Runequest Thursday #77 - Downtime in a Runequest Campaign!

Clint Staples

As I prepare for the GAMA tradeshow in Las Vegas, I find myself trying to come up with a relatively quick post for RQ Thursday this week. I wrapped up the Article on Wizardry last week, and I occasionally am stuck for a bit after a series. My course was set for a while. Sure I had to write the articles, but I knew what the articles were going to be about.

So the navigator in my head that decides which direction to go with Runequest Thursday got a little nappy.

Currently in my Brightwater campaign, things are also a little slow. After a very busy first few seasons, the Brightwaters find themselves entering Dark and Storm Seasons after a successful harvest and market. Sounds good right? Everybody has enough to eat over the lean months, the settlement is secure, etc.

SO, I thought, I could advance the clock through the winter and take things up sometime in Sea or Fire Season. With the exception of Sacred time, when several of the heroes have been invited, nay required, to attend the mysteries at The Paps in the centre of Prax, I had nothing particular planned for the winter.

Here is how I am handling the Down Time:

During Downtime, which, other than the 2 weeks of sacred time is going to amount to about half a Gloranthan year, I asked for two things:

1) The Daily Grind: Tell me, more or less, what they would be doing over that time, regarding Brightwater and/or other daily activities. This might be training the militia, hunting every day, improving the defenses, loafing around, studying to become a priest, whatever.

With this information, I would decide what (if any) improvements I would make to the settlement or its people. If one uf the heroes spends most days drilling the archers from the archery tower and the wall, I would give the militia a skill bump with their bows. If someone decides to lead the efforts to build the stone tower that the players were discussing earlier, then progress on this occurs during the down time.

I might advance some things anyway, especially if previous activity in the game had found an NPC that was working on such a thing. And the activities don't have to be in Brightwater. Maybe someone organizes a major visit to Pavis, with an eye toward building alliances with some group or other or perhaps Wyrmhere the sorcerer PC who has recently taken up residence on the Island of Jagrun Khan will decide that fortifications are needed there. 

2) The Story: I asked each player to give me a narrative of a single heroic thing they did during the down time. This could be anything from a point form description of an adventure, to a first person journal of a segment of the downtime in which something interesting happened to Brightwater. It could also be some back story item that they would like to advance but have not had a chance to yet. Maybe the Grazelander noble in exile has a chance to impress an emissary of the Feathered Horse Queen, or the Shaman discovers part of a ritual to send the spirits that torment him onward to the Summerland.


Because carrot works better than stick, I offered the following as incentive:

I awarded each character 6 checks to can assign to any percentile skill raise-able through experience rolls. They are free to put those into skills, spells, etc. These rolls would be done before we began play again.

I also offered the following options on things they could do with some of those checks.

  • Trade 1 of the checks for a POW check.
  • Trade 2 of the checks for a different Characteristic check [STR, CON, etc].
  • Trade 1 check for a chance to learn a Feat of Arms you qualify for.  You still need to spend Hero Points as stated, and have the prerequisites. Your story should probably at least mention how you gain this Feat of Arms and from whom.
  • Trade 1 check to learn a new spell level [ up to 3rd level].
  • Other stuff if possible, that I have not thought of. Ask if you think of something.


The downtime stories and activities are starting to come in: I am liking them so far. I hope the players enjoy them and what their actions do for the campaign and the Settlement.