Chapter 2: Downtime Revisited

It’s possible for the characters to start a campaign at 1st level, dive into an epic story, and reach 10th level and beyond in a short amount of game time. Although that pace works fine for many campaigns, some DMs prefer a campaign story with pauses built into it — times when adventurers are not going on adventures. The downtime rules given in this section can be used as alternatives to the approach in the Player’s Handbook and the Dungeon Master’s Guide, or you can use the material here to inspire the creation of your own options.

By engaging the characters in downtime activities that take weeks or even months to complete, you can give your campaign a longer time line — one in which events in the world play out over years. Wars begin and end, tyrants come and go, and royal lines rise and fall over the course of the story that you and the characters tell.

Downtime rules also provide ways for characters to spend — or be relieved of — the monetary treasure they amass on their adventures.

The system presented here consists of two elements. First, it introduces the concept of rivals. Second, it details a number of downtime activities that characters can undertake.

When minions come back from a mission, sometimes I send them shopping.
Shopping is this thing where minions give away their stuff to other people, and other people give them different stuff.
It’s so strange.

Rivals

Rivals are NPCs who oppose the characters and make their presence felt whenever the characters are engaging in downtime. A rival might be a villain you have featured in past adventures or plan to use in the future. Rivals can also include good or neutral folk who are at odds with the characters, whether because they have opposing goals or they simply dislike one another. The cultist of Orcus whose plans the characters have foiled, the ambitious merchant prince who wants to rule the city with an iron fist, and the nosy high priest of Helm who is convinced the characters are up to no good are all examples of rivals.

A rival’s agenda changes over time. Though the characters engage in downtime only between adventures, their rivals rarely rest, continuing to spin plots and work against the characters even when the characters are off doing something else.

Creating a Rival

In essence, a rival is a somewhat specialized NPC. You can use chapter 4 of the Dungeon Master’s Guide to build a new NPC for this purpose, or pick one from your current cast of supporting characters and embellish that NPC as described below.

It’s possible for the characters to have two or three rivals at a time, each with a separate agenda. At least one should be a villain, but the others might be neutral or good; conflicts with those rivals might be social or political, rather than manifesting as direct attacks.

The best rivals have a connection with their adversaries on a personal level. Find links in the characters’ back­stories or the events of recent adventures that explain what sparked the rival’s actions. The best trouble to put the characters in is trouble they created for themselves.

Example Rivals

d20Rival
1Tax collector who is convinced the characters are dodging fees
2Politician who is concerned that the characters are causing more trouble than they solve
3High priest who worries the characters are diminishing the temple’s prestige
4Wizard who blames the characters for some recent troubles
5Rival adventuring party
6Bard who loves a scandal enough to spark one
7Childhood rival or member of a rival clan
8Scorned sibling or parent
9Merchant who blames the characters for any business woes
10Newcomer out to make a mark on the world
11Sibling or ally of defeated enemy
12Official seeking to restore a tarnished reputation
13Deadly foe disguised as a social rival
14Fiend seeking to tempt the characters to evil
15Spurned romantic interest
16Political opportunist seeking a scapegoat
17Traitorous noble looking to foment a revolution
18Would-be tyrant who brooks no opposition
19Exiled noble looking for revenge
20Corrupt official worried that recent misdeeds will be revealed

To add the right amount of detail to a rival you want to create, give some thought to what that NPC is trying to accomplish and what resources and methods the rival can bring to bear against the characters.

Goals. An effective rival has a clear reason for interfering with the characters’ lives. Think about what the rival wants, how and why the characters stand in the way, and how the conflict could be resolved. Ideally, a rival’s goal directly involves the characters or something they care about.

Assets. Think about the resources the rival can marshal. Does the character have enough money to pay bribes or to hire a small gang of mercenaries? Does the rival hold sway over any guilds, temples, or other groups? Make a list of the rival’s assets, and consider how they can be used.

Plans. The foundation of a rival’s presence in the campaign is the actions the rival takes or the events that occur as a result of that character’s goals. Each time you resolve one or more workweeks of downtime, pick one of the ways a rival’s plans might be advanced and introduce it into play.

Think about how a rival might operate in order to bring specific plans to fruition, and jot down three or four kinds of actions the rival might undertake. Some of these might be versions of the downtime activities described later in this section, but these are more often efforts that are specific to the rival.

A rival’s action might be a direct attack, such as an assassination attempt, that you play out during a session. Or it might be a background activity that you describe as altering the campaign in some way. For example, a rival who wants to increase the prestige of the temple of a war god might hold a festival with drink, food, and gladiatorial games. Even if the characters aren’t directly involved, the event becomes the talk of the town.

Some elements of a rival’s plans might involve events in the world that aren’t under the rival’s control. Whether such an event can be easily anticipated or not, the rival’s plans might include contingencies for taking advantage of such happenings.

