Running Downtime Sessions – Tips and Tricks – Volume 5
Volume 5: Asynchronous Storytelling
In this series, we are unearthing the arcana of managing downtime sessions and activities in your campaigns. Downtime sessions are those that detail the between adventure activities that the characters get up to. Forging weapons, acquiring lands, or any of countless options. 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’ll be able to use the Downtime Manager app to keep your players (and their characters) entertained until you all have the opportunity to adventure together again.
This is the fifth article in our Running Downtime Sessions series. You can check out the others in the series here:
In the first four articles we’ve covered the basics of Downtime Sessions and talked about how to run a cool downtime session. In this fifth article, we’ll focus on an old, but great storytelling technique that doesn’t require continuous presence from the DM and the player.
Playing play-by-post or choose-your-own-adventure -style
I loved play-by-mail games in the early 90s, and I absolutely own every book from the choose-your-own-adventure series. We even had a game studio earlier which created nine mobile games inspired by them. Let’s see how you can utilize this game style during your downtime sessions!
First of all, you need to create a goal. It can be anything, and it definitely doesn’t need to be something big. In other words, do not save a kingdom. It is more than enough to deliver a letter. Or help an artificer to create her masterpiece.
Then take this goal and break it down into steps, which will be actionable by the player. Depending on the length of your downtime session, around ten steps will be more than enough. It is easier to image the entire session as a decision tree, as shown in the following diagram.
Again, it doesn’t have to be complicated! Ten steps with two branches are more than acceptable. Now you need to write a bit: what happens before the character chooses this action? What happens after it has been completed?
If you opted for ten steps and two branches, the entire mini-story could be created in about four hours. Then all you have to do is send the first introductory paragraph to your player and wait for his or her decision! Then send the next and the next, based on the path taken!
Downtime Manager will contain such mini-stories in the form of Solo Season from version 2.4. So give it a shot, try it, and create your own storylines! It’s well worth the investment!
Image from: https://blogs.ubc.ca/etec540sept13/2013/11/24/choose-your-own-adventure/