Goof’s Guide… Upgrade Your Downtime

Social media can be a huge benefit to your roleplaying experience. Oh yes, I feel the strength of your skepticism through the internet. Not sure if you know this but I feed on it… delicious skepticism…

One of the interesting things about being at a roleplay session is the different ways people get into their characters. Some people act as though the character is a separate entity from themselves: “my rogue would do this, because of reasons”. Others take more of a firsthand approach: “I am Togar, and I drink the blood of my allies! Enemy blood is often riddled with diseases”. And then there are those who don’t want to roleplay at all, they prefer the meta: getting into combat, getting reassure and above all – winning. This advice may not help the third lot as much (why are you playing a roleplay game? It’s in the title. The warning signs were there) but for most groups I’ve found this small touch has a huge impact.

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Set up a private group online between sessions to act out your downtime. It doesn’t have to contain a whole lot of content, just have the characters around a campfire or staying in an inn. Sometimes you can have them meet an interesting character or get a strange side quest to complete at the next session (this lets you roleplay a little bit too) and I find that the excitement for your next session will be a lot higher.

The value of downtime in roleplaying games is often overlooked. People are excited to get into the next dungeon or fight the next glorious battle, but it doesn’t give them a chance to explore who their character is in their core. It’s true that defining moments make the characters memorable, but without the foundations of knowing who that character is, you run the risk of those moments not having quite the same impact. And just because you’re roleplaying downtime doesn’t mean the party can’t get up to some hilarious hijinks.

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I remember this social media downtime group I was running where the adventurers had just entered a new town and had decided to stay at a tavern in the dodgy part of town to save some coin and because they felt out of place in the hoity toity part of town. In this one evening, the Gnome jumped up on a bar counter and was playing battle music while another party member got into a brawl. Another time one of them payed for a night with a prostitute and ended up agreeing to saving her lover from a strange mystical prison island. The Drow made some shady dealings to have the two non-playable characters who were travelling with them killed while a Werewolf ended up chasing a rogue through the streets before the gnome tranquilized him. They were an odd party…

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So much happened in between sessions that we had to debrief next time we got together. And several of us still talk about that till this day. It gave a chance for each party member to start their own thread and do things that ended up impacting other threads. They say never split the party, and part of that is because you essentially take people away from the playing experience. But online, you can do so without too many issues. It gives you time to think of a clever response to situations, or how to feed it into your overall story.

I want to emphasize that this isn’t supposed to get as crazy as the example above, but there’s always freedom to do so if you wish. Just remember to take into consideration the party’s (and your own) time commitments between sessions. If too much is going on in between, people may feel like they’re missing out on the full experience because they have work, uni or family commitments.  There are other times online where my party was sitting around a campfire and telling each other stories of their homelands. Until the Barbarian thought it hilarious to tie the Satyr’s leg to a mount and get it to run.

I’ve been running these social media groups for about four years. Some people engage with them incredibly effectively, whereas others might not write much or may just prefer to play at sessions. That’s okay. As the Games/Dungeon Master it is your responsibility to craft the adventures in a way that best meets the needs of your group. But give this a go, and give your players a chance to explore who they are. It might be just what you need to take your story to the next level.

(I’ve added one of our social media sessions below so you can see it in action. This allowed me to have a thread where two party members were trapped while the others sought out clues)

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Special thanks to ‘The Dungeons & Dragons Cult’ and the ‘Wednesday Warriors’ for allowing me to use our past social media threads in this post. You are the legends that continue to live in my imagination.

If you enjoyed this article then share the joy on social media so others can enjoy it too. And check out our other reviews. They’re always good for a laugh. 

And please comment, lets get the conversations flowing.

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