游戏模式Running Modes of Play
Pathfinder sessions are divided into three different modes of play: encounters, exploration,
and downtime. Each mode represents different kinds of situations, with specific stakes
and time scales, and characters can use different sorts of actions and reactions in each.
Encounters take place in real time or slower, and they
involve direct engagement between players and enemies,
potential allies, or each other. Combat and direct social
interaction usually take place in encounter mode.
Exploration is the connective tissue of an adventure,
and it is used whenever characters are exploring a place
where there’s danger or uncertainty, such as an unfamiliar
city or a dungeon. In exploration mode, characters
aren’t in immediate peril, but they must still be on
their toes. Exploration and encounters are collectively
When the party isn’t adventuring, the characters are in
downtime. This mode covers most of a normal person’s
life, such as mundane, day-to-day tasks and working
toward long-term goals.
Encounter mode is the most structured mode of play,
and you’ll mostly be following the rules presented in
Chapter 9 to run this mode. Because you usually call for
initiative during exploration before transitioning into
an encounter, guidelines for initiative order appear on
page 498 in the discussion of exploration mode. Rules
for building combat encounters appear on page 488.
Stakes: Moderate to high. Encounters always have
significant stakes, and they are played in a step-by-step
time frame to reflect that.
Time Scale: Encounter mode is highly structured and
proceeds in combat rounds for combat encounters,
while other sorts of encounters can have rounds
of any length. In combat, 1 minute consists of 10
rounds, where each combat round is 6 seconds long,
but you might decide a verbal confrontation proceeds
in minute-long or longer rounds to give each speaker
enough time to make a solid point.
Actions and Reactions: In combat encounters, each
participant’s turn is broken into discrete actions, and
participants can use reactions when their triggers occur.
Reactions can occur in social situations, though their
triggers are usually more descriptive and less tactical.
CHOOSING ADVERSARIES’ ACTIONS
Players often coordinate and plan to be as efficient as
possible, but their adversaries might not. As the GM,
you’re roleplaying these foes, and you decide their tactics.
Most creatures have a basic grasp of simple tactics like
flanking or focusing on a single target. But you should
remember that they also react based on emotions and
make mistakes—perhaps even more than the player
When selecting targets or choosing which abilities to
use, rely on the adversaries’ knowledge of the situation,
not your own. You might know that the cleric has a high
Will save modifier, but a monster might still try to use a
fear ability on her. That doesn’t mean you should play
adversaries as complete fools; they can learn from their
mistakes, make sound plans, and even research the player
characters in advance.
Adversaries usually don’t attack a character who’s
knocked out. Even if a creature knows a fallen character
might come back into the fight, only the most vicious
creatures focus on helpless foes rather than the more
immediate threats around them.
Running adversaries is a mix of being true to the
creature and doing what’s best for the drama of the
game. Think of your encounter like a fight scene in a
movie or novel. If the fighter taunts a fire giant to draw
its attention away from the fragile wizard, the tactically
sound decision is for the giant to keep pummeling the
wizard. But is that the best choice for the scene? Perhaps
everyone will have more fun if the giant redirects its ire to
the infuriating fighter.
What happens if you’ve planned a fight or challenge
and the PCs find a way to avoid it entirely? This could
leave them behind in XP or cause them to miss important
information or treasure.
In the case of XP, the guidelines are simple: If the
player characters avoided the challenge through smart
tactical play, a savvy diplomatic exchange, clever use of
magic, or another approach that required ingenuity and
planning, award them the normal XP for the encounter.
If they did something that took only moderate effort
or was a lucky break, like finding a secret passage and
using it to avoid a fight, award them XP for a minor or
moderate accomplishment. In an adventure that’s more
free-form, like a sprawling dungeon with multiple paths,
there might be no reward for bypassing an encounter,
because doing so was trivial.
You’ll have to think on your feet if information or items
get skipped when players bypass encounters. First, look
for another reasonable place in the adventure to place the
information or item. If it makes sense, move the original
encounter to another part of the adventure and give the
PCs a major advantage for bypassing the encounter in
the first place.
