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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Bugbear in the Playground

    Join Date
    Feb 2019

    Default Balancing my Downtime Activities

    First session of the season tomorrow! Woop woop!
    I'm going over my downtime options. I want to make sure there are no trap options or obviously overpowered ones. Can you read this over for me and see if anything sticks out?
    I use fixed monthly expenses instead of lifestyles (30gp).
    Sorry about the formatting, It all looks really nice in my google document :/

    This section offers players meaningful ways to spend their downtime between adventures. The following options are based on 30 days of downtime, and can be modified to represent any aspiration the player might have. At the end of your downtime roll a Luck Dice. On an unlucky result, roll for a complication.

    Buy a Magic Item
    You can use your downtime to search for a purveyor of magic items. Your success is based on the amount you invest in finding a good seller. Once a seller is found, use the Magic Item Tables to determine which items are available for purchase.
    0gp: Roll 1d6 times on Magic Item Table A-E
    30gp: Roll 1d6 times on Magic Table F
    90gp: Roll 1d6 times on Magic Table G-I

    You have a chance to gain an allied contact. Roll a DC 12 Charisma ability check. On a success, you gain one allied contact. An allied contact might be a part of a faction and willing to do you a favor.

    Crafting Healing Potions
    If you are proficient with a Herbalism Kit you can use your downtime to craft up to 4 Greater Healing Potions, for 75gp each.

    You can use your downtime to gain some extra cash, at the risk of an arrest. Choose your target, represented by the DCs below, and make three unique ability checks (scouting, executing, escaping) to determine the outcome and payout of your crime.

    DC 10: 5gp, robbery of a struggling merchant
    DC 12: 100gp, robbery of a prosperous merchant
    DC 15: 200gp, robbery of a noble
    DC 17: 1000gp, robbery of one the richest figures in town

    0 Successes: You are caught, jailed and fined.
    1 Successes: The crime is unsuccessful, but you manage to escape.
    2 Successes: You receive half payout.
    3 Successes: You receive full payout.

    During your downtime, you can get a day-job. Unskilled labor yields 6gp, while working a trade yields 60gp.

    Play Dice (Gamble)
    You can spend your downtime gambling. Decide how much you want to bet and make four subsequent luck rolls. Your number of lucky results determine your winnings, as shown below.

    1. You lose an amount of gold equal to your bet amount.
    2. You lose an amount of gold equal to half your bet amount.
    3. You gain an amount do gold equal to your bet amount, plus half again more.
    4. You gain an amount of gold equal to twice your bet amount.

    Spell Scrolls
    If you are a spellcaster, you can spend your downtime scribing spell scrolls.

    Spell Level Time Cost
    Cantrip week 15gp
    1st week 25gp
    2nd ˝ week 250gp
    3rd 1 week 500gp

    Learn a Skill
    During your downtime you can spend 60gp and attempt to learn a new skill, gaining proficiency in it. You can learn a maximum number of new skills equal to your Intelligence modifier using this method.

    If you are proficient in Smith’s Tools you can use your downtime to craft a piece of armor or a weapon. When crafting an item this way, you get a percentage discount equal to your level times 10, up to a maximum discount of ??%.

    Anything that's obviously out of place here?
    Anything you feel like is missing?

    I really want to emphasize the downtimes this time around. I'm thinking about having a period of downtime before each level up. If that works out well I might increase the frequency to every half-level at later levels.
    I'll be presenting this to my players tomorrow at session 0 and giving them an option of creating a custom background feature relating specifically to downtime periods, either by making their own activity or gaining a bonus on an existing one.

    Do you feel like the options given provide enough of a baseline for a player to be inspired to create his own downtime activity?
    Last edited by Bjarkmundur; 2019-08-10 at 07:54 PM.

    Spoiler: How to Make Custom Monsters

    The damage column shows total damage output on hit over an entire round, and is modified based on factors like recharge, AoE etc.

  2. - Top - End - #2
    Firbolg in the Playground
    Kane0's Avatar

    Join Date
    Nov 2011

    Default Re: Balancing my Downtime Activities

    Those healing potions and scrolls could be really potent if you have two people crafting them and two people focusing on funding via work or theft.

