“Down time” activities

One of the things about being a “gamer” that seems to bemuse some of my non-gamer friends and family is the whole concept of “player character downtime activities”, which is how we describe what our characters do when we aren’t playing them in an actual game.

dryad grove

The very concept of player characters having “lives” outside of crawling around in dungeons or otherwise engaging in epic combat or social encounters seems to confuse non-gamers. And, to be honest, it seems also to confuse some gamers too.

There is a tie-in here to the larger concept of “backstory” and “character development”, which are also somewhat befuddling to non-gamers (and, again, some gamers).

After all, these are things that are generally non-game impacting. From a pure sit-down-and-roll-dice perspective, whether a player’s rogue spent time “outside of the game” scouting out the local gambling casino or a player’s wizard spent time crafting a magic item really just boil down to some circumstance bonuses in certain skill or ability checks or adding an item and subtracting some gold from a character sheet.

But some gamers (and I admit to being one of them) actually enjoy exploring the personalities, histories, ambitions and personal growth of our characters.

For example, I have a wizard that has been in my “available character portfolio” for decades. He’s the first character I ever created and has not only an extensive backstory and personal development history, but I have laid out in detail, room, by room, his “wizard tower” and the island upon which he constructed it. That includes what is located in each room, where the local fauna lives and how he moves about the island and comes to and from it when he leaves to go “adventuring”.

So, I am now working out the details of the long-term home and possible retirement of my ninth level half elf/half dryad druid. That means I am designing her home, laying out the local forest and the major elements of that forest, including the local dryad grove, the lairs of any significant major carnivores and the paths to and from her little forest world.

There is probably some value to exploring the deep psychological needs this sort of thing reveals about me, and one of these days I may visit a mental health professional to discuss this bizarre behavior. But in the meantime, it’s actually a lot of fun doing this.

The only question I have right now is if I want to create an actual 3D world for these characters. My wizard’s island and tower is just drawings on paper right now. But with my recent foray into the realm of 3D terrain and building construction, there’s no reason not to actually build a scale replica of my character’s homes and local environs.

So, how weird is all that? (As if I really want to know…)

Druid conversion to Pathfinder from 3.5…

One of my all-time favorite RPG characters is my currently 7th level female druid named “Yleris.” Yleris is a custom race that I worked with the original D&D 3.5 GM on. She is the magical child of a male elf and a female dryad, brought into this world as a special prayer by the dryad to mother nature herself. As a half-dryad Yleris is not tied to an oak tree, although she suffers certain penalties for having been removed from her grove. As part of the original campaign plot her grove (including her mother dryad and mother oak tree) had been destroyed by raiding goblins and humans.

Well, time goes on and we mostly play Pathfinder now instead of D&D 3.5, so I am in the process of converting her into a Pathfinder druid.

The problem is that Pathfinder druids are not nearly as flexible as 3.5 druids were. Yleris, due to her dryad heritage, is a rather unusual druid anyway. Instead of focusing on summoning creatures to fight for her, or wildshaping into insanely powerful animal forms and charging into melee, she has always followed her dryad upbringing and has been essentially a bow-based ranged combat fighter, when not casting spells. This works out pretty well in 3.5 because there are a lot of ranged ray attack spells that druids can use, so her ranged bow attributes, items and feats can be used with her ray attacks, making her a very effective ray-based artillery combat character. Probably too effective actually.

In core Pathfinder druids get virtually NO ranged ray attack spells, so her combat effectiveness will drop dramatically after the conversion.

However, I am attempting to work with the two GMs in whose campaigns she operates to see if I can come up with a specialized dryad-based druid archetype that will restore some of her ranged combat effectiveness.

My initial idea is to have her be able to cast certain wizard/sorcerer ray attack spells, but give up certain druid spells in return. Or perhaps give up her wild shape ability in exchange for the ray spells. In the end she would retain her uniqueness and would continue to be true to her concept, but eventually these sorts of changes might make her so different that she may not be recognizable as a druid at all…

I’ll let you know what the final resolution of this conundrum is…