I am new to DM'ing and I have been thinking of the option of a Home Base for my party. I like the idea of building up a base, with craftsmen and libraries, etc for research and training and also to store the loot the party gets (especially if they get something they can't use yet, but will be useful for a specific villain).

My concern is that they might go on a quest to the north of the world, only to be sent to the west of the world. Once they succeed, as a DM I might offer them another quest and could be time sensitive (e.g. something to do with a Nemesis, or an NPC whose child was kidnapped). If they keep travelling for quests, there will be no reason to travel all the way to the south where their home base is (as an example) and just ignore it. If they travel back all the time, then game time will go past slowly, wasted on travelling, rather than them spending it adventuring and exploring the world.

I might be making a mountain out of a molehill, but I would like to know how to balance travel time from Home Base to the quest, so that players want to go back to Home Base rather than just move on to the next town/quest and stay at inns so they don't go back and forth all the time.

Thanks in advance for your help.

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    \$\begingroup\$ What level is the party? \$\endgroup\$
    – Miniman
    Commented Apr 2, 2019 at 11:54
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    – V2Blast
    Commented Apr 3, 2019 at 0:15
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    \$\begingroup\$ Rewording the question to "how can I encourage players to return to a base between quests?" might help to get it reopened. \$\endgroup\$
    – linksassin
    Commented Apr 3, 2019 at 6:17
  • \$\begingroup\$ A note to those who may answer this question: please keep Good Subjective, Bad Subjective in mind and back up your answer with actual experience or rules text, not conjecture. Unsubstantiated answers may be down-voted or risk deletion. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Apr 3, 2019 at 15:07

4 Answers 4


What you describe is my preferred style of play, and the key point is fairly simple:

You don't need to keep the world under constant threat, and the PCs don't need to be adventuring 24/7/365.

Indeed, trying to do so has led to many people over the years observing that, once play begins, characters tend to grow in ability ridiculously quickly relative to the passage of game time - after spending 30 years to reach level 1 (i.e., the character's starting age is 30), they then hit level 5, or 10, or 20 within a matter of weeks or months.

Instead, don't just allow time for the PCs to travel from one adventure site to the next, give them downtime as well, so that they can spend some time at the home base, building it up and interacting with the others that live there. If you're comfortable with lower-key activity, you can also run "day in the life" sessions depicting these activities, which is where the players will really start to feel a connection to their characters' home base.

So how frequent should adventures be? That's largely up to you and your group, of course, but I can offer a couple examples from games that are designed for this style of play:

  • Ars Magica is probably the granddaddy of RPGs built for long in-game time scales. Everything happens on a timetable of seasons here, including character advancement - if you want to get better in combat, you spend a season training. For an "average" campaign pace, the latest edition of Ars Magica recommends having one adventure every 1-4 seasons, although my memory of previous editions was that 1d10 seasons between adventures was once the norm.

  • King Arthur Pendragon is designed around the pace of life in the times of Arthurian legend. As such, each year sees characters going on one adventure, usually in spring and/or summer, then returning to their lands and spending the winter at home.

  • \$\begingroup\$ that makes complete sense. I think my mistake is that I'm mixing 2 gamestyles. I want my characters to have a home base, which points towards a longer type campaign, but I'm being influenced by Critical Role and High Rollers, where they have a roving party that increases levels and every session literally continues from the previous one. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Apr 2, 2019 at 12:58

Why are you putting things so far from home?

If you want a home base to be useful, then you should put the adventures near it.

If you want a campaign travelling to the four corners of the world, make the home base mobile (or don’t have one in this campaign).

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    \$\begingroup\$ By putting the base in the middle of a kingdom (as an example), it's a lot harder to "not attack it" since it's supposed to be a safe heaven. I haven't thought bout a mobile home base. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Apr 2, 2019 at 12:52

Just skip ahead to after the travelling.

Travel time can indeed bog down play time, so I advise just skipping ahead. The Basic Rules describe the speed of travel paces, so you can just skip ahead the amount of time it would take to complete the journey, or until the next event takes place.

