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In D&D 5e, most characters can craft or otherwise benefit from downtime. I love the idea and when I DM I always include time for the players to build something with all the gold they have acquired.
Unfortunately, I have found that most DMs, especially those that work from modules, refuse to let characters take a break, preferring to go from cliff hanger to cliff hanger.

My current DM is one of those.

I would love to hear some arguments that might convince her that it is to her benefit, as well as to the players', to allow for some downtime. Obviously I have already made some suggestions, but Id like more options before I turn this into a direct discussion.

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    \$\begingroup\$ For now, I'm removing the accusation of sexism. However, that may the core issue here and it may behoove you to ask a question about the dynamics in your group. \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Jan 31 at 15:04
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What is it you want to achieve during your downtime and do your fellow players all feel the same? Much like the famous “shopping episode” I find players can have mixed feelings. Some of my players love to know there will be a session of downtime, others shrug their shoulders seeing it as a chance to relax for a session and have a break from intense playing maybe just socialise and not really play, or even be a session they can ask to skip entirely getting nothing from it.

As a rule of thumb when I run them I reduce all timescales for downtime activities to anywhere from 1/3 to 1/8th the time it should take, this allows those players who want to achieve something to do so without other players feeling they then have to fill weeks or months of game time up with exposition. It also allows my crafting players to make that cool suit of enchanted magical dragon armour in a matter of weeks.

I have also run downtime purely remotely between sessions getting players to email me what they wish to do and what they roll so it doesn’t impact on the table.

I would say talk to your DM and fellow players, and consider offering some of the above alternatives as options to playing your downtime. If the party know you planning on making items for them they may also push for that downtime as well.

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Frame challenge: Don't look for arguments, don't think of this as something you need to present an argument for.

Just be direct about what you desire out of the game:

"There are Between Adventures rules in PHB page 186-187. I would very much like to try that stuff out. Could we try them out after this adventure is over?" Add a suitable amount of additional "Pretty please :puppyeyes:" for your table and DM (maybe none).


Instead of arguments for this, you can have proposals on how to do this with minimal disruption, such as:

  • Let's do it in chat between game sessions.
  • All players who want to do something other than default idling at the best lifestyle they can afford could write a message about what they want to achieve, and then you could tell us what happened during downtime, and roll any dice if necessary, at the beginning of the next session.
  • Give the initiative to them: "If you let our characters have downtime, how would you do it?" If your assertion that they don't like suggestions is correct, then this is probably the way to go here...

If the DM still says "no"... This is not a hill to die on. Just accept that this is not part of this campaign, and let it go. Or if you already are thinking of maybe quitting for other reasons, then add this to your pile of things you dislike.

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    \$\begingroup\$ This. You don't need some master-crafted argument. Just...tell your DM that you'd like the chance for your character to get some downtime. It's possible that they are the sort of player who likes the intense non-stop action without the lull (and loss of urgency) that downtime creates. Because that is very much a thing...if your characters can afford to take a few months off, the world must not be in that bad of peril. So, they are running the sort of game they'd like to play in. By asking for something else, you can start up on honest, earnest conversation. \$\endgroup\$ – guildsbounty Jan 31 at 15:28
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Ideally, the best time to do this is at a Session Zero

You can get lots of details on what a Session Zero is from these links, but in a very small nutshell, it's a time often set aside before a game even begins to get players and GM more or less agreed on the style and conventions of a game.

If I were a GM and I had players with strong feelings on down-time or crafting, that is when I would want to hear about it. Likewise the other direction, if I as a GM had strong opinions on whether I wanted players to indulge in downtime or were running a frantically placed game with little or no downtime, that's when I would mention it.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I upvoted because Session Zero is important, but it doesn't really help the OP now, he's well into a campaign. \$\endgroup\$ – Ryan_L Jan 31 at 5:38
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    \$\begingroup\$ I choose not to downvote because this is good advice, but as @Ryan_L points out, this isn’t helpful for the OP. \$\endgroup\$ – Canned Man Jan 31 at 13:47
  • \$\begingroup\$ I think it's helpful in the sense of saying the OP is making a "big" request, and one approach could be to stay quite but remember it when the next campaign starts. \$\endgroup\$ – Owen Reynolds Jan 31 at 21:40
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Instead of suggesting what she should do try communicating your desires

Downtime is not a crucial element to playing DnD. There are advantages to it but there are also disadvantages. Your DM is not doing anything wrong by not including downtime.