  3. - Top - End - #3
    Bugbear in the Playground
    Zhorn's Avatar

    Join Date
    Dec 2018
    Space Australia

    Default Re: Balancing my Downtime Activities

    I can't really comment on the stuff to do with magic items, potions and scrolls, mostly because they are tied in to how you run your magic economy in your games. My view would be they seem a bit cheap and abundant, but we run different games.
    Social contacts also a story centric element will vary in usefulness game-to-game

    Your Crime rules interest me (and nice touch with the link to the Code Legal).
    Building off what you have, I'm tempted to incorporate this into my own game, with some tweaks
    Being of 3 unique checks, having the top DC of 17 makes sense, though I'm inclined to suggest a bit more of a spread in targets, DC's and reward levels.
    Added in another tier, and changing the reward system to incorporate proficiency dice (variant rule in the DMG, p263)

    DC 11 - Opportunistic pick pocketing (1 gp x proficiency dice)
    DC 13 - Theft from a small time merchant (10 gp x proficiency dice)
    DC 15 - Robbery of an prosperous business (100 gp x proficiency dice)
    DC 17 - Burglary of a high end establishment (250 gp x proficiency dice)
    DC 19 - Heist of an affluent estate (500 gp x proficiency dice)

    I'm saving this idea for later (after some sleep perhaps), but overall I like the foundation of what you have.

  4. - Top - End - #4
    Bugbear in the Playground

    Join Date
    Feb 2019

    Default Re: Balancing my Downtime Activities

    Thanks guys!

    Kane0, I'll definitely take a look at your downtimes and compare.
    Zhorn, do you have your downtime activities somewhere that I can look at?

    I'm also a bit worried about the economy and magic economy. I like running low-loot adventures, where the main income are 'quest rewards' rather than 'finding stuff'. I'm considering using the treasure hoard tables (without the coins) to determine the rewards.
    I think spending 30 days in order to find a seller and paying for a magic item is a good way to supplement that.

    I also forgot to include my design goals, which is something I think should be standard for these kind of threads.

    I want downtime to become a significant part of my game, where characters can lead their own lives between adventures. I'm aiming towards including half-a-session of interesting downtime every third session. Some downtimes will inevitably be quick, where the characters just want to do simple stuff. While other downtimes they might have more impactful ideas that will take more time.

    Main Goal: Simple to explain and execute in regards to mechanics and give the players a chance to expand upon their character's identity.


    1. Work as a tool to encourage interacting with the setting.
    2. Each activity should have a clear goal.
    3. Help the players connect their GP to some value.
    4. Most activities should be stories in their own rights.

    How I aim to achieve said goals:
    1. NPCs are involved in most of the activities.
    2. I'll add the tags "NPC, Identity, Gold" based on whether the downtime interacts mostly with the setting, the character's identity or gives him a chance to spend gold.
    3. Regularly include downtime to give the players a chance to spend money and get a feel of how valuable it is. This is done through buying magic items, scribing scrolls, smithing and brewing potions.
    4. Dynamic activities and complications.

    Wow, just talking about this really cleared my head. I'll do some further tweaks and report back. Love to hear your thoughts until then :)

    After thinking about Crime a little bit I've made a small tweak. I like the idea of player deciding on a target, which affects the DC. Then I can narrate the crime and prompt the ability checks as the crime plays out.

    Check 1: Scouting
    Check 2: Stealing
    Check 3: Escaping

    Then the overall payout is based on the number of checks.
    Scouting badly results in a wrong estimation of riches. Stealing badly results in only getting part of the amount. Escaping badly results in losing some of the money. Failing all three results in jail.
    Last edited by Bjarkmundur; 2019-08-10 at 09:39 AM.

    Spoiler: How to Make Custom Monsters

    The damage column shows total damage output on hit over an entire round, and is modified based on factors like recharge, AoE etc.

  5. - Top - End - #5
    Bugbear in the Playground
    Zhorn's Avatar

    Join Date
    Dec 2018
    Space Australia

    Default Re: Balancing my Downtime Activities

    Quote Originally Posted by Bjarkmundur View Post
    Zhorn, do you have your downtime activities somewhere that I can look at?
    Most of the downtime I use follows Xanathar's fairly closely, but I do play a little loose with the rules to account for what my players are trying to do.

    Timing on things like crafting and training I've shortened a great deal just to make it fit into the scope of what downtime the players are going to realistically have between main story beats and adventures.
    Magic items and scrolls takes days to craft rather than weeks or months, but are locked behind proficiency modifiers.
    Potions only take a day, and the quantities are only limited by proficiency
    Training a tool/weapon/language is 45 days minus Int or Wis scores (smart people learn faster)
    Lifestyle I use for determining the number of benefits and complications that happen in combination with downtime outcomes (most of the results are just from Xanathar's), living on the cheap has more complications, living in the better end of town affords more benefits.

    And if I leave anything up to a roll, I make sure the weighting matches the expected behaviour of what the outcome would be.
    I don't roll skill checks for crafting. But if they are making expensive things while living in a cheap part of town, there's going to be complications related to it.
    Last edited by Zhorn; 2019-08-10 at 10:21 AM.

