View Full Version : Megadungeons and Time

2012-05-17, 12:55 AM
I've been toying with the idea of creating a PbP megadungeon for a while now. Specifically, one that lots and lots of players can play in, either on their own, or as part of a group, or some combination of both, but as a shared environment. The players might for Ad Hoc teams, or set up shops, it whatever else they like.

Obviously, the time-commitment aspect of this is huge, but the issue that bothers me the most is that of time-wise logistics. Let me explain. Suppose we have two players, a frequent poster and a slower one. The frequent poster will get more done in the game world in the same span of real-world time than the slower one, thereby causing time to pass faster for his character than for the slower poster's. This leads to a multitude of problems and paradoxes, some of which are the passage of days (the faster poster might easily be weeks ahead of the slower one in terms of game-world time), combat, and so on. I can't find any workaround for this issue, other than a rather draconian "if you take longer than a day to make an action, you are assumed not to have acted" which also bogs down the game for faster posters.

Does anybody else have any solutions?

2012-05-17, 05:05 AM
I would suggest setting beforehand a time conversion for real time to game time. That way everyone knows how much time is passing.

For example:

You start with 5 players. 3 of them commit to posting once a day. One says he can post 4 times a day, and the last says he can post once every couple of day.

Based on the mean post times of your players, you set 1 round of game time to equal one day of real time. So people posting more frequently will not be able to act further than one round, and people posting less frequently can perhaps post actions for the next two rounds so they're set until the next time they post.

Its not ideal, but if people of different posting frequencies are going to play together in this kind of arena, then some compromise must be made.

2012-05-17, 12:51 PM
The only thing I can think of is to have a real life time schedule.

For instance, you several players. Player 1 gets Monday, 12PM-1PM. Player 2 gets Wednesday, 1-2PM, so on and so forth. During this time you DM them for a set number of rounds for the week.

If a character misses a week, they miss that number of rounds. This is slightly less of a problem than if you have a sort of "post whenever you can" rule, because you can add the number of rounds they missed the week before to their next session. So, for instance, everyone but player 2 had 4 rounds on week 1. Week 2 has a schedule for 5 rounds of posting. So, on week 2, player 2 would get a chance for 9 rounds.

It does take PbP's greatest appeal, no time constraint, but said appeal can also be it's biggest downfall.

That's really the best thing I can think of. The hardest part would be finding a scheduled day for each player to coincide with the DM's schedule, because it would mean being available at different times for several different players.

In any event: good luck.

2012-05-18, 12:34 PM
The megadungeon is a good idea and can work very well, if you have enough time. Be cautious of burnout; running a bunch of parties at once can wear you down if you're not careful. I suggest starting each party at least a week or two apart, to make sure each additional party doesn't bring the amount of work up to untenable levels. I ran one very much like what you describe, and it was fine for awhile, I got it up to 5 parties at once and was preparing to start a 6th, but then my life went crazy and I burned out and I've brought it back down to one party for now.

(OOC thread and central information hub here (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=206967), if you want to look around and either steal ideas or go "oh, he's doing it that way, I'll do it this other way".)

As for your question: the way I handle time is to just wing it. Time is one of the few things I don't track obsessively, for exactly the reasons you describe. (And more: I sometimes run the same megadungeon as tabletop, too, and am about to start a non-megadungeon tabletop campaign set in the same world at the same time.) It hasn't really caused any problems.

One party might spend an in-game week resting or waiting for something while another party does a single day of adventuring, so one might expect them to quickly go out of sync. But any given event happens pretty much simultaneously in out-of-game time for every party, even if the parties should be weeks apart in in-game time. If one party completes a bounty, then the next time each other party checks the bounty board, they'll discover that bounty gone.

On a year scale, for seasons and how old NPCs are and how long it's been since major world events and things, I just use real time, even though any given PbP party is likely to get through at most a few weeks of in-game time in any given out-of-game year.

I can see how the inconsistencies would bug a person (they bug me kind of a lot, so I try not to think about it too much), but all the alternatives I've thought of are either inadequate or so harrowingly complex that I haven't bothered.

The big problem with setting some standard time of "1 day out of game = X time in-game" is that the required ratio needs to vary too widely. In combat, I've found the ideal ratio is about one out-of-game day to 6 in-game seconds. Out of combat, the ratio can go as high as as one out-of-game day to several in-game days or more (e.g. "We rest at the inn for a week." "Okay. Nothing of any note interrupts your stay. It's now a week later.")

2012-05-18, 12:47 PM
Update the game on a schedule of your choosing. The players have until the deadline to post an action. However instead of inactivity, let them describe standard operating procedures. Run those actions as though that's what the player suggested.

2012-05-18, 02:37 PM
Pockets of different time, maybe? Just sort of floating around the dungeon.

Fouredged Sword
2012-05-18, 02:59 PM
Mega Dungeon is on limbo. Gravity and Time are relative. Once in a room with someone you are in the same reference frame. Once out of that room you diverge and proceed at the speed of posts.

"Scholars have found that individuals in the great dungeon tend to have a somewhat steady temporal speed, and time travels at the speed of the slowest person present. More study is needed, but this has lent credence to the soul as an anchor theory in the dungeon wing of the magic university."

2012-05-19, 01:05 AM
Thanks for all the feedback and suggestions, everybody! They're all very helpful.