Example Rival: Marina Rodemus

The Rodemus clan was a small but powerful family of traders in the city, but years ago, they pulled up stakes and left town overnight. Marina Rodemus, the youngest child, has now returned to restore her family’s prestige.

In truth, the family fled because its members became afflicted by lycanthropy. They joined a clan of wererats and delved into smuggling in a distant city, out of fear that their secret would be impossible to keep in their former home. After fighting her way to the top ranks of the wererat clans, Marina — along with a small army of followers — has returned to claim her place among the elite of her home city. She vows that if she doesn’t succeed, she’ll leave the city in ruins.

Goals. Marina wants to become the most respected, most important merchant in town — someone to whom even the prince must yield.

Assets. Marina has a small fortune in gold; her abilities as a wererat, alchemist, and necromancer; a group of wererats dedicated to her; and a shield guardian that protects her.

Plans. Marina works to discredit and ruin other merchants. Her wererats spy on her opponents and sneak into warehouses, unleashing hordes of rats to spoil goods. Marina even victimizes a few of her own warehouses to avoid suspicion.

If Marina’s plans fail, she has a terrible alternative. Her knowledge of alchemy has enabled her to create a plague that she will unleash on the city through her rats. If she can’t rule, then no one will.

Marina’s Plans

ElementDescription
EventRats become a noticeable problem in the streets, with swarms sighted in rundown neighborhoods. Folk demand that action be taken.
ActionCaravan raids by goblinoids become more common, and folk talk of gathering a militia. Marina contributes generously to the effort.
ActionWarehouses are overrun with rats, ruining thousands of gold pieces worth of goods. Marina blames the city for a lax effort in pest control.
ActionIf the characters interfere, Marina sends her assassins against them.
EventA sudden storm creates minor flooding, washing dozens of dead, bloated, diseased rats from the sewers. Terror over the plague rips through town.
ActionMarina fans the flames of panic, spreading rumors that the characters or other rivals in town are responsible for the disease.

Example Rival: High Priest Cheldar

The temple of Pholtus, god of the sun, seeks to bring as many folk as possible under its sway. Though it has been in town for only two years, the temple is already an influential force because of the determination and the brilliant oration of Cheldar, its high priest.

Goals. Cheldar wants to make the temple of Pholtus the most popular religion in town by bringing about peace and security for all. He believes keeping adventurers in check or driving them out of town is an important step in that plan.

Assets. The charismatic high priest has his oratory skill, divine spellcasting ability, and a few hundred common folk recently converted to the temple’s cause.

Plans. Cheldar is stern but fundamentally a good person. He tries to win support by providing charity, promoting peace, and working to enforce law and order. He is skeptical of the characters, however, convinced that they are troublemakers who will undermine the peace. He wants only officials of the town or the temple to be involved in handling any crises that arise. He strongly believes in his goals, yet he might still be made into an ally by good-hearted characters.

Cheldar’s Plans

ElementDescription
EventThe grand festival of Pholtus fills the streets with somber worshipers, who maintain a day-long torchlit vigil. They offer food, drink, and shelter to all in the temple of Pholtus.
ActionCheldar, along with a small group of followers, appears in a tavern frequented by adventurers and seeks converts. A few NPC adventurers join his cause.
ActionIn a public address in the town square, Cheldar rails against the forces of chaos, laying blame for recent troubles on adventurers who are meddling in things best left alone.
EventThe characters find that all adventurers in town receive an icy reception at best.
ActionCheldar demands that the city levy enormous taxes on adventurers, claiming that they must pay their fair share to keep the city safe.

Downtime Activities

Downtime activities are tasks that usually take a workweek (5 days) or longer to perform. These tasks can include buying or creating magic items, pulling off crimes, and working at a job. A character selects a downtime activity from among those available and pays the cost of that activity in time and money. You, as DM, then follow the rules for the activity to resolve it, informing the player of the results and any complications that ensue.

Consider handling downtime away from the game table. For example, you could have the players pick their downtime activities at the end of a session, and then communicate about them by email or text, until you next see them in person.

Resolving Activities

The description of each activity tells you how to resolve it. Many activities require an ability check, so be sure to note the character’s relevant ability modifiers. Follow the steps in the activity, and determine the results.

Most downtime activities require a workweek (5 days) to complete. Some activities require days, weeks (7 days), or months (30 days). A character must spend at least 8 hours of each day engaged in the downtime activity for that day to count toward the activity’s completion.

The days of an activity don’t need to be consecutive; you can spread them over a longer period of time than is required for the activity. But that period of time should be no more than twice as long as the required time; otherwise you should introduce extra complications (see below) and possibly double the activity’s costs to represent the inefficiency of the character’s progress.

Complications

The description of each activity includes a discussion of complications you can throw at the characters. The consequences of a complication might spawn entire adventures, introduce NPCs to vex the party, or give the characters headaches or advantages in any number of other ways.

Each of these sections has a table that offers possible complications. You can roll to determine a complication randomly, pick one from the table, or devise one of your own, and then share it with the player.

