Practice and Tax Time Frames

I have a quick question about time frames. The In-game time frame for our game usually averages to maybe a day or half day of activity per session. If someone is missing, they can log some practice, but with the time scale frame, practice really becomes a non-entity since it would take years of missing game play to match a cycle for one test.

The same holds true for taxing resources. A player could have taxed resources for a very long time (not too fun if you are at B1 to start with). Please comment and let me know how your games work with this.


My campaign rhythm has been to do sessions that cover about a day (the same way you do) until tax, wounds, and the desire to practice force the player characters to take some time off, then I break out tax, wound recovery, and practice time and several months of in-game time pass.

For absent players, I let them count a routine test.

The disparity between the time it takes to recover vs. the typical amount of time in a session has definitely created tension between players whose characters are wounded and those whose characters are not.

We frequently have sessions that cover a week or more of game time. A session being 3-4 hours.

Practice isn’t really meant to be an ends to itself, but a way to use up downtime (or travel time, if appropriate).

For Resources, what lifestyle cycle are you using? A shorter cycle might be appropriate if you really are having only a day per session.

You might also want to consider just lengthening your in-game time frame. Don’t zoom in so much. It is unnecessary, and can break disbelief when a person is able to gain a high skill exponent through tests alone in a matter of a week or less.

Skill practice is necessary to the game, so you have to keep it in. You’ll find there are sometimes certain skills or stats that are almost impossible to advance without it. If you want an easier way to track practice times, I posted a variant practice system that is easier to use but gets mostly the same results. I’ve been using this variant in my 6-month+ campaign, with zero problems. Works great!

Resources are not a necessary part of the game. You could take the Resources attribute right out and go back to counting pennies, if you wish. Or, you could keep Resources, but take out the Lifestyle Maintenance Test and Tax, if that’s what’s bugging you. I’m run one campaign where Lifestyle Maintenance was completely ignored, and it worked fine. In my second campaign, we had Lifestyle Maintenance tests pop up only when they would be interesting. Tax was used, but we fudged the way Cash dice work. I find the Resources attribute to be one of the clunkier parts of the system, to tell the truth.

For whatever reason, we naturally revert to a pretty zoomed-in time scale. As a player I can recall being very frustrated with this, I’ve often thought (and said), “Can we just skip ahead to when we actually get to the city?”

One of the factors is when the players are short of time, because they’re keen to use every second to their advantage, but it can become a habit, perhaps borne of dungeon crawls when every hour was meaningful (if only because it used up precious lantern oil).

Actually, I have the data for our sessions. We’ve had 31, 3-hour sessions covering almost a year of game time. Anyways, long story short, it turns out we average three days of game time per hour of play.

Here’s my advice to myself:

  1. Watch out for accidental zooms, especially on unimportant things. “What are you all doing while Bartle is sharpening his sword?” is an invitation for plot-irrelevant antics. To put it another way, don’t explore things that are likely to be boring. Whenever you can get away with it, assume that things happen one after another, not in parallel.

  2. Whenever you can, advance the calendar, until it becomes habit. Circles tests are a great pretext for this. From Samual Pepys diary shows how inefficient things were in the past, even in urban settings - without telephones, Pepys would regularly spend half a day travelling to a friend’s place, only to find that he wasn’t there. He comes home, and that’s the day gone. A whole day wasted, completely normal. Even in a city, circling up someone you’ve not met in a while could easily take a week, or more so for important political figures with busy schedules.

But in general, assume everything takes a long time, and that the game’s key events are embedded in a backdrop of boring events you’re not examining - start every scene with the words, “Two weeks later,” unless you absolutely can’t.

  1. Zoom out in narration. This is counter-intuitive, but you can sometimes improve the game by letting yourself off the hook of describing scenes or interactions at the detailed level. So much RP advice is about ‘how to get into character’ and whatnot, but it can be really expedient to say things like, "The bartender prattles on for ages about his experiences in the war,’ without you having to prattle on in character.

  2. Frame scenes with presumption. This is the bossy cousin of advancing the calendar, where you presume the PCs made choices that fit with what you’re trying to do.

For example, instead of saying, 'A messenger in the Duke’s livery arrives," and have a little scene where the players find out what he wants, then decide what to do, and what to bring with them, you just tell the characters they’ve been summoned before the Duke, and have the Duke start speaking.

I confess I’m not very good at this, though playing Fiasco or Burning Empires is good practice (since those games made of ‘scenes’ instead of one continuous stream of events).

Great stuff, Michael.

Thanks. You are all awesome :slight_smile: Great ideas and thoughts. Helps a lot.