RPGs Using long passage of time successfully...examples? - Page 2


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  1. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Quickleaf View Post
    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.
    In what paradigm does any player have 100% control of their character's actions over his entire lifespan? Typically, all the things before the campaign (and after it, if it reaches an end and the character survives) are already outside of the player's immediate control. Having a similar period during the game is not fundamentally different. The DM also inherently controls a wide variety of things that affect the character, regardless of his temperament. Certainly the passage of time is inherently under the DM's control. This whole "DM fiat" thing is really ridiculous.

    I mean, I get that players don't want to show up for a session and hear the DM say "your fighter suddenly and inexplicably gave up adventuring and started up life as a pipeweed farmer until being called back into action five years later", but surely any reasonable DM will work with the player and take the character's nature into account to determine what the player did (within his control) during the intervening time.

    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 don't know, D&D travel is pretty eventful by default. Taking away from the players' ability to react to things during that travel can be significant. That being said, I'll get back to you on things other than travel (hopefully).
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  • #12
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    I might be leary of having large jumps in time (I've done 5 years), but having some time pass between adventures or story arcs always seems reasonable.

    I generally look at whatever "safe" situation the PC has going on will continue and probably prosper.

    So a PC who owns a meadery, will find, "nothing horrible" has happened to cause him to adventure or get overly involved, so he focussed on his meadery, growing the business, etc. A year or so passes.

    Then, as cue up to the new adventure, rumblings in the industry, supply chain issues crop up.

    This is of course the hook into the adventure, but it also reflects that the PC won't complain if time passes because he's on auto-pilot to success. He wants control when he needs to take the reins. Which is when problems arise.

    Which is exactly when the adventure starts.

  • #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alzrius View Post
    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.
    personally I can't see how this is a bad thing, PC's are suppose to be writing their own mark on the world and if that means they become wealthy merchants, the inner cicle of the Royal court or the Master of their own Magic school then so be it.

    I currently have a druid player who is the owner of the kingdoms largest wheat farm which features something like five seperate hamlets. As a result he has been made a baron, he is a known merchant-prince, and as he is also the highest ranking druid in the area, he has befreinded the local dryads and gathered his own following who have established a druids glade. The fighter player has been made commander of the Royal Legions and is also owner of a tower (formerly occupied by a Necromancer) and the adjacent village. We also had a ranger but after sacrificing himself to defeat the Dark Hunter he became a semi-sentient oak tree.

    Anyway due to the farming I run the game on a seasons basis (2 per year) and lots of plots are directly linked to the farming cycle (currently they are dealing with a blight that has swept through the region...)
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  • #14
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    I'm all for a bit of fast forward of down time. And letting the PCs do "cool stuff" in that time too.

    One thing to add to the above advice is consider doing it via Blue Booking. A few emails back and forth can be fun and doesn't take up valuable gaming time. And of course you can keep them all and let all the players read them. Good funs for all.

    cheers,
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    In my past campaigns, skips in time actually tend to be driven by the PCs. This is normally due to down time for crafting, or embarking in business ventures. As a whole, we tended to summarize the events, and would make any die rolls needed for specific outcomes vice role playing a month, or more, of "crafting" stories.

    Though, in my last campaign, the characters were further north in the world, in an area that would get pretty harsh winters. So, as a event of seasonal change, the characters would plan their undertakings around knowing that travel and such would be difficult during the winter. That meant that the winter months were effectively down time and unless the PCs wanted to do something in particular (like crafting or research), we tended to summarize what happened and skip forward to spring and the start of the campaining season.

    In no cases did I have anyone balk or complain, it was just accepted as how things worked.

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    I have had time pass with no problems, and time pass with lots of player interruptions and/or objections.
    Currently im running a Kingmaker style game, and after 2 months of constant problems, 5 months passed as they waited for the summer solstice.

    after discussing pacing with the players we have moved to 1 active adventure per game month model.


    But to be honest I have trouble with it too. I can't resist things happening, like a new group of mercanries coming to town, a hostile takeover of the street gang that one PC grew up with, or a grain plague and food riots.
    (all of which happened in the PCs down time.)

    The most I have fiated is 3 years, when the group took a break, and played other games. Everyone had gained 1 level in downtime.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Evilhalfling View Post
    The most I have fiated is 3 years, when the group took a break, and played other games. Everyone had gained 1 level in downtime.
    and that's another way to make the pill go down easier. Hand out some XP for the passage of time, and there will be less grumbling as the players effectively were improving during the time jump.

    Time passing without playing normally means a missed opportunity to get XP.
    That's one of the factors to player resistance.


    Hand out 300XP times level per year, and that'll probably cover it. Anybody who was on the edge of leveling up just got a bump. At it scales nicely with the level multiplier to mean the same thing to all PCs (which is 3/10th advancement to the next level).

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    You should look into a Pendragon-style Winter Phase.

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    I think the time jump usage should vary with genre and level.
    • Any thing with long amount of travel (sci-fi/sailing)- time jump
    • High level play where PCs have non-adventure related obligations- time jump
    • Low level- no jumps, because a long jump could/should have a level up
    • Contract based game- time jump


    The reason why I like time jumps for higher level play is that it allows the PCs to gain avenues of power that may not be helpful in combat, but can increase some difficulty for higher level characters. When a fighter starts to command troops, suddenly he is (should be IMO) splitting his worry with his old adventuring pals and his recruits. PCs getting involved with organizations that are mostly off screen allow those to tie into adventures.

    I love being able to use the things they do to impact the PCs lives. Someone wants to open a business- great! But without her shrewd managing skills, the business doesn't do so well while she meets her companions to lay siege to the White Castle where the lich Kylar the Butcher is recovering from the last fight with the party. Now when she gets back she needs to focus on repairing her business and finding a new manager. Alternatively, she can come back and everything is fine but a gang is asking for protection money. Now she can get the party involved in helping the City Watch take down the Red Scorpions.

    From the games I have played, higher level characters are harder to challenge, and the players enjoy being rewarded for making it this far. So, to help them feel powerful some threats can be toned down. A plague won't hurt the party (saves are too high) but it can wipe out the fighter's fledgling infantry company and the cleric's church members. Now the party has personal reasons to stop the plague.

    As a GM I want my players to become invested in their characters and the game world. Letting their characters achieve the player's personal goals, and then putting that in danger helps the player become protective and more invested. I love using their ideas for bait in adventures to hook them.

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    I played in a game where we finished off a quest thinking that the bad guy had teleported us somewhere. After three or four sessions, we figured out that, due to a poorly worded wish/gift from Loki, we were actually about 500ish years in the future, and our previous adventures and deeds existed as scraps of folklore from a nearly forgotten civilization.

    Supposedly, the entire thing was a spur of the moment idea on the part of the DM, and he ended up uprooting a game world he had been building and working on for about half his life.
    Life's a die and then you bitch.

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