Example Downtime Activities

The following activities are suitable for any character who can afford to pursue them. As DM, you have the final say on which activities are available to the characters. The activities you allow might depend on the nature of the area where the characters are located. For example, you might disallow the creation of magic items or decide that the characters are in a town that is too isolated from major markets for them to buy such items.

Buying a Magic Item

Purchasing a magic item requires time and money to seek out and contact people willing to sell items. Even then, there is no guarantee a seller will have the items a character desires.

Resources. Finding magic items to purchase requires at least one workweek of effort and 100 gp in expenses. Spending more time and money increases your chance of finding a high-quality item.

Resolution. A character seeking to buy a magic item makes a Charisma (Persuasion) check to determine the quality of the seller found. The character gains a +1 bonus on the check for every workweek beyond the first that is spent seeking a seller and a +1 bonus for every additional 100 gp spent on the search, up to a maximum bonus of +10. The monetary cost includes a wealthy lifestyle, for a buyer must impress potential business partners.

As shown on the Buying Magic Items table, the total of the check dictates which table in the Dungeon Master’s Guide to roll on to determine which items are on the market. Or you can roll for items from any table associated with a lower total on the Buying Magic Items table. As a further option to reflect the availability of items in your campaign, you can apply a −10 penalty for low magic campaigns or a +10 bonus for high magic campaigns. Furthermore, you can double magic item costs in low magic campaigns.

Using the Magic Item Price table, you then assign prices to the available items, based on their rarity. Halve the price of any consumable item, such as a potion or a scroll, when using the table to determine an asking price.

You have final say in determining which items are for sale and their final price, no matter what the tables say.

If the characters seek a specific magic item, first decide if it’s an item you want to allow in your game. If so, include the desired item among the items for sale on a check total of 10 or higher if the item is common, 15 or higher if it is uncommon, 20 or higher if it is rare, 25 or higher if it is very rare, and 30 or higher if it is legendary.

Buying Magic Items

Check TotalItems Acquired
1-5Roll 1d6 times on Magic Item Table A.
6-10Roll 1d4 times on Magic Item Table B.
11-15Roll 1d4 times on Magic Item Table C.
16-20Roll 1d4 times on Magic Item Table D.
21-25Roll 1d4 times on Magic Item Table E.
26-30Roll 1d4 times on Magic Item Table F.
31-35Roll 1d4 times on Magic Item Table G.
36-40Roll 1d4 times on Magic Item Table H.
41+Roll 1d4 times on Magic Item Table I.

Magic Item Price

RarityAsking Price*
Common(1d6 + 1) × 10 gp
Uncommon1d6 × 100 gp
Rare2d10 × 1,000 gp
Very Rare(1d4 + 1) × 10,000 gp
Legendary2d6 × 25,000 gp

*Halved for a consumable item like a potion or scroll

Complications. The magic item trade is fraught with peril. The large sums of money involved and the power offered by magic items attract thieves, con artists, and other villains. If you want to make things more interesting for the characters, roll on the Magic Item Purchase Complications table or invent your own complication.

Magic Item Purchase Complications

d12Complication
1The item is a fake, planted by an enemy.*
2The item is stolen by the party’s enemies.*
3The item is cursed by a god.
4The item’s original owner will kill to reclaim it; the party’s enemies spread news of its sale.*
5The item is at the center of a dark prophecy.
6The seller is murdered before the sale.*
7The seller is a devil looking to make a bargain.
8The item is the key to freeing an evil entity.
9A third party bids on the item, doubling its price.*
10The item is an enslaved, intelligent entity.
11The item is tied to a cult.
12The party’s enemies spread rumors that the item is an artifact of evil.*

*Might involve a rival

Carousing

Carousing is a default downtime activity for many characters. Between adventures, who doesn’t want to relax with a few drinks and a group of friends at a tavern?

Resources. Carousing covers a workweek of fine food, strong drink, and socializing. A character can attempt to carouse among lower-, middle-, or upper-class folk. A character can carouse with the lower class for 10 gp to cover expenses, or 50 gp for the middle class. Carousing with the upper class requires 250 gp for the workweek and access to the local nobility.

A character with the noble background can mingle with the upper class, but other characters can do so only if you judge that the character has made sufficient contacts. Alternatively, a character might use a disguise kit and the Deception skill to pass as a noble visiting from a distant city.

Resolution. After a workweek of carousing, a character stands to make contacts within the selected social class. The character makes a Charisma (Persuasion) check using the Carousing table.

Carousing

Check TotalResult
1-5Character has made a hostile contact.
6-10Character has made no new contacts.
11-15Character has made an allied contact.
16-20Character has made two allied contacts.
21+Character has made three allied contacts.

Contacts are NPCs who now share a bond with the character. Each one either owes the character a favor or has some reason to bear a grudge. A hostile contact works against the character, placing obstacles but stopping short of committing a crime or a violent act. Allied contacts are friends who will render aid to the character, but not at the risk of their lives.

