For the last couple of years my group’s been playing two high-tempo D&D 3.5 campaigns (I’m the DM in one of them). The PCs, their families, their homelands and their worlds have been constantly threatened, traveling has been difficult (with visits to other planes, other side of the world or direct restrictions on teleportation). Any kind of research, crafting, downtime activities have been almost impossible.
We’ve had fun and we liked it.
However, for my new campaign (Pathfinder) I plan to take it more slowly. It’s still going to be a long story arc campaign (with some rail-roading, because we like it) and eventually events will accelerate, but at first the imminent end of the world will be in the players’ heads, not characters’.
This issue has nothing to do with typical problems of late-night shopping, boringness of travel or downtime.
I fear that any clue I throw will be examined so thoroughly and so fast, there will be no time for other events to unfold. And if I tell the players “nothing happens for a week”, they might not take it well. Meanwhile, in a typical medieval setting (even with magic), a week is not a long time.
I will talk to my players, sure, but I’m looking for some techniques to remind them in-game that the world is not ending tomorrow, so that they can devote a few weeks to crafting items, that gathering information for a few days is OK and that a month long travel will not destroy their chances.
At first, the campaign will feature a series of mundane adventures, that will include some degree of mystery, hinting for things to come. I’d prefer the players to think “Oh, that’s curious, let’s see what will come out of it” and not “Let’s split up, you go to the library, I will visit the Wizard, you cast Commune and you stay here and watch everyone”.