A combat encounter typically ends when all the creatures
on one side are killed or knocked unconscious. Once
this happens, you can stop acting in initiative order.
The surviving side then has ample time to ensure that
everyone taken out stays down. However, you might need
to keep using combat rounds if any player characters are
near death, clinging to a cliff, or in some other situation
where every moment matters for their survival.
You can decide a fight is over if there’s no challenge
left, and the player characters are just cleaning up the last
few weak enemies. However, avoid doing this if any of
the players still have inventive and interesting things they
want to try or spells they’re concentrating on—ending
an encounter early is a tool to avoid boredom, not to
deny someone their fun. You can end a fight early in
several ways: the foes can surrender, an adversary can die
before its Hit Points actually run out, or you can simply
say the battle’s over and that the PCs easily dispatch
their remaining foes. In this last case, you might ask, “Is
everyone okay if we call the fight?” to make sure your
players are on board.
One side might surrender when almost all its
members are defeated or if spells or skills thoroughly
demoralize them. Once there’s a surrender, come out
of initiative order and enter into a short negotiation.
These conversations are really about whether the
winners will show mercy to the losers or just kill
or otherwise get rid of them. The surrendering side
usually doesn’t have much leverage in these cases, so
avoid long back-and-forth discussions.
f lEEing E nEmiES
Fleeing enemies can be a problem. Player characters
often want to pursue foes that flee because they think an
enemy might return as a threat later on. Avoid playing
this out move by move, as it can easily bog down the
game. If every adversary is fleeing, forgo initiative
order and give each PC the option to pursue any one
fleeing foe. Each PC can declare one action, spell, or
other ability to use to try to keep up. Then, compare the
PC’s Speed to that of the target, assess how much the
pursuer’s chosen spell or ability would help, and factor
in any abilities the quarry has that would aid escape.
If you determine that the pursuer catches up, go back
into combat with the original initiative order. If not, the
quarry escapes for now.
If the PCs decide to flee, it’s usually best to let them do
so. Pick a particular location and allow them to escape
once they all reach it. However, if they’re encumbered
or otherwise slowed down, or if enemies have higher
Speeds and a strong motive to pursue, you might impose
consequences upon PCs who flee.
Most conversations play best as free-form roleplaying,
with maybe one or two checks for social skills involved.
Sometimes, though, a tense situation or crucial parlay
requires a social encounter that uses initiative, much like
a combat encounter. As with any other encounter, the
stakes of a social encounter need to be high! A failed social
encounter could mean a character is imprisoned or put to
death, a major rival becomes a political powerhouse, or a
key ally is disgraced and ostracized.
Using the structure of an encounter is helpful because
it makes the timing clearer than in free-form play, and
each character feels like they’re contributing. When
running a social encounter, establish the stakes up
front, so the players know the consequences of success
or failure and the circumstances that will cause the
encounter to end.
You have much more flexibility in how you run a
social encounter than in a combat encounter. Extending
the length of rounds beyond 6 seconds, allowing more
improvisation, and focusing less on special attacks and
spells all differentiate a social encounter from a combat
one. In most cases, you don’t need to worry about
character’s movements, nor do you need a map. Some
examples of social encounters include:
• Proving someone’s innocence in front of a judge.
• Convincing a neighboring monarch to help defend
against an invasion.
• Besting a rival bard in a battle of wits.
• Exposing a villain’s deception before a noble court.
i nitiativE and a ctionS
Initiative in a social encounter typically has characters
rolling Society or a Charisma-based skill, such as Diplomacy or Deception. As with other encounters, a
character’s approach to the conflict determines which
skill they’ll roll. On a character’s turn, they typically get
to attempt one roll, usually by using a skill action. Let
the player roleplay what their character says and does,
then determine what they’ll roll. Allow them to use any
abilities or spells that might help them make their case,
though keep in mind that when most people see the visual
signs of a spell being cast, they think someone is using
magic to try to influence or harm them, and they have a
Good social encounters include an opposition.
