D&D 5E Long-Term Downtime Activities?

BookTenTiger

He / Him
I've been coming up with a campaign idea in which years will pass between adventures. I'm a big fan of Downtime Activities, so I thought it would be fun to generate Downtime Activities that are measured in years instead of weeks.

The big idea is that characters are doing things during this time that is not adventuring, but does give opportunities for world-building and character growth.

(Note: I know this could all be hand-waved through roleplaying and player declarations... but as I said, I really like Downtime Activities! So bear with me here.)

Here are some ideas for Long-Term Downtime Activities I've come up with so far. I'll be writing out the actual rules for each one in later posts. I'd love help coming up with more!
  • Service in an Organization (like a church, order of knights, or school of magic)
  • Treasure Hunting
  • Ruling
  • Fighting in a War
  • Practicing a Profession
  • Artistry
What other activities would be good for years-long Downtime?
 

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DND_Reborn

The High Aldwin
What other activities would be good for years-long Downtime?
Hmmm...

Starting/raising a family leaps to mind.

Also, IMO the magic items crafting rules are much to fast time-wise for the more powerful items, so for anything rare and definitely very rare, I could see that take more years instead of weeks.

That's all I have for now, but if I think of others I'll add them.
 

BookTenTiger

He / Him
Here's what I came up with for Service in an Organization.

Service in an Organization

Your character spends a year or more at service in an organization: a church, thieves' guild, order of knights, school of magic, etc. Your character may rise in the ranks, access magic resources, or gain the favor of a powerful ally.

Creating Your Organization: You are a member of an organization. This organization has a size and ideal, both of which you can choose or roll for on the following tables. The size of your organization effects its reach and the number of ranks; it is easier to earn a position of power in a smaller organization, but the geographic reach of its influence will be smaller as well.

The size of your organization also affects the number of ranks, or positions of power. For example, a tiny guard outpost would have three ranks (perhaps Infantry, Captain, and Commander). On the other hand, a gargantuan network of monasteries that stretches across the planes would have 18 ranks (novice, monk, master of novices, cantor, steward, prior, abbot, etc.).

You start at the lowest rank in your organization, unless a higher rank makes sense based on your background or the events of the campaign. As you rise in ranking, those loyal to your organization recognize your authority and influence, and defer to you if they are of a lower rank.

Size (1d6)
  1. Tiny. Reach: one settlement. Ranks: 3.
  2. Small. Reach: one region. Ranks: 6.
  3. Medium. Reach: three adjacent regions. Ranks: 9.
  4. Large. Reach: five adjacent regions. Ranks: 12.
  5. Huge. Reach: continental. Ranks: 15.
  6. Gargantuan. Reach: worldwide (or extraplanar). Ranks: 18.
Ideal (1d8)
  1. Wealth. The members of our organization seek gold, treasure, or a dragon's hoard.
  2. Power. The desire for political, arcane, or martial power drives the members of our organization.
  3. Worship. Our organization works to further the interests of a powerful deity, fiend, or other extraplanar presence.
  4. Loyalty. An oath is sworn by every member of our organization to a single ruler, cause, or people.
  5. Glory. The members of our organization wish to achieve the impossible, and to be known across the realm.
  6. Knowledge. Forbidden knowledge, explorations of new places, or inventive innovations drive the work of our organization.
  7. Destiny. Our organization is founded upon a prophesy; we seek to fulfill, prevent, or witness its fated events.
  8. Vendetta. The members of our organization work to eliminate a single threat, enemy, or organization.
Resources: Being at service to an organization requires your character to have access to a location belonging to that organization, such as a temple, guild hall, or academy. You must also be a member of that organization, either through your background or events in the campaign.

Your character's service either includes free boarding, or pays enough to afford modest lifestyle expenses. By paying into the organization, you gain a bonus on ability checks made to gain benefits.

For every 100 gold pieces you give to the organization during the year of downtime, you gain a +1 to the ability check made to determine benefits. You may not gain more than +10 to this check.

