Downtime fulfills two purposes in the game:
First, it’s a break for the players. During the action of ventures and the discord stage, the PCs are frequently under threat, charging from obstacle to obstacle in a high-energy sequence. Downtime gives them a reprieve so they can catch their breath and relax a bit—focus on lower-energy, quieter elements of the game, as well as explore personal aspects of their characters.
Second, the shift into a new phase of the game signals a shift in which mechanics are needed. There are special rules that are only used during the downtime phase, so they’re kept “out of the way” during the other parts of play. When we shift into downtime, we take out a different toolbox and resolve downtime on its own terms, then shift back into the more action-focused phases of the game afterwards.
During a downtime phase, each PC has time for two downtime activities. Players can cash in a favor to gain an extra downtime activity.
Once the players have unlocked certain advancements, they gain access to additional downtime activities:
Players may choose the same activity more than once, except “Odd Jobs.” You can only attempt actions that you’re in a position to accomplish. If an activity is contingent on another action, resolve that action first.
Ease Tension or Shift Blame
Both of these actions focus on reducing tension in town.
The PC spends time making people in the community feel safer or more welcome. Describe how you try to improve the mood and make an action roll. 1-3: clear none; 4-5: clear 1; 6: clear 2; crit: clear 4.
The PC spends time shifting the town’s sense of hostility onto a faction. Clear 2 tension but mark a grudge with the targeted faction.
When you work on a long-term project (either a brand new one, or an already existing one), describe what your character does to advance the project clock, and roll one of your actions. Mark segments on the clock according to your result: 1-3: one segment, 4-5: two segments, 6: three segments, crit: five segments.
A long-term project can cover a wide variety of activities, like doing research into some stolen design plans, investigating a mystery, changing your character’s rebellion, and so on.
Based on the goal of the project, the GM will tell you the clock(s) to create and suggest a method by which you might make progress.
Odd Jobs (once per downtime)
Spend time helping a Contact to build up some goodwill in the community.
Tell the GM which Contact you approach, and the GM will tell you a mundane task they need completed. Describe how you approach the task and make an action roll: 1-3: gain 0-1 favors and take an equal amount of stress; 4-5: gain 0-2 favors and take an equal amount of stress; 6: gain 2 favors; crit: gain 3 favors.
When you pursue your rebellion, you clear some stress from your character’s stress track. Say how your character furthers their rebellion, including the current faction or NPC they target. This pursuit takes time, so it can only be done when the team has downtime. Alternately, you may choose to release your character to be “consumed by their rebellion” during a game session, allowing them to pursue it off-camera while you play a different PC.
You roll to find out how much stress relief your character receives. A rebellion roll is like a resistance roll in reverse—rather than gaining stress levels, you clear stress levels. The effectiveness of your pursuit depends upon your character’s worst attribute rating. It’s their weakest quality (Cortex, Meatbox, Ego, or Mastery) that is most overwhelmed by the need to rebel.
Make an attribute roll using your character’s lowest attribute rating (if there’s a tie, that’s fine—simply use that rating). Clear stress equal to the highest die result.
If your rebellion roll clears more stress levels than you had marked, you become consumed. The passions that drive a character’s rebellion are not a controlled or moderate. It’s a risk—and one that can drive your character to act against their own best interests.
When you are consumed, you make a bad call because of your rebellion. To bring the effect of this bad decision into the game, select a consumed consequence from the list:
You reach out to your community to regain your sense of balance. Build a dice pool based on the number of favors you spend (from zero to 4) and roll. Look at the highest result.
1-3: discontent. You find stress or obligation rather than relief. Add another condition.
4 or 5: respite. You get a break. Clear 1 condition.
6: renewal. You feel re-centered. Clear all of your conditions. Two or more 6’s: it’s a critical success. Also roll to reduce stress.
This action will clear all tension from the tracker.
Describe how the town turns on the Contact that you choose. The town views them negatively and they lose something important to them, but they remain a part of the town.
