A Guide To Downtime
- Downtime represents what characters do between events.
- Only primary characters may act in downtime.
- Actions are submitted by e-mail to the ref team ([email protected]).
- Skills are learned in downtime.
- There is 1 week of IC time between interactives.
“Downtime” is the time between events. During downtime, primary characters can act in the game world: you can email the ref team to tell them what actions you would like your character to attempt between events. There is usually one downtime period between each interactive. Downtime is intended to provide a background to Uptime, rather than as a primary way to advance your character’s goals. It is of lesser importance to Uptime – indeed, it is not necessary to submit a Downtime in order to play at events, while it is necessary for a character to appear in Uptime if you wish to submit a Downtime for them. Once per term, a character may have a single additional “grace” Downtime, to cover a single week in which their player was unavoidably prevented from attending the interactive but would otherwise have wished to do so.
To submit a Downtime, you should send it via e-mail to the ref team. The weekly deadline for downtime submissions is set by the ref team and will be announced in the weekly email and at the end of the previous event.
Because downtime is not roleplayed, some actions are impossible to take. For instance, you may not attack another character between events.
Whenever your character’s skills cross a level boundary, you should attach your character sheet to your downtime for the refs to check.
In their Downtime, your character may perform the following actions:
- 1 Major Action.
- 1 Research Action, if the character has a skill permitting them to Research a new ability or construction (such as alchemists, mages, and hextechnicians).
- Up to 7 Minor Actions.
Your actions should be submitted in this order, with the minor actions in order of importance: if the ref team decides that your character does not have enough time in their week to complete all their actions, the minor action at the bottom of the list will be dropped first, then the one above it, and so on.
The Major Action is what your character spends the majority of their downtime focusing on. Learning a Root Skill requires a Major Action. Major Actions can also be used to gain better results in some downtime actions through your character’s extra dedication and time spent: for example, a Major Action of “I preach about the Crofter and try to gain converts” will typically be more effective than the same submission written as a Minor Action.
The Research Action is a special action gained by some character classes, permitting them to research a new ability or design a new device. If your character possesses one or more skills that state that they may research something (such as a new spell, potion, or hextechnical blueprint), they may do so as a Research Action. Most Research will require the character to repeat the same research action for a number of weeks, determined by the refs.
Minor Actions cover absolutely anything else your character could possibly do in Downtime, from learning non-root skills to spying on other characters to going on bizarre lunch dates with NPCs. You can even intercept and read other characters’ post! But beware: they might find out…
Please keep your actions short and simple so the ref team can easily see what you are trying to do! Description of how you carry them out should largely be written in the “Fluff” section.
No action is guaranteed to succeed, not even skill learning! Sometimes, events in the city may disrupt things to such an extent that you are unable to carry out some actions, or even unable to learn some or all of your skills. If this is the case, you may simply try again in a future downtime. If, however, the action is completely impossible for your character, the refs will usually attempt to hint at this to you. They will not, however, stop you from trying if you really want to.
Skills marked as “Root Skills” require a Major Action to learn. You can thus only learn one root skill per downtime. Any other skill can be learnt as a minor action. It is appreciated if, for each skill, you include a small description of where and how you are attempting to learn it in the fluff.
Up to 3 similar skills may be learnt as part of the same action. The more similar the skills are, the better. For example, a character with Warrior I may learn “Health I, Fitness I, Fortitude I” in a single action, but may not learn “Health I, Speak Roma” in a single action.
When learning a skill, please still note your other relevant skills, which in this case are the prerequisites. Please also note the XP spent on the skill/s. For example “Learn Elemental Skill III (12 XP) [Elemental Skill II; Level 3+ character]”.
Skills learnt in Downtime may not be used in the downtime in which they are learnt, save as prerequisites for other skills: you may learn Hide & Sneak and Stealth I in the same downtime, but will not be able to move stealthily until the next event.
Because the possibilities for minor actions outside of skill learning are almost limitless, here are a few examples of things you can attempt:
- Preaching to gain converts to your faith, or making speeches to convince others of your point of view. If you write a speech for your character to give, include it in the fluff! Other characters may pass by and hear it in their own downtimes.
- Beating up unimportant NPCs. If you try to get into a fight with NPCs in downtime, include all weapons, armour worn, and combat-relevant skills! If you don’t specify that you’re a warrior with Melee V and 6 hits/loc, the ref team will likely not have time to check your character sheet to find out, and you may get embarrassingly laid out by a 2/loc grandma with a dross rolling pin.
- Following and spying on NPCs or even PCs. Again, please write down any stealth skills, darkness magic spells, etc. that you want to use when undertaking this action!
- Spreading or listening to rumours. You too can set the whole town abuzz with speculation about the real motives for your friend’s treasure-hunting ways.
- Gathering any other kind of information, e.g. searching for knowledge about an event that happened recently, or an NPC you’ve only heard of, or what boggarts do and whether they can be green. Sometimes the refs may ask you if you wish to spend XP to gain a relevant Knowledge skill.
