Friday, April 22, 2011

Discussion: Time Gaps

So, in the L5R game that I am running, I'm using time gaps fairly judiciously to keep things moving along. The idea being that we spend a few sessions doing the few weeks to few months where everything is going nuts, and then gloss over the times when everything is down. This does two things. 1) it allows time to go by fairly quickly, enabling long term plots and plans to move along so that the players can see the fruits of their labor. 2) It allows the game to not be the standard "and then everything went nuts and crazy with one horrible catastrophe after the other for the next thirty years.

Now, the bigger benefit is the first one. This means that the children of the PCs are going to be a factor relatively soon (one PC had a kid before the last time break, so it will be 5-6 years old when we start up again). But, in general, I'm rather enjoying the whole box of stuff happening with it.

However, the point of this isn't to just be happy with my own game, I wanted to talk about how to handle the time skips and how others have done it in their games.

In my game, I'm handling it as follows: For every time period, I am enabling the players to do a set number of "big" things. So far it has been about two per year skipped. Now, these big things can be more or less anything from "Find a wife and get married" to "Expand my criminal empire into the market district."

So far, this has worked out very well, but I'm curious how other people have handled it in their games. So, how have you handled time skips? Have you ever tried them? Might you be interested in doing so now?

Sound off in the comments below.


  1. I haven't gone years in our time gaps but months at a time are common.

    In our games as the PCs were starting out, travel was a big part of the game. Also housekeeping tasks (such as finding food and water) were a big plot point to the game, but not very interesting. At first it was really hard to say "okay you travel for two months". I felt like I was missing something, the players felt like they were missing something. We've come up with some tools that help. One is training during down time. I let my players pick up an XP for each week they train (one XP is useful in the system) or two if they have an attendant to take care of the cooking, finding food, water and washing.

    Because of the system doesn't allow for any super healing, the players have now adjusted to look to down time as healing time.

  2. I had an idea on this topic I've been hoping to integrate sometime soon. There's a certain Showtime series I was watching with my gf that at the beginning of each season presents a rapid-fire montage of snippets of things you missed, just as if the lives of the characters had carried on without you. They were presented in the same way you get the refresher clips when storylines are continued in dramas.

    It seems feasible to use this technique in RPGs: quick plot points of NPC action, peripheral information reaching the characters, or even actions that are pretty much a given (such as: during your two months travel you encounter a burnt caravan and track down the raiders and free the prisoners, etc).