Running Downtime Sessions – Tips and Tricks – Volume 2
Volume 2: How to run Downtime Sessions?
In this new series, we will unearth the arcana of running downtime sessions. In each article, we’ll offer up some exciting tips and tricks, dos and don’ts, and help you expand this often overlooked activity of the TTRPG. With well-thought-out downtime activities, you can keep your players (and their characters) entertained till you all have the opportunity to adventure together again.
There are typically three primary methods for handling character downtime sessions. They each have their pros and cons but the best adventure groups take advantage of downtime in one way or another.
At the end of the gaming session
Before you split and all go home (or shut down the software you are using), spend some time and figure out what your characters will be doing until the next adventure session.
You can use random tables, guidelines provided in sourcebooks, or you can do it in a narrative style, that’s totally up to you. A drawback to using random tables is that many of these options will have nothing to do with the current campaign and you’ll end up re-rolling a dozen times until a meaningful and fitting option comes in.
Pros: You are still in character. You are all there. It’s a nice way to end the gaming session.
Cons: It’s probably late and you are all tired. Time is most likely up. The GM has only a limited time for each player.
At the beginning of the next gaming session
Before you delve into the adventure next time, spend some time with what happened since we last saw our heroes. You’ll want to make sure you work this time into your plan for the night and keep it under an hour so you’re not wasting precious game time.
Pros: It’s a good way to get into the mood. You are all there.
Cons: You spent days organizing this session and you only have a few hours of play, might not want to waste a moment. The GM has only a limited time for each player.
Ideally, we’d all love to use the time we have between gaming sessions to manage what our characters are up to. Realistically, we have jobs, school, families, and other responsibilities that keep getting in the way! Obviously, players and GMs will want to coordinate times when they can check in on a regular basis about ongoing downtime activities, especially if the time between adventures is particularly lengthy.
Keeping engaged with your character and the adventure outside of the gaming session is the goal for downtime in addition to the player character rewards. This is why we’re developing a tool to help encourage players and GMs to keep in touch with minimal effort and respecting time obligations. Obviously, you’d need some tools for this. You could use a messaging app for all the plates and GM to stay in contact. The players describe to the GM what they want to do and the GM sets the rules, etc. There are other methods as well, but they all amount to a simple text conversation back and forth, and they still put a large time burden on the GM to have their resources available to reference when the players are available.
A dedicated app is the best option for the flow-based approach. Fanatic 5’s Downtime Manager 2.0 is such a take. It gives the DM the option to fully control the downtime session and the player to continuously spend time with the beloved character.
Think of all the time you spend mindlessly playing a mobile game, scrolling through social media. What if you dedicated 5 minutes of that time to checking in on your character, like your RPG version of a Tamagotchi pet? Instead of playing Candy Crush, you can have your Dwarf create “The Crusher”, a custom war hammer, and keep tabs on the status with your GM. When it’s finished crafting, you could coordinate with the Tiefling wizard in your party to enchant it, sharing the costs and time requirements, so that when the downtime session is over and you’re all gathered together for the next adventure you’ve kept the party working together and have some cool rewards to show for it.
Sounds pretty incredible right? We think so! Check out more about Downtime Manager and what it can do for you and your game group!
Next time, we will dig further into the details of how to plan Downtime Sessions into the campaign in advance to maximize its full potential and to keep your players entertained till the next gaming session is started.
In Volume #3 we’ll give you best practices on how to plan Downtime Sessions into your campaign in advance. Out next Friday!