Pass Time Between Adventures with Downtime Mode

Tuesday, December 5, 2023

“There’s more to life than fighting monsters and looting treasure. What happens when a PC wins a deed to a tavern in a game of cards, crafts a magical item, builds a home, or pursues a relationship? All these goals and more are resolved by running downtime. Downtime is the space between adventures, where your PCs take a step back before the next chapter starts. In downtime, you can sum up the important events of a whole day with just one roll. Use this mode when the characters return home or otherwise aren’t adventuring.” —Pathfinder GM Core

With the lowest stakes and longest time covered, downtime is a great way to start sessions, or take a break between major beats of a campaign. While most groups will do downtime activities in a few minutes, some downtime periods may last an entire session to suit the story beats. Just like exploration mode, downtime mode can be interspersed with encounters and roleplay beats to keep things moving.

There are a variety of tasks characters can take during downtime, such as taking long-term rests, earning income through a variety of avenues, going shopping, and retraining skills! Some of these tasks take longer than others—happening over a series of days or weeks, rather than hours in game. But take care not to linger too much in downtime at the table—15 minutes to half an hour is a good baseline for most downtime activities.

Harsk pours tea for a companion at a tea house.

Downtime should always start with each player deciding what activity their character doing—or a group of characters deciding to collaborate on a downtime activity, like putting on a show to earn income. Some downtime tasks only require a simple roll and a little embellishment; for example, rolling a 22 to Earn Income via Crafting only requires the character stating what they’ve made and what it looks like. The GM might choose to roleplay a short scene of the buyer complimenting the work.

This is also a great time for daily preparations, such as choosing spells. Players should decide on a standard set of daily preparations, which will then be assumed to be the default unless the player states otherwise during a given downtime.

For longer periods of downtime that may take place over weeks, months, or even years, the GM and players should check in about long-term goals for the downtime. Then, rather than rolling for every single day and activity, the GM can lay out specific events that are bigger stepping stones to that end goal.

Using downtime is a great way to slow the game down after a stressful adventure or battle, as well as ease players into the session at the beginning of a new chapter! Pathfinder GM Core goes into detail about running downtime, to support GMs as they help characters achieve long-term and short-term goals. Pathfinder Player Core outlines some basic downtime activities for player characters, as well as suggestions for thinking outside the box!

Pathfinder Player Core and Pathfinder GM Core are available now on paizo.com and at your friendly local game store!

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Tags: Pathfinder Pathfinder Remaster Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Pathfinder Second Edition

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Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Harsk would never waste tea!


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How long is a "day"? All the downtime activities, particularly crafting, measure things in days, and yet it's never clarified how long a day is. Is it 24 hours of work? Is it 8 hours? If its 8, can I do two 8 hour "days' of work in a single 24 hour day?


Has the downtime system been expanded on any in the Remaster? Because in 2.0, it felt pretty anemic, with only about a page dedicated to downtime itself plus various skill actions and skill feats here and there in the book.

Personally, I miss the downtime system from Ultimate Campaigns (or at least the idea of it – as I recall, it did wreak a bit of havoc on game balance), and it would be fun to see something similar done in PF2.


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Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Hikuen wrote:
How long is a "day"? All the downtime activities, particularly crafting, measure things in days, and yet it's never clarified how long a day is. Is it 24 hours of work? Is it 8 hours? If its 8, can I do two 8 hour "days' of work in a single 24 hour day?

It says you spend 2 days of work setting up, or 1 day if you have the formula. hours doesn't matter because you spend x days, not x hours.


H2Osw wrote:
Hikuen wrote:
How long is a "day"? All the downtime activities, particularly crafting, measure things in days, and yet it's never clarified how long a day is. Is it 24 hours of work? Is it 8 hours? If its 8, can I do two 8 hour "days' of work in a single 24 hour day?
It says you spend 2 days of work setting up, or 1 day if you have the formula. hours doesn't matter because you spend x days, not x hours.

The problem is that other rules make it seem like 1 day is 8 hours.

The Efficient Rituals feat from the Ritualist archetype says "If the ritual normally requires 1 day to cast, you can cast it in 4 hours. If it takes longer than 1 day, you cast it in half the number of days, rounded up." Implying that the feat cuts the time it takes to do things in half... and thus 4 hours is half of 1 day. I understand this may be comparing apples and oranges, but I haven't found anything elsewhere that clarifies one way or the other.

