Where does 'downtime' come from?

I know that spending free time around the home base was always a feature of early 'megadungeon' campaigns in the 70ies, but

1. Where does the term 'downtime' come from in RPGs (which was the first RPG to use it this way?)
2. Which was the first modern RPG which used structured procedures for that, even if with a different term?

To my best knowledge the answers are:
1. Ghost Lines (2012?)
2. Mouse Guard RPG (2008) with 'player turn'

But Im sure Im wrong! Please correct me if you can!

Comments

  • Does a crafting system from 1985 qualify ?
  • edited December 2018
    I would say no, at least for me, because it is about crafting, and not about structuring free time in an all-embracing way.
  • I feel like a lot of old-school (and some middle-school) D&D rules had provisions for "back in town" or "non-adventuring days". I don't know if that's relevant to you, but if it is, it's worth looking into! (For instance, consider "carousing" rules which are used by many OSR aficionados.)
  • Yeah, I'm familiar with that. But carousing is just one type of downtime actions and I'm only looking for 'all encompassing' solutions here.
  • edited December 2018
    The word "downtime" comes from industrial engineering and has been used since the 1920s. It refers to time when a particular machine or system is unavailable. Some downtime is intentional for maintenance or inspections, other times due to a glitch or other problem. Here's a 1921 office supply manufacturing reference for example.

    The earliest I can think of that explicitly used the term is the D&D3e Unearthed Arcana (2004), which used it in the Craft Points system. You can read the SRD version here. Interestingly, it treats "down time" as a phrase the player should already know! So I suspect it's used in others as well. My vote is going to be Champions, somewhere.
  • If Pendragon isn't the first game with codified downtime rules (the "Winter Phase"), it's at least one of the most well known early examples, isn't it?
  • Nothing in Champions big blue book, if that's what you mean.
  • edited December 2018
    Just on a quick search through my rpgnow library I found it in 2300 AD's "Ranger" supplement, (1989), and defined in a glossary of terms in Vampire: the Masquerade 1st Edition (1991). Once you start getting earlier than those in time the text search capabilities drop off dramatically. I still vote Champions, it's there somewhere, I know it!

    Edit: What I mean is: I bet the term and/or the concept is laid out in early (perhaps VERY early) Champions material somewhere. It sounds exactly like something it would use.
  • Just on a quick search through my rpgnow library I found it in 2300 AD's "Ranger" supplement, (1989), and defined in a glossary of terms in Vampire: the Masquerade 1st Edition (1991). Once you start getting earlier than those in time the text search capabilities drop off dramatically.
    I'm pretty much sure both Pendragon (1985?) and Ars Magica (1987?) made significant use of downtime in gameplay, by that name or otherwise.

    The whole idea, of course, begins with keep management in OD&D and spell research (AD&D 1e, I guess?), but in a vague and confused, not very systematic way.

  • Jason got to it before me. I agree with him - the first appearance of the term is going to be considerably ancient.

    A quick search of the AD&D DMG annoyingly doesn't find either "down time" or "downtime". The concept itself is known in the old D&D campaigning methodology, but under different names.
  • I think Bushido by FGU was one of the big early proponents of it, with downtime required for skill training as well as (from memory) other stuff. Of course, the original RuneQuest did it in about 1977, with the ability to spend your silver lunar on training or learning battlemagic between missions - and specifically limited the rate at which you could spend your money, and how far things could go before needing experience again. It was common for a party to take four weeks downtime where a couple of people used the time to learn a new spell, others add +5% to a couple of their higher rated skills, or bought a new cheap skill up to 25%.
  • Heh, the original AD&D DMG had rules for building castles in your downtime and that was back in 1979.

  • Edit: What I mean is: I bet the term and/or the concept is laid out in early (perhaps VERY early) Champions material somewhere. It sounds exactly like something it would use.
    Are you thinking maybe of Blue Booking as a downtime activity?
  • Jason got to it before me. I agree with him - the first appearance of the term is going to be considerably ancient.

    A quick search of the AD&D DMG annoyingly doesn't find either "down time" or "downtime". The concept itself is known in the old D&D campaigning methodology, but under different names.
    There's always the phase where the party is either camping for the night (with checks for random encounters), or when they're back in town between adventures.
  • Dave Arneson's "First Fantasy Campaign" had rules for Special Interests. The characters had to spend time and gold engaging with their interest to gain XP.
    Many characters wonder what they should spend their money on and what it will get them in exchange. Just accumulating the money is not really enough of a guide in some case, as to what the players do between expeditions.
    ... followed by rules for several "interests" including Wine, Women, Song, Wealth, Fame, Religion, and Hobby, with tables and a three-step resolution process for handling these. There are also rules for preparing spells in a laboratory with the suggestion that there was some time requirement that corresponded to a certain probability of success (maybe similar to the spell research rules that show up in little brown book OD&D).

    So although the term "downtime" wasn't used, the concept of spending downtime in a structured way is as old as mud, or at least and as old as the oldest fantasy RPG campaign.
  • Those downtime activities were also a strategic consideration in a big, multiplayer campaign, too. Take a month off of adventuring to do downtime stuff, and rival parties are still out and adventuring during that time.

    It's a more strategic level trade-off.

  • @Dreamer Not specifically blue-booking, just thinking that the ultra-simulation aspects of Champions makes it a natural fit for developing the idea.
  • Another early RPG supplement that dealt with downtime was Midkemia Press's Cities supplement (1979).
  • edited December 2018
    Cool ! That's good archive work... Too bad it's not yet public domain. Midkemia Press are holding onto their property with pixelized illustrations and all. I can't blame them.
  • Cool ! That's good archive work... Too bad it's not yet public domain. Midkemia Press are holding onto their property with pixelized illustrations and all. I can't blame them.
    I wish I could find my copy of the 1st edition. I don't think I sold it. I also have the RuneQuest edition.
  • Chivalry & Sorcery (FGU, 1977 or thereabouts) also assumed that PCs would be interested in spending non-adventuring time in doing things to improve themselves, like training or researching spells. Some players report that, since those activities were more beneficial and less dangerous than going out and fighting monsters, they preferred to do that.
  • edited December 2018
    Thank you for your answers!

    You showed enormous evidence that there is nothing new to the concept, it already existed in various structured versions at the dawn of our hobby.

    Do you know any usage of the term downtime, down-time or down time before D&D 3E UA (2004)?

  • edited December 2018
    Yes, it's in the glossary of Vampire: the Masquerade, first edition (1991) under that exact term.
  • Chivalry & Sorcery (FGU, 1977 or thereabouts) also assumed that PCs would be interested in spending non-adventuring time in doing things to improve themselves, like training or researching spells. Some players report that, since those activities were more beneficial and less dangerous than going out and fighting monsters, they preferred to do that.
    Yea, I looked at my C&S, I didn't feel like it quite rose to the level of offering extensive non-adventuring activities (except for magic users), but it definitely does have rules for stuff outside of adventuring that isn't just castle building and management.
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