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TOPIC: What to do with Downtime?

What to do with Downtime? 1 week 6 days ago #1

Thanks again for having me at Gameholecon! It was such a blast, and I can't stop thinking about it.

I have been thinking a lot about improvements we could make for future cons. I have found that downtime can sometimes kill the momentum that we are trying to achieve with True Dungeon; the clock is the ultimate enemy, except when players need to kill time because they already solved the puzzle or killed the monster.

One thing we could do is give players special things to interact with in each room during downtime, for parties that solved the puzzle or killed the monster early. The players can "interact" with the room by talking to the DM.

Especially of interest for returning players, we could hide story Easter Eggs in the dungeon, and then tell our fans that there is new hidden content in each room! (perhaps we could make a special token or pin to quest for?)

(Minor spoilers tag for E3)
An example of this would be that in E3 Room 3 (Skull Riddle), you could have special ways to interact with the magic mirror, like pulling cursed weapons out of it. 

A majority of my players loved swinging around the prop foam weapons in this room, and other players asked for other weapons of their imagining, or piles of treasure. This was an awesome opportunity for me to "say yes to the players," which I was unable to do within the current structure of the dungeon. "You may take the weapons but I warn you, they are cursed!"

This gives the players a chance to use their cursed weapons against the monster in room 5. For one glorious round they wield the powerful weapon against the monster, then they become possessed and turn on the party!

Another example also in R3, one party had a really cool idea to use colored skull Tokens on the Rhymers. I think that most rooms should have at least one specific token interaction from the same year, like this one. We should look for ways to reward players for bringing their token collection to the convention. or buying hundreds of tokens from the store, especially focusing on tokens from the current season.

I want to give players an opportunity to stay in character and continue to roleplay, without punishing them for making "bad decisions." Maybe we need something like extra treasure or swag rewards for players who have unique puzzle solutions or awesome roleplaying moments?

What are your thoughts on what to do with Player Downtime?

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What to do with Downtime? 1 week 6 days ago #2

  • jedibcg
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Hmmm I would rather TD focus on building puzzles and combats that should take most of the time (won't always happen of course) that work on things to do if a team gets down early or if they already know how to solve it. I think with only 12 minutes per room attempting to build any additional mechanic can be troublesome because how much time do you allow for it. It is even worse if there is anything to be gain from this additional thing because people will ruin the puzzle for others just to gain that thing. The amount of treasure you got at the end used to be based on if you solved certain rooms. Some folks would solve the room just to ensure they got the treasure ruining the puzzle for those that had not yet had a chance to do it. I see this very likely causing the same issue if there was any reward tied to it. People solving the puzzle right away (ruining it for others) so they can work on the secondary task.

Most of the time I have ever spent standing around a dungeon is when I have played with a group that has played the dungeon before. I don't know that we need incentives to get people to play a dungeon more than once since we are already doing it for whatever reasons.

Just my two cents worth.
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What to do with Downtime? 1 week 6 days ago #3

when I was a DM, I struggled with how to Keep a party interested, and amused when they had defeated/solved the room I was running. I have tried several options including small dexterity puzzles (Brainteasers) and such with little success (They only occupy 1 person, and you have to collect them back up, etc)

There's not a "one size fits all" answer to the question either. Conversation might work better for one volunteer than it would another

The Hidden Easter egg idea has a downside. Players have in the past done damage to the set dressing looking for clues, tokens, ducks, and whatnot. Obviously it's not every party, but we've tried hard to steer away from "hidden things" in many regards because of that downside.

Secondary solve options would need to come from Jeff Martin. (By Secondary solve I mean the room has been defeated, and they arrange the props in a second particular order)

As regards the E3 part... I tend to limit two different things you suggest, One being Rotating props. If the players take the weapons in Room 3, we'd need 5-6 sets of them to have them able to be carried to room 5, and then they have to be collected, and ferried back to Room 3. It seems like a small thing, but it's got to be done, and done consistently.
The other part is Reward for creative solves / etc is it starts to deviate from the Consistency that we strive for. the Ideal is to allow a creative group to get a success in a room, but not to let that happen so often that it warps the room as everyone does the bypass rather than the intended solution.

We have had token interactions (like the skulls you mentioned) in the past. Often times they are Subtle, and go largely unnoticed (I had 4 parties do that at Gencon that I know of) As to How often they are built in.. That's a Jeff Question. Even I as an AC don't know about such things till they come up.
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What to do with Downtime? 1 week 6 days ago #4

Currently, I almost never play the same dungeon twice and around once per year (so once per 21 rooms?) we finish a puzzle or combat early and are standing around long enough to do our heals and then stand there twiddling our thumbs, asking the room DM how about that weather. I would love to see an improvement for the downtime because it is real, even if rare, but I agree I do not want a reward tied to it for players. I do like the idea of a reward for creative solve, because it does give replayability without spoiling it for others, because the replayer will have no certainty the new crazy idea will work.
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What to do with Downtime? 1 week 6 days ago #5

I originally emailed this to Jeff, he wants more feedback. Thanks for the replies so far. We definitely would want to discourage destruction of the set and "cheating" the puzzle. I was thinking of describing what you do to your DM or to ask them questions about the room or the dungeon, in traditional DND fashion.
We would want egg hunting to be restricted to parties that solved the puzzle honestly. I'm not sure how we could make that work mechanically.