This can be direct, such as a rival who argues against
the characters’ case, or passive, such as a mob that
automatically becomes more unruly as each round
passes. Give the opposition one or more positions in the
initiative order so you can convey what it is doing. You
can create game statistics for the opposition, especially if
it’s an individual, but in situations like that of the unruly
mob, you might need nothing more than establish a set
of increasingly difficult DCs.
m EaSuring S uccESS and p rogrESS
You’ll need to decide how to measure the characters’
success in social encounters, because there’s no AC
to target or HP to whittle down. Chapter 4 includes
guidance on setting DCs for social skill actions, often
using a target’s Will DC. If you need a DC for people who
don’t have stats, such as a crowd or an NPC for whom
you haven’t already generated statistics, use the guidelines
on setting DCs, found on page 503. You can either pick a
simple DC or use a level-based DC, estimating a level for
the subject or how challenging it should be to sway them.
The attitude conditions—hostile, unfriendly, indifferent,
friendly, and helpful—provide a useful way to track the
progress of a social encounter. Use these to represent
the attitude of an authority, a crowd, a jury, or the like.
A typical goal for a social encounter is to change the
attitude of a person or group to helpful so they assist you,
or calming a hostile group or person to defuse a situation.
Try to give the players a clear idea of how much they’ve
progressed as the encounter proceeds.
Another option is to track the number of successes
or failures the characters accrue. For instance, you
might need to trick four guards into leaving their posts,
and count each successful attempt to Lie or Create a
Diversion toward a total of four necessary successes.
You can combine these two methods; if the PCs need a
group of important nobles to vote their way, the goal of
the encounter might be to ensure that a majority of the
nobles have a better attitude toward the PCs than they
have of a rival—all within a limited time frame.c onSEquEncES
When you set stakes at the start of a social encounter,
give an idea of the consequences. Beyond whatever
narrative benefits player characters might gain, a social
encounter usually includes an XP award. Because these are
encounters along the same lines as combat encounters, they
grant a sizable amount of XP, typically that of a moderate
accomplishment, or even a major accomplishment if the
encounter was the culmination of long-term plans or a
significant adversary got their comeuppance.
The outcome of a social encounter should direct
the story of the game. Look for repercussions. Which
NPCs might view the PCs more favorably now? Which
might hold a grudge or formulate a new plan? A social
encounter can seal the fate of an NPC and end their story,
but this isn’t true for player characters. Even if something
looks truly dire for them, such as a death sentence, the
social encounter isn’t the end—there’s still time for
desperate heroics or a twist in the story.
Exploration mode is intentionally less regimented than
encounters. As a result, during exploration you’ll be making
judgment calls on just about everything that happens.
Fundamentally, exploration is all about rewarding the
PCs for learning about their surroundings. To facilitate
this, it’s especially important to have and convey a clear
mental picture of the group’s surroundings. You’ll be
better able to keep track of where the players are and
describe the sights, sounds, and other sensations of their
adventuring locales. Encourage the players to have their
characters truly explore, and reward their curiosity. The
things they try to do in exploration mode show you what
they’re interested in and what they consider important.
As you play, you’ll get a good feel for the aspects of
exploration that intrigue certain players, and you can add
more of those things to your adventures or emphasize
these points in published adventures.
Stakes: Low to moderate. Exploration mode should be
used when there’s some amount of risk, but no immediate
danger. The PCs might be in an environment where they’re
likely to face monsters or hazards, but they usually stay
in exploration mode until they enter a fight or engage in
some other direct interaction.
Time Scale: When the PCs are in exploration mode,
time in the game world passes much faster than
real-world time at the table, so it’s rarely measured out
to the second or the minute. You can speed up or slow
down how quickly things are happening as needed. If it’s
important to know exactly how much time is passing,
you can usually estimate time spent in exploration mode
to 10-minute increments.
Actions and Reactions: Though exploration isn’t
broken into rounds, exploration activities assume the
PCs are spending part of their time using actions, such as
Seeking or Interacting. If they have specific actions they
want to use, they should ask; you can decide whether the
actions apply and whether to switch to encounter mode
for greater detail. PCs can use any relevant reactions that
come up during exploration mode.
