If a bard (or anyone skilled in Performance) wants to earn a living during downtime without paying for any lifestyle expenses, how long should the performance last?

Chapter 8 in the PHB states the following about Practicing a Profession during downtime activities between adventures:

You can work between adventures, allowing you to maintain a modest lifestyle without having to pay 1 gp per day (see chapter 5 for more information on lifestyle expenses). This benefit lasts as long you continue to practice your profession.

Furthermore, for bards or anyone who is proficient with the Performance skill:

If you have proficiency in the Performance skill and put your performance skill to use during your downtime, you earn enough to support a wealthy lifestyle instead.

The top section on Downtime Activities states:

at least 8 hours of each day must be spent on the downtime activity for the day to count.

Since downtime activities can include crafting or researching, I can totally see how that would require 8 hours of work each day, but performing? 8 hours of performance would equate to non-stop playing and/or singing in a tavern from 6PM to 2AM. That sounds excessive, no?


3 Answers 3


There is much more to a performance than the actual performance itself.

It takes many hours of practice to perfect an art (trust me), not to mention the time it takes to compose or find new music or stories, especially in a world without wide-spread printing or downloads!

And then there is marketing yourself, gaining reputation, finding places that have availability and are willing to take you on and so on.

Earning a living by performance is certainly a full-time job.


It's not about the performer playing for 8 hours non-stop, but keeping up the mood, taking breaks when there aren't many people in the tavern, making a few performances when the customers show him some silver and just rinse and repeat.

You are there when the crowd needs entertainment.


It's worth examining a similar modern day job, bar performers.

This explains it well. One key point is this. "Your job is to sell booze. You're not here for any other reason."

You're there at a bar to sell drinks. You schmooze with the customers, you tell jokes, you ask them to buy you expensive drinks, you take requests, mostly for popular songs that everyone loves.

You're there to get people drunk. It's a job that's common today, and a lot of them do get very tired by the end. But you earn a living, and that's enough.

Maybe it's excessive, but it's not uncommon in the modern era.

Here's an example from a real life person. They work from 7 to 1:45, which is 6 hours and 45 minutes. Plus travel time, that's not that far off.

Use these examples, to see what sort of roleplay you should do for the break.


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