RPGs Using long passage of time successfully...examples?




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    Using long passage of time successfully...examples?

    In his article "Leap Year" (Dungeons & Dragons Roleplaying Game Official Home Page - Article (Leap Year)), Chris Perkins talks about advancing his campaign's timeline by 1 year. Has anyone successfully done anything like this?

    In particular I'm interested in those campaigns where a large time leap (months, seasons, years) is deliberately planned by the module or GM, rather than done spur of the moment. How do you get player buy-in and keep them from questioning why they haven't been involved in events? Did you come up a convincing reason why the PCs were on the sidelines or unable to change events? Or did you just hand wave it and let the players grumblings settle?
    Last edited by Quickleaf; Wednesday, 10th October, 2012 at 08:44 PM. Reason: Spelling fix

 

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    I did a thing kind of like this recently.

    My group had finished paragon tier in 4E, and we took a brief break from the game to let someone else DM for a bit. When we picked back up at epic tier, I decided I wanted to push the clock ahead a bit.

    I picked up the story seven years after their last adventure, and I basically told the guys, "tell me what your character has been doing in the last seven years. There hasn't been any world-shattering events, at least on the material plane, so what have they been up to?"

    The responses varied widely. My wizard had acquired a tower and researched his own "brand" of fire energy, which he named after himself, and started a small school at the tower. My warlord worked off a debt to the Raven Queen, so she would answer any question he wanted (his question was "how do I resurrect Io?"). My fighter spend the last seven years on a bender, hopping from plane to plane, working for whoever would pay him in the most, and strongest, liquor. My bard had become leader of the city they were based out of, and had been trying to keep things there in check. My ranger... I don't remember, but also something awesome.

    There's a whole story there, but we picked up the story for epic, which was a continuation of things they had done in the heroic tier, and we jumped right into the action.

    It wasn't really a hard thing to do. But, it could change depending on how you choose to do the planes/cosmology. Mostly, I just let them go wild, and adapted other things based on what they told me.
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    The Battlestar Galactica gag? I've done that sometimes; not as much as I would like. Last campaign I ran I jumped the characters several months, skipping the lengthy sea voyage to their destination. I've got even better plans for the future

    In particular I'm interested in those campaigns where a large time leap (months, seasons, years) is deliberately planned by the module or GM, rather than done spur of the moment. How do you guest player buy-in and keep them from questioning why they haven't been involved in events? Did you come up a convincing reason why the PCs were on the sidelines or unable to change events? Or did you just hand wave it and let the players grumblings settle?
    I just told them what was happening. No problems. Why would there be?
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    I think that a problem with this particular issue is that it gives the PCs "leave" to go somewhat wild with what they can potentially have accomplished in the down-time.

    Not all PCs will do this, of course, and there are basic limitations on things like the amount of finances they have on-hand, and what common sense will allow, but expect for responses like "I performed an epic quest, earning two major artifacts, forty thousand GP, and the goodwill of two nations."

    Admittedly, that's an extreme example, but I have had PCs who were focused on, say, crafting. With a high crafting skill, one player made a case that he had not only launched a successful (and lucrative) business, but that he was also starting the campaign world's first franchises, drastically increasing his profits. Other PCs had set about making high-powered magic items, or getting involved in politics, all with varying degrees of success.

    Giving the PCs down-time shouldn't be something to shy away from, but the higher-level the PCs are, the more it becomes an opportunity for them to write their own mark on the game world.
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    This is a staple of the Crothian game. Sometimes the time jump will happen without the PCs realizing it. I've had them travel to other planes for a few days and come back and have a half of year pass on their world. I've had them be in a fey forest for an afternoon and come back and find a year and a day has passed in the real world.

    Other times they will know it is coming up. Just last month we were coming to a point in the campaign and I told them there was going to five years of down time. The players had time to think about what they wanted their characters to be doing and got to narrate those five years. I told them what the jumping off point was going to be and so they made sure they had reason for their characters to be part of that in their narration.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Alzrius View Post
    With a high crafting skill, one player made a case that he had not only launched a successful (and lucrative) business, but that he was also starting the campaign world's first franchises, drastically increasing his profits. Other PCs had set about making high-powered magic items, or getting involved in politics, all with varying degrees of success.
    What I want to know is if you just handwave this...