EDIT: In addition, the Quick Setup feat from Treasure Vault says "If you rush the setup of a permanent item at least 6 levels lower than you and reduce the setup time to less than 1 day, you can perform the setup in 4 hours." This seems to imply that crafting works on the same "half-time = 4 hours" format.


Have we got rules for building homes somewhere?


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Hikuen wrote:
H2Osw wrote:
Hikuen wrote:
How long is a "day"? All the downtime activities, particularly crafting, measure things in days, and yet it's never clarified how long a day is. Is it 24 hours of work? Is it 8 hours? If its 8, can I do two 8 hour "days' of work in a single 24 hour day?
It says you spend 2 days of work setting up, or 1 day if you have the formula. hours doesn't matter because you spend x days, not x hours.

The problem is that other rules make it seem like 1 day is 8 hours.

The Efficient Rituals feat from the Ritualist archetype says "If the ritual normally requires 1 day to cast, you can cast it in 4 hours. If it takes longer than 1 day, you cast it in half the number of days, rounded up." Implying that the feat cuts the time it takes to do things in half... and thus 4 hours is half of 1 day. I understand this may be comparing apples and oranges, but I haven't found anything elsewhere that clarifies one way or the other.

EDIT: In addition, the Quick Setup feat from Treasure Vault says "If you rush the setup of a permanent item at least 6 levels lower than you and reduce the setup time to less than 1 day, you can perform the setup in 4 hours." This seems to imply that crafting works on the same "half-time = 4 hours" format.

Quick Setup also specifies it's 2 hrs if they are consumables.

I think the reason they have never stated 8 hrs is because as soon as they put a number to it, you get players trying to break the rules and do more work in a day, or combine adventuring days with downtime activities, which are not allowed to mix.

To be clear, yes, I agree that it's obvious that the assumed default downtime activity is 8 hrs.

However, the designed point of downtime is that a person only has so many hours of productivity per day. By limiting to one downtime activity with a lowish hours amount, they allow for characters to actually *live* during the rest of those days, whether that means chatting with the mayor or going to a teahouse.

If they took the "every waking hour" approach and made work fill the whole day to avoid players trying to fit yet more extra work, then characters would have to have be nose-to-grindstone in order to be productive, and that would be rather miserable.

------------------

Essentially, it seems the temptation to use a provided hrs number to break the "work is measured per day" rule is just too strong, and Paizo knows better than to open that can of worms, even when its already explicitly within house rule / homebrew territory.

If your GM is fine with giving you extra downtime productivity, go for it.


Hikuen wrote:
How long is a "day"? All the downtime activities, particularly crafting, measure things in days, and yet it's never clarified how long a day is. Is it 24 hours of work? Is it 8 hours? If its 8, can I do two 8 hour "days' of work in a single 24 hour day?

I think it's RAI for it to be 8 hours. Figure during downtime, it's 8 hours spent sleeping, 8 hours spent carousing & doing quality of life activities such as eating & leisure, & that leaves the remaining 8 hours to work on the craft. Though it depends on the character's nature. If the character would spend 15 hours working on the craft during the day, they'd get just as much work done as someone spending 8 hours on it. Though obviously certain feats & abilities would modify this as appropriate. At least this is my interpretation of it.


Pathfinder LO Special Edition, Maps, Pathfinder Accessories, PF Special Edition Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Superscriber

It's eight hours because nearly every modern person thinks of "the work day" as eight hours, notwithstanding the fact that many people even now work longer than that, and that in medieval times "the work day" was at least twelve hours and often more.


is that harsk tea house earn income example

pretty sure that picture is not in core rulebook


25speedforseaweedleshy wrote:

is that harsk tea house earn income example

pretty sure that picture is not in core rulebook

Picture is indeed neither in (legacy) Core Rulebook nor in (remaster) Player Core 1, but it's in GM Core, pg. 44.


Perpdepog wrote:
Have we got rules for building homes somewhere?

Isn't enough what was written in Kingmaker?

Vigilant Seal

Laclale♪ wrote:
Perpdepog wrote:
Have we got rules for building homes somewhere?
Isn't enough what was written in Kingmaker?

