2011-04-20 The Passage Of Time In Your Campaign


I’m running two groups in the same campaign region. At least, I try to when they don’t cancel! So basically the two groups share the same Campaign Wiki. That means that the first group can sell a treasure map at the inn and the second group will be able to buy it for a price at the same inn. A hireling can be found at the inn talking about the adventures he had with the other group. Stuff like that.

This necessitates a certain amount of synching between the two parties.

I’m not using the Table of Despair. That would make the synchronization very easy: Every session is a trip to a dungeon. Those who don’t make it back out by the end of the session must roll on the table—and despair. 😈

Worse, I use the Death and Dismemberment table. That means I sometimes have characters with broken bones that need to rest for many weeks. When the players return to the table and feel like playing these characters again, this assumes a big gaps in the time line.

The solution I’m using right now is that the party sitting down at the table implicitly determines how much time has passed.

I generally use weeks as a unit: Travel to a dungeon, explore for a day or two, return to base: it takes a week.

Here’s an example of how it works:

  1. Party 1 goes on a trip, the elf breaks his arm and needs to rest for 14 weeks.
  2. Party 2 goes to the Ancient Academy. We assume this happens in the same week.
  3. Party 1 explores a little dungeon without the elf. We assume this happens in the next week.
  4. Party 1 meets again, and the elf player is playing the elf. Thus, implicitly, 13 weeks must have passed!
  5. Party 2 wants to return to the Ancient Academy. 14 weeks have passed!

I just need to remember to announce the jump in time at the beginning of the session and ask: “So, what has your character been up to all this time?”

Alternatively, I ask them via email. I create a Google Group for every campaign. Sometimes players will post their plans for the next few games in-game.

This has worked for me so far, but I don’t have any long term experience.



That means that the first group can sell a treasure map at the inn and the second group will be able to buy it for a price at the same inn.

I like that idea! Feels like the world is growing organically and logically (as in the “real” world).

Jensan 2011-04-20 14:07 UTC

To make it easier on myself, I make it so there is never more than one adventure per “season” and rarely more than two per year. I average out at 1.5 adventures to 2.5 adventures per year. So instead of tracking weeks, I track months and years.

The other upside is it prevents the whole “I started adventuring at 16, three months ago, and am now the master of the local thieve’s guild...”

Dyson Logos 2011-04-20 15:20 UTC

Dyson, do you use some of the house rules like easy scroll creation for magic users for 250 gp/1 week per level that floats around the OSR? If so, given enough cash magic users could become inordinately powerful.

Any ideas on that?

– Restless 2011-04-20 21:18 UTC

Interesting question… I guess I’d try to figure out a way to run the game without this problem – either by talking to players or creating a house rule adapted to my campaign world. Now that I think about it, I’m glad that no specific rules exist because if they did they’d determine how powerful mages are or how frequently the party has to go on adventure to balance things out. As it stands, I can figure it out when I get there.

AlexSchroeder 2011-04-20 21:26 UTC

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