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Last edit: by Bill Carroll. Reason: Added paragraph

What to do with Downtime? 1 week 6 days ago #6

I do remember the puzzle room with the tree trunk that when we finished it the dm added another object to retrieve that was much harder to get out. I think things like this can make for good time sinks in puzzle rooms.
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What to do with Downtime? 1 week 6 days ago #7

Bill Carroll wrote: I originally emailed this to Jeff, he wants more feedback. Thanks for the replies so far. We definitely would want to discourage destruction of the set and "cheating" the puzzle. I was thinking of describing what you do to your DM or to ask them questions about the room or the dungeon, in traditional DND fashion.
We would want egg hunting to be restricted to parties that solved the puzzle honestly. I'm not sure how we could make that work mechanically.


There is that one puzzle with a 12 second time limit factor. Not sure how you avoid unintentionally damaging things when your time is so restricted.

Happy to see no need to bounce a prop this year.

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Last edit: by edwin.

What to do with Downtime? 1 week 6 days ago #8

There are a few things to consider here.

First this was not the first time this dungeon was ran, and a good amount of players have either seen or ran this dungeon already or are running with people who know the answer and generally try to guide them in the right direction. The more it gets ran over and over the more down time there will be. Most veteran players know and understand this.
The first time these dungeons were ran I promise you there was not a lot of down time in any room. In fact I believe most rooms were made easier due to the time constraints, and the convention it’s at.

Secondly while you were very excited and willing to engage the party’s, not every dm or npc is as creative or able to improvise with parties on the spot. There are some dm’s who are great at managing combat but filling that free time that might come up would be a struggle. Being social for some people is difficult. When people start making things up on the spot is when you can run into offending people. You never know what might offend and I don’t want to come have a talk with you because you said something you thought was funny and someone else got very upset about.

Third. If you script everything. Then it gets extremely boring the more you do it. If I walked into a room and knew every moment was accounted for I would hate it after the first few runs. also I’ve been in rooms where you have 11 min worth of stuff to fit in, and it can get brutal trying to stay on top of everything. not to mention monologuing For 8-10 hours constantly is going to wreck voices for some people.

Fourth as a DM I always tried to have fun with my groups if time allowed. Some times it does some times it doesn’t. I don’t think putting more on the volunteers as part of the module is a good idea. leave it to the people who are good at it. I know the traveling npc is a big hit, and they are a great way to fill that free time. They also know the group and the module very well.

Lastly and most importantly. TALK TO YOUR AC!!!!!! if you have something interesting you want to do or an idea you think could be fun. Call your AC and talk to them. They should be the one making calls about Any changes that need to be made tothe dungeon. If you constantly have free time at the end of the room they should know so the dungeon can be adjusted. I have been in many a room that was drastically changed due to players knowing what’s coming and solving/beating the room very quickly. Come up with an idea call your AC and talk about it many times it will be fine. Again talk to your AC that is what they are there for.
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What to do with Downtime? 1 week 6 days ago #9

Phillip Evans wrote: ... I’ve been in rooms where you have 11 min worth of stuff to fit in, and it can get brutal trying to stay on top of everything.


E3 Room 1 - even with the groups I was on that had all done the run before, I think we rarely got done much before the horn. That room felt brutal on time usage. I'd be curious what the NPC DM observed, as far as how much time was generally left when a team was done with the room?

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What to do with Downtime? 1 week 6 days ago #10

Fiddy I didn’t AC this one so not sure average finish time. My experience as a player at gencon was finishing with like 3 min to spare so personally I thought it was pretty on point.
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What to do with Downtime? 1 week 6 days ago #11

  • Ro-gan
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If it's an NPC Room with a chick or dude dressed as a chick Rybak The Dwarf Fighter usually spends his time hitting on them and most likely making them extremely uncomfortable.

If it's a non-NPC Room or an NPC Room where I know someone I usually spend the remainder of the time catching up and maybe making after-hours plans.
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Have you checked the Token DataBase ?

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What to do with Downtime? 1 week 6 days ago #12

Another thing to consider here is perspective.

It sounds like you want players engaged for the entire 12 minute room, so from your perspective there is wasted time. There are two perspectives to think about though:

1. From the new player perspective, they are worrying about health, whether or not they have potions, checking what spells remain for later, arguing about moving after sliding, looking around for clues to future puzzles, etc.

While Barry did point out that conversation is not necessarily a strong point of every volunteer, every room DM should engage the party in one way if the party finishes early: ask if the party wants to do any healing -that will take a minute or so for a group to figure out who needs healing and how much. Lastly, you can inquire if they have thought about volunteering. Many volunteers are current/former players who started to help out; that idea usually has to be presented as well. I didn't start volunteering until I already played about 10 times.

2.From the module veteran player perspective, they have already played it, and there likely will be downtime. However, they know that going into it. Sometimes groups spice things up by running "challenges" among themselves. Most veterans I've played with also refuse to spoil a puzzle for anyone that has not already solved the puzzle. So downtime with this group isn't really a big deal.




There are usually a few tokens in the yearly set that are silver bullets for that year's modules. As for tokens that interact with the rooms: RFID is now a thing in some tokens, it may get explored more in the future.

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