The Downtime Session

Well howdy, pardners!

It's our third devlog for the updates to this here game, and tarnation do we have some fun stuff going on! We might talk more specifically about the writing that's happening in the Setting section at a later date, but for now let's talk about something near and dear and long-ago mentioned: the Downtime Session.

Now way back, I had the notion to make downtime less of a free-form thing and more of a structured session -- personally, I'm a big fan of little minigames to break up big story arcs. I also wanted Magitech Space Western to feel like it was as much a story about a community as about individual characters within that community. All of which brings us to the basic bones of the Downtime Session as it exists in its current form.

The Downtime Session flows in three broad phases. To start off, all your PCs draw and Hold up to their max. At creation, this means two cards, but every playbook can increase that a bit.

Phase I is where Personal Moves trigger; these are specific moves that let your PCs pursue their own agendas and goals, tie up loose ends, stick their noses into the Settlement's gossip, or maybe just get some much-needed rest. There's eight of them, about half pointing to your character's internal life and about half pointing out at the wider community. By default, every PC gets one for free, and you can spend Hold one for one to take extra Personal Moves. Might want to consider holding onto some Hold, though, because Hold doesn't come back during the Downtime Session and you can also spend it during the next phase.

Phase II is Thunderation. Thunderation is kind of an oracle reading divvied up into three parts of its own: A big event happens to flesh out the passage of time, some troubles start brewing on the horizon, and then fate throws you a curveball. The first two parts can be altered by spending Hold, but that curveball is what it is. Sometimes fate's fickle, friend. By the end of Thunderation, you'll have a whole slew of story hooks to latch onto in your next story arc.

Phase III is where your Playbook Downtime Moves trigger. Each playbook has one and they're all mandatory unless otherwise stated; at the moment, none of them are otherwise stated. I just wanted to leave the door open for future playbooks. Playbook Downtime Moves cover a broad spectrum of "when time passes" effects, too much so to go into full detail here. Some of them are moves that exist in the playbooks right now (Looking at you, Traveller.) which have been slightly reworked. Others are entirely new; some might let you follow up on events and ask questions, hence why they happen after Thunderation.

Once Phase III is done, you're ready to dive back into regular session play!

The Downtime Session, depending on your group's desires, can be as short as half an hour or as long as a regular session -- just depends on what you want to do with it. It's also a good time to make sure the story's going where you want it to, to dig into character motivations, or just to have a nice breather between high emotion story arcs. Hope y'all enjoy it!

Thanks for reading, and we'll see you next time!

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