If something is intended to occur on the road (or if you want to use random encounters in a hostile area), you instead say something like, "after travelling for about a day, Caorlis (the party ranger) notices some branches that seem to be out of place standing upright on the woodlands to either side of the road. You suspect something disturbed these branches" to hint at an ambush detected by a high passive perception.

Show them the consequences of travel time

If long travel times to destinations that aren't important to the story line becomes frequent, you can clue the party into the consequences of this activity using a bit of narrative techniques. The next time they travel to an area they could have helped if they were near by for someone to give notice to them, have them return to the ruins of a village. This is especially powerful if you had been foreshadowing an attack for some time (whether or not they picked up on the clues).

Perhaps they track down a few survivors in a nearby cave who angrily say, "where were you! We tried to find you when the king's spies told us an attack was coming, but you were gone. We could've used your help." This demonstrates the importance of staying near the action of the story.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks @David. My issue is not in narrating the travel time, but that travel time actually means that 2 weeks of game time will pass that, and then another 2 weeks to get somewhere else, and thus the PCs have lost a month of travel just to get back to their home base and back again. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Apr 2, 2019 at 11:53
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    \$\begingroup\$ @TheoScholiadis what problem arises from that? Is there a narrative reason that the adventurers cannot spend a month travelling between adventures? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Apr 2, 2019 at 11:54
  • \$\begingroup\$ not a problem per say. More like the world needs to move on in that period and during that period they are not affecting the world \$\endgroup\$ Commented Apr 2, 2019 at 11:58
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    \$\begingroup\$ @TheoScholiadis it's difficult to give strong advice in that case without knowing the specific story, but I tried to give some points as an addendum \$\endgroup\$ Commented Apr 2, 2019 at 12:04
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    \$\begingroup\$ @TheoScholiadis - Regarding your "world needs to move on" concerns, you might want to take a look at Stars Without Number (has a free version available) or An Echo, Resounding (paid only), both of which have a faction-level game overlaid on the PCs' adventures, with factions taking (usually) month-long turns. If the PCs run a faction while you also have NPC factions acting in the world, the faction-level game will both keep events happening in the world and allow the players to influence them. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Apr 3, 2019 at 7:35

Why do they go there?

While I fully agree with David Coffron's answer, there seems to be a different problem here. Namely; why do they want a home base?

If they have no reason to go there why would they? Maybe it has some financial benefits or you're planning some sort of story with their home at its center. What happens there isn't important as long as they have a reason to go.

As an example I'll give you something out of my current campaign: We've recently started building a town, and some tention has risen with the local lords. They seem to be dead set on stopping us from becoming succesful, even going so far as to send troops. This all lead to a massive battle between our characters and our Construct army (because why not) and the local lords. Our original incentive for the town was simply to store our goods and get a bit better profit for our goods, but this all lead to an epic campaign!

Most importantly; it is up to you, the DM, to make sure that they can do everything you want them to in the time they're given. They have three weeks to stop the Big Bad? Make sure they're within range. Who knows, maybe they'll avoid this whole problem and hire a bunch of wizards to teleport them all over the world.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Ok that makes sense. My concern was more along the lines of the benefits to them coming back are good enough (which now I know to look for), but at the same time the PCs not spending most of their lives travelling instead of being at their destination questing. I do want them to travel but ya. That being said, I've thought of teleportation circles and scroll as a method they can earn (as in when they get high enough or someone rewards them with it) \$\endgroup\$ Commented Apr 2, 2019 at 11:57
  • \$\begingroup\$ Was it a "contract" or a "construct" army? Either one is way cool! \$\endgroup\$
    – Jack
    Commented Apr 3, 2019 at 11:39
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Jack It was a construct army, thanks for catching the typo. We have a lot of homebrew in our campaign, some of which was creating our own constructs. \$\endgroup\$
    – SlimeBolt
    Commented Apr 3, 2019 at 13:10

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