Resolution: At the end of each year, make a Charisma (Persuasion) check, or an ability check using a skill or tool appropriate to your organization, such as the ones in the following table.

Organization - Ability Check
Temple - Intelligence (Religion)
School of Magic - Intelligence (Arcana)
Guild Hall - Intelligence (Artisan's Tools or Thieves' Tools)
Druid's Circle - Intelligence (Nature)

The total of the check determines the number of benefits you gain after the year of service.

Check Total - Result
1 - 10: You earn one benefit.
11 - 20: You earn one benefit, and rise in rank.
21+: You earn two benefits, and rise in rank.

Benefits (1d8)
  1. You gain the favor of a powerful NPC in your organization.
  2. You make contact with an ally in another location: when you arrive at a new settlement, you may choose for this ally to be present.
  3. You earn 1d10 x 100 gold pieces.
  4. You earn a special title within the organization. When brandishing this title, you may gain advantage on appropriate ability checks, or access to new locations, within the organization.
  5. You are given an uncommon magic item as recognition of your service.
  6. You gain an assistant, a skilled NPC who can help with your work (though does not willingly enter combat).
  7. You are given ownership of new property.
  8. Your organization grows in size.
Complications: At the end of a year of service, there is a 10% chance a complication occurred. These complications may open opportunities for further roleplaying and adventures.

Complications (1d6)
  1. A faction of your organization splits into a rival group with its own ideal. This group may be neutral to your cause, or may be hostile.
  2. A member of your organization becomes your rival.
  3. Your organization discovers the location of an important treasure, magic item, or ruin, but it is guarded by a powerful enemy.
  4. You lose the leader of your organization due to death, arrest, or a dramatic loss of faith.
  5. Through a shift in leadership, population, or outside influences, the ideal of your organization changes.
  6. An unhappy ruler, jealous rival, or mischievous bard spreads false rumors about your organization, earning it a false reputation (for example: piracy, zealotry, or rebellion).
 



Lanefan

Victoria Rules
Starting a business or enterprise.

I’ve noticed that most of the time that this ends up being a brewery of some sort. But it could also be a larger import/export entity, shipping, some kind of guild.
Caution here: in the past I've had characters - an entire party of them - do just this; and DMing what quickly became their massive business enterprise wasn't all that much fun. If you're into business and economics as a DM then more power to ya, but I'm not, and it became a chore.
 

Treasure hunting and fighting in a war are generally no for me. Dangerous activities should be in character.

Anyway, one could spend time researching history, or legends of a missing treasure or artifact. Which could lead to a future adventure.

War is a tough one. imo should be something everyone is involved in. You can have long downtimes during training, between military campaigns and even between battles. But, then when the fights happen, isn't that key to the roleplaying? Lot of other issues here to, but not going to try to unpack them.

other ideas; research new spells, or class features (new ways of fighting etc)
 

BookTenTiger

He / Him
Caution here: in the past I've had characters - an entire party of them - do just this; and DMing what quickly became their massive business enterprise wasn't all that much fun. If you're into business and economics as a DM then more power to ya, but I'm not, and it became a chore.
That's why I think the Downtime Activities structure works well for this... You roll once at the end of the year and see the results, and can describe what happened in reflection without spending too much spotlight time on one character.
 




Agametorememberbooks

Explorer
Publisher
Caution here: in the past I've had characters - an entire party of them - do just this; and DMing what quickly became their massive business enterprise wasn't all that much fun. If you're into business and economics as a DM then more power to ya, but I'm not, and it became a chore.
I’m with you and have no interest. I let them work on it as part of their adventure-planning and what not. We found a balance. I was just trying to add to the OP’s idea with some additional considerations.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
That's why I think the Downtime Activities structure works well for this... You roll once at the end of the year and see the results, and can describe what happened in reflection without spending too much spotlight time on one character.
Which would be fine if they didn't want to go into more detail, but they did; and as it was a party thing rather than just one or two characters I kinda didn't have a choice in that regard.
 