I would guess most don’t own the AP. So not putting the rules in an accessible book with a reason to buy is probably why people don’t know any added rules in kingmaker.


reevos wrote:
Laclale♪ wrote:
Perpdepog wrote:
Have we got rules for building homes somewhere?
Isn't enough what was written in Kingmaker?
I would guess most don’t own the AP. So not putting the rules in an accessible book with a reason to buy is probably why people don’t know any added rules in kingmaker.

Agreed. Rules written specifically for an AP are by default localized to that AP.

A group could certainly import those rules into a different campaign, but it should not be considered to be the 'standard' rules expected for all campaigns.

Take the rules regarding nonlethal damage in Agents of Edgewatch for example. Just because Edgewatch characters are able to make nonlethal attacks with both weapons and spells without any penalties does not mean that this is now a new baseline expectation for the game as a whole. It may be useful for some gaming groups to adopt those rules though if they also want their campaign and their good-guy characters to have a lower body count.


Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I believe there are rules for purchasing homes in the Lost Omens Traveler's Guide.

Not sure about general rules for building one though, not unless it happens to be a magical item with the Structure trait.


Hikuen wrote:
How long is a "day"? All the downtime activities, particularly crafting, measure things in days, and yet it's never clarified how long a day is. Is it 24 hours of work? Is it 8 hours? If its 8, can I do two 8 hour "days' of work in a single 24 hour day?

The Rest rules mention that a day can't be more than 16 hours. Also some downtime activities, such as Subsist reference being able to be done in less than 8 hours.

So as a GM, I would say that an active 'day' is somewhere between 8 and 10 hours with an additional few hours for things like daily preparations, eating, and other self-care things. So no, you couldn't say that a 'day' of activity is 8 hours and therefore you can do two of them in a 16 hour period before becoming fatigued due to lack of rest.


Pathfinder LO Special Edition, Maps, Pathfinder Accessories, PF Special Edition Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Superscriber

In Exploration mode in wilderness or underground the need to post guards and still make sure everyone gets eight hours sleep means that there is less than 16 hours available for other things.


Hikuen wrote:
How long is a "day"? All the downtime activities, particularly crafting, measure things in days, and yet it's never clarified how long a day is. Is it 24 hours of work? Is it 8 hours? If its 8, can I do two 8 hour "days' of work in a single 24 hour day?

The Travel Speed on page 438 of the Pathfinder Players Core give the clearest indication of an 8-hour workday. The table says that a character who travels 1 mile in an hour will also travel 8 miles in a day. Likewise, a typical human who travels 2.5 miles in an hour will travel 20 miles in a day. That suggests 8 hours of travel per day.

The ritual rules on page 439 of the Pathfinder Players Core are more explicit about 8 hours of work.

Pathfinder Player Core, Spells chapter, Casting Ritual, page 389 wrote:

While a ritual is a downtime activity, it’s possible—albeit risky—to perform a ritual during exploration with enough uninterrupted

time. A ritual’s casting time is usually listed in days. Each day of casting requires 8 hours of participation in the ritual from all casters, with breaks during multiday rituals to allow rest. One caster can continue a multiday ritual, usually with some light chanting or meditation, while the other casters rest. All rituals require repeated spellcasting words and gestures throughout their casting time.

This is about working in shifts, so it is not as clear about whether that is a full workday.

Appropriate for a Paizo Blog post about downtime, the definitive definition of workday is in the Introduction in talking about downtime activities.

Pathfinder Player Core, Introduction chapter, Activities, page 15 wrote:
All tasks that take longer than a turn are activities. If an activity is meant to be done during exploration, it has the exploration trait. An activity that takes a day or more of commitment and that can be done only during downtime has the downtime trait.

Thus, if an activity takes days to finish, its completion time is measured in days. It is not possible to take a two-day activity and measure it in hours to bypass the straightforward calculation of completion time by claiming that the character can arise after 8 hours of sleep, skip daily preparations and all meals, and work straight without any breaks in the remaining 16 hours of the days to finish 2 days of work in 1 day, because 8 hours of work is 1 day of work. A day of work during downtime is a day of work, nothing more and nothing less.

