I know I just finished up May’s RPG Blog Carnival but it’s time for June’s! This month the carnival topic was picked by Phil over at Tales of a GM and the theme is “Summerland.” Great topic!

When I think about Summer I think beaches, barbecues, sitting in the sun, relaxing a hammock, going camping, seeing a blockbuster movie, the end of the school year, and fun. In a word I think vacation. So that’s exactly what I’m going to write about – downtime between adventures in RPGs, specifically adding options to the downtime mechanics already found in the Dungeon Master’s Guide for fifth edition Dungeons and Dragons. I’ll be presenting three today and two more on Thursday.

Note – maybe downtime isn’t for you… Or it just seems boring! We’re supposed to be adventuring after all! Well in another post next week I’m going to give you a few ways to make downtime more exciting and run smoothly at the table. For now, check out the options below.

New Downtime Options

These new downtime options can be added to any campaign at the DM’s discretion.

Create Cover Identity

It doesn’t hurt to have an identity to fall back on. At anytime an angry cult, government, former lover, or mob of monsters could be trying to track a character down. A PC can spend time establishing a new identity for when things go bad by forging documents, creating a disguise, and presenting the public with an alter ego.

Creating a false identity requires a character to stay in a specific area for a time to help spread the word of this new identity. The more populated an area is, the easier it is for that PC to create a new identity since there is less of a chance the PC will recognized. Likewise the more famous a PC is the more difficult it becomes to create or maintain a false identity, as the PC might be recognizable to even those who have yet to meet the character.

For every day spent creating a cover identity the PC must spend 1d6 gp.

Village (Population under 1,000) 60 days

Town (Population between 1,001 – 10,000) 30 days

City (Population 10,000 or more) 10 days

For every level above 1st the PC has attained +10 days

Maintaining a Cover Identity

Once a cover identity is established, that cover must be maintained as a character’s fame and notoriety grows. For every level the character attains after establishing a cover identity, that character must spend ten days of downtime and 1d6 x 10 gp maintaining the cover identity before it can be used.

Make Contacts

Establishing contacts in a settlement allow a character to gain information in that specific settlement. When a character is establishing contacts in a settlement, that character spends time in public places buying people meals and drinks, socializing, and perform in various favors for people. After a predetermined amount of time spent establishing contacts based on the size of the population of the settlement, that character gains advantage on any Charisma (Streetwise) and Intelligence (Investigation) checks when trying to learn more about events happening within that settlement.

For every day spent in an area gaining contacts a PC must spend 2d6 gp on drinks, meals, and gifts with potential contacts.

Village (Population under 1,000) 10 days

Town (Population between 1,001 – 10,000) 30 days

City (Population 10,000 or more) 90 days

If settlement is extremely closed or isolationist +20 days

If community generally looks down upon the race, class, or background of the PC +10 days

For every two levels the PC has attained -1 day (it takes a minimum of 1 day to establish contacts)

Petty Crime Spree

Sometimes crime does pay. In large cities and settlements with limited law enforcement characters might be able to spend their time committing small crimes – shoplifting, smash and grabs, shake downs, pick pocketing, burglaries, and collecting protection fees for the local thieves guild are all ways a PC might choose to earn cash during downtime.

The specific nature of these criminal activities are up to the player and DM. This downtime activity only works with smaller crimes which keep physical violence limited to theft and minimal property damage. More heinous or risky crimes should be played out as normal.

At the end of a time period spent committing a crime spree, the character must roll on the Crime Spree Downtime Table. If the character has training in a specific skill that would aid in the crimes they choose to commit (e.g. A PC trained in Stealth committing burglaries or in Intimidation shaking down shopkeepers for protection fees), the DM can allow the character to roll twice on the table and use the higher result.

Crime Spree Downtime Table

d100 + Level Result
1 – 30 The authorities catch you and you are jailed for 1d10 days. You can avoid jail by paying a fine of 10 gp per day you are jailed.
31 – 40 You unwittingly commit a crime against a fellow criminal attached to an organized crime ring of the DM’s choice. This organization is now an enemy and seeks retribution.
41 – 60 You earn enough money to recuperate all your lifestyle expenses for the time spent committing crime.
61 – 80 Crime does pay! You recuperate all your lifestyle expenses for the time spent committing crime and gain 4d6 x 10 gp.
81 – 100 Crime does pay! Surprisingly well! You recuperate all your lifestyle expenses for the time spent committing crime and gain 5d10 x 10 gp.

If you like what you’re reading, please check out my podcasts on The Tome Show, follow me on Twitter, tell your friends and share this blog post, and/or leave me a comment and let me know you think. Thanks!

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Comments
  1. Philmagpie says:

    Hi James,

    Great article, thanks for taking part.There is certainly a lot of scope for stories initiated during supposed “downtime” in a game.

    I shall post a link on the Summerland launch page.

    All the best
    Phil

    Liked by 1 person

  2. […] Downtime activities for Heroes […]

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  3. Jeffrey Malcolmson says:

    These are great, but I wish the cover identity gave a clear explanation of what you can gain from it, as opposed to just making up a false name on the spot.

    Liked by 1 person

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