Looking for arguments to convince her to run the game differently is an ineffective strategy because it fails to recognize that the issue is one of personal preference.

Since it is a matter of preference try meditating on why you enjoy downtime in your games. What needs of yours does it help fulfill? How does it enrich your gameplay experience?

Once you understand why you want downtime communicate those preferences to your DM without trying to pressure her into complying. Remember that she is running the game and trying to balance the preferences of the whole group. Generally speaking DMs are happy to include things that will make their players more happy. If she doesn't, however, you should accept that decision. If it is a deal breaker for you then you can leave the game.

Lastly, try to be empathetic. In our society the abilities of women are frequently underestimated resulting in a pattern of men giving unwanted advice/criticism to women, not trusting the opinions of women, or not respecting the experience of women. In this broader social context it is understandable for some women to have a stronger reaction to a man giving her advice.

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    \$\begingroup\$ "Hey, could we maybe have some downtime? I have all these crafting abilities I'd like to try." is not mansplaining. \$\endgroup\$ – Ryan_L Jan 31 at 5:36
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Ryan_L to be clear I am not suggesting that it is mansplaining. I am just saying that going with "my DM is sexist against men" isn't going to be a helpful mindset. \$\endgroup\$ – user60913 Jan 31 at 6:20
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Ryan_L also considering the OP believes we "live in a society completely dominated by women" there might be more to the situation than revealed in the question. \$\endgroup\$ – user60913 Jan 31 at 6:36
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Odo where do you get: the OP believes we "live in a society completely dominated by women"? I don't see it in the question or edit history. \$\endgroup\$ – SeriousBri Jan 31 at 14:14
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    \$\begingroup\$ @SeriousBri That was a comment by the OP to my answer. It has now been deleted. \$\endgroup\$ – user60913 Jan 31 at 14:41
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Be direct about what you want, why you want it, and what play experience you imagine for your character (or the party as a whole)

Those are in increasing order of importance for me as a DM. The mechanics of downtime can be odd to work with, especially when time is a fluid resource. Working downtime into a game can be a lot of work for a DM. Before putting in that effort I like to be sure that my players actually want the downtime, and have some guidance into how I should prepare and manage it to make a fun experience for them.

Some players just want pure RP opportunities while gambling around town to immerse themselves in the setting, while others want to run businesses based around their characters' abilities, and still others want detailed downtime schedules that fit with supplemental rules like those detailed in Strongholds and Followers.

Those are the angles I suggest using to ask your DM for downtime: downtime is fun for you, and you were hoping to have opportunities to roleplay your character in that way as well as the content that she's already offering.

I would definitely not assume that it will be to your DM's benefit, nor to the entire group's benefit, to include downtime like you are seeking. It might be true, especially if your entire group would enjoy the downtime elements of the game and your DM has the time and interest in including them. But if you haven't verified that then it might be a difficult tack to suggest that your DM will benefit from doing lots of additional work that her current adventure resources don't necessarily support very much (if at all).

It's also worth emphasizing elements of the game that you have been enjoying, as some DMs can receive this sort of request as a criticism (whether or not that is the intent). Asking for an additional element to be included in a game is a request; telling a DM that they are making a mistake or doing a bad job because they have neglected a fairly tangential, optional element of the game which you want can be unpleasant, if not condescending, and is not good form for a player-DM relationship.

I've been having fun playing my character through this adventure! But I built my character with the idea that they'd be able to engage in some downtime activities, like [your specific examples]. I don't know what plans you have for the rest of the campaign, but do you think that we might have some opportunities to do that sort of thing? I really like the idea that my character can [spend downtime doing X, in order to enable outcome Y, which satisfies my gameplay goals like Z].


