Thursday, January 26, 2023

AD&D 1e's Time Sinks

I've been working my way through the 1e DMG and translating/summarizing the DMing advice out of Gygaxian into plain english for my own use.  I'm not that far through it yet but one thing that is constantly sticking out at me is that there are many time sinks.  For example:

  • Every time you go digging through a pile of rotting crap or spend time holed up in unsanitary conditions you might catch a disease, which may cost you 2-4 weeks of downtime (and possibly ability score damage, death, blindness...).  You can also catch parasites from drinking bad water, with similar effects.
    • As an aside, the paladin's disease immunity sounds amazing if the disease rules are played straight
    • I'm probably going to end up writing another post about this at some point.  I think there's a good disease system waiting to be derived from this system - one not as crushingly awful as LotFP's corruptions and not as "all-or-nothing" as B/X's save-or-die diseases.
  • When a paladin hits 4th level, he gets a vision of a horse.  Not a horse, just a vision.  And then he gets to go on a ~2 week quest to get his special mount.
  • Thieves and assassins can go spying and infiltrate organizations.  Simple missions take up to a week, complex missions take multiple weeks.
  • High-level assassins can study poisons, which takes many many weeks (and costs lots and lots of gold).  Once they've done their course they can create pretty arbitrary poisons, which takes a week or two.
  • If you miss your initial window for Cure Disease after contracting lycanthropy, one of your options to remove it is to spend a month or so in an abbey drinking holy water infused with wolfsbane out of a silver chalice (for a considerable donation to the monks hosting you, of course).

That's all in the first 23 pages.  It's not like there's a big list of "campaign activities that take time", it's all mixed in with everything else, and if I didn't have time on my mind I probably wouldn't see it.  But it's there.  Lots of ways for time to get spent.

Maybe it would be fun to compile that list of all the ways to spend downtime (or to have downtime inflicted on you) in 1e.

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