In exploration mode, each player who wants to do
something beyond just traveling chooses an exploration
activity for their character. The most common activities
are Avoid Notice, Detect Magic, Hustle, and Search,
though there are many options available. While players
usually hew close to these default activities, there’s no
need for them to memorize the exploration activities and
use them exactly. Instead, allow each player to describe
what their character is doing. Then, as the GM, you can
determine which activity applies. This also means you
determine how an activity works if the character’s actions
differ from those on the list.
The following sections discuss exploration activities that
require adjudication from you beyond the guidelines for
players detailed on pages 479–480 of Chapter 9.
d EtEct m agic
This activity doesn’t enable characters to automatically
find every single magical aura or object during travel.
Hazards that require a minimum proficiency can’t be
found with detect magic, nor can illusions of equal or
higher level than the spell.
When characters find something magical using this
activity, let them know and give them the option to stop
and explore further or continue on. Stopping brings
you into a more roleplay-heavy scene in which players
can search through an area, assess different items, or
otherwise try to figure out the source of the magic and
what it does. Continuing on might cause the group to
miss out on beneficial magic items or trigger a magic trap.
f ollow thE E xpErt
A skilled character can help out less skilled allies who
choose to Follow the Expert. This is a good way to help a
character with a low Stealth modifier sneak around, get a
character with poor Athletics up a steep cliff, and so on.
Usually, a character who is Following the Expert can’t
perform other exploration activities or follow more than
one person at a time.
As with Searching or Detecting Magic, the initial result
of Investigating is usually enough to give the investigator
a clue that leads into a more thorough examination, but
it rarely gives all possible information. For instance, a
character might note that the walls of a dungeon are
covered with Abyssal writing, but they would need
to stop to read the text or determine that it’s written
in blood.S Earch
With a successful Perception check while Searching, a
character notices the presence or absence of something
unusual in the area, but it doesn’t provide a comprehensive
catalog of everything there. Instead, it gives a jumping-off
point for closer inspection or an encounter. For instance,
if an area has both a DC 30 secret door and a DC 25 trap,
and a Searching character got a 28 on their Perception
check, you would tell the player that their character
noticed a trap in the area, and you’d give a rough idea
of the trap’s location and nature. The party needs to
examine the area more to learn specifics about the trap,
and someone would need to Search again to get another
chance to find the secret door.
If an area contains many objects or something that will
take a while to search (such as a cabinet full of papers),
Searching would reveal the cabinet, but the PCs would have
to examine it more thoroughly to check the papers. This
usually requires the party to stop for a complete search.
You roll a secret Perception check for a Searching
character to detect any secrets they pass that’s in a
place that stands out (such as near a door or a turn in
a corridor), but not one that’s in a more inconspicuous
place (like a random point in a long hallway) unless they
are searching particularly slowly and meticulously.
SETTING A PARTY ORDER
In exploration mode, it often matters which characters
are in the front or back of the party formation. Let the
players decide among themselves where in the group their
characters are while exploring. This order can determine
who gets attacked first when enemies or traps threaten
from various directions. It’s up to you to determine the
specifics of who gets targeted based on the situation.
When you come out of exploration mode, the group
usually remains in the same general formation. Decide
the PCs’ exact positions, with their input, if you’re
moving to a grid (as usually happens at the start of a
combat encounter). If they come out of exploration mode
on their own terms, they can move around as they see fit.
For example, if they detect a trap and the rogue starts
attempting to disarm it, the other characters can move to
whatever locations they think are safe.
ADVERSE TERRAIN AND WEATHER
Exploration gets slower when the party faces dense
jungles, deep snow, sandstorms, extreme heat, or similar
difficult conditions. You decide how much these factors
impact the characters’ progress. The specific effects of
certain types of terrain and weather are described starting
on page 512.Difficult terrain such as thick undergrowth usually
slows down progress. Unless it’s important how far the
group gets in a particular time frame, this can be covered
with a quick description of chopping through the vines or
trudging through a bog. If the characters are on a deadline,
adjust their progress on Table 9–2: Travel Speed (page 479),
typically cutting it in half if almost all of the land is difficult
terrain or to one-third for greater difficult terrain.