Lower-class contacts include criminals, laborers, mercenaries, the town guard, and any other folk who normally frequent the cheapest taverns in town.

Middle-class contacts include guild members, spellcasters, town officials, and other folk who frequent well-kept establishments.

Upper-class contacts are nobles and their personal servants. Carousing with such folk covers formal banquets, state dinners, and the like.

Once a contact has helped or hindered a character, the character needs to carouse again to get back into the NPC’s good graces. A contact provides help once, not help for life. The contact remains friendly, which can influence roleplaying and how the characters interact with them, but doesn’t come with a guarantee of help.

You can assign specific NPCs as contacts. You might decide that the barkeep at the Wretched Gorgon and a guard stationed at the western gate are the character’s allied contacts. Assigning specific NPCs gives the players concrete options. It brings the campaign to life and seeds the area with NPCs that the characters care about. On the other hand, it can prove difficult to track and might render a contact useless if that character doesn’t come into play.

Alternatively, you can allow the player to make an NPC into a contact on the spot, after carousing. When the characters are in the area in which they caroused, a player can expend an allied contact and designate an NPC they meet as a contact, assuming the NPC is of the correct social class based on how the character caroused. The player should provide a reasonable explanation for this relationship and work it into the game.

Using a mix of the two approaches is a good idea, since it gives you the added depth of specific contacts while giving players the freedom to ensure that the contacts they accumulate are useful.

The same process can apply to hostile contacts. You can give the characters a specific NPC they should avoid, or you might introduce one at an inopportune or dramatic moment.

At any time, a character can have a maximum number of unspecified allied contacts equal to 1 + the character’s Charisma modifier (minimum of 1). Specific, named contacts don’t count toward this limit — only ones that can be used at any time to declare an NPC as a contact.

Complications. Characters who carouse risk bar brawls, accumulating a cloud of nasty rumors, and building a bad reputation around town. As a rule of thumb, a character has a 10 percent chance of triggering a complication for each workweek of carousing.

Lower-Class Carousing Complications

d8Complication
1A pickpocket lifts 1d10 × 5 gp from you.*
2A bar brawl leaves you with a scar.*
3You have fuzzy memories of doing something very, very illegal, but can’t remember exactly what.
4You are banned from a tavern after some obnoxious behavior.*
5After a few drinks, you swore in the town square to pursue a dangerous quest.
6Surprise! You’re married.
7Streaking naked through the streets seemed like a great idea at the time.
8Everyone is calling you by some weird, embarrassing nickname, like Puddle Drinker or Bench Slayer, and no one will say why.*

*Might involve a rival

Middle-Class Carousing Complications

d8Complication
1You accidentally insulted a guild master, and only a public apology will let you do business with the guild again.*
2You swore to complete some quest on behalf of a temple or a guild.
3A social gaffe has made you the talk of the town.*
4A particularly obnoxious person has taken an intense romantic interest in you.*
5You have made a foe out of a local spellcaster.*
6You have been recruited to help run a local festival, play, or similar event.
7You made a drunken toast that scandalized the locals.
8You spent an additional 100 gp trying to impress people.

*Might involve a rival

Upper-Class Carousing Complications

d8Complication
1A pushy noble family wants to marry off one of their scions to you.*
2You tripped and fell during a dance, and people can’t stop talking about it.
3You have agreed to take on a noble’s debts.
4You have been challenged to a joust by a knight.*
5You have made a foe out of a local noble.*
6A boring noble insists you visit each day and listen to long, tedious theories of magic.
7You have become the target of a variety of embarrassing rumors.*
8You spent an additional 500 gp trying to impress people.

*Might involve a rival

Crafting an Item

A character who has the time, the money, and the needed tools can use downtime to craft armor, weapons, clothing, or other kinds of nonmagical gear.

Resources and Resolution. In addition to the appropriate tools for the item to be crafted, a character needs raw materials worth half of the item’s selling cost. To determine how many workweeks it takes to create an item, divide its gold piece cost by 50. A character can complete multiple items in a workweek if the items’ combined cost is 50 gp or lower. Items that cost more than 50 gp can be completed over longer periods of time, as long as the work in progress is stored in a safe location.

Multiple characters can combine their efforts. Divide the time needed to create an item by the number of characters working on it. Use your judgment when determining how many characters can collaborate on an item. A particularly tiny item, like a ring, might allow only one or two workers, whereas a large, complex item might allow four or more workers.

A character needs to be proficient with the tools needed to craft an item and have access to the appropriate equipment. Everyone who collaborates needs to have the appropriate tool proficiency. You need to make any judgment calls regarding whether a character has the correct equipment. The following table provides some examples.

ProficiencyItems
Herbalism kitAntitoxin, potion of healing
Leatherworker’s toolsLeather armor, boots
Smith’s toolsArmor, weapons
Weaver’s toolsCloaks, robes

If all the above requirements are met, the result of the process is an item of the desired sort. A character can sell an item crafted in this way at its listed price.

