D&D General Time Pressure and Adventures

Your DM says that tonight's adventure has a time limit. What's your first reaction?

  • Personally offended ("Okay first of all, how dare you?")

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Negative ("Ugh, boring. Nobody wants to watch their resources so closely.")

    Votes: 1 1.7%
  • Completely uninterested ("Gosh, look at the time, I forgot I had to go to a thing. See ya'll next w

    Votes: 2 3.4%
  • Combative (Argument after argument, hoping to wear the DM down and force them to change their mind

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Inflexible ("Whatever, we do what we want. If we fail, it's the DM's fault for imposing a time limi

    Votes: 1 1.7%
  • Indifferent ("Sounds good. I'll go load up on potions and coffee, and meet back here.")

    Votes: 13 22.0%
  • Positive ("It's a puzzle! So first, we need to prioritize stealth and save resources. If we...")

    Votes: 24 40.7%
  • Enthusiastic ("HECK YEAH! Right to the point, no dilly-dallying around! Let's move, team!!!")

    Votes: 15 25.4%
  • Other (allow me to explain)

    Votes: 3 5.1%


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aco175

Legend
My games tend to have campaign time limits, but those are more leisurely like, "Stand by the grey stone when the thrush knocks, and the setting sun with the last light of Durin's Day will shine upon the key-hole. We hardly have a night where there is something immediate, so once in a while it would be fun.
 

Jer

Legend
Supporter
As a DM I don't know that I've ever announced that there would be a time limit. Except for real world time limits ("I've got a thing tomorrow so we have to be done by 10 so I can go to bed" sorts of things).

I've definitely put time limits in, but they're more like "if you don't get to this shrine by the time the full moon rises tonight the curse will be permanent" sort of time limits. Like in our current game they have hit a point where they have 2 days to get out of the dungeon they're in or an ally they've found will be reabsorbed back into the dungeon. Since the entrance that got them into the dungeon is now closed to them, and they're deep in its bowels at this point, they're racing to find another exit.
 


I thought the last session I DMd was bad. Between the beers, bud and the one player wanting the hockey game on, at points I had trouble keeping the players focused and getting sidetracked by out of game side conversations. I threatened to end the game for the night on a few occasions and they eventually came around. If I had to deal with an hour-long conversation on puppies, I think I'd have unleashed Clifford and Marmaduke on the party while they weren't paying attention for the TPK. 🐶
 

Oofta

Legend
I put in de facto time limits all the time. The world keeps on ticking along whether the PCs do anything about it or not. I also use alternate rest rules, so it's not a blitz, more like "if we take a week off to get a long rest things will happen". So if you're in hostile territory, you can try to rest. It may work, or you might wake up to find yourself surrounded by a patrol. Decide not to track down that kidnapper so you can get a long rest? Oops, the mayor's son was sent home in several boxes.

One of the reasons I enjoy playing D&D instead of a video game is because video games are almost always static until activated. The real world doesn't work like that, I don't want my game to be like that either. Kill the patrol? When the patrol doesn't report in, things are going to happen. The PCs may not know what, exactly but it's probably not going to go well for them.

I don't normally do super tight deadlines, we're normally talking about a matter of days not hours. Once in a while it's also fun to have a sprint to the finish.
 

payn

Legend
Im quite positive to this. I am very much in favor of the resource attrition concept of older days. In my defense, I usually build adventures that should take a day, but can really go pear shaped if the players engage poorly. How much they accomplish and what happens if they dont is the best part of playing! Also, I dont like megadungeons in general, so I never use them.
 


el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
While I have certainly run adventures with time limits and try to run a "living" setting (or at least the illusion of a living setting) so there is always some kind of clock/calendar moving forward even if it is not "the hostages will be sacrificed/the town will be blown up" type time limits - so something like, if the PCs hoped to speak to High Priest Payn when he is in town for the Festival of Oofta, but ended up taking an extra five days traveling back from the Caves of Amathal, welp, the festival is over the high priest has moved on. . . Now they need to consider, it is important enough to travel after him? Find a replacement source of info? Etc. . .

Most of the time, however, I am blessed with a group who set their own time limits in terms of reacting to the world and making reasonable assumptions about how much time they have to accomplish something.

The current adventure I am running, "The Wayward Wood" from Dungeon #32 (1991) has a time limit in the form of the animated forest approaching a town and potentially destroying it and then causing an ecological disaster as farmlands are torn up and then a forest from the hills tries to take root in wetlands (the party has a Circle of the Land Swamp druid, so this adventure is really focused towards his motives). The PCs know they have about 3 to 4 days to stop the worst of the results - and at one point after a big fight they had a chance at long rest but decided it made more sense to accomplish a couple of tasks first (despite their weakened state) because this was too important to put off and for all they knew they'd be harder to accomplish later - but I never told them that.

I see this kind of play as a result of knowing that the DM is going to follow through on consequences.
 

payn

Legend
I will say I often make my players make decisions they don't like making. Chase after the bandits fleeing, or continue to the bandit HQ to help the victims. On one hand, the bandits could regroup and return to the HQ and cause an issue later, on the other who knows what the victims are going through and how much time they may have? My players always try and find the "do it all" solution but it just doesn't exist.