    I mean, during the regular game, a character just doesn't say "I slay the dragon", he has to try, and at least in theory* his success depends on playing well and some degree of luck (or not unluck).

    *of course in practice, they succeed most of the times

    Why should the DM then allow a player to say "I start a successful business", instead of determining success with some additional questions about how and possibly even a few dice rolls?
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    I had a 1E/2E campaign with a grup that we wrapped up in the 90's - it essentially ended up with the characters completing the GDQ series. Several years later, we picked it back up and I jumped the timeline forward about five years. I wrote up the history of what had occured in the intervening years, but based it on goals and events the characters had been involved with from the previous games. Everyone seemed to heartily agree with my outline and either extrapolated on the events I wrote or asked me to cover certain details I'd forgotten about.

    I've done this for that group about four or five times now - jumping a handful of years here or there, since we only seem to get together once in a blue moon. In the last, the group actually picked up playing the offspring of their previous characters on their own new adevntures (and with some of the new gang being the actual offspring of the old players). Perhaps the best part was at the end of the game, they got to meet up with their old characters and show these young whippersnappers how truly inspiring and powerful the old characters were, as the old characters were heading up an army to oppose the BBEG the new characters had been fleeing and evading.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Li Shenron View Post
    What I want to know is if you just handwave this...

    I mean, during the regular game, a character just doesn't say "I slay the dragon", he has to try, and at least in theory* his success depends on playing well and some degree of luck (or not unluck).

    *of course in practice, they succeed most of the times

    Why should the DM then allow a player to say "I start a successful business", instead of determining success with some additional questions about how and possibly even a few dice rolls?
    Well, my first post on the subject was more of a warning about this than a remedy for what to do if it occurs. I was underlining that the more power and resources a character has, and the more down-time they're given, the more likely it'll be viewed as an opportunity.

    In my personal experience, PCs don't usually try to fill that opportunity by saying that they went on combat-adventures; they realize that's what actual play-time is for. Most (again, in my experience) will try to push forward non-combat activities, usually in various social, political, and/or economic areas.

    I personally think the GM has the right to creatively embellish these stories (or veto them, but I'd save that for the truly egregious ones); she's certainly within her rights to say that activities that fall under the game rules (e.g. crafting) require the requisite checks to be made, even if it calls for several of them (or perhaps one roll can represent several).

    Likewise, a PC should always state how they're accomplishing all of this - that's part of them filling in the blanks in the campaign narrative.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ahnehnois View Post
    The Battlestar Galactica gag? I've done that sometimes; not as much as I would like. Last campaign I ran I jumped the characters several months, skipping the lengthy sea voyage to their destination. I've got even better plans for the future

    I just told them what was happening. No problems. Why would there be?
    Well, there is a certain player type who balks at anything resembling DM fiat, particularly when they perceive their control over their character is being taken away. Most of my players don't fall into this category, but I've gamed with several who do.

    I wasn't thinking so much travel, which is easy to explain, but more along the lines of "the PCs overwinter at the lord's keep during the harshest snow months and resume adventuring when spring returns."

    I'm concerned a player might go,"Wait, what? We never stopped adventuring!"

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    Quote Originally Posted by Alzrius View Post
    In my personal experience, PCs don't usually try to fill that opportunity by saying that they went on combat-adventures; they realize that's what actual play-time is for. Most (again, in my experience) will try to push forward non-combat activities, usually in various social, political, and/or economic areas.

    ...
    I agree. And for some gaming groups it can actually be the best way to encourage them to realize that downtime exists

    In general I'm a huge fan of those non-combat activities during downtime... I always try to remind the players that they have downtime between adventures, but unfortunately the most common habit is to "fast-forward". My personal custom is to "space out" things a little bit, either spacing the events in time or spacing the locations in distance (which equals again time of travel), but I'm not experienced in doing this to such an extent as in this thread's topic (actually I think I've done this once but pretty much fast-forwarded myself in that case )

    Quote Originally Posted by Quickleaf View Post
    I'm concerned a player might go,"Wait, what? We never stopped adventuring!"
    I certainly wouldn't object in principle to a player saying "I spent those 5 years adventuring as usual", but that would simply mean that he tried, not that he actually found enough challenges to gain XP for example, or that he found treasure. I might simply say that the treasure he found in 5 years equals the stuff he used up in those adventures, and in addition it paid its bills... thus he still has the same wealth and equipment of 5 years ago).
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