Crafting Magic Items. Creating a magic item requires more than just time, effort, and materials. It is a long-term process that involves one or more adventures to track down rare materials and the lore needed to create the item.

Potion of healing and spell scrolls are exceptions to the following rules. For more information, see “Brewing Potions of Healing” later in this section and the “Scribing a Spell Scroll” section, below.

To start with, a character needs a formula for a magic item in order to create it. The formula is like a recipe. It lists the materials needed and steps required to make the item.

An item invariably requires an exotic material to complete it. This material can range from the skin of a yeti to a vial of water taken from a whirlpool on the Elemental Plane of Water. Finding that material should take place as part of an adventure.

The Magic Item Ingredients table suggests the challenge rating of a creature that the characters need to face to acquire the materials for an item. Note that facing a creature does not necessarily mean that the characters must collect items from its corpse. Rather, the creature might guard a location or a resource that the characters need access to.

Magic Item Ingredients

Item RarityCR Range
Common1-3
Uncommon4-8
Rare9-12
Very Rare13-18
Legendary19+

If appropriate, pick a monster or a location that is a thematic fit for the item to be crafted. For example, creating mariner's armor might require the essence of a water weird. Crafting a staff of charming might require the cooperation of a specific arcanaloth, who will help only if the characters complete a task for it. Making a staff of power might hinge on acquiring a piece of an ancient stone that was once touched by the god of magic — a stone now guarded by a suspicious androsphinx.

In addition to facing a specific creature, creating an item comes with a gold piece cost covering other materials, tools, and so on, based on the item’s rarity. Those values, as well as the time a character needs to work in order to complete the item, are shown on the Magic Item Crafting Time and Cost table. Halve the listed price and creation time for any consumable items.

Magic Item Crafting Time and Cost

Item RarityWorkweeks*Cost*
Common150 gp
Uncommon2200 gp
Rare102,000 gp
Very Rare2520,000 gp
Legendary50100,000 gp

*Halved for a consumable item like a potion or scroll

To complete a magic item, a character also needs whatever tool proficiency is appropriate, as for crafting a nonmagical object, or proficiency in the Arcana skill.

If all the above requirements are met, the result of the process is a magic item of the desired sort.

Complications. Most of the complications involved in creating something, especially a magic item, are linked to the difficulty in finding rare ingredients or components needed to complete the work. The complications a character might face as byproducts of the creation process are most interesting when the characters are working on a magic item: there’s a 10 percent chance for every five workweeks spent on crafting an item that a complication occurs. The Crafting Complications table provides examples of what might happen.

Crafting Complications

d6Complication
1Rumors swirl that what you’re working on is unstable and a threat to the community.*
2Your tools are stolen, forcing you to buy new ones.*
3A local wizard shows keen interest in your work and insists on observing you.
4A powerful noble offers a hefty price for your work and is not interested in hearing no for an answer.*
5A dwarf clan accuses you of stealing its secret lore to fuel your work.*
6A competitor spreads rumors that your work is shoddy and prone to failure.*

*Might involve a rival

Brewing Potions of Healing.Potion of healing falls into a special category for item crafting, separate from other magic items. A character who has proficiency with the herbalism kit can create these potions. The times and costs for doing so are summarized on the Potion of Healing Creation table.

Potion of Healing Creation

TypeTimeCost
Healing1 day25 gp
Greater healing1 workweek100 gp
Superior healing3 workweeks1,000 gp
Supreme healing4 workweeks10,000 gp

Crime

Sometimes it pays to be bad. This activity gives a character the chance to make some extra cash, at the risk of arrest.

Resources. A character must spend one week and at least 25 gp gathering information on potential targets before committing the intended crime.

Resolution. The character must make a series of checks, with the DC for all the checks chosen by the character according to the amount of profit sought from the crime.

The chosen DC can be 10, 15, 20, or 25. Successful completion of the crime yields a number of gold pieces, as shown on the Loot Value table.

To attempt a crime, the character makes three checks: Dexterity (Stealth), Dexterity using thieves’ tools, and the player’s choice of Intelligence (Investigation), Wisdom (Perception), or Charisma (Deception).

If none of the checks are successful, the character is caught and jailed. The character must pay a fine equal to the profit the crime would have earned and must spend one week in jail for each 25 gp of the fine.

If only one check is successful, the heist fails but the character escapes.

If two checks are successful, the heist is a partial success, netting the character half the payout.

If all three checks are successful, the character earns the full value of the loot.

Loot Value

DCValue
1050 gp, robbery of a struggling merchant
15100 gp, robbery of a prosperous merchant
20200 gp, robbery of a noble
251,000 gp, robbery of one of the richest figures in town

Complications. A life of crime is filled with complications. Roll on the Crime Complications table (or create a complication of your own) if the character succeeds on only one check. If the character’s rival is involved in crime or law enforcement, a complication ensues if the character succeeds on only two checks.