Hazardous terrain, such as the caldera of an active
volcano, might physically harm the player characters.
The group might have the option to travel directly
through or go around by spending more time. You can
transition into a more detailed scene while the characters
move through hazardous terrain and attempt to mitigate
the damage with spells or skill checks. If they endure
hazardous terrain, consider giving the PCs a minor or
moderate XP reward at the end of their exploration, with
slightly more XP if they took smart precautions to avoid
Dangerous crevasses, swampy bogs, quicksand, and
similar dangers are environmental hazards, which are
described beginning on page 512.
Exploration can get broken up by traps and other hazards
(see Hazards on page 520). Simple hazards pose a threat
to the PCs only once and can be dealt with in exploration
mode. Complex hazards require jumping into encounter
mode until the hazard is dealt with. Disabling a trap or
overcoming a hazard usually takes place in encounter
mode. PCs have a better chance to detect hazards while
exploring if they’re using the Search activity (and the
Detect Magic activity, in the case of some magic traps).
Transitioning from exploration to an encounter usually
involves rolling for initiative. Call for initiative once a
trap is triggered, as soon as two opposing groups come
into contact, or when a creature on one side decides to
take action against the other. For example:
• A group of PCs are exploring a cavern. They enter
a narrow passage patrolled by a group of kobold
warriors. Now that the two groups are in the same
area, it’s time to roll initiative.
• Amiri and a kobold champion agree to have
a friendly wrestling match. They square off
on a patch of dirt, and you call for initiative
• Merisiel and Kyra are negotiating with the kobold
king. Things aren’t going well, so Merisiel decides
to launch a surprise attack. As soon as she says
this is her plan, you call for initiative.
• Harsk and Ezren are trying to Balance across a
narrow beam to reach an isolated kobold treasure
trove. When they get halfway across, a red dragon
who was hiding behind the mountain flies around
to attack! As soon as the dragon makes its
appearance, you call for an initiative roll.
i nitiativE aftEr r EactionS
In some cases, a trap or a foe has a reaction that tells
you to roll initiative. For instance, a complex trap that’s
triggered might make an attack with its reaction before
the initiative order begins. In these cases, resolve all the
results of the reaction before calling for initiative rolls.
c hooSing thE t ypE of r oll
When choosing what type of roll to use for initiative,
lean toward the most obvious choice. The most common
roll is Perception; this is what the kobolds would use in
the first example, as would Kyra and the kobold king
in the third example. The next most common skills to
use are Stealth (for sneaking up, like the dragon in the
last example) and Deception (for tricking opponents,
like Merisiel in the third example). For social contests,
it’s common to use Deception, Diplomacy, Intimidation,
Performance, or Society.
If you’re unsure what roll to call for, use Perception.
If a different type of roll could make sense for a character,you should usually offer the choice of that roll or
Perception and let the player decide. Don’t do this if it’s
absolutely clear another kind of check matters more sense
than Perception, such as when the character is sneaking
up on enemies and should definitely use Stealth.
You can allow a player to make a case that they should
use a different skill than Perception, but only if they
base it on something they’ve established beforehand. For
example, if in the prelude to the attack, Merisiel’s player
had said, “I’m going to dangle down off the chandelier to
get the drop on them,” you could let them use Acrobatics
for their initiative roll. If they just said, “Hey, I want to
attack these guys. Can I use Acrobatics?” without having
established a reason beforehand, you probably shouldn’t
c haractEr p lacEmEnt
When calling for initiative for a combat encounter, you’ll
need to decide where the participants in the encounter
go on the battle map. Use the party’s order, described on
page 497, as a base. You can move forward characters
who are using Stealth to get into position, putting them
in a place they could reasonably have moved up to before
having a chance to be detected. Consult with each player
to make sure their position makes sense to both of you.
