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Downtime

    In between adventures or quests is where the real life of adventurers happens. They may spend this time pursuing in game character development and personal objectives such as running a business, acquiring various items, crafting items, criminal activities, or even establishing a business.


    Downtime is perhaps an essential element in any game that is the most often overlooked or just skimmed over. Downtime is THE engine that will open up and drive your game to more in depth and empower your characters to have an enriching game experience.


    It gives the players a chance to meet and interact with NPCs and pursue individual goals. It is a chance for more character development and more social activities to add immersion to the game. In its simplest form, it provides time for players to re-supply, conduct research, craft items, pursue relationships with NPC's, as well as each other, and take a break from the hectic life of adventuring.


    From the GM's perspective, it helps manage the pace of the campaign, stretch out the sequence of events to develop the story more and providing an often much needed breather between the intensity of adventures and serves to lighten the mood. It is also a way for you to seed other adventures and future plots.


    As the "conduit" between one adventure and another, this time allows the GM to open up your game and allows the characters (and players) to do several things. Downtime can be the engine that opens up our game and empowers characters to pursue individual goals, party goals, secure resources and gather information, join organizations, influence organizations, setup or expand a base of operations.


    It also grants players and the GM to shine a light on backstories, develop more profound stories and allow for greater collaborative stories.


    Here is an example of downtime in your gaming session. The characters have finished exploring the ruined temple and found a slaver ring using the rumors of undead to keep people away from their operations. After crippling the operation and freeing the slaves, they come across some information about another organization in another part of the region. Typically, most games and parties will just proceed to the next hot spot of play and adventure. However, this type of play style confines the players to specific scripted plots with little or no storytelling or deeper interplay.


    Downtime allows for you and the players to have more options and explore the wider world around them. Downtime can take as little time as the group wants or as long as they want; well at least until something comes knocking or objectives start ticking away.


    During this respite time you and the players can decide on what goals they want to accomplish and establish a length of time they should or can spend in town before moving on to the next objective. It is during this time you work with the players with what they want to do and choose interesting activities.


    When you first use or begin this deep delving into the "in-between" time, it will feel very mechanical and scripted. There are a great number of activities that players can choose from. This is perfectly natural as they and you get the hang of it and play starts to be more open and natural.


    So how does this feel like during game time? It will vary from group to group at their tables but it should go something like this:


    Vlat the chovahian holy warrior of Hadak, likes being prepared. His player decides that Vlat will spend some time looking into the rumors of another slave trade by visiting some closer villages. His aspect and motivation are unflinching and mission which adds to his bounty hunter background and this is a perfect time for him to take a day or two to visit some of the nearby villages to investigate the slaver ring.


    Mar and Gram are good philosophied characters. Their players feel that they would be worried about slavers attempting to threaten the town of Cold Iron and the place they call home. They decide that when Vlat is gone, they will meet with the town council and the Church of Gishra to raise awareness and make it harder for slavers to establish a foothold in the town.


    Aza, the only rogue scoundrel in the party, despite working for the sheriff's department as a Ranger, has his eyes on establishing a thieves guild within the town, to take advantage of the news he just learned about the current slavers in town.


    As stated previously, by engaging the characters and their players in downtime activities, you lengthen your overall campaign. It can allow for days, weeks, or even months to pass as events set in motion in downtime moments play out in the game world. This also helps create a sense of continuity in your game world. Finally, it allows characters to pursue character driven side interests that encourage players and their characters to become more invested in your campaign and, ultimately, your world.


    There is no end to the types of downtime activities that you and your players can do or come up with. However, it can be helpful to have a guide list on downtime activities.


Downtime Role-playing and Merit

    Role-playing during downtime should be almost a "no-brainer", and you should encourage your players to take advantage of the scenarios and elements that we have laid out for downtime. This can easily be an excellent source for earning merit along side the standard adventuring and exploring that characters will earn. The amount of Merit you should give will range from +100 to +500 per downtime event as you see fit.


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