Nevertheless, in actual campaigns we sometimes have half days of downtime squeezed around other activities. For example, during the PF1 module The Hungry Storm in the Jade Regent adventure path, the party was traveling with a caravan for 3 months. A day of travel followed the 8 hours of progress rule, but it might have taken more than 8 hours of time. In the following 4 hours, the player characters hunted for food to stretch the supplies of the caravan. The Subsist activity, page 232 of the Pathfinder Player Core, says, "Unlike most downtime activities, you can Subsist after 8 hours or less of exploration, but if you do, you take a –5 penalty." While they hunted, the rest of the caravan set up camp for the night. The hunters would return with game, the cooks would prepare the meal, and everyone would eat. That would take about another two hours. Sleep would take 10 hours rather than 8 hours, because each one would stay up for a 2-hour watch during the night. Hm, daily preparations and lunchtime would bring the total time to more than 24 hours, but I have been working with rough estimates.

For further complication, three characters had Rings of Sustenance. They would stay up half the night crafting in a portable workshop. I ruled that each would get in 4 hours of crafting at half speed due to makeshift conditions, so that gave them one quarter day of crafting each night.

Juggling half days and quarter days of downtime ought to be negotiated with the GM to seem realistic rather than argued by extra-complicated interpretations of the rules.

Liberty's Edge

Ed Reppert wrote:
It's eight hours because nearly every modern person thinks of "the work day" as eight hours, notwithstanding the fact that many people even now work longer than that, and that in medieval times "the work day" was at least twelve hours and often more.

I am not sure the work day encompassed the same activities in medieval times and in modern times. So I think it is pretty pointless to try and compare them.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber

I love the idea of Downtime in general, but it hardly ever comes up at my tables. I mostly run published Adventure Paths, and my players usually are pretty focused on keeping the action going. Even when I try to encourage them to slow things down a bit, they almost seem to get nervous when their characters don't do any adventuring for more than a day.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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The previous Adventure Path I developed (Season of Ghosts) and the current (unannounced) one I'm working on the last book for both make heavy use of Downtime. In some cases I'll specifically say how long a custom downtime activity in an adventure takes, but mostly the assumption I make is that a downtime task takes a day unless otherwise noted. By "Day" generally assume that this is all a PC really does that day, and that as a result there's not any time to do exploration or encounter mode stuff of note, but plenty of time to do roleplaying content to your heart's content. I generally think it's better, when in Downtime mode, to not get into the nitty-gritty of tracking time precisely by the hour.

Sometimes, there WILL be a transition from Downtime into encounter mode; for example, when the PCs get ambushed at their camp or have a wandering monster type thing show up, in which case that's fine and a single encounter (even if it's a complex one) isn't really likely to disrupt what's going on during the downtime activity, but you should try to avoid having that sort of thing happen too often otherwise you'll set up expectations that when you tell your group "Okay this happens in Downtime mode" that what they expect is instead a surprise attack.


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

The campaign im writing up now is very downtime intensive. One of my players wants to really have a lot of crafting as part of gameplay so i thought a fun format would involve developing trade routes for access to resources and solving problems in other settlements to recruit NPCs for their settlement. Not as grand as kingmaker but it gives a character that wants to craft a reason to adventure and provides other downtime activities for the rest of the group like improving the settlements reputation with neighbors or building up their own settlement. I'm working on more things for characters with different strengths to enjoy downtime and contribute to improving their settlement.
Adventuring will cover the story plot progression and personal arcs they choose to pursue.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

Starfinder's Downtime system is AWESOME. It seemed like a missed opportunity in the remaster to not include a similar system. Hoping for something in an upcoming release.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber
James Jacobs wrote:

The previous Adventure Path I developed (Season of Ghosts) and the current (unannounced) one I'm working on the last book for both make heavy use of Downtime. In some cases I'll specifically say how long a custom downtime activity in an adventure takes, but mostly the assumption I make is that a downtime task takes a day unless otherwise noted. By "Day" generally assume that this is all a PC really does that day, and that as a result there's not any time to do exploration or encounter mode stuff of note, but plenty of time to do roleplaying content to your heart's content. I generally think it's better, when in Downtime mode, to not get into the nitty-gritty of tracking time precisely by the hour.

Sometimes, there WILL be a transition from Downtime into encounter mode; for example, when the PCs get ambushed at their camp or have a wandering monster type thing show up, in which case that's fine and a single encounter (even if it's a complex one) isn't really likely to disrupt what's going on during the downtime activity, but you should try to avoid having that sort of thing happen too often otherwise you'll set up expectations that when you tell your group "Okay this happens in Downtime mode" that what they expect is instead a surprise attack.