Characters require 8 hours of sleep each day. Though
resting typically happens at night, a group gains the
same benefits for resting during the day. Either way,
they can gain the benefits of resting only once every 24
hours. A character who rests for 8 hours recovers in the
• The character regains Hit Points equal to their
Constitution modifier (minimum 1) multiplied
by their level. If they rest without any shelter or
comfort, you might reduce this healing by half (to a
minimum of 1 HP).
• The character loses the fatigued condition.
• The character reduces the severity of the doomed
and drained conditions by 1.
• Most spellcasters need to rest before they regain
their spells for the day.
A group in exploration mode can attempt to rest, but
they aren’t entirely safe from danger, and their rest might
be interrupted. The 8 hours of rest do not need to be
consecutive, however, and after an interruption, characters
can go back to sleep.
Sleeping in armor results in poor rest and causes a
character to wake up fatigued. If a character would have
recovered from fatigue, sleeping in armor prevents it.
If a character goes more than 16 hours without going
to sleep, they become fatigued.
Taking long-term rest for faster recovery is part of
downtime and can’t be done during exploration. See
page 502 for these rules.
w atchES and S urpriSE a ttackS
Adventuring parties usually put a few people on guard to
watch out for danger while the others rest. Spending time
on watch also interrupts sleep, so a night’s schedule needs
to account for everyone’s time on guard duty. Table 10–3:
Watches and Rest on the next page indicates how long the
group needs to set aside for rest, assuming everyone gets a
rotating watch assignment of equal length.
If a surprise encounter would occur during rest, you
can roll a die to randomly determine which character is
on watch at the time. All characters roll initiative; sleeping
characters typically roll Perception with a –4 status penaltyfor being unconscious. They don’t automatically wake up
when rolling initiative, but they might roll a Perception
check to wake up at the start of their turn due to noise. If a
savvy enemy waits for a particularly vulnerable character to
take watch before attacking, the attack can happen on that
character’s watch automatically. However, you might have
the ambusher attempt a Stealth check against the Perception
DCs of all characters to see if anyone noticed its approach.
TABLE 10–3: WATCHES AND REST
Group Total Duration of
Size Time Each Watch
2 16 hours 8 hours
3 12 hours 4 hours
4 10 hours, 40 minutes 2 hours, 40 minutes
5 10 hours 2 hours
6 9 hours, 36 minutes 1 hour, 36 minutes
Just before setting out to explore, or after a night’s rest,
the PCs spend time to prepare for the adventuring day.
This typically happens over the span of 30 minutes to an
hour in the morning, but only after 8 full hours of rest.
Daily preparations include the following.
• Spellcasters who prepare spells choose which spells
they’ll have available that day.
• Focus Points and other abilities that reset during
daily preparations refresh. This includes abilities that
can be used only a certain number of times per day.
• Each character equips their gear. This includes
donning their armor and strapping on their weapons.
• Characters invest up to 10 worn magic items to gain
their benefits for the day (page 531).
STARVATION AND THIRST
Typically characters eat and drink enough to survive
comfortably. When they can’t, they’re fatigued until
they do. After 1 day + a creature’s Constitution modifier
without water, it takes 1d4 damage each hour that can’t
be healed until it quenches its thirst. After the same
amount of time without food, it takes 1 damage each day
that can’t be healed until it sates its hunger.
In downtime, you can sum up the important events of
a whole day with just one roll. Use this mode when the
characters return home or otherwise aren’t adventuring.
Usually, downtime is a few minutes at the start of a
session or a break between major chapters of an adventure.
As with exploration, you might punctuate downtime with
roleplaying or encounters when it’s natural to do so.
This section describes ways to handle downtime and
details several activities and considerations specific to
downtime, such as cost of living, buying and selling goods,
long-term rest, and retraining. Most other downtime
activities are skill actions; a number of these common
downtime activities and their associated skills are listed
below. See the relevant skills in Chapter 4 for details.
• Craft (Crafting)
• Earn Income (Crafting, Lore, Performance)
• Treat Disease (Medicine)
• Create Forgery (Society)
• Subsist (Society, Survival)
Stakes: None to low. Downtime is the counterpart to
adventuring and covers low-risk activities.
