Pathfinder 2 Preview: Downtime
  • Pathfinder 2 Preview: Downtime


    It is time again for a preview of Pathfinder 2 over at the Paizo blog. Today they take a look at downtime for characters.


    According to the blog post, "[d]owntime mode is measured in days and gives you a chance to enact your long-term plans. You might craft items, heal up, conduct rituals, retrain some of your character options to choose other ones, or work at jobs or stage performances to make money. These are all things that take time and can't really be done in the middle of a dungeon." It sounds kind of like something that already exists in most games, and without codification. "Of course, just like with the other modes of play, these are all things you could do previously in Pathfinder. The difference in the Playtest is that we've more clearly defined these tasks in terms of what you can complete in the number of days you commit to them. This means if the GM wants to codify how long things take, it's more obvious what the value of a day spent at a task is."

    One of the things that they talk about regarding the new edition is that the game will utilize three modes of play: encounter, exploration, and downtime. Both encounter and exploration are pretty easy to understand, as they are standards of fantasy role-playing games. "When you have a day or more off, you can choose a defined downtime activity (or decide to do whatever else you want to). A few of these are general, like taking bed rest to heal more quickly or retraining your feats, skill choices, and selectable class features. Most of downtime activities, however, appear under skills and require skill checks. The ones appearing in the Pathfinder Playtest Rulebook are Craft, Create Forgery, Gather Information, Practice a Trade, Stage a Performance, Subsist on the Streets, Survive in the Wild, and Treat Disease. All of these require a skill check to determine how successful you are, and a few are explained in more detail later in this blog."

    Interestingly, it looks like some characters will be able to make money during downtime. "Because downtime can include a really large number of days, performing these activities long-term requires rolls only for interesting events; you can continue doing the job and earning money at a steady rate until the job is completed or your audiences run out. This means you can cover long periods of downtime quickly and embellish your activity with interesting details, rather than getting bogged down with 30 rolls for a month of downtime."

    "If you're a Game Master, downtime lets you pace out your game and show the passage of time between adventures. Characters and their circumstances can change in tangible ways during their downtime. Adding color and storylines to downtime, as well as recurring characters, helps the PCs form bonds and feel they're more a part of the world around them. It also means that PCs with long-term goals have a clear way of attaining them, with a clearer structure than the game had before. Less guesswork for you, and immense expandability!"

    Like with some of the previous previews, Paizo really isn't giving us enough to extrapolate anything meaningful about what the rules of downtime will really do, but it does give us plenty to speculate about in the meantime. It is only a couple of months until the Pathfinder 2​ playtest document will come out.
    Comments 32 Comments
    1. MichaelSomething's Avatar
      MichaelSomething -
      What a completely original concept that totally doesn't resemble another popular RPG. Dividing the game into three different modes is something I bet they never heard of before.
    1. Kite474's Avatar
      Kite474 -
      Quote Originally Posted by MichaelSomething View Post
      What a completely original concept that totally doesn't resemble another popular RPG. Dividing the game into three different modes is something I bet they never heard of before.
      Yes, and?

      Paizo is no stranger to copying D&D nor is the ENTIRE INDUSTRY for that matter.

      Its almost like people try to work with ideas that work.

      And hey they maybe might do a few things better with it considering 5e has support for one pillar and dam near little for the other two
    1. Shasarak's Avatar
      Shasarak -
      Quote Originally Posted by MichaelSomething View Post
      What a completely original concept that totally doesn't resemble another popular RPG. Dividing the game into three different modes is something I bet they never heard of before.
      Eh, I have no problem with combat, exploration etc that stuff has been in the game since forever.

      It is the copying of magic item levels from 4e that concerns me.
    1. Arilyn's Avatar
      Arilyn -
      Quote Originally Posted by MichaelSomething View Post
      What a completely original concept that totally doesn't resemble another popular RPG. Dividing the game into three different modes is something I bet they never heard of before.
      Designers happily borrow from each other. The industry is usually friendly that way, (these days, anyway).
      The ideas with downtime, however, came up in Paizo' s Ultimate Campaign book years ago, so even if you are concerned about this...
    1. EthanSental's Avatar
      EthanSental -
      Quote Originally Posted by Arilyn View Post
      Designers happily borrow from each other. The industry is usually friendly that way, (these days, anyway).
      The ideas with downtime, however, came up in Paizo' s Ultimate Campaign book years ago, so even if you are concerned about this...