Downtime activities can be awkward, confusing, and unsatisfying for players in 5e

I've been on both sides of this issue, as a DM and as a player, and my observations align in each case. The biggest issues I've noticed are that:

  • Downtime is player-driven. Players decide on their own goals and methods, which can also lead to feelings of aimlessness and a feeling that the game lacks direction. This can be problematic for many reasons but, importantly, can detract from some of the most important responsibilities the DM has (like to keep the game moving). Players that are excited about downtime activities will be fine, but those activities can be very disruptive and dull for players that are not as interested
  • Downtime can easily be unsatisfying, mechanically. It can be narratively interesting, but outside of roleplaying it often returns money (which players have limited meaningful opportunities to spend) or items and situations which the game doesn't simulate very precisely. In all cases, it tends to require extra effort on the DM's part to include and it's brutal to spend a great deal of time and effort to include a system that players grow to hate and/or ignore
  • If efforts are made to ensure that the products of downtime efforts are meaningful to the game in some way, downtime becomes another resource for the DM to track and manage (too much can unbalance things in ways difficult to predict or repair). Published guidelines offer varying help with doing this, but things often fall to homebrew at some point. It is not necessarily a trivial effort for the DM to do all of this

None of this means that downtime activity is bad (it isn't!), but they are real reasons that a DM might want to, and even be wise to, be cautious about including it as a matter of course. 5e is not 3.5e, in which characters could essentially have day jobs (or side jobs) practicing a profession for specific, mechanically-defined benefits between adventures or while journeying.

These reasons are why I would be very hesitant to suggest that ample opportunity for downtime activities are things that a DM definitely must or should include in all games for all players. When asking a DM to include new dimensions of gameplay it is worth presenting them with information on what you want and why so that they can be confident that they are actually delivering that to you. Especially if there may be substantial effort involved in designing and delivering it.

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Adding downtime in a serious way is a major change to the campaign. If being honest, you'd have to say you don't like the current style, didn't realize it would be this way at first, and now want to redo it.

Backing-up, downtime activities are interesting because they have follow-up and mean something. The GM spends time developing those "foils" and "complications" and fitting them into the campaign. Say you make contacts during a downtime week; they need to be useful later, preferably during an adventure. The big one is running a business. That can take more game time and be more interesting than adventures. It can create the adventures.

Sure, you can keep downtime simple: "I gamble, roll, roll -- made 50gp", "I sell a potion I don't need -- roll, roll, got 30gp". But that's boring. Players will expect more. At some point the GM needs to make up your "potion guy", who makes requests or mysteriously goes missing. Even downtime gamblers will need the GM to make up fellow gamblers eventually, or be invited to bigger games where the Prince is in disguise.

A "normal" old-fashioned D&D campaign is nothing like that. You fight battles and kill monsters. Those games can be complex, but it's about deciding which monsters to fight next, then research, scouting, prep, rumor-gathering, all in the service of monster slaughtering. Half the fun is there are so many monsters and so little time. Downtime ruins that (unless it's organic, like during a long sea voyage).

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Not having seen this answer yet, I thought I'd add my two penn'orth.

In my campaigns, downtime is something that happens in a distributed manner. We all get together (albeit, this past year, virtually) for the interactive stuff. But once the monster is vanquished, the mystery solved, or the treasure retrieved, one of the last questions for the group en banc is "How long do you want to spend in the inn after this?".

Most players will have some stuff they want to do after a gruelling campaign: magic-users will want to make more scrolls, fighters will drill with new magic weapons they have acquired in order to gauge their utility, those who have the xp to level-up need to complete their progression, and so on. All these are individual goals, and therefore make for boring group role-play - but they work very well by email, or quick one-on-one video calls, even in those pre-plague days when we physically got together for the main sessions.

There is no guarantee that my players will get what they want out of their downtime. Adventure may seek them out; offers may arrive that cannot be refused; other issues may arise, depending on how much spare time and creativity I have. But the players know to expect a chunk of downtime after wrapping up an adventure, and as a result nearly all have plans for it.

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