Crime Complications

d8Complication
1A bounty equal to your earnings is offered for information about your crime.*
2An unknown person contacts you, threatening to reveal your crime if you don’t render a service.*
3Your victim is financially ruined by your crime.
4Someone who knows of your crime has been arrested on an unrelated matter.*
5Your loot is a single, easily identified item that you can’t fence in this region.
6You robbed someone who was under a local crime lord’s protection, and who now wants revenge.
7Your victim calls in a favor from a guard, doubling the efforts to solve the case.
8Your victim asks one of your adventuring companions to solve the crime.

*Might involve a rival

Gambling

Games of chance are a way to make a fortune — and perhaps a better way to lose one.

Resources. This activity requires one workweek of effort plus a stake of at least 10 gp, to a maximum of 1,000 gp or more, as you see fit.

Resolution. The character must make a series of checks, with a DC determined at random based on the quality of the competition that the character runs into. Part of the risk of gambling is that one never knows who might end up sitting across the table.

The character makes three checks: Wisdom (Insight), Charisma (Deception), and Charisma (Intimidation). If the character has proficiency with an appropriate gaming set, that tool proficiency can replace the relevant skill in any of the checks. The DC for each of the checks is 5 + 2d10; generate a separate DC for each one. Consult the Gambling Results table to see how the character did.

Gambling Results

ResultValue
0 successesLose all the money you bet, and accrue a debt equal to that amount.
1 successLose half the money you bet.
2 successesGain the amount you bet plus half again more.
3 successesGain double the amount you bet.

Complications. Gambling tends to attract unsavory individuals. The potential complications involved come from run-ins with the law and associations with various criminals tied to the activity. Every workweek spent gambling brings a 10 percent chance of a complication, examples of which are on the Gambling Complications table.

Gambling Complications

d6Complication
1You are accused of cheating. You decide whether you actually did cheat or were framed.*
2The town guards raid the gambling hall and throw you in jail.*
3A noble in town loses badly to you and loudly vows to get revenge.*
4You won a sum from a low-ranking member of a thieves’ guild, and the guild wants its money back.
5A local crime boss insists you start frequenting the boss’s gambling parlor and no others.
6A high-stakes gambler comes to town and insists that you take part in a game.

*Might involve a rival

Pit Fighting

Pit fighting includes boxing, wrestling, and other nonlethal forms of combat in an organized setting with predetermined matches. If you want to introduce competitive fighting in a battle-to-the-death situation, the standard combat rules apply to that sort of activity.

Resources. Engaging in this activity requires one workweek of effort from a character.

Resolution. The character must make a series of checks, with a DC determined at random based on the quality of the opposition that the character runs into. A big part of the challenge in pit fighting lies in the unknown nature of a character’s opponents.

The character makes three checks: Strength (Athletics), Dexterity (Acrobatics), and a special Constitution check that has a bonus equal to a roll of the character’s largest Hit Die (this roll doesn’t spend that die). If desired, the character can replace one of these skill checks with an attack roll using one of the character’s weapons. The DC for each of the checks is 5 + 2d10; generate a separate DC for each one. Consult the Pit Fighting Results table to see how the character did.

Pit Fighting Results

ResultValue
0 successesLose your bouts, earning nothing.
1 successWin 50 gp.
2 successesWin 100 gp.
3 successesWin 200 gp.

Complications. Characters involved in pit fighting must deal with their opponents, the people who bet on matches, and the matches’ promoters. Every workweek spent pit fighting brings a 10 percent chance of a complication, examples of which are on the Pit Fighting Complications table.

Pit Fighting Complications

d6Complication
1An opponent swears to take revenge on you.*
2A crime boss approaches you and offers to pay you to intentionally lose a few matches.*
3You defeat a popular local champion, drawing the crowd’s ire.
4You defeat a noble’s servant, drawing the wrath of the noble’s house.*
5You are accused of cheating. Whether the allegation is true or not, your reputation is tarnished.*
6You accidentally deliver a near-fatal wound to a foe.

*Might involve a rival

Relaxation

Sometimes the best thing to do between adventures is relax. Whether a character wants a hard-earned vacation or needs to recover from injuries, relaxation is the ideal option for adventurers who need a break. This option is also ideal for players who don’t want to make use of the downtime system.

Resources. Relaxation requires one week. A character needs to maintain at least a modest lifestyle while relaxing to gain the benefit of the activity.

Resolution. Characters who maintain at least a modest lifestyle while relaxing gain several benefits. While relaxing, a character gains advantage on saving throws to recover from long-acting diseases and poisons. In addition, at the end of the week, a character can end one effect that keeps the character from regaining hit points, or can restore one ability score that has been reduced to less than its normal value. This benefit cannot be used if the harmful effect was caused by a spell or some other magical effect with an ongoing duration.

Complications. Relaxation rarely comes with complications. If you want to make life complicated for the characters, introduce an action or an event connected to a rival.