      Thats an an excellent book, mined plenty of it myself.
    1. MichaelSomething's Avatar
      MichaelSomething -
      Quote Originally Posted by Shasarak View Post
      Eh, I have no problem with combat, exploration etc that stuff has been in the game since forever.

      It is the copying of magic item levels from 4e that concerns me.
      Quote Originally Posted by Kite474 View Post
      Yes, and?

      Paizo is no stranger to copying D&D nor is the ENTIRE INDUSTRY for that matter.

      Its almost like people try to work with ideas that work.

      And hey they maybe might do a few things better with it considering 5e has support for one pillar and dam near little for the other two
      Quote Originally Posted by Arilyn View Post
      Designers happily borrow from each other. The industry is usually friendly that way, (these days, anyway).
      The ideas with downtime, however, came up in Paizo' s Ultimate Campaign book years ago, so even if you are concerned about this...
      Let's hope on one enters the thread and say that the Pathfinder developers never looked at 5th Edition then :P
    1. Stereofm -
      This looks to me as a fairly bad idea. Yet more meta gaing on the players part
    1. Charlaquin's Avatar
      Charlaquin -
      Quote Originally Posted by MichaelSomething View Post
      Let's hope on one enters the thread and say that the Pathfinder developers never looked at 5th Edition then :P
      The comment about not paying attention to 5e was from ONE developer. No one claimed that NO ONE at Paizo was aware of what 5e was up to. That said, 5e is far from the first game to use a Downtime system like this, so its appearance in PF2 isn’t an indication of 5e imitation specifically. More like an indication that Paizo exists in this decade and is aware other games exist. Which, yes, includes 5e, along with many others that all handle Downtime pretty much the same way.
    1. Charlaquin's Avatar
      Charlaquin -
      Quote Originally Posted by Stereofm View Post
      This looks to me as a fairly bad idea. Yet more meta gaing on the players part
      In what way is it metagaming?
    1. Ghal Maraz's Avatar
      Ghal Maraz -
      [Sarcasm]Oh, look, a very informed user who thinks WotC invented everything and has no clue those things has been a staple of (for example) King Arthur's Pendragon and The One Ring Roleplaying Game (long) before Wizards adopted them. [\end sarcasm]

      Yeah, good ideas keep being passed around in games. It's the implementation that makes the difference.
    1. MichaelSomething's Avatar
      MichaelSomething -
      Quote Originally Posted by Ghal Maraz View Post
      [Sarcasm]Oh, look, a very informed user who thinks WotC invented everything and has no clue those things has been a staple of (for example) King Arthur's Pendragon and The One Ring Roleplaying Game (long) before Wizards adopted them. [\end sarcasm]

      Yeah, good ideas keep being passed around in games. It's the implementation that makes the difference.
      Like how lots of people hated healing surges but no one complained about hit dice?

      (in for a penny, in for a pound)
    1. pemerton's Avatar
      pemerton -
      The earliest "downtime" system I know of is in Classic Traveller (1977): PCs can spend money to train in a new skill. Runeuest has training, ritulals/ceremonies, healing, etc too, but I'm not sure which edition it was introduced into that system.
    1. Xavian Starsider's Avatar
      Xavian Starsider -
      As much as I am in the 5E camp, I have no desire to grief PF2 over downtime rules. It's a logical and important thing to include, and is not so intrinsically associated with D&D that it looks out of place elsewhere. I would be more shocked to see them not include downtime rules.
    1. Charlaquin's Avatar
      Charlaquin -
      Quote Originally Posted by MichaelSomething View Post
      Like how lots of people hated healing surges but no one complained about hit dice?

      (in for a penny, in for a pound)
      To be fair though, hit dice are only really like healing surges in that both are limited pools of self-healing that each character has access to. But they’re different in most of the ways that matter to people who have an opinion on healing surges. They heal a randomized amount, so they can’t count on them as reliably, the value they heal doesn’t change with character level, they can’t be used in combat, healing spells don’t use up the recipient’s hit dice so they don’t act as a limiter on daily HP, and 5e’s adventuring day guidelines expect you to be able to use them once every other encounter instead of once every encounter.

