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View Full Version : Time... How to keep track of it



MariettaGecko
2007-10-23, 09:13 AM
Many campaigns are time-sensitive, having various things that go on either inside or outside the scope of what the characters see. Unfortunately, this requires some sort of representation of time. Given how a game can run at varying speed, depending on the action going on (it takes 5 minutes to travel 3 days from one city to another, and then takes an hour to resolve a 10 minute battle), how do you handle time within your game? Or do other DMs just ignore time components of things?

KillianHawkeye
2007-10-23, 09:42 AM
I'd say try and figure out how long it takes "in game" to get from point A to point B. Describe the different times of day, and make your players camp at night instead of whenever they run out of spells.

Maybe come up with some sort of physical/visual representation of the time of day to help remind everyone, and make sure they notice when you adjust it?

OX166
2007-10-23, 09:56 AM
Honestly...whatever works for you. I knormally plan my adventures around time itself using an event system. That also allows me to introduce things at a good story pace while y rag tag buch is doing silly things. Example..

Tuesday
Event: Around noon a stranger will approach the players and ask them if they will blah blah blah.

Wensday
Event: Players are approached by a stranger who starts a fight.
Encounter: 1a
Behind the scenes: Preist hired the assasins.

Thats how I brealk down my notes...but every has their own style. and that is only a shadow of how complicated my notes get. I didn't even add contigincies for when they decide to murder random said NPC before he even does anything to them first.

Nocturne
2007-10-23, 10:08 AM
One word: DMGenie (http://www.dmgenie.com/)! :)

The Time Tracking features are AWESOME! (And likewise the somewhat related Weather features)

random11
2007-10-23, 10:18 AM
Creating a calendar for your world is always a good thing (and kind of fun).
Once it's ready, mark the days something happens, and work with the players using a clean calendar.

You can also skip the calendar and simply use a day counter that starts with "day 1".

MariettaGecko
2007-10-23, 01:23 PM
One word: DMGenie (http://www.dmgenie.com/)! :)

The Time Tracking features are AWESOME! (And likewise the somewhat related Weather features)

Unfortunately, it seems like DMGenie doesn't include most of the non-core classes, so I'd have to add them all, and just don't have time. Perhaps for my next campaign I run.

I guess I was mostly looking for a way to keep close track of time. For instance, other than working off of 6 second rounds, how could one keep close track of time for 30 minutes? That is, player character A searches the room quickly. How long did that take? And since the other players are doing other things during that time, how would you synchronize that?

Dark Knight Renee
2007-10-23, 01:56 PM
I guess I was mostly looking for a way to keep close track of time. For instance, other than working off of 6 second rounds, how could one keep close track of time for 30 minutes? That is, player character A searches the room quickly. How long did that take? And since the other players are doing other things during that time, how would you synchronize that?

... I'd love to know as well. While I usually approximate it okay, for any period much longer than the example we usually just agree to gloss over whatever else is happening. IE, the other characters stand around and wait.

But believe me... it's much, much worse when you have a larger party split up for a few days - without losing the ability to contact eachother (spells such as Sending, Dream, and Telepath Bond (item or permenant is the worst)), and therefor able to interupt each other's plots almost at will. Alternately, rather than actually being in contact, the actions of Characters A&B could affect developments with C,D&E... and the other way around.

Absolutely horrific. Then... making sure that the two plots line up chronologically so that the party can get back together without bending time itself... :smallyuk:

[/rant]

Rex Blunder
2007-10-23, 02:22 PM
But believe me... it's much, much worse when you have a larger party split up for a few days - without losing the ability to contact eachother

That is grim. I guess the only foolproof way to handle it is, whenever group A communicates with group B, immediately switch DM focus to group B and play them up to the same time. Could lead to a lot of messy cliffhangers though.

But if you don't do that, you don't even know that group B is still alive. It's a dangerous world when you split up your party.

Kurald Galain
2007-10-23, 03:02 PM
Speed of Plot.

Aside from that, keep a notebook at hand where you mark off the days, and clearly tell the players which day it is.

Adding things like moon phases or weather phenomena may give additional perception of time passing.

bbugg
2007-10-23, 03:32 PM
I'm interested in that too.
Talking is free, so if the group is given a problem to solve and a limited time to solve it in, by RAW they can talk about the answer for ages. Obviously, this isn't right.
So, do you just cut them off when you feel like the time would have passed? Or do you keep track somehow - like playing in real time with some allowances built in?