So, I agree with the style @el-remmen discusses above.
 

Also, I dont like megadungeons in general, so I never use them.
Im the same. I used to like them but as a DM theyre too hard and time consuming to make unique over the long haul. As a player I despise them. Most DMs Ive played with run them too linear and my attention span drops to non-existent immediately as they usually just suck.
 

payn

Legend
Im the same. I used to like them but as a DM theyre too hard and time consuming to make unique over the long haul. As a player I despise them. Most DMs Ive played with run them too linear and my attention span drops to non-existent immediately as they usually just suck.
Yeah, I can see the appeal to folks not like me. It cuts right to the chase and gives them their fun. I just prefer a world that makes more sense, a more typical pulpy adventure, and I like the idea that an adventuring day should be enough to solve something. Often in megadungeons its just press your luck and then find a place to rest. Some GMs will have the dungeon react, many wont. Just not my scene.

A megadungeon is an excellent way to learn a new gaming system. It's all tire kicking so to speak, so I do see usefulness in them, despite not liking them.
 

If some evil wizard is going to set off his magic nuke to destroy the city, he's not going to wait for 3 extra weeks just because the PCs decided to do a bunch of side-quests and got hammered in a pub and woke up without pants. That story has a time limit. These PCs will wake up without pants and without city if they decided to ignore that time limit.

This.

Can anyone give me a work of fiction, or even a real life scenario, where the primary antagonist is NOT the clock?

Literally any movie featuring a ticking time bomb, or other pressures to drive the story forward. Luke didnt have time to leave the battle of Yavin and sleep overnight before coming back and blowing up the Death Star the next day any more than Han had time to fall back overnight to shut down the Death Star 2's shield generator, Frodo didnt have the luxury of just staying home for a bit longer and chilling out while Sauron sat on his hands, and SF Operators overseas cant just clear a few rooms of a hostage compound, bugger off and rest for a few hours, then come back to finish the job.

I cant just go on holidays forever, or delay that project for work. I cant turn up at whatever time I want in the morning, any more than I can take 4 hour lunch breaks.

So many DMs totally never turn their mind to temporal constraints, and they exist in fiction and in the real world, constantly.

I personally find an adventure where time is not of the essence, to be not only boring but also frankly lazy and unrealistic.
 

Yeah, I can see the appeal to folks not like me. It cuts right to the chase and gives them their fun. I just prefer a world that makes more sense, a more typical pulpy adventure, and I like the idea that an adventuring day should be enough to solve something. Often in megadungeons its just press your luck and then find a place to rest. Some GMs will have the dungeon react, many wont. Just not my scene.

A megadungeon is an excellent way to learn a new gaming system. It's all tire kicking so to speak, so I do see usefulness in them, despite not liking them.
I never understood dugeons, especially mega-dungeons. I just cant suspend disbelief enough to accept that all these dungeons were built and abandoned.
 

Vaalingrade

Legend
Voted negative because it is the opposite of what I want out of the game.

I'm here to relax and have fun. Explicitly going out of the way to add stress is where I check out. If it's one leg of an adventure, I'll grit my teeth and hate you for a while, but I'm just not going to partake if it's a regular feature.
 

payn

Legend
I never understood dugeons, especially mega-dungeons. I just cant suspend disbelief enough to accept that all these dungeons were built and abandoned.
I can definitely see old ruined keeps taken over by monsters, or keeps in very good condition that are currently upkept. Having hundreds of them around tho, starts to stretch the imagination. Which is why I like wilderness, urban, and dimensional. Spice it up and get creative!
 

Li Shenron

Legend
Suppose it's game night, and your DM announces that tonight's adventure has a time limit. The clock is ticking! Maybe the princess is going to be sacrificed at dawn. Maybe the caves will flood as soon as the tide comes in. Maybe the curse will take you all at midnight! Or something like that...your DM has made it clear to you that you won't have limitless time to explore, rest, and chase rabbits. You have only a limited amount of time to Do The Thing or you will fail the mission.
Indifferent. I am ok with characters having time constraints, but they don't make the adventures more exciting to play for me personally.

However... if the DM starts to apply time constraints to players, with shenanigans like countdown timers in the middle of the table, I will play along but probably leave the group after the session.
 

BookTenTiger

He / Him
I think one important factor of a ticking clock adventure is clear consequences.

If the consequence of not completing the goal in time is out-and-out failure... Well to be honest I don't find that as fun.

If the consequence of not completing the goal in time is a loss of reputation, the treasure hoard being cut in half, losing some hostages, the villain gaining more power... That kind of stuff is fun!

All in all, though, I want a DM to be clear about what the consequences are. It wouldn't be fun to arrive at the dragon's hoard and the cave is empty, and for the DM to announce, "During your week of downtime the dragon took the treasure and flew away."
 

I can definitely see old ruined keeps taken over by monsters, or keeps in very good condition that are currently upkept. Having hundreds of them around tho, starts to stretch the imagination. Which is why I like wilderness, urban, and dimensional. Spice it up and get creative!
My point exactly,a couple sure, Ill believe. I vote to change the games name to "A Couple Dungeons and a Few Dragons".
 

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