      In other words, WotC stripped everything that made healing surges great out of them to appease the anti-4e crowd, and replaced them with something that that only resembles them in the most superficial ways in hopes that the pro-4e crowd wouldn’t notice.
    1. MichaelSomething's Avatar
      MichaelSomething -
      Quote Originally Posted by Charlaquin View Post
      To be fair though, hit dice are only really like healing surges in that both are limited pools of self-healing that each character has access to. But they’re different in most of the ways that matter to people who have an opinion on healing surges. They heal a randomized amount, so they can’t count on them as reliably, the value they heal doesn’t change with character level, they can’t be used in combat, healing spells don’t use up the recipient’s hit dice so they don’t act as a limiter on daily HP, and 5e’s adventuring day guidelines expect you to be able to use them once every other encounter instead of once every encounter.

      In other words, WotC stripped everything that made healing surges great out of them to appease the anti-4e crowd, and replaced them with something that that only resembles them in the most superficial ways in hopes that the pro-4e crowd wouldn’t notice.
      I thought the whole point of healing surges was to remove the need for heal bot clerics? If your table was the type that wanted heal bots, would the 5E hit dice be a suitable replacement for the cleric? I guess it wouldn't be completely, but close enough for a lot of people.
    1. Dalamar's Avatar
      Dalamar -
      Quote Originally Posted by MichaelSomething View Post
      What a completely original concept that totally doesn't resemble another popular RPG. Dividing the game into three different modes is something I bet they never heard of before.
      I know right. Ecounter, Exploration and Downtime maps directly to Combat, Exploration and Social.

      ...wait a minute, no it doesn't.
    1. Charlaquin's Avatar
      Charlaquin -
      Quote Originally Posted by MichaelSomething View Post
      I thought the whole point of healing surges was to remove the need for heal bot clerics? If your table was the type that wanted heal bots, would the 5E hit dice be a suitable replacement for the cleric? I guess it wouldn't be completely, but close enough for a lot of people.
      Not really, no. I mean, partially, but even with healing surges, it was still much better to have a healer in the party. What healing surges biggest impact on the game was, was that they allowed adventure designers to know that each PC would start each encounter at X hit points, had a total of between 2.5X and 3.5X HP over the course of the adventuring day, and any healing they received would not change either value, because it drew from that daily total and couldn’t bring their currently accessible HP above X. This made combat MUCH easier to balance, both on a per-encounter basis and on a per-day basis. It also allowed designers to include effects that taxed characters’ HP allotment for the day, without affecting their current HP, by making them lose healing surges. Hit dice can’t do any of this, because the amount each hit die heals is randomized so adventure designers can’t count on a PC with X hit dice to have Y HP throughout the day, you only regain half on a long rest, so designers can’t rely on the PCs having a consistent number of them on a day-to-day basis. 5e’s adventuring day guidelines have PCs taking a short rest roughly every other encounter instead of every encounter, so designers can’t count on PCs starting encounters with a consistent amount of HP. Magical healing doesn’t cost the recipient hit dice, so the number of hit dice a character has doesn’t give any indication of how much damage they can take in a day. And the number of hit dice a character has increases as that character levels, so any useful encounter building guidelines a designer does manage to squeeze out of them will change from level to level.

      In short, hit dice resemble healing surges in none of the ways that matter. Just like everything else on in 5e that looks a bit like 4e to the casual observer.
    1. Yaarel -
      Really, there are five pillars of the game.

      • [Character creation and advancement]
      • Downtime
      • Social
      • Exploration
      • Encounter
    1. Yaarel -
      Downtime has always been part of D&D since 1e. For example, ‘spell research’ requires downtime.
    1. Zarithar's Avatar
      Zarithar -
      This is sounding more and more like 5e every day. Someone please remind me who the intended audience is and what differentiates this in any significant way from what is already out there. So if PF was 3.75, then this is... 5.1? I'm just not understanding the appeal.
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