Alby87

Explorer
For managing a business, I think that the Acquisitions Incorporated is quiete a nice book: you can easily remove the whole "franchise" theme if you don't like it from the rules, but for managing a business via downtime it seems pretty good (I've read the rules but not used in my campaings right now, so I can not speak by first hand experience).
 


I have always liked the idea of downtime activities happening through email or text, then crafting, as a DM, a short synopsis for the PCs. The synopsis contains new information not revealed in text, which is kind of like the memory piecing things together with hindsight. It might also include a few surprises, which the players seem to like - the philanderer getting someone pregnant, the blacksmith being asked to make the horseshoes for the queen's horse, a brewer making it into a now popular tavern song, etc. Not too many, but enough to keep them listening.

Also, from a story perspective, I particularly downtime activities for the passing of time: wounds healing fully, learning new spells, tactical training, etc.
 

BookTenTiger

He / Him
I had fun creating this one. I definitely don't think it would be appropriate for every table, but I'd have a hoot running a player through it at mine!

Finding Treasure
Your character spends a year or more searching through ruins, distant lands, or the archives of academies for hidden treasure. You spent part of the year researching where the treasure is located, and part of the year traveling and exploring to find the treasure, all while trying to avoid danger.

Resources: Searching for treasure takes time and money. You must hire guides, purchase maps, and maintain a steady supply of rations, torches, and sturdy ropes. Each year of finding treasure costs 100 gold pieces.

Resolution: When you first start to find treasure, choose a treasure rarity. This will determine the DC of all ability checks made. At the end of each year, make three ability checks: one to locate treasure, one to travel to the treasure, and one to avoid danger. Then, check the Finding Treasure Results table to determine your boons and banes. With your DM's permission, you may use another skill or tool for any of these checks, if it makes sense in your campaign world.

Treasure RarityDCTreasure Worth
Uncommon1210 x Character Level
Rare1550 x Character Level
Very Rare20100 x Character Level
Legendary25200 x Character Level

Locate Treasure Checks
Intelligence (Cartographer's Tools)
Intelligence (History)
Intelligence (Investigation)

Travel Checks
Dexterity (Vehicles)
Intelligence (Navigator's Tools)
Wisdom (Survival)

Avoid Danger Checks
Charisma (Persuasion)
Dexterity (Acrobatics)
Dexterity (Acrobatics)


Number of Successes - Results
0 - No treasure found. Roll one boon, one bane.
1 - You find coins, gems, and art pieces equal to half the Treasure Worth. Roll one boon, one bane.
2 - You find coins, gems, and art pieces equal to the Treasure Worth. Roll two boons, one bane.
3 - You find coins, gems, and art pieces equal to double the Treasure Worth. Roll two boons.


Boons (1d10)
  1. You find an Uncommon Magic Item.
  2. You find a unique piece of art worth 1d10 x 10 gold pieces. However, to the right collector, it is worth much, much more.
  3. You find a map to a unique ruin, lost city, or dungeon. Checks made to find your way around this new area are made with advantage.
  4. You find an ancient tome detailing the history of a ruin, lost city, or dungeon. Checks made to find out knowledge about this new area are made with advantage.
  5. On your travels to distant lands, you gain proficiency in a new language.
  6. During your travels you made a connection with an ally who owns a ship, caravan, or other vehicle. This ally will give you free passage to locations along their normal route.
  7. You find a wizard's spellbook with 1 cantrip, 1d6 1st-level spells, 1d4 2nd-level spells, 1d2 3rd-level spells, and one 4th-level spell.
  8. You find a bejeweled ring, necklace, or crown worth 2d10 x 10 gold pieces. It bears the marking of a noble house, who may trade the treasure for a favor, title, or property.
  9. An academic writes of your exploits, earning you a reputation as a (1d4: 1- fearless; 2- brilliant; 3- indomitable; 4- lucky) treasure hunter. This reputation may help you make new connections, access forbidden maps, or gain the attention of wealthy patrons.
  10. You find a reliquary worth 3d10 x 10 gold pieces. If you return it to an appropriate place of worship, they will reward you with free spellcasting services.
Banes (1d10)
  1. You receive a lingering injury. During the next opportunity for long-term downtime, you cannot choose Finding Treasure as an activity.
  2. You gain the attention of a rival treasure hunter.
  3. You receive a terrible scar, limp, or other lasting malady.
  4. Due to poor luck on your exploits, your treasure total is halved.
  5. You gain an Uncommon Magic Item... that is cursed!
  6. The treasure you found was idolized by a temple, noble household, or cult, whose malice you have now earned.
  7. You have been cursed! Your Hit Point Maximum is reduced by a number equal to your Proficiency Bonus. This curse can only be lifted by Greater Restoration, or a more powerful spell.
  8. Due to misinformation, miscommunication, or bad luck, you have earned a poor reputation in a community, who thinks of you as a (1d4: 1- graverobber; 2- heathen; 3- common thief; 4- liar). Charisma ability checks in this community are made at disadvantage while the reputation lasts.
  9. You have been cursed! You age 5d4 years (double if playing as a dwarf, elf, or gnome).
  10. The treasure you found was counterfeit! You may still try to sell it with a successful Charisma (Deception) check equal to the Treasure Rarity DC. If you fail by 5 or more, you will attract the attention of the authorities.
 