Time Scale: Downtime can last days, weeks, months,
or years in the game world in a few minutes of real time.
Actions and Reactions: If you need to use actions and
reactions, switch to exploration or encounter mode.
A creature that can’t act is unable to perform most
downtime activities, but it can take long-term rest.
PLAYING OUT A DOWNTIME DAY
At the start of a given day of downtime, have all the players
declare what their characters are trying to accomplish that
day. You can then resolve one character’s efforts at a time
(or group some characters together, if they are cooperating
on a single project). Some activities, such as Earning
Income, require only a simple roll and some embellishment
from you and the player. Other activities are more involved,
incorporating encounters or exploration. You can call on
the players to play out their downtime activities in any
order, though it’s often best to do the simplest ones first.
Players who aren’t part of a more involved activity might
have time to take a break from the table while the more
complex activities are played out.
Characters can undertake their daily preparations if
they want, just as they would on a day of exploration.
Ask players to establish a standard set of preparations,
and you can assume the characters go through the same
routine every day unless their players say otherwise.
Multiple characters can cooperate on the same downtime
task. If it’s a simple task that requires just one check, such
as a party Subsisting as they await rescue on a desert
island, one character rolls the necessary check while
everyone else Aids that character. If it’s a complex task,
assume all of them are working on different parts of it at
one time, so all their efforts count toward its completion.
For example, a party might collaborate to build a theater,
with one character drawing up architectural plans, one
doing manual labor, and one talking to local politicians
Some downtime activities require rolls, typically skill
checks. Because these rolls represent the culmination
of a series of tasks over a long period, players can’t use
most abilities or spells that manipulate die rolls, such as activating a magic item to gain a bonus or casting a fortune
spell to roll twice. Constant benefits still apply, though,
so someone might invest a magic item that gives them
a bonus without requiring activation. You might make
specific exceptions to this rule. If something could apply
constantly, or so often that it might as well be constant, it’s
more likely to be used for downtime checks.
LONGER PERIODS OF DOWNTIME
Running downtime during a long time off—like several
weeks, months, or even years—can be more challenging.
However, it’s also an opportunity for the characters to
progress toward long-term plans rather than worrying
about day-to-day activities. Because so much time is
involved, characters don’t roll a check for each day.
Instead, they deal with a few special events, average out
the rest of the downtime, and pay for their cost of living.
After the characters state what they want to achieve in their
downtime, select a few standout events for each of them—
usually one event for a period of a week or a month, or
four events for a year or longer. These events should be
tailored to each character and their goals, and they can
serve as hooks for adventures or plot development.
Though the following examples of downtime events
all involve Earning Income, you can use them to spark
ideas for other activities. A character using Perform to
Earn Income could produce a commanding performance
of a new play for visiting nobility. Someone using Crafting
might get a lucrative commission to craft a special item.
A character with Lore might have to research a difficult
problem that needs a quick response.
PCs who want to do things that don’t correspond to a
specific downtime activity should still experience downtime
events; you just choose the relevant skill and DC. For
example, if a character intends to build their own library
to house their books on magic, you might decide setting the
foundation and organizing the library once construction
is finished are major events. The first could be a Crafting
check, and the second an Arcana or Library Lore check.
a vEragE p rogrESS
For long periods of downtime, you might not want to
roll for every week, or even every month. Instead, set the
level for one task using the lowest level the character can
reliably find in the place where they spend their downtime
(see Difficulty Classes on page 503 for more on setting task
levels). If the character fails this check, you might allow
them to try again after a week (or a month, if you’re dealing
with years of downtime). Don’t allow them to roll again if
they succeeded but want to try for a critical success, unless
they do something in the story of the game that you think
makes it reasonable to allow a new roll.
The events you include during a long stretch of
downtime should typically feature higher-level tasks than
The Age of
the baseline. For instance, a character Earning Income
with Sailing Lore for 4 months might work at a port
doing 1st-level tasks most of the time, but have 1 week
of 3rd-level tasks to account for busy periods. You’ll
normally have the player roll once for the time they spent
at 1st-level tasks and once for the week of 3rd-level tasks.