Kurald Galain
2007-10-23, 05:29 PM
So, do you just cut them off when you feel like the time would have passed? Or do you keep track somehow - like playing in real time with some allowances built in?

Yes. I occasionally remind players that whatever they discuss during combat (1) takes quite a bit of time, and (2) will be overheard by their opponents.

Although it hasn't actually gone that far, if players would forget this too often I would eventually rule that their characters are busily discussing things and forfeit their other actions for that round, then have the enemies act. I suspect that doing this only once would drive the point home :smallbiggrin:

Kompera
2007-10-23, 05:46 PM
I'm interested in that too.
Talking is free, so if the group is given a problem to solve and a limited time to solve it in, by RAW they can talk about the answer for ages. Obviously, this isn't right.
So, do you just cut them off when you feel like the time would have passed? Or do you keep track somehow - like playing in real time with some allowances built in?


Speak
In general, speaking is a free action that you can perform even when it isnít your turn. Speaking more than few sentences is generally beyond the limit of a free action.

As they discuss, you announce the passing of time based on your own judgment of what "a few sentences" means. They should get the idea and base their remaining planning around their available time. Don't count gasps of dismay and questions as to the time count down against them, that's OOC. At least, not the first time. :smallcool:

Anxe
2007-10-23, 08:04 PM
Always remember that things travel at the speed of plot in your game. If your PCs are meant to get there late, they will get there late. It doesn't matter if they teleported. They got caught in a time loop on the Astral Plane and ended up late.

Dark Knight Renee
2007-10-23, 09:02 PM
That is grim. I guess the only foolproof way to handle it is, whenever group A communicates with group B, immediately switch DM focus to group B and play them up to the same time. Could lead to a lot of messy cliffhangers though.

But if you don't do that, you don't even know that group B is still alive. It's a dangerous world when you split up your party.

You know what's really fun? When group A is already ahead of group B, but group B comes along and decides to contact group A with information that would affect what group A has already done... with the potential to alter the already-determined future. :smallsigh: Every time we decide to split up the group, we jump through hoops to make sure that no such monstrosity occurs.

... Unfortunately, the group gets split often. Something to do with having 12+ characters in play. I personally wouldn't advise such a setup. :smallconfused:

Temp
2007-10-23, 10:16 PM
... Unfortunately, the group gets split often. Something to do with having 12+ characters in play. I personally wouldn't advise such a setup.
If you can even come close to dealing with that size of group, you're my hero. Even with six players, I get a bit bogged down.

Nocturne
2007-10-24, 12:34 AM
Unfortunately, it seems like DMGenie doesn't include most of the non-core classes, so I'd have to add them all, and just don't have time. Perhaps for my next campaign I run.


Well, I still prefer Core Only anyway. As you say, you can always create all the non-Core stuff there. I'll admit it does tend to take quite a bit of time.



I guess I was mostly looking for a way to keep close track of time. For instance, other than working off of 6 second rounds, how could one keep close track of time for 30 minutes? That is, player character A searches the room quickly. How long did that take? And since the other players are doing other things during that time, how would you synchronize that?

DMGenie's calendar has "templates" to track things like duration of light spells, torch's, candles, etc. But you can quite easily add your own to track durations of specific spells and actions. For instance, I've added every single Deity's holy day, and as long as I'm disciplined enough to advance the timer in game, it reminds me in the log window when each Deity's holy day is - or in fact, when each character ages a year, when certain things happen in the world, whatever. That's the "large scale" option, but that same calendar can also remind you of things happening in the next x rounds, x hours, x minutes, x days, x weeks, or x years. And it handles the translation quite nicely. If you say something will take "10 rounds", and you advance the clock 1 minute (For example), it will remind you that 10 rounds have passed.

It's definitely worth while playing around with! (Nevermind the weather aspect, as I said - the game knows it will start raining at 14:30, and stop again at 16:00, for example)

Cheers
Nocturne

Dark Knight Renee
2007-10-24, 07:47 AM
If you can even come close to dealing with that size of group, you're my hero. Even with six players, I get a bit bogged down.

Meh. Don't let the PC count decieve you. Half of those are also DMPCs, and the actual player count is much, much lower - one or two, usually just one. Playing multiple characters is an old habit we've retained from before we had D&D. It... works better without complex combat rules.