When a check needs to be made on behalf of the group, only one roll will be made by whoever has the highest bonus. If they have 1+ allies helping them somehow, they can have advantage.
- Some hardcore old-schoolers claim that they always operate on the assumption that all these things are happening, but then they totally don't actually do them at all. If the reduced speed is based off the assumption that the party is being careful to search for traps and secret doors, then they should never miss a trap or secret door. Never ever. Period. Not if they've slowed down to this rate. The only way they could be slowed down that much is if they were being thorough beyond the possibility of missing something. In which case, there basically are no secret doors, because there's a 0% chance that the party will miss them. In reality, the simple fact is that most DMs will deny to players the benefits of things like finding secret doors or traps or not being ambushed unless they hear the players specifically declare them. They don't get stealth benefits unless they say they want to sneak. Many DMs claim that the party is implicitly doing all this stuff but then punishes the party for not explicitly saying they are.
- This is then reinforced by those rulesets I mentioned that explicitly reduce movement speed for each extra activity, e.g. "Your 120' speed is reduced to 90' if you're looking for traps, and another 60' if you're looking for secret doors..." implying that the original 120' speed was meant to be an "unaffected speed." From the B/X Red Box: "though 60' per turn may seem very slow, it includes many assumed actions — mapping, peeking around corners, resting, and so forth" is a fucking lie.
- Even if you were doing all of those things, that still shouldn't slow you down this much. I mean come on. Standard walking speed is 3 mph, or 3,000 feet per 10 minutes. Rounding that down to a mere 120 feet?? 4% of your normal walking speed? Jesus, that's 2.4 inches per second. Inches. It is physically difficult to walk that slowly even if you tried. Even if you make frequent stops and stand still for a moment, you'd still have a difficult time not overtaking 120 ft after 10 minutes of doing that.
- Many groups just have the DM constantly describe and re-describe surroundings. Don't get me wrong, theatre-of-the-mind is probably my preferred way to play and it is a best practice for the DM to constantly re-iterate things for the players. But spatial reasoning gets cumbersome fast when it's held entirely in the mind, so it's hard to have complicated and interesting layouts if you never introduce any kind of visual.
- If they're using a drawn map, like a wet erase grid or something, then they might have the DM regularly go and draw the next chunk of the map as its revealed. This method is extremely common but it's incredibly tedious.
- If they're using terrain, then they might add new blocks of ground and walls as you go (similar to above) or they'll set it all up ahead of time and then cover up chunks of the dungeon with, like, tissues or something, removing them one by one. This is also a pain in the ass.
- They just provide the PCs with a blank map. This is okay to do sometimes because it definitely makes the dungeon experience different in a novel way, but I firmly believe that it shouldn't become the default. The experience of discovering the dungeon's twists and turns and the risk of getting lost is too valuable to give up.
- They play on a virtual tabletop and just embed the map itself on a background layer. Thus, the DM's master copy of the floorplan and the player copy are one and the same. This is fine for people who play that way I guess but I don't think that any answer which relies on a digital setup should be considered a "solved" problem. I've also run dungeoncrawls this way and I found that it made my players behave in a much more "video game-y" fashion, engaging with the space more by moving their tokens around and never asking for details about the rooms' contents anymore. It was a weird and frustrating psychological shift to watch happen.
- Maybe there's no map provided and the players do just have to use theatre-of-the-mind, but the players are drawing their own map as they go. This is an especially strong option if player mapping is treated as an in-character activity rather than a meta one, i.e. there must be a PC who has declared that they're mapping as their action in order for the player to be drawing anything. So far this is actually the best solution, but... then they make the fatal mistake. A lot of groups who do this instinctively think that the DM should provide precise dimensions for each room and then meticulously draw them out on grid paper. Some RPGs even directly encourage this. However, this sucks and is a shitty, awful method that no group should use. It's understandable for new players to make this mistake but it's infuriating to me when cranky old gamers encourage it because they've stubbornly refused to abandon it after all these years. This is especially frustrating because the correct method has been around since the 70s as well, so they should know better.
- It's fast and easy. The DM has less information to communicate and the PCs can draw it out in a couple seconds. In fact, the DM's description of the room no longer even needs to acknowledge the concern of mapping, because their basic narration is enough info for the mapper to go on. It's seamless.
- It will give the players accurate and useful information to make decisions and keep track of things, making mapping a thing worth doing.
- It still has enough uncertainty and room for error that genuine mistakes can be made, which is part of the challenge. Yes, that's right, the lack of perfect information in this method is a feature, not a bug. I'll explain that in a bit.
- Where do traps in a dungeon come from? Someone had to construct them and place them. And making traps is difficult. It's both time-intensive and resource-intensive. Most people aren't expert engineers who can construct complicated room traps. So instead, they're more likely to learn one simple, cheap type of trap and then make it again and again and again because it's easy. If it can work once, surely it can work multiple times. And then, it also makes sense for them to place some kind of clue to the trap's presence. If you live in the dungeon and frequently traverse these halls, you need a way to reliably sidestep your own traps. When you recruit a bunch of interns into your evil gang, you tell them, "keep an eye out for the wolf rune on the walls. When you see it, there's a trap underneath."
- It helps the flow of play not get bogged down by constant probing. Once the players know where to search and how, then they'll be asking to less frequently and with less time spent brainstorming ideas.
- It creates a long-term challenge that spans the whole dungeon. Rather than each trap being solved individually, you're solving a series of traps as one unified challenge. You learn a little bit more with each one. You're rewarded for paying attention and reusing old information when you recognize situations where it's relevant. You can more easily "master" the dungeon. And of course, it means that traps aren't just coming out of nowhere.
Referee: "You see a skeleton in front of the doorway leading into the dungeon."
Caller: "Where is it lying in relation to the door?"Referee: "Just outside of it, like it was about to walk in but got knocked over."
Caller: "Does it look old? Any way to tell how it died?
Referee: "It's still got tattered clothes on, but the skull has been separated from the body."
Caller: "What's the doorway like?Referee: "Stone, old, forms into brickwork with the walls and corridor."Caller: "Hmmm can I inspect it closer? Any gears or runes or anything? Moving pieces?"Referee: "Roll Wisdom."...Referee: "You notice brown stains on the wall. They've splattered horizontally. You've also noticed the mortar is missing between these two brick layers. Instead there's just a deep groove."Caller: "Would the splatters be about, say, neck level?"Referee: "Yeah, just about."Caller: "Alright gang, working theory: a blade or buzzsaw or something is gunna pop out of that groove right there. Pay attention to the brickwork on the walls at about neck level, ya hear? Now let's look for a trigger of some kind..."
I'm sure lots of people have been getting by just fine either not using a dungeoncrawl procedure or using the B/X one for all their needs. But I'm not satisfied with fine. And as I mentioned in "Game Design vs Level Design," while good and creative Level Design is essential and can never be fully substituted, the more challenge and choice you can build right into the core rules themselves then the more effort you save having to come up with original level challenges. You usually can't reuse puzzles or boss fights, but things like light supply, encumbrance, getting lost, random encounters, and so on will always add to the challenge.
If nothing else, let's all work to get those control panels more commonly used by referees. It's one of the single biggest quality-of-life changes I've ever made for running a game.