- Maintaining, upkeeping, and interacting with any organisations (such as the Guilds or the Guard) that your character is a member of.
- Travelling anywhere outside the Palatinate, 1 action per location. Although the current means of geomantically-enabled fast travel means that any given journey will usually only take one minor action, some journeys may still take an extended period of time. If a character is away for more than a week, they may not attend events until they have returned. The refs will usually inform you if a planned journey will take more than a week, and ask if you still wish to continue.
- Shopping & Selling. Your character can go to the marketplace, or any other traders they know about, and attempt to buy or sell goods and/or services (for example, you can buy a shield, sell a shield, try to hire mercenaries, or hire yourself out as a mercenary). You should note whether you have the Trade Lore skill (or the Innumeracy skill…), what the maximum amount your character is willing to spend is, and anything else you think is relevant. It is generally assumed that characters without Trade Lore are only mildly competent at haggling.
All actions are most effective when conducted in an appropriate location and manner by a character with the appropriate skills. For example, any character may watch a suspected bandits’ hideout, but only a scout with Hide & Sneak can do so without being spotted by the bandits!
When shopping without Trade Lore, a general rule of thumb (unless your character is Innumerate) is that your character will be able to tell whether a trade is ludicrously good or bad if the money you are offered / asked for is more than 50% below or above the price on the Equipment page: they are only aware of the rough price band the item should be in, not its real price. Thus, your character would not accept the payment of only 20 schillings when trying to sell their 42″ sword unless you explicitly write that they do, and would not buy a 42″ sword for 65 schillings unless you explicitly write that they do. Characters without Trade Lore have no idea of the value of rare items (items that do not appear on that page) and you are encouraged to make up numbers wildly. The ref team will not think less of you if your character thinks their magic item is worth only 5 schillings or a cool 10 sovereigns – people don’t know these things! (Lots of NPCs don’t either…)
The NPCs you meet in downtime are unlikely to have particularly rare or valuable items to sell, or to be able to afford to buy particularly expensive items from you. Instead, you may be able to arrange for a rare items merchant to visit the bar in uptime by appointment to trade with you (and everyone else present). This may not always be the case, depending on what else is going on in the city.
Optionally, you may write any amount of detail about your character’s actions! If the refs are particularly busy, they do not promise to read it in detail, but they will at least skim-read it and try to take it into account. Similarly, the refs will often write fluff back to you to describe your life in Durholme, but if there are a lot of downtime submissions to deal with, they may not have time to write in depth. Like your minor actions, it is recommended to put any bits you think are most important at the top.
If you do not include fluff in your downtime, you will generally not get fluff back. You can thus avoid getting fluff if you don’t want it. There will be quite a few exceptions, however, such as when significant events are happening in the city, if you have chosen to try and gather information, or if the consequences of one of your actions cannot be conveyed without it.
Communication During Downtime
- Characters may exchange letters during downtime.
- All letters must be copied to the refs.
- Characters should not conduct significant roleplay during downtime.
- Characters may, however, interact or collaborate during downtime.
Outside of uptime, your only means of communication with other characters is by letter. Durholme has very efficient message runners! Letters to other characters are usually sent as emails, and must CC the ref team. (If you wish to deliver a paper letter to another character’s player, you may, but you must first scan the letter and send it to the refs!) It is notably possible for a character to be spied on during downtime, and thus it is crucial that the refs are aware of any communications between characters which may be intercepted.
If you dedicate a minor action to hand-delivering your post, your character will not rely on message runners and will take their letters directly to their recipients’ dwellings or offices. You may not collect return letters in this fashion: the only letters you can hand-deliver are your own. You must still copy all your letters to the refs.
Characters may agree to collaborate on a downtime action. Characters who intend to do this must each write in their downtime that they intend to work together. If either player forgets to mention this, it will be assumed that their character forgot, or was kept busy by some other element of their downtime. Sometimes, characters will find themselves working together – or at cross purposes – by accident, if the ref team deem it appropriate.
Sometimes, characters just like to hang out together, for example going drinking to celebrate a victory or drown their sorrows after the death of a friend. This still requires a minor action. Each player may optionally write some fluff about their action which will be communicated to the other players; however, the refs will not put words in the characters’ mouths or write a conversation for them. You may write that you try to have an in-depth conversation about the meaning of life, but all the refs can tell the other player is that you attempt to strike up such a conversation with them but are too distracted to hold it properly, since they cannot speak for either character. Complex conversations such as this should only be held in uptime (or by letter, if you must).
Sometimes, an action you take in downtime may lead to encounters that need to be roleplayed. When this happens, the refs will inform you that you need to see them at the start of the next event for an “Uptime Downtime” to resolve what happened. Uptime Downtime carries the full risk of death, etc. that normal uptime does.
You may not request uptime downtime, and should not attempt to deliberately get one.
