Timer (a literal ticking time bomb)


I am a big fan of dungeon craft/professor dungeon master.

One of his concepts in one of his videos, he uses a scategories timer to count down each round of battle. He starts the timer, and the players and baddies use this time to declare what they Want to do this round. When the timer runs out everyone rolls at the same time and this serves as initiative as well as their attack rolls.

I have not tried this.

But I really like the timer counting down. Luke a bomb ticking, and it helps to create a tension.

I also like and use icrpg’s timer die.

So I had this thought today, and think I may try this…

Instead of a timer die, what if there is a real world timer counting down to the next threat.

So instead of a d4 timer, there is a real world timer. 5 real minutes? 3 real minutes? I think this could create a very real tension. It will also force the pcs to act quickly. They could move slow and take time to deliberate… But in X minutes of real time something bad is coming.

Any thoughts?


I think this could be quite fun in some instances, but perhaps a bit too stressful all the time?


I think I agree. I will experiment with the concept in the upcoming weeks.


Try it on a puzzle for example. Think that would be cool.


I often use these:

Either as End of Session Timer, or as Next Bad Thing/Escalation Timer. They work great either way. The Best Use of them was to force the players to Act Fast on their Turns, passing it around the table with 30 secs per turn during a high stakes Finale.

I rarely use them the whole game, but for clutch scenes they work great.


Whatever feels right, actual time or turns/rounds. As long as you use time to press the players.


I ve used all sorts of timers to have players not take forever at their turn, including leaving and having a cigarette. If not done by then, Your character is in awe of the situation and just stands there…

But as far as real timers, sand timers would be the least disruptive. https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07FYB7MSP/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_i_k4mTDbQM9TPSB

As an example. That way it can go ignored if something more important happens.

The only thing is, it will takes players out of their connection with their characters. But it could make the game more exciting.

Depends on what you are going for I guess. But an alarm with sound will just be way too distracting. In my opinion, unless it’s a one shot type game.


How… quick do you smoke a cigarette? :open_mouth:


3~5 minutes if in a hurry…7~10 if not. LoL!!!


Wow, that is a very confused player if he takes 3-5 minutes to take a turn! Poor guy!! XD


You @BlazingPolyhedron are a much kinder human being than I. But beyond my game I’ve seen this all over the place including a 12 minute choice at the last convention I attended. If I knew it was going to be 12 minutes, I would have had a cigarette.

It’s so common now, when I see that expression happen I look at my phone to watch how long it takes.

I’ll admit I’m wrong more often than right…but when I’m right…I’m right in spades.