|By Haku, via b3ta.net|
What's needed, I thought, is an insight like James Raggi's list-based encumbrance (see also the Alexandrian's Stone system). Take something players do anyway - like write down what stuff they have - and simplify the bookkeeping to follow directly from that. To be exact:
1. As with list-based encumbrance, switch to more natural units: from "minutes" to "scenes." Exploring 1 room is a scene, unless it's a huge cathedral-like space. A combat is a scene. Walking carefully down more than about 50' of corridor is a scene. Taking extra time to do something like skin a lizard or eat lunch is a scene. Each scene is roughly - very roughly - about 5 minutes. That means a 30 minute torch lasts 6 scenes, a 1 hour flask of lantern oil lasts 12, and you roll for wandering monsters every 2 or 3 or 6 scenes depending on your rules.
2. To keep track of time - this works best if you have more than 4 or so at the table - pass some kind of visible token around. Start it at a random player and say it passes to the left whenever you change scene. If you forget a scene change, just do it retrospectively. I tried this in the first test of the One Page system today with eight players at table, one of whom volunteered her toy ninja, and it worked like a charm. It's easy to remember how many times it has gone around already, and to say things like "The current torch will go out when the ninja gets around to Connor."
3. As a bonus, I found myself designating the player with the ninja token as a kind of democratic caller. This meant that the temporary token-bearer had the responsibility to propose motions on decisions, like which way to go, and put it to a vote. This tended to cure the paralysis that eight at table can cause. In combat, because I use side-based initiative, I would start with the token-bearer and ask for actions clockwise. That worked pretty well too. Oh, and finally, whoever has the token gets to roll the initiative die.
This rule looks like a keeper in my games, especially for large dungeon crawl sessions.