In the Advanced rules for Dungeon Sagas it would be nice for Heroes to have a life outside the dungeon, however abstracted that may be. As DS is not an RPG I’m not talking about describing the Barbarian’s rabbit stew in detail, nor fretting on how many copper pieces it costs for the Dwarf to get a decent ale in this village. I don’t think that’s necessary. However, some life between adventures helps round out the characters, explore the background of Mantica, and generally tells a better story – all of which are good things and worth doing
Another important thing that needs to happen between adventures is calculating any experience gained by the Heroes (and the Monsters). As we’re doing both of these at the same time they will overlap somewhat, and in fact may as well be integrated where possible and appropriate. Even so, to stop me rambling on for another small novel like I did yesterday, I’m going to split the experience bit off into its own article for tomorrow.
Meanwhile, back to Downtime.
What I mean by Downtime is the period between dungeon adventures, when Heroes need to heal, re-equip, train up, spend their loot and anything else they can think of. For me, this needs to be something that is characterful, an interesting decision, and fairly quick to resolve. I’s great if it can add to the character and the fun of the game, but it isn’t the whole game.
My current plan goes like this. After an adventure the returning Heroes have some basic stuff they get to do automatically. This involves at least some healing up and may involve experience (more on that tomorrow). These are necessary (but very small) bits of bookkeeping for the game rather than things you need to decide on. That comes next. Once you’ve done your chores then you can play 🙂
Downtime essentially means picking one place to visit or thing to do between two adventures. There are many things you might want to do. Some will depend on your character’s race or profession, some will cost you gold or other resources, some will make you gold, and many will be available to all. Some examples of Downtime options include:
- Tavern (because it wouldn’t be a fantasy adventure without one)
- Mystical Market (buying and selling special or magical weapons, armour, potions and so on)
- Temple (making offerings to curry favour with the gods or atone for sins. Linked to experience for clerics and paladins)
- Other Temple (there’s more than one god in Mantica, so may be more than one temple with different options for visitors. Some of these may take the form of sacred pools, fire pits, etc, depending on the faith)
- Arena (linked with experience for any combat-based characters, but can also be a family afternoon out)
- Thieves’ Guild (buying/selling dodgy gear, experience for dodgy characters)
- Prison (may or not be a voluntary visit)
- And so on…
By limiting the Downtime between adventures to a single place per Hero (though they could each pick a different one) the players have interesting decisions to make. By making all the options good in some way (though perhaps not all equally good to all Heroes) the decision becomes even more interesting.
To add another layer of interest to this, not all of the Downtime options will be available at every place the Heroes rest up. There’s always a tavern, but not always a sacred pool of water spirits. You can imagine the sort of thing. Again, this adds to the fun of the choice as you don’t necessarily know when you’ll see that option again. Will you buy magic axe for me while I go to the…
Individual options will allow specific actions, such as buying magical items or learning new spells. Some will be a choice from a list, others will be a dice roll. Basically, each option is there to add flavour, character and to give the Heroes a bit more of a rounded tale to tell beyond “I killed the monster and took the treasure”.
On a related note, there was a suggestion in the comments earlier about having a table or other means of dealing with the journey to and from a dungeon. If we end up doing this then it would most naturally integrate with this Downtime element. I can see pros and cons here. On the up side, it can add to the story and the set the scene. On the down side it’s an extra thing to do every time, and as we don’t want the main event to be pulled off a random table then whatever happens will only be relatively inconsequential. Heroes won’t die from this, nor should they gain great rewards, which makes me wonder how much point there is to it. What do you guys think? Is it worth including?