For example, they could lose their job, be barred from community events, spend time in jail, lose their home, etc.
Clear all tension from the tracker. Fill the targeted Contact’s grudge tracker. The PC who took this action must mark a Sacrifice and develop a new belief based on this event.
Scapegoating cannot include murder, sexual assault, or harm to children.
Advanced Downtime Actions
Once you earn the advancement, you can take these additional downtime actions. (Note: Network and several of the special professions are not included in this playtest).
Acquire an Asset
Gain temporary use of an asset. “Temporary use” constitutes one significant period of usage that makes sense for the asset—typically the duration of one episode. This grants your character access to services, items, people, and locations beyond their usual means. You can think of these assets as one-time uses of something that might otherwise be a long-term project.
This action is especially useful for groups who like to collect unique gear or loot; you can acquire it once, see how well it works in play, then develop a long term project to make it more permanent. For example, if a PC wants to get access to a true serum poison, they could use the acquire an asset action and get a dose for the next venture. If they decide they want to have regular access to this poison, it might become a long-term project to establish a consistent supply.
To acquire an asset, you need to use a Contact. Make a contact roll like normal with the dice pool based on your bonds with them.
If you acquire the same asset again, you get +1d for your contact roll.
These are unique skills or opportunities that allow you to customize gameplay.
Inventor (crafting skill)
You can create new technology.
To design a new invention, you need to analyze the problem and possible solutions as a long term project. The GM and the player will answer a series of questions to determine the function of the invention and what will be needed to create it.
To design a new invention, answer:
Once you have learned a new design, you gain the downtime action crafting. When you use crafting, you can roll the appropriate action to make items from your design; if you equal or exceed the difficulty threshold set by the GM, you successfully make an item.
Critter Tamer (unique item)
The player gains a mutated animal as a pet. The mutants are warped by the Wild Strain. They may look normal but have supernatural powers: a horse that can turn into mist; an eagle that can cast speak; a blood-sucking sloth that can teleport, etc.
When a player uses this action for the first time, they create a wild critter with the following steps:
1. Choose a species. Every wild critter comes from a normal animal. Choose the base species for the animal (e.g. tiger, dog, ferret, seal, crow).
2. Choose a starting power. This is the first sign of the creature’s mutant status. There are some examples below, but don’t feel limited to them. The creature can have any mutant power that makes sense within the world. As always, the GM has final editorial authority on whether or not a power makes sense for your group’s world.
3. Choose a flaw. Every wild critter has a flaw in its personality: aggressive, unpredictable, shy, stubborn, lazy, destructive, hyper, skittish, loud, overly-friendly, or possessive.
Raising Wild Critters: Future downtime actions can be used training and bonding with your pet. Describe how you bond or train the animal and make an action roll. 1-3: one segment, 4-5: two segments, 6: three segments, crit: five segments.
When you complete a 6-segment training clock, choose a new power. When you complete a 6-segment bonding project clock, choose a new trait for your pet.
When your pet engages in an action that aligns with a trait, it can push itself. Positive traits cannot directly contradict your pet’s flaw.
Positive traits: adventurous, playful, friendly, intelligent, athletic, hunter instincts, independent, loyal, tenacious, protective, or steady.
Mutanicals (crafting skill)
You can collect plants mutated by the Wild Strain and use them to create unique substances with supernatural effects. You must design a prescription before you can craft it.
To design a new prescription, answer the following questions. It takes an 8-segment progress clock to finish designing the prescription.
Possible drawbacks include: unreliable, rare, conspicuous, dangerous to touch, single use, or highly illegal.
Each time you work on the prescription’s design, describe how you make progress and roll the appropriate action to fill in segments: 1-3: one segment, 4-5: two segments, 6: three segments, crit: five segments.
Once you have designed a prescription, you gain the crafting downtime activity. You can use the appropriate action to make doses of the substance; the default amount is 2 doses per crafting action. If you equal or exceed the difficulty threshold set by the GM, you successfully make an item.