Under normal circumstances, it is usually impossible for a character to die in downtime. This does not mean that your character can survive leaping from a 200-metre height just because they did it in downtime, however. In general, if your downtime submission includes something that will be fatal, the refs will ask you if you really want to take that action and warn you it will likely lead to death. If you then confirm it, your character may die.
Downtime Submission Format
Please try to submit your downtimes in as close to this format as possible, as it really helps us process them! The subject line of your downtime email should read “Downtime – [Character Name]”, and the body should be as follows:
- (Optionally: any questions for the refs, and whether your character would like to go on this week’s adventure.)
- A line stating where your character lives and sleeps, anything unusual currently going on with them, and how much unspent XP they currently have.
- Major Action: A single sentence describing the key points of your major action.
- Research Action (if relevant): If your character doesn’t have a research action, or doesn’t use one this week, don’t include this line at all.
- Minor Actions: ideally in the form of a list of the key points of each minor action, in a single sentence each.
- Fluff: The space where you elaborate on how your character does each action, their thoughts, or anything else you feel is vaguely relevant to how they spend their week.
This is an example of a simple downtime, using all types of action, but not using all the possible minor actions.
Subject: Downtime – Evie Coallan
Evie is living in the Mages’ Guild. She currently has a broken leg. She is Level 4 and starts this downtime with 25 unspent XP.
Major Action: Evie learns Elemental Power III by studying and practising with the other mages. (11 XP) [Elemental Power II; Level 3+ character]
Research: Evie continues working on the spell to summon small rocks (week 2/3).
- Evie learns Air Lore II and Disarm at the Mages’ Guild. (3 XP + 2 XP) [Air Lore I]
- Evie limps down to the restricted section of the library to try and learn anything she can about minor demons of forgetting, amnesia, or similar. [Demonology; Diablerie IV if it’s relevant?]
- Evie goes out drinking with Merwyn, Frithiof, and Egbert to celebrate their success on their last adventure!
- Evie listens for rumours.
Evie can be heard cursing around the Mages’ Guild as she limps about on her crutch. She spends a chunk of her time either in the library, studying air magic or working on her rock spell, or else in the practice hall working on building up her magical powers. One evening, she sneaks into the restricted section to see if she can learn about the kind of demons that might have caused her ‘little problem’…
Despite her injury, she’s still determined to celebrate, meeting up with her friends to party! She is a giddy, silly drunk and can easily be induced to tell awful jokes.
In response to this, the refs might write something like…
Major Action: You successfully learn Elemental Power III.
Research: Your research continues, although you still haven’t quite mastered the intensified forms required to summon forth that much matter from the Plane of Earth. (Week 2/3 complete.)
- You learn Air Lore II and Disarm!
- You are interrupted, but are able to make a mental note of two names: Ksytergath and Melnemith, which at least might be the names of demons? See fluff for details.
- Merwyn can’t make it, but otherwise the celebration is a success, or what you can remember of it is! See fluff.
- You hear a few things round about, notably that Skarr has apparently invented some sort of better sundial; that the Scouts’ Guild is being redecorated for the third time this month; and that there are some particularly cunning pickpockets apparently operating in the market square.
Most of your week is spent in magical study, both in theory and in practice, and you have little time for anything more, though you see Lyrisse at one point practising her fireballs outside, much to the exasperation of the gardeners. Your excursion to the library is only about half successful, since you’re not exactly sneaky at the best of times: just as you think you’re onto something, you’re interrupted by the librarian. When you can’t think of a good excuse for being in this section, you’re escorted out, but you did at least catch a couple of references that certainly looked like they might be the names of demons related to the mind in some way. You’re not even sure what circle they might be, though…
On Thursday night, you, Frithiof, and Egbert wait for Merwyn for a while before giving her up as a lost cause and getting absolutely hammered. The party starts in the Meeping Mewlip, and you honestly forget where you ended up! Frithiof is a boastful drunk and starts loudly proclaiming to the other patrons how awesome the three of you are while standing on your table. That’s probably what gets you thrown out of that bar. You think your joke about the fisherman and the walrus might have been what got you summarily ejected from the Red Warlock, as well. At least Egbert’s more melancholy drunkenness doesn’t really get you in trouble, as he sighs over something or other into his ale.
You come to in a gutter with a particularly ungainly hat over your face and a small vetch loudly shouting at you to push off out of his doorway. Dizzy, you stagger back home with your leg hurting even worse than usual, vaguely wondering where the other two ended up.
Note that one of Evie’s actions was not exactly a grand success, which the refs have hinted in the fluff was due to her lack of stealth skills. Although she did obtain two names, they may or may not even be relevant, and she has no other information. She is unlikely to have better luck if she tries at the library again, unless she learns stealth skills first. In a future downtime, she could try to get this information another way – or, in her next uptime, she could ask one of her scout friends to try and steal the relevant book for her, and see how their next downtime turns out…