Downtime for a year or two... Normally I would say that treasure hunting should be standard adventuring, but if it's a "side quest" while other PCs are doing something involved I guess I could see it.

As to actual activities:
  • Working with an Organization; time at the Temple, Training Grounds, Thief's Guild, &c.
  • Research; complex magic items, rituals, lost fighting techniques, &c. (Gandalf at Minas Tirith)
  • Extreme Training or Meditations; looking to gain a bonus to attributes.
  • Administration of Holdings; Ruling your Barony, Guild
  • Courting and/or Securing an Heir
  • Negotiating Contracts / Treaties with Hostile Powers
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
Downtime for a year or two... Normally I would say that treasure hunting should be standard adventuring, but if it's a "side quest" while other PCs are doing something involved I guess I could see it.

As to actual activities:
  • Working with an Organization; time at the Temple, Training Grounds, Thief's Guild, &c.
  • Research; complex magic items, rituals, lost fighting techniques, &c. (Gandalf at Minas Tirith)
  • Extreme Training or Meditations; looking to gain a bonus to attributes.
  • Administration of Holdings; Ruling your Barony, Guild
  • Courting and/or Securing an Heir
  • Negotiating Contracts / Treaties with Hostile Powers
Good list but I'd also add:

--- Travel and exploration of distant lands/places/cultures (in other words, tourism)
--- Doing Nothing, i.e. long-term rest and-or recovery of health, lost stat points, etc.
 

Banes (1d10)
  1. You receive a lingering injury. During the next opportunity for long-term downtime, you cannot choose Finding Treasure as an activity.
  2. You gain the attention of a rival treasure hunter.
  3. You receive a terrible scar, limp, or other lasting malady.
  4. Due to poor luck on your exploits, your treasure total is halved.
  5. You gain an Uncommon Magic Item... that is cursed!
  6. The treasure you found was idolized by a temple, noble household, or cult, whose malice you have now earned.
  7. You have been cursed! Your Hit Point Maximum is reduced by a number equal to your Proficiency Bonus. This curse can only be lifted by Greater Restoration, or a more powerful spell.
  8. Due to misinformation, miscommunication, or bad luck, you have earned a poor reputation in a community, who thinks of you as a (1d4: 1- graverobber; 2- heathen; 3- common thief; 4- liar). Charisma ability checks in this community are made at disadvantage while the reputation lasts.
  9. You have been cursed! You age 5d4 years (double if playing as a dwarf, elf, or gnome).
  10. The treasure you found was counterfeit! You may still try to sell it with a successful Charisma (Deception) check equal to the Treasure Rarity DC. If you fail by 5 or more, you will attract the attention of the authorities.
Replace #8 with this and you're golden.
 

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