Posted by : David Guyll June 10, 2013

Where the past few Legends & Lore articles have talked about existing game elements and the potential changes to them (that some are disappointed about not seeing in the most recent packet), this week we scratch the surface behind something completely new: downtime guidelines.

The basics of the system are that each week you can choose a task to improve or work on. These are divvied into four categories: influence, economic, knowledge, and dominion, and include tasks like crafting items, earning some extra cash, studying, meeting new people, building things, etc.

Apparently every background benefit can be picked up using this system, but obviously some tasks can take longer than a week to complete, most cost money, and where you are can put limits on what you can do (but not levels, so of course if/when we see the first draft of these rules I am sooo going to try building a keep right away). I am curious if there will be other limitations, such as Intelligence on learning more languages, or Charisma for a kind of "friend-cap" similar to the henchmen/follower limits from past editions.

It is being designed as a "simple set of rules", so I am curious if/how ability scores, race, class (and class features), skills, feats, religion, etc affect the time/money/place factors. Like, does a high Intelligence or Charisma help you respectively learn languages or make friends faster? Do dwarves pick up gemcutting faster than, say, elves? Can a wizard use her magic to cut costs on running a magic business? Does a cleric substitute for a temple if someone wants to learn a new religion? I am not asking for a huge table of specifics, but it would be nice if they had guidelines to help DMs modify them.

I think that this is something where they could really go crazy, like attaching time and/or gp costs to obtaining certain class features or feats (as well as for swapping them). For example, instead of multiclassing into fighter or burning a feat to pick up Armor Proficiency, you could spend a week and some cash learning how to use Light armor. A fighter could spend a month and some cash attending a wizard academy to learn a cantrip. Unfortunately while there is a precedence in past editions on spending gp for these sorts of things, it that might be too granular for what they want to do with Next.

I find the concept is interesting, and given that players will be able to personally invest in things think that it will be more useful in getting players to interact socially and care about the immediate area, than the lengthy recovery times pitched in last week's hit point article. Depending on how the mechanics work and the reliability of some tasks, I could also see players abusing it to pick up more globally useful background benefits, grind gold, or "find" rumors for specific magic items. Something to keep in mind.

Some closing thoughts: my games do not often have lots of downtime, so incrementally being able to complete some tasks would be nice. Like, if I am learning how to cut gems, will I be able to work at it for a day or two, adventure, come back for a few more days, etc until I am done? It would also be nice to see a good system for allowing wizards to research/modify spells, as well as construct guardians.

{ 2 comments... read them below or Comment }

  1. I've read comments from the link, and a few tweets from others. I seriously don't get folks. People piss and moan about 4E being all about combat and nothing else. Now WotC is exploring about giving tools (mind you I'm seeing this as optional rules) to DMs to work out other far-reaching tasks, and they tear into this.

    I love that WotC is considering providing tools and frameworks for a system for players handling this. Having some guidelines makes my job as a DM much easier than me trying to do this on my own. If it's cool, fine. If not, I can forget about it. If I want to, I can tweak it. I'm with you completely on this, it's a nifty idea.

  2. I do not get it either. They have not even shown us any actual rules. At the least we have the option of seeing the tools before the load out is finalized.



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