 2 for average CON and 3 for high CON. Then you pass out and go to 0 HP and you have the same amount of time to be saved: 1, 2 or 3 rounds depending on CON. If not, then you’re dead!

    1. It's 1 minute rounds in OD&D, too, but there's always a confusion when certain durations are given in turns. Do they mean exploration turns, or combat rounds?

      I did consider just doing 1d6 damage every round after the initial number of rounds rolled, instead of using saves. You pass out at 0 hp, and have to roll a single save at the end of the turn if rescued. Successful rescues restore 1 hp.