The method of Timekeeping for FRP games called 1:1 can be a bit tricky to fully grasp, and harder still to take complete advantage of.
1:1 Timekeeping essentially means that for every day that passes in the “real world”, one day passes in the campaign world as well.
For example, your party leaves Dunder Town to explore a ruined keep on Sat Dec 4, does the delve, and comes back to town that night. Your group adjourns for the week. When you come back to the table on the 11th, it is also the 11th in the game world, not the 5th.
This method of timekeeping allows the PCs to heal up from injuries, shop for new or replacement equipment, etc. before the next session.
In addition, if the trip from Dunder Town to the ruin takes a whole day, and the party has to camp, then explore the ruin on the 5th in game time, the session is moving into the future. If the party is able to complete the delve and get back out, they can then travel back home to Dunder town on the 6th and rest or undertake other Downtime activities until the 11th. The next session is set for the 11th, so when the IRL calendar “catches up” to the game calendar, the PCs are available to adventure once again.
An adventure session may only last a few hours, but your PCs may journey across the land, sail upon a boat, or travel long distances in other ways. They may need to wait for something to happen, or a PC may need to spend some weeks on Level training. The In-Game time could be multiple days or even weeks.
For example, Lieres – a 2nd level thief – needs to take two weeks for level training. He starts on Dec 9 and it will last until Dec 23rd. If the next game session is Dec 16th, Lieres will not be available for play.
In this situation a Player may choose to create a new character OR they may choose to play a Henchman (not a Hireling or Follower) as a PC.
Another situation that may arise is if some of the party members decide they want to go on a particular adventure, following a hook they discover, while the rest of the party prefers to pursue a different hook.
While the established characters of the party visit a shrine of the goddess of Luck, for example, the rest of the players may roll up new characters to accompany them. The following session, when the remaining party members are ready to go in search of the Questing Beast, those players whose PCs are off visiting the shrine may roll up new characters for the hunt.
This situation will, of course, lead to having two separate parties in different geographic locations.
Each session’s available PCs will be dictated by the calendar, and those “furthest back” in the timeline are those available for play.
A third example is: perhaps a PC wishes to conduct magical research or other Downtime activity that takes a week or more. This PC would technically not be available for play, but if there were a situation that required their attention, such as a disaster of some kind in their old home town, they would be available to interrupt their downtime activity (possibly losing any progress) and participate in a session.
These options allow a Player in a 1:1 Time Campaign to create a “stable” of characters, who may be available for play at different times and in different places. It also allows Players who may not be able to attend sessions on a regular basis to show up and still participate on an occasional basis.
Another benefit of this style of play is the ability of Players to be able to run different kinds of characters, experiment with different gaming styles and approaches, and undertake epic journeys or missions without sacrificing their ability to participate in the regular campaign.
The Vital Importance of Downtime
Any PC that is not involved in Session play, and is not “in the future” of the timeline, may also spend time between (and during) sessions on Downtime Activities. These include (but are not limited to) tasks/activities such as:
- Item Research & History
- Buying and Selling items in the market
- Recruiting Henchmen & Hirelings
- Construction of a stronghold or other structure
- Learning new tasks (with appropriate XP and SP costs)
- Carousing (this can lead to the creation of Contacts, Rivals, or Enemies)
- Other personal ambitions/goals
In a sense, the 1:1 Time keeping campaign is “always on”, allowing Players to contact the DM with questions and give instructions for coordinating their PCs’ actions between sessions.
This system of timekeeping also allows for things that are in the rules, but seem like they never get used, such as visiting Sages, researching spells, constructing a headquarters.
There is absolutely no reason your PC cannot start getting ready to construct their stronghold at level 2.
There is absolutely no reason your PC can’t start building a Faction of their own in session 1.
1:1 Timekeeping makes this type of campaign work, for the DM and for the players.