Religious Service

Characters with a religious bent might want to spend downtime in service to a temple, either by attending rites or by proselytizing in the community. Someone who undertakes this activity has a chance of winning the favor of the temple’s leaders.

Resources. Performing religious service requires access to, and often attendance at, a temple whose beliefs and ethos align with the character’s. If such a place is available, the activity takes one workweek of time but involves no gold piece expenditure.

Resolution. At the end of the required time, the character chooses to make either an Intelligence (Religion) check or a Charisma (Persuasion) check. The total of the check determines the benefits of service, as shown on the Religious Service table.

Religious Service

Check TotalResult
1-10No effect. Your efforts fail to make a lasting impression.
11-20You earn one favor.
21+You earn two favors.

A favor, in broad terms, is a promise of future assistance from a representative of the temple. It can be expended to ask the temple for help in dealing with a specific problem, for general political or social support, or to reduce the cost of cleric spellcasting by 50 percent. A favor could also take the form of a deity’s intervention, such as an omen, a vision, or a minor miracle provided at a key moment. This latter sort of favor is expended by the DM, who also determines its nature.

Favors earned need not be expended immediately, but only a certain number can be stored up. A character can have a maximum number of unused favors equal to 1 + the character’s Charisma modifier (minimum of one unused favor).

Complications. Temples can be labyrinths of political and social scheming. Even the best-intentioned sect can fall prone to rivalries. A character who serves a temple risks becoming embroiled in such struggles. Every workweek spent in religious service brings a 10 percent chance of a complication, examples of which are on the Religious Service Complications table.

Religious Service Complications

d6Complication
1You have offended a priest through your words or actions.*
2Blasphemy is still blasphemy, even if you did it by accident.
3A secret sect in the temple offers you membership.
4Another temple tries to recruit you as a spy.*
5The temple elders implore you to take up a holy quest.
6You accidentally discover that an important person in the temple is a fiend worshiper.

*Might involve a rival

Research

Forewarned is forearmed. The research downtime activity allows a character to delve into lore concerning a monster, a location, a magic item, or some other particular topic.

Resources. Typically, a character needs access to a library or a sage to conduct research. Assuming such access is available, conducting research requires one workweek of effort and at least 50 gp spent on materials, bribes, gifts, and other expenses.

Resolution. The character declares the focus of the research — a specific person, place, or thing. After one workweek, the character makes an Intelligence check with a +1 bonus per 100 gp spent beyond the initial 100 gp, to a maximum of +6. In addition, a character who has access to a particularly well-stocked library or knowledgeable sages gains advantage on this check. Determine how much lore a character learns using the Research Outcomes table.

Research Outcomes

Check TotalOutcome
1-5No effect.
6-10You learn one piece of lore.
11-20You learn two pieces of lore.
21+You learn three pieces of lore.

Each piece of lore is the equivalent of one true statement about a person, place, or thing. Examples include knowledge of a creature’s resistances, the password needed to enter a sealed dungeon level, the spells commonly prepared by an order of wizards, and so on.

As DM, you are the final arbiter concerning exactly what a character learns. For a monster or an NPC, you can reveal elements of statistics or personality. For a location, you can reveal secrets about it, such as a hidden entrance, the answer to a riddle, or the nature of a creature that guards the place.

Complications. The greatest risk in research is uncovering false information. Not all lore is accurate or truthful, and a rival with a scholarly bent might try to lead the character astray, especially if the object of the research is known to the rival. The rival might plant false information, bribe sages to give bad advice, or steal key tomes needed to find the truth.

In addition, a character might run into other complications during research. Every workweek spent in research brings a 10 percent chance of a complication, examples of which are on the Research Complications table.

Research Complications

d6Complication
1You accidentally damage a rare book.
2You offend a sage, who demands an extravagant gift.*
3If you had known that book was cursed, you never would have opened it.
4A sage becomes obsessed with convincing you of a number of strange theories about reality.*
5Your actions cause you to be banned from a library until you make reparations.*
6You uncovered useful lore, but only by promising to complete a dangerous task in return.

*Might involve a rival

Scribing a Spell Scroll

With time and patience, a spellcaster can transfer a spell to a scroll, creating a spell scroll.

Resources. Scribing a spell scroll takes an amount of time and money related to the level of the spell the character wants to scribe, as shown in the Spell Scroll Costs table. In addition, the character must have proficiency in the Arcana skill and must provide any material components required for the casting of the spell. Moreover, the character must have the spell prepared, or it must be among the character’s known spells, in order to scribe a scroll of that spell.

If the scribed spell is a cantrip, the version on the scroll works as if the caster were 1st level.

