Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Travelogues: downtime activities

So, what about those downtime activities? Let's review.

New downtime activities

Discussions with my mate are looking like downtime might be spend in blocks of four hours in his campaign, which is fair enough. Let's assume that as the basis for now; DCs below have been adjusted accordingly.

There are basically two types of downtime activities here: essential and optional. It's pretty much essential (at least on longer journeys) to forage for food and water, and so these activities are relatively easy. The other activities give characters an opportunity to prepare and reduce the chances of something going wrong in future, but gaining these benefits is more difficult.


This represents the PC taking some time out, not simply to rest, but to take care of their health. As well as resting, they basically do everything worried mothers advise: take their time over eating, wrap up warm, wash or otherwise clean themselves, stretch properly, massage aching muscles, clean teeth, apply blister plasters, clean and bandage wounds, trim nails and hair, remove lice and so on. Success requires a DC 10 Wisdom (Medicine) roll. Magical healing ability grants advantage on the roll.

When a PC is unwell, they may be unable to look after themselves. Another PC (or an NPC) can perform Healthcare on their behalf, granting them the same benefits.

Animal care

I don't really want to individually track the health status of the party's mounts and pack animals. However, they will be affected by some random events.

Animal Care will be a new option for downtime. This is essentially healthcare for your mounts. The character inspects the party's animals, grooms them, removes lice and fleas, takes stones out of hooves, cleans and treats wounds, adjusts tack and packages to minimise the risk of injuring them, and perhaps gives them some anti-parasitic herbal draughts.

Success requires a DC 10 Wisdom (Nature) roll. The ability to speak with animals of the mounts' type grants advantage on the roll.


The character spends a four-hour block of time foraging for food and water. They must make a DC12 Wisdom (Survival) roll, and compare results to the foraging chart.

A character who makes a DC 15 Intelligence (Nature) roll gains advantage on their Survival roll, as they can use their learning to predict where to find edible food.

  • Less than 10: you find negligible food, certainly no more than compensates for the energy you expended foraging, or waste your time gathering inedible foodstuffs, or lose your gathered food through some accident.
  • 10-14: you find 1 pound of basic food or you find 1d6 pounds of squalid food.*
  • 15-19: you find 1d3 pound of basic food.
  • 20-24: you find 2d3 pounds of basic food. If you make a Wisdom (Perception) DC 15 check, you also find 1 pound of healthy food.
  • 25-29: you find 3d3 pounds of basic food. If you make a Wisdom (Perception) DC 15 check, you also find 1d3 pounds of healthy food.
  • 30-34: you find 4d3 pounds of basic food. If you make a Wisdom (Perception) DC 15 check, you also find 2d3 pounds of healthy food.

Water is resolved differently from food: either you find it, or you don't. Roll Wisdom (Survival) when foraging to see what water is found. The DM determines what modifiers apply based on the terrain; a desert might impose a -20, whereas in rainforests a +20 might apply. If characters are foraging in groups, only one character in each group rolls for water.

A character can make an Intelligence (Nature) roll to gain advantage on rolls to find water.

In some locations, water may be always clean, or there may be no clean water to find. This is up to the DM.

  • 4 or less: you find no water, or only damp soil and shallow puddles, or water tainted beyond even magical purification
  • 5-9: you find foul-tasting filthy water. Make a Constitution save to keep it down (DC 15). If you drink it, roll an additional Health check today, with advantage if you boiled it.
  • 10-14: you find some tolerable water. If you drink it, you suffer a -2 penalty on Health checks today, unless you boil it.
  • 15-19: you find a stream of fresh water.
  • 20+: you find a spring of clear, sweet water. If you drink it, you gain advantage on Health checks today.


Instead of foraging, a character can opt to go hunting. Of course, sometimes the party might kill something they can eat just in passing: wild animals are often edible, though carnivores usually taste pretty bad. Hunting in this mechanical sense is assumed to feature smaller and more common animals, as well as birding and fishing.

The character must make a Wisdom (Survival) roll to find an opportunity to hunt. As with foraging, additional characters working together offer a reroll. If they achieve a DC17, the character spots an opportunity to hunt something. For every additional 5 points, they find an additional opportunity that day (though the food will need preserving).

To successfully hunt, the character makes a hunting roll based on the type of opportunity: Dexterity (Stealth) for waterside fishing or hunting larger game, Wisdom (Perception) for boat fishing or hunting smaller game, Strength (Athletics) for birds-nesting and digging out burrows. Of course, the DM determines what options are possible (you can't do much but sea-fishing if you're at sea, for example) and which present themselves. This has DC 15.

If the hunting roll is successful, the character can provide the party with Rich meals for the day (or 2d3 pounds if you're really worried about details).

If we're shifting to a four-hour block system, forget food preservation and cooking time. Let's assume that's rolled into the process of collecting and/or eating.


The character spends time keeping the party's equipment in good condition, doing preventative work and repairing minor damage.

This is a Dexterity (Nature) roll with DC 15. A success grants a bonus on some random event rolls (not yet discussed).

A character proficient in the use of appropriate tools (leatherworker, tinker, woodworker, tentmaker, anything that would cover at least some of these duties) gains advantage on the roll.

In some circumstances, the party may be able to pay NPCs to do maintenance for them, saving time but not necessarily achieving as much as the PCs could. In some cases they receive free maintenance, especially when guests of powerful NPCs.

  • Highly skilled NPCs automatically pass maintenance for 10gp.
  • Average NPCs can make a roll with a +5 proficiency modifier for 5gp, giving a typical 50% chance of success.
  • Unskilled NPCs can make a roll for 1gp. If they roll a 1-5, they get something wrong and create a problem for the PCs, though it may not be immediately apparent.

New stuff

So what else can party members usefully do in this time? That's plenty already, surely?

Journey planning

A character can choose to spend downtime planning the next stage of the journey. This takes different shapes depending on their situation, skillset and what they know.

The character might try some of the following:

  • inspect maps and guidebooks so they know the terrain, understand the best route to follow, and are prepared for known difficulties
  • scout ahead and look out from high ground to give them an idea of what is to come and provide early warning of likely hazards
  • cast divination spells to learn about the local terrain and wildlife, predict the weather or foresee danger
  • run through strategies for dealing with the obstacles they may encounter, and prepare backup plans, to minimise time wasted
  • prepare any equipment they expect to need for the next stage of travel
  • talk to other travellers, hunters, hermits or villagers about the area and the latest news

This is an Intelligence (Survival) check with DC 15. Success provides a bonus on travel events rolls. Only one Planning bonus applies each day.

Keep up Morale

Sometimes, the most valuable contribution a character can make is making sure everyone gets along and keeping their spirits up when things get tough - right, Sam Gamgee?

A character can devote their downtime to a combination of activities that improve the party mood. This might include:

  • Chatting to other party members and lending a sympathetic ear
  • Doing small annoying tasks so the other party members don't have to
  • Actual leisure pursuits, like playing music, card games or telling stories
  • Putting extra effort into meal preparation and presentation, so they're tastier and more enjoyable to eat

This is a DC15 Charisma (Persuasion or Performance) roll. A success increases party Morale by 1, but only one success is possible each day.

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