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Good evening, afternoon, or whatever time it happens to be there, ladies and gents! I happen to be Andy, who happens to be a freelance web designer, musician, writer, and whatnot.

Roman Catholic, student of tabletop gaming, and someday soon I'll have my own designs in the field!

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Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Sick of Being Sick?

Down time. It's the one aspect of roleplaying games that at least to me sticks out as the least fun. It's that awful time when characters are incapacitated, unable to participate in the fun action of things. It's also often skimmed over, especially in classic fantasy settings, where the ability to fast-heal via magic is an easy solution to skipping over time-consuming recovery sequences. The general idea is that they're quite uninteresting to play through, because an incapacitated character can't do anything.

So What to Do?
Honestly, I really don't like the idea of fast-heal games, because it takes the game into the realm of ridiculous action. Take a brutal hit? No worries, you'll be back up and running soon. Physical violence has no real lasting effect, no actual consequences. Even death is a bit of a "revolving door scenario", where people die, come back to life, die, come back to life again.

At the same time, people generally don't like to play through the parts of games where their characters are capable of doing practically nothing. I don't blame them. It's very aggravating to be stuck in bed, when your character can rock the battlefield usually. On the other hand, isn't that how characters are supposed to be? The trick is conveying that feeling without genuinely leaving the player out of action. So, there's a few things you could try...

Read These Ideas Three

  1. Play as an NPC while your PC is bedridden. The NPC shouldn't quite reach the heights of the PC, because he doesn't truly completely "belong" with the group. Things are only totally working when the group itself is together. But the NPC can cover some degree of the hole in the group.
  2. Have the GM involve your PC in the plot. Perhaps the convalescent Paladin gets secret little bits of information that will prove to be crucial to the plot. So he has to contrive a way to send the message to the adventuring party.
  3. Co-GM for a little bit. It could be very fun for you to, just for a little bit, work with the GM for a combat. I'm sure they could use the eased workload.

These (and probably a lot more things that I'm not thinking of now) are good ways to keep yourself involved, even if your character isn't. Which means that you don't need to go back to the magical healing bounce to stay active. Plus, if your character is involved in ways different than normal, it's a good way to add depth to your game.


  1. Personally I find downtime rather fascinating. Usually I just have the plot halt for a moment and just have light roleplaying and character interaction, but then again I don't play with combat-hungry people.

  2. That's cool.

    That's personally the sort of thing I'd love to see happen in every group. In my experience, though (and it's true, this is group-specific), my group just seemed to zip from event to event, with little thought given to downtime.


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