One of the greatest advantages of throwing open your design process to all you DIY rapscallions out there is that your feedback without fail tends to fire off the sagging neurons in my brain and goad me into delving deeper and deeper into the subject on hand.
Sadly for my ever-stretching personal deadlines, one of the greatest disadvantages is that your feedback fires off my imagination and goads me to delve...
Looking at many of your comments from this week, it became increasingly apparent that I would have to start getting into the nitty gritty of off-season activities in “Pendragon D&D”--really I need a better working title at this point--before getting much farther in detailing the other methods.
Some rough guidelines for running the 6-10 month period that characters aren't actively adventuring:
Cultural Limitations. Very few societies in well thought out campaign settings will allow a character free reign in all activities. Depending on the political, economic, cultural, and religious contours of the character's home area, some activities will be limited or banned altogether. It's important for the GM to think about these limitations and convey them to the player before she plans her off-season activity.
In many cases hurdles can be overcome with the right application of “juice”, bribes, political favors, and/or other influences (weighted CHA checks).
A high medieval European-like setting, for instance, is likely to have a rigid guild structure that forbids a character from being taught a craft or profession. The character may have to grease a few palms of guild master to get a dispensation to be taught—or seek and find an errant journeyman willing to break the heavy hand of the guild.
Compensation. Each activity reaps benefits:
Gold. Money produced per activity.
Experience Points. Modest exp awards per activity.
“In Kind” Compensation. Goods produced in an activity: magic items, weapons, hides, furs, food, etc.
Social Benefits. Advancement in a political, religious, cultural, professional hierarchy. Children, relationships, etc.
Skills. All labor is divided into four categories based on training in a trade: unskilled, semi-skilled, craft and expert. These four areas correspond to the Hirelings list found here.
Time requirements for activities. Here's the carrot that some of you mentioned. A character can engage in a range of activities in the months of the off-season, but each has a time requirement.
Many tasks can be completed indirectly by hiring or compelling free or unfree labor. No experience points are awarded from the secondary activity, but the character is allowed to forgo the time requirement (did I really need to spell that out?). Wage and/or upkeep costs apply.
Training in new areas will give a character a rudimentary working knowledge of the subject—speaking a new language at a grade-school level or being able to work metal crudely, for example. Further applications of training will progressively hone the skill level at the discretion of the GM. (Keeping with the core spirit of D&D interpretation of skills are wholly non-mechanical and rulings-based.)
Brief (1 month)
Swords & Sorcery-style Debauch/Carouse/Paint Town Red
Run a Business
Join Guild, Order, or Other Association
Conduct Religious Acts (Penance, Absolution, Sacrifice etc)
Travel, Civilized Lands
Craft Potion, Scroll
Build a Structure (varies)
Buy/Sell Stolen Goods or Other Illegal Activity
Seasonal (3 months)
Courtship (includes trying to have children)
Read and Write Native Language
Learn a Semi-Skilled Trade
Train with Weapons
Embark on Pilgrimage, Short
Conduct Spell Research
Conduct Scholarly Research
Craft Minor Magic Item
Class-Appropriate Training(thieving, tracking, kung-fu, etc.)
Train an Animal
Use Ritual Magic
Quarterly (4 months)
Learn to Speak Easy Foreign Language
Learn to Read and Write Easy Foreign Language
Create a Work of Art (statue, epic poem, piece of music, etc)
Lead a Caravan, Civilized Area
Captain a Merchant Craft
Half-Year (6 months)
Learn a Craft
Farm, Short Harvest Crop
Embark on Pilgrimage, Long
Learn to Speak Difficult Foreign Language
Read and Write Difficult Foreign Language
Long (9 months)
Farm, Long Harvest Crop
Double-Season (18 months)
Learn an Expert Trade