Tuesday, October 24, 2017

System for Abstracted OSR Settlement Downtime

Downtime in Settlements

Once a party reaches a settlement (village, town, or city), they receive two opportunities as a whole to interact with the settlement outside of buying dungeoneering supplies and selling off loot. Rather than two opportunities per character, it is the party who has these opportunities. A party may choose to spend a week at a settlement to receive a number of opportunities equal to 2+ the number of player characters within the party. Spending this week within a settlement requires each character to spend a sum of silver for housing, upkeep, and food. The amount of silver spent this way determines which events may occur to that character during the week of their residing in the settlement. Any Hirelings, Retainers, and Companions who accompany the party pay their own way.

Art by Ken Fairclough

Author's Note: These mechanics came around because most of my players spent a great deal of time just hanging around town and I had a great deal of difficulty producing content for each day or hour of their time in a settlement. Instead I made a way to produce content at a weekly rate.

The options available to a party within a settlement are as follows.

1. Discover What Lies Past (This Settlement)

Researching information about traveling away from civilization is very important. A character doing this is able to ask a single question about how far away another settlement is (in terms of days of travel), about what kind of menaces lie in what direction (both monster and terrain), or even about the location of a dungeon filled with treasures.

2. Make Friends

A character who chooses to go out and make friends has the opportunity to attempt toroll under Charisma and if successful obtain retainers and has a further 25% chance to meet a friendly NPC.

3. Carousing

By spending at minimum of 100 silver (or another arbitrary value choice by the Referee), a character gains an equivalent amount of XP for going out and socializing/drinking and must roll under Charisma to avoid a mishap.

4. Find Rumors

A character receives 1 + their Charisma Modifier in rumors

5. Sight-see/Relax

A character choosing to relax or sight-see reduces gains an extra 1HP until the end of the next combat, and gets to have the Referee describe some part of the settlement/surrounding area to him and likely give him some lore about the area.

6. Go Shopping

A character choosing to go shopping may either purchase location unique items (such as a barrel of gunpowder) or spend silver on frivolous things (such as an obnoxious hat) in a manner similar to carousing at a rate of 2 silver spent for 1 XP recieved.

7. Rest and Recover

By choosing to engage in recovery a character gains an extra 1HP per level until the end of the next combat, further they are allowed a new save against any condition or disease that they have with no penalty for failing the save.

8. Research/Find a Scholar

By successfully rolling under a third of their Intelligence, a character is able to ask the Referee a single yes or no question (which is to be answered truthfully as the knowledge would be known in setting). Alternatively they may spend 100 silver to simply consult a scholar a single yes or no question.

Weekly Expenses and Their Consequences

The following are different levels for weekly expenses in a settlement.

Destitute: 15 Silver (This is barely a step above homelessness)
Middling: 25 Silver
Comfortable: 50 Silver
Prosperous: 100 Silver
Flush: 200 Silver

Villages are able to suppport weekly expenses up to Comfortable.
Towns are able to suppport weekly expenses up to Prosperous.
Cities are able to suppport weekly expenses up to Flush.

A character may purchase a home for the price of weekly expenses times 30 for any level except for Destitute. They then no longer have to spend that weekly expense at that settlement.

Every week spent in a settlement roll a 1d8. On a roll of 7 or 8 nothing of note occurs; however, for any other value rolled consult the Weekly Event Table relating to that level of weekly expense.

Art by William Henry Pine

Destitute Expenses Weekly Event Table

1Find Lost Money
The character finds 1d6 silver that someone lost here.
2Misunderstanding Escalating into a Violence
The character must save or suffer the effects of a 1d10 severity roll.
3Awful Disease
The character must save or contract a disease taking 1d3 points of damage
4Jail Time
The character is taken away and cannot interact with the settlement.
5Wandering Monster Encounter
The character has a solo encounter with something awful.
The character must save or contract a random curse.

Middling Expenses Weekly Event Table

1Hear Rumor
The character gains 1 random rumor.
2Free Meal
The character receives a ration from a friend.
3Misunderstanding Escalating into a Vicious Brawl
The character must save or lose 1d12 hp and gain notoriety.
4Minor Disease
The character must save or contract a disease taking 1 point of damage.
The character must pay 3d10 silver to the authorities.
6Attempted Mugging
The character must save or lose 1d2 random items.

Comfortable Expenses Weekly Event Table

1Make Acquaintance
The character befriends a shop keeper and is able to buy a random item for half price.
2Misunderstanding of Received Letters/Parcels
The character receives something meant for someone else.
3Well Rested
The character gains an additional point of HP until the next combat.
4Misunderstanding Escalating into a Remembered Insult
The character must save or gain a foe and a -2 penalty to carousing.
5Attempted Theft
The character must save or lose 3d20 silver.
The character is involved in a building burning in some way.

Prosperous Expenses Weekly Event Table

1An Exclusive Offer
The character is approached by a merchant selling a rare item.
2Romantic Encounter
Someone becomes enamored with the character.
3Enticing Request
A patron reaches out to the character requesting a Quest Item with promise of reward.
4Auspicious Sign
The character sees a good omen granting a +1 to their saves until they fail one.
5Misunderstanding Escalating into a Future Vengeance
The character must save or become hounded by an assassin.
6Attempted Swindle
The character must save or erroneously invest 1d100 silver to a conman.

Flush Expenses Weekly Event Table

1Invitation to Banquet
Receive 200 XP for carousing at banquets of the rich.
2Make Friend
The character gains an NPC as a friend and possible companion.
3Gifted Item
The character receives a gift worth 1d20 silver from someone
Offer of Initiation
The character receives an invitation to a secret society of some kind.
A hireling wishes to join the character at no upkeep cost.
6Marked for Robbery
The character must save or become hounded by a band of brigands.

Between these options available to characters and the events which fall upon each character, a variety of events are sure to occur to the players. Further the usage of dreadful foreboding mechanics means there are at least three dynamic aspects to a settlement each week.


  1. This is good. I'm making a note. We will try it the next time it's appropriate.

    1. Please let me know how it goes!

    2. It won't be soon. But I do promise to tell you how it goes. I would probably write it up on my website (with attribution and a link.)