COST OF LIVING
For short periods of downtime, characters are usually just
passing through a settlement or spending a bit of time
there. They can use the prices for inn stays and meals
found on page 294. For long stretches of downtime, use
the values on Table 6–16: Cost of Living on the same
page. Deduct these costs from a character’s funds after
they gain any money from their other downtime activities.
A character can live off the land instead, but each day
they do, they typically use the Subsist activity (page 240) to
the exclusion of any other downtime activity.
BUYING AND SELLING
After an adventure yields a windfall, the characters might
have a number of items they want to sell. Likewise, when
they’re flush with currency, they might want to stock up
on gear. It usually takes 1 day of downtime to sell off a
few goods or shop around to buy a couple items. It can
take longer to sell off a large number of goods, expensive
items, or items that aren’t in high demand.
This assumes the characters are at a settlement of
decent size during their downtime. In some cases, they
might spend time traveling for days to reach bigger cities.
As always, you have final say over what sort of shops and
items are available.
An item can usually be purchased at its full Price and
sold for half its Price. Supply and demand adjusts these
numbers, but only occasionally.
Each full 24-hour period a character spends resting
during downtime allows them to recover double what
they would for an 8-hour rest (as listed on page 499).
They must spend this time resting in a comfortable and
secure location, typically in bed.
If they spend significantly longer in bed rest—usually
from a few days to a week of downtime—they recover
from all damage and most nonpermanent conditions.
Characters affected by diseases, long-lasting poisons,
or similar afflictions might need to continue attempting
saves during downtime. Some curses, permanent injuries,
and other situations that require magic or special care
to remove don’t end automatically during long-term rest.
The retraining rules on page 481 allow a player to change
some character choices, but they rely on you to decide
whether the retraining requires a teacher, how long it
takes, if it has any associated costs, and if the ability can
be retrained at all. It’s reasonable for a character to retrain
most choices, and you should allow them. Only choices that
are truly intrinsic to the character, like a sorcerer’s bloodline,
should be off limits without extraordinary circumstances.
Try to make retraining into a story. Use NPCs the
character already knows as teachers, have a character
undertake intense research in a mysterious old library, or
ground the retraining in the game’s narrative by making
it the consequence of something that happened to the
character in a previous session.
Retraining a feat or skill increase typically takes a
week. Class features that require a choice can also be
retrained but take longer: at least a month, and possibly
more. Retraining might take even longer if it would be
especially physically demanding or require travel, lengthy
experimentation, or in-depth research, but usually you
won’t want to require more than a month for a feat or
skill, or 4 months for a class feature.
A character might need to retrain several options at
once. For instance, retraining a skill increase might
mean they have skill feats they can no longer use, and
so they’ll need to retrain those as well. You can add all
this retraining time together, then reduce the total a bit to
represent the cohesive nature of the retraining.
i nStruction and c oStS
The rules abstract the process of learning new things as
you level up—you’re learning on the job—but retraining
suggests that the character works with a teacher or
undergoes specific practice to retrain. If you want, you
can entirely ignore this aspect of retraining, but it does
give an opportunity to introduce (or reintroduce) NPCs
and further the game’s story. You can even have one
player character mentor another, particularly when it
comes to retraining skills.
Any costs to retraining should be pretty minor—about
as much as a PC could gain by Earning Income over
the same period of time. The costs are mostly there to
make the training feel appropriate within the context
of the story, not to consume significant amounts of the
character’s earnings. A teacher might volunteer to work
without pay as a reward for something the character has
already done, or simply ask for a favor in return.
d iSallowEd o ptionS
While some character options can’t normally be retrained,
you can invent ways for a character to retrain even these—
special rituals, incredible quests, or the perfect tutor. For
example, ability scores can’t normally be retrained, as that
can unbalance the game. But not all players necessarily
want to exploit the system—maybe a player simply
wants to swap an ability boost between two low stats. In
situations like this, you could let them spend a few months
working out or studying to reassign an ability boost.