Well, it’s been a while, but we’ve been busy bees here. Working on projects both for BTP and a few personal ones too. The website has had a few updates and Youtube has been kept up to date, despite being silly busy.
Ok, honestly, I’ve been working for ‘The Man’. … And Tech and I are going on holiday this week. So we are bereft of Friday Night SPICED this week. Sad times, since we’re going into something really, really cool. I’ve even done some research on how gravity affects biology… Damn.
Anyway, going on holiday has brought up an interesting idea.
What to does your character do in downtime?
On Tuesday night, I play in The Council over at Skaggeth’s Channel playing Adventures of Middle Earth. Within the mechanics of the game there is a phase that deals with downtime – it’s how you level up and extends the in game timeline to give the feel of months and years passing by in this cinematic world*. In the downtime between adventures, you RP the various activities you might undertake to reduce The Shadow or to gain new skills.
I like the idea of giving downtime and I do it often in our campaigns. It allows for the player’s characters to explore other facets of their character’s lives that maybe missed, and I find it really important when you’re running a character driven game. You can build downtime into a campaign without forcing it, which is quite crucial:
- Base of Operations. If you have a base of operations, then returning to here is the equivalent of a ‘safezone’ where downtime can occur within the meta protective zone. (There is going to be a whole separate article on BoOs).
- Wind down time at the end of a short arc. At the end of a short arc, don’t throw something straight at your players, let them breath a moment.
- Travel. We tend to do this more often than not since travel can be boring and often skipped over for brevity’s sake. (Yup, another article on Travel is incoming too)
When I PM, I mainly put in downtime during travel when doing SPACED! since there are hours, and hours, aboard a spaceship where not a lot happens. Not saying things can’t happen (boarding, pirating, space battles, broken ship systems etc) but it’s a very convenient way.
Downtime can do the following things for the group.
- Being character driven, the group can use this time to interact with one another, which allows them to express their character’s feelings in a non-stressful situation about something someone else did, or to further develop a relationship dynamic. They can also connect with an NPC of importance to them, like a parent or a love interest.
- Take the time to Skill up. Giving the group the time needed to justify any increases in skills, abilities or perk gains.
- Take the time to craft. Oh yes, making yourself a new explosive requires time me laddo. I would also be tempted to chuck in major shopping sprees here too.
- Re-cooperate. Ever seen the episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation when Jean-Luc goes home to get beaten up by his older brother? Sometimes characters, and players, just need to wind down and deal with the crazy crap they’ve been doing.
Often, Tech Puppet uses it to craft explosives. All this helps to build their characters, bond them closer together and the player feel a little more connected to the world and their character. It’s why I think it’s so important.
Don’t get me wrong, downtime isn’t always needed, and the players don’t always have something to do, anything to skill up or have anything of any real importance to say to one another. When that’s the case, roll on the story!
But give them the opportunity and you may well be surprised. I pretty much always am!
(*As a side note, if you’re the kind of person who likes to explore the world and see whats there, like a sight seeing tour, I’d highly recommend Adventures in Middle Earth).
Drink up folks, time at the bar.
Blood – I will hunt you down like an Easter Egg.