Spell Scroll Costs

Spell LevelTimeCost
Cantrip1 day15 gp
1st1 day25 gp
2nd3 days250 gp
3rd1 workweek500 gp
4th2 workweeks2,500 gp
5th4 workweeks5,000 gp
6th8 workweeks15,000 gp
7th16 workweeks25,000 gp
8th32 workweeks50,000 gp
9th48 workweeks250,000 gp

Complications. Crafting a spell scroll is a solitary task, unlikely to attract much attention. The complications that arise are more likely to involve the preparation needed for the activity. Every workweek spent scribing brings a 10 percent chance of a complication, examples of which are on the Scribe a Scroll Complications table.

Scribe a Scroll Complications

d6Complication
1You bought up the last of the rare ink used to craft scrolls, angering a wizard in town.
2The priest of a temple of good accuses you of trafficking in dark magic.*
3A wizard eager to collect one of your spells in a book presses you to sell the scroll.
4Due to a strange error in creating the scroll, it is instead a random spell of the same level.
5The rare parchment you bought for your scroll has a barely visible map on it.
6A thief attempts to break into your workroom.*

*Might involve a rival

Selling a Magic Item

Selling a magic item is by no means an easy task. Con artists and thieves are always looking out for an easy score, and there’s no guarantee that a character will receive a good offer even if a legitimate buyer is found.

Resources. A character can find a buyer for one magic item by spending one workweek and 25 gp, which is used to spread word of the desired sale. A character must pick one item at a time to sell.

Resolution. A character who wants to sell an item must make a Charisma (Persuasion) check to determine what kind of offer comes in. The character can always opt not to sell, instead forfeiting the workweek of effort and trying again later. Use the Magic Item Base Prices and Magic Item Offer tables to determine the sale price.

Magic Item Base Prices

RarityBase Price*
Common100 gp
Uncommon400 gp
Rare4,000 gp
Very Rare40,000 gp
Legendary200,000 gp

*Halved for a consumable item like a potion or scroll

Magic Item Offer

Check TotalOffer
1-1050% of base price
11-20100% of base price
21+150% of base price

Complications. The main risk in selling a magic item lies in attracting thieves and anyone else who wants the item but doesn’t want to pay for it. Other folk might try to undermine a deal in order to bolster their own business or seek to discredit the character as a legitimate seller. Every workweek spent trying to sell an item brings a 10 percent chance of a complication, examples of which are on the Magic Item Sale Complications table.

Magic Item Sale Complications

d6Complication
1Your enemy secretly arranges to buy the item to use it against you.*
2A thieves’ guild, alerted to the sale, attempts to steal your item.*
3A foe circulates rumors that your item is a fake.*
4A sorcerer claims your item as a birthright and demands you hand it over.
5Your item’s previous owner, or surviving allies of the owner, vow to retake the item by force.
6The buyer is murdered before the sale is finalized.*

*Might involve a rival

Training

Given enough free time and the services of an instructor, a character can learn a language or pick up proficiency with a tool.

Resources. Receiving training in a language or tool typically takes at least ten workweeks, but this time is reduced by a number of workweeks equal to the character’s Intelligence modifier (an Intelligence penalty doesn’t increase the time needed). Training costs 25 gp per workweek.

Complications. Complications that arise while training typically involve the teacher. Every ten workweeks spent in training brings a 10 percent chance of a complication, examples of which are on the Training Complications table.

Training Complications

d6Complication
1Your instructor disappears, forcing you to spend one workweek finding a new one.*
2Your teacher instructs you in rare, archaic methods, which draw comments from others.
3Your teacher is a spy sent to learn your plans.*
4Your teacher is a wanted criminal.
5Your teacher is a cruel taskmaster.
6Your teacher asks for help dealing with a threat.

*Might involve a rival

Work

When all else fails, an adventurer can turn to an honest trade to earn a living. This activity represents a character’s attempt to find temporary work, the quality and wages of which are difficult to predict.

Resources. Performing a job requires one workweek of effort.

Resolution. To determine how much money a character earns, the character makes an ability check: Strength (Athletics), Dexterity (Acrobatics), Intelligence using a set of tools, Charisma (Performance), or Charisma using a musical instrument. Consult the Wages table to see how much money is generated according to the total of the check.

Wages

Check TotalEarnings
9 or lowerPoor lifestyle for the week
10-14Modest lifestyle for the week
15-20Comfortable lifestyle for the week
21+Comfortable lifestyle for the week + 25 gp

Complications. Ordinary work is rarely filled with significant complications. Still, the Work Complications table can add some difficulties to a worker’s life. Each workweek of activity brings a 10 percent chance that a character encounters a complication.

Work Complications

d6Complication
1A difficult customer or a fight with a coworker reduces the wages you earn by one category.*
2Your employer’s financial difficulties result in your not being paid.*
3A coworker with ties to an important family in town takes a dislike to you.*
4Your employer is involved with a dark cult or a criminal enterprise.
5A crime ring targets your business for extortion.*
6You gain a reputation for laziness (unjustified or not, as you choose), giving you disadvantage on checks made for this downtime activity for the next six workweeks you devote to it.*

*Might involve a rival