  6. - Top - End - #6
    Pixie in the Playground

    Join Date
    Jan 2019

    Default Re: Balancing my Downtime Activities

    What levels is this going to be for? The smithing option gives a discount of (10 * level)% if I'm reading it right - at level 10 and above smithing then is either free, or you're being paid to do it. Consider the case of someone churning out, say plate barding, and selling it with no costs for production. Maybe a cap on the price reduction percentage, or instead it's like (5*level)% off? Right now, I'm just worried about breaking the economy, especially when compared to working a normal skilled job for the month.
    The easiest engineering solution is to turn it off and back on. Have you tried turning a person on and off? I have, although I haven't quite figured out the "back on" part of it.

  7. - Top - End - #7
    Barbarian in the Playground
    Composer99's Avatar

    Join Date
    Sep 2013

    Default Re: Balancing my Downtime Activities

    Can you use the "learn a skill" downtime activity to pick up a tool proficiency?

    I feel like the labour and running a business downtime activities could use some work.

    However, part of that may have to do with how PCs in your setting interact with different lifestyles, so these remarks may not be very applicable.

    These are 30-day tranches of downtime, and I see that the prices are the result of multiplying the labour services costs in the PHB by 30, so all well and good.

    So, if you're trying to keep it simple, well and good, nothing more needed here.

    If you wanted to add some variability, you could maybe add in an ability check (or a few checks) - say, three such checks. Failing all three means you make less money than the default, succeeding at one check means you make the default amount, succeeding at two means you make more, and succeeding at three means you make even more (whatever values you think "more" and "even more" might reasonably be).

    This could represent the PCs either looking for labour during a bad time for it, or getting lucky and, say, ending up doing skilled tradeswork for someone who caters to the very wealthy.

    Running a Business
    It does feel as if the numbers given represent only certain categories of running a business. Someone who runs a courier service will have different upfront and ongoing costs than will a barrister or an innkeeper, for instance. Also, who are you catering to? You'd have to spend a bunch more money to cater to the wealthy and powerful, but on the other hand you have the ability to earn more.

    So you'd probably have a set of upfront costs (very low, low, medium, high, very high, extremely high) which you multiply by some amount determined by the lifestyle you choose to cater to. These are the costs you'll want to make back over time. Which upfront cost level you have to pay depends on the business you want to start.

    If you want your table of results to refer to net earnings, rather than gross earnings, then you don't need to calculate your ongoing expenses. You just roll dem bones, check the result against the lifestyle you chose to cater to, and earn (or lose) that much money.

    If you want your table of results to refer to gross earnings, you do need to know how much you're spending on an ongoing basis. In that case, you'd have some base amount of ongoing costs (very low, low, medium, etc.), also multiplied by some amount based on the lifestyle you cater to. Then, when you roll the die or dice to determine your earnings, you would either also multiply the resulting number by the lifestyle multiple (if you want earnings to scale linearly by lifestyle), or check against a table of results with columns for each lifestyle (if you want earnings to not scale linearly).
    ~ Composer99

    D&D 5e Homebrew:
    Character Options: Fighter Remix, Paladin Oaths, Ranger Remix, Sorcerer Remix
    Playing the Game: Using Ability Score Variants
    New Subsystems: Combat Manoeuvre System, Weapon Generator
    Monsters: Yogg-Saron

  8. - Top - End - #8
    Bugbear in the Playground

    Join Date
    Feb 2019

    Default Re: Balancing my Downtime Activities

    Yeah, I have obviously yet to add the "up to a maximum of 50%" to the crafting downtime. I've just yet to decide on the cap. Although 5% also sounds reasonable. I'll think about it.

    I've made a custom skill list, which kinda sorta removes tools from the game. Well, more like upgrades tools to skill status. I'm not gonna get into it here.

    Labor is mainly intended as a baseline. Players can use it as a reference for creating their own downtime. For example I have a Bard that asked if he can perform at a tavern for something between 6 and 60gp and gain one allied contact, since he has the entertainer background. I gave it to him as a background feature, and thought it was a perfect.
    I have also yet to find a way to make a connection between Artisan tools and labor, but it's on the todo list.

    I'm going turn running a business into its own chapter, it doesn't fit well as a simple downtime activity
    Last edited by Bjarkmundur; 2019-08-10 at 07:56 PM.

    Spoiler: How to Make Custom Monsters

    The damage column shows total damage output on hit over an entire round, and is modified based on factors like recharge, AoE etc.

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