I'm very excited to hear that! It's always kind of funny when you look at how much time has passed in a campaign and it turns out that the party was level 1 for 30-ish years of their life (pre-campaign) and then went up to level 20 over the course of a few weeks...

I really like the idea of a campaign that spans a long period of time, maybe even a human lifetime. Can't wait to hear more about the unannounced AP!

Paizo Employee Creative Director

Nullpunkt wrote:

I'm very excited to hear that! It's always kind of funny when you look at how much time has passed in a campaign and it turns out that the party was level 1 for 30-ish years of their life (pre-campaign) and then went up to level 20 over the course of a few weeks...

I really like the idea of a campaign that spans a long period of time, maybe even a human lifetime. Can't wait to hear more about the unannounced AP!

That element has never really bothered me—the idea of a group of PCs going from 1st to 20th level in a short period of time, because the PCs are the most rare and unusual and unique creatures in your campaign setting, so they SHOULD break rules like that.


Finoan wrote:
reevos wrote:
Laclale♪ wrote:
Perpdepog wrote:
Have we got rules for building homes somewhere?
Isn't enough what was written in Kingmaker?
I would guess most don’t own the AP. So not putting the rules in an accessible book with a reason to buy is probably why people don’t know any added rules in kingmaker.

Agreed. Rules written specifically for an AP are by default localized to that AP.

A group could certainly import those rules into a different campaign, but it should not be considered to be the 'standard' rules expected for all campaigns.

Take the rules regarding nonlethal damage in Agents of Edgewatch for example. Just because Edgewatch characters are able to make nonlethal attacks with both weapons and spells without any penalties does not mean that this is now a new baseline expectation for the game as a whole. It may be useful for some gaming groups to adopt those rules though if they also want their campaign and their good-guy characters to have a lower body count.

It's also a moot point because, while Kingmaker has got rules for building structures, those aren't on the scale of building a single house; they're scaled up projects intended for kingdoms, the thing the AP is based on.

Kingmaker, Structures wrote:
When you build in a lot within one of your settlements, you're rarely literally constructing a single building. While an arena or cathedral might stand alone as a towering edifice, most lots represent a number of buildings whose focus is to support the type of improvement that lot supports. For example, a brewery could represent a collection of brewers and bottlers and the families who support them, while a luxury merchant would represent several specialized stores. Even sprawling, sizable improvements like dumps, cemeteries, or parks might include nearby dwellings or cottages for those who tend and manage the area or live along its margins.

There isn't an especially neat or clean method of converting RP into usable wealth on the scale of a PC for the purposes of building a house or calculating its wealth, either, since the value of RP goes up as your characters level.

Ravingdork wrote:

I believe there are rules for purchasing homes in the Lost Omens Traveler's Guide.

Not sure about general rules for building one though, not unless it happens to be a magical item with the Structure trait.

I knew about those too, though I haven't ever looked through the actual book, just read what's on AoN, which seems to be pretty abridged. I guess you could always take the cost of the house, work backwards, find the item level and set DCs for crafting. That does give the amusing image of someone building an entire mansion in four days.


Something needs to be done about these forums. The width used here is nearly impossible to read even in landscape on a cell phone (smart phone).

News flash ... that's what a huge number of people will do.


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Pathfinder LO Special Edition, Maps, Pathfinder Accessories, PF Special Edition Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Superscriber

There *is* a website feedback forum.


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Hikuen wrote:
How long is a "day"? All the downtime activities, particularly crafting, measure things in days, and yet it's never clarified how long a day is. Is it 24 hours of work? Is it 8 hours? If its 8, can I do two 8 hour "days' of work in a single 24 hour day?

This question is the reason it's not posted in hours, but in days.

It's taxing enough work that between performing the work and recuperating to be in a good enough position to still repeat the task the next day, this takes the overwhelming majority of the hours of the day.

If the task is physical and requires superhuman endurance (e.g. forging a warhammer that requires heat beyond a normal forge) this might entail six hours actually performing the task, eight hours resting between swings, seven hours sleeping and three hours of recreation.

If it's a mundane task such as auditing the books of your shipping empire, it might be thirteen hours actually performing the task, eight of sleep and a couple hours of leisure.

In some tasks it might overwhelmingly be preparation, e.g. a bard doing a comedy routine might only spend two hours doing the public facing aspects, and eleven or twelve writing material.

In any case, the task is the dominant factor in your day.

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