Downtime How To

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This is the SBM Downtime Policy and Process page.
For the SBM Downtime Rules page see: Downtime

What are Downtimes?

DownTime Actions (DTAs) represent long-term actions that you do during the other 163 hours you aren't at game. This can include things like investigations, Influence Growth, training, building things, making art, learning Disciplines, and other long-term or repetitive actions.

How do I Submit a Downtime?

Send all your actions in a single PM to the STAFF user group. This will ensure that the entire narration staff receives and can discuss the downtime actions. Please have your Downtimes for the week sent in by no later than 7pm on Wednesday. Narrators will usually reply by Thursday night.

While Staff does downtimes every week (including Thanksgiving, Christmas, Kwanzaa, and Zombie Apocalypse) temporary changes to this schedule may show up from time to time on Staff Announcements (usually because Staff isn't available, or we're rescheduling things, etc.)

How do Downtimes Work?

Everyone gets three downtime actions per week: A Primary, Secondary, and Tertiary action. The Computers and Science skills allow you to take extra downtimes usable only with those skills - those should be called out with which specific skill you're using. No matter how many additional skills, you are limited to no more than 10 total downtimes actions.

What you're trying to do

This should be a one-sentence summary of your action.

How you're doing it

Where are you going? Who are you talking to? Are you using special paint? Do you have a woogie item from six years ago?

What you're hoping to accomplish

Tell us what you want to accomplish, what your goal is.

Here's a (purely fictitious) example:

I'm heading down to the local newspaper offices and working with the reporters to help them get better photography for their articles. I take my camera and follow along as they go to different spots for gathering information and give the photos to the newspaper free of charge, and sign the rights over to them.

What are you going for here? Are you trying to grow your Media influence? Do you want to work on establishing Contacts (and this is one of the ways you're doing it)? Are you working on cultivating a Herd? Or are you just putting in a roleplay downtime and hoping for plot clues or other information?

Throw in a goal and let us know what you're trying to do.

Stats for the skills, disciplines, and abilities you're using

If you don't have your exact stats, just take your best guess -- your memory of your character is probably better than ours. Also include how long you've been doing something if it's an ongoing thing. Influence Actions take a downtime, but you are permitted a limited number per month - these should also be tracked.

Progress thus far

Some things take multiple downtimes, or multiple weeks to accomplish. Please include how much time you've already put into it.

No Branching or Conditional Downtimes

Please keep your downtimes fairly straightforward. Conditional or logic-branching downtimes ("If Joe shows up I'll teach him Dominate, otherwise I'll try to expand my Street Influence") are not permitted. Most downtimes should be doing one thing at a time.

Success Rates

Please note that not all downtimes will succeed. Sometimes we'll make a ro and you'll lose. Sometimes someone else, or some plot or something, will stop you. Sometimes you'll be relying on another player and they'll forget to send in their part. Sometimes you'll be looking for an answer and there won't be one. Typically, if you're doing everything right, about one-third of downtimes will fail for some reason or another. Try not to take it personally; that's just part of the game.

Priority Order is Important

Please also note that if Staff determines your downtime is extra complicated, it may take more than one slot, which means you need to list your DTAs in priority order.

What Doesn't Require a Downtime?

  • Sending individual letters to others. If you actually write a letter, it never takes a downtime. You can write to as many PCs as you like this way, and a reasonable number of NPCs. If you would like to summarize a letter, or send letters to a large number of off-screen NPCs, that takes a downtime. It puts the work on the character and not on the player. This is true regardless of if you are writing to dozens of unnamed NPCs or to a single important NPC.
  • Having downtime roleplay with other PCs and NPCs. Some NPCs may require downtimes to track down or contact, however.
  • Easy purchases, minor errands, etc., especially if you have Retainers who can help you with them.

Sample Downtime

1) Elite Influence - throw a party

I want to throw a huge party for the banking industry. (Week 2 of ?? planning so far)
Goal: Make friends and influence people. (grow my influence)
Using: Elite Influence 5, related specialties Party Planners and Fortune 500 Executive Assistants. Resources 5.

2) Bang an NPC
Prince Caravaggio invited me to visit, and I'm pretty sure she wants me to sex her up. So I'm gonna go do that.
Goal: Don't disappoint (roleplay)
Using: Social 11 focus Cha, Presence 3, Unbondable.

3) Do a thing for the Justicariate
They gave me a project, and I should take care of that. But as my tertiary DTA, if my social life gets in my way, this is the thing I'll let slide.
Goal: fix a mess in Costa Rica
Using: Computers 3, Craft: Computer Virus, Mental 9 focus Wits, Contact: Mary, a low-level NSA admin.

4. Computers) Stalk another player
I want to know what Mr. Lennet is doing this week.

5. Science: Biology) I'm doing a biological thing with that blood sample Max gave me.
Goal: Learn stuff
Using: Science Biology 4, my lab, Mental 9 focus Wits.

6. Science: Bureaucracy) I'm trying to get a measure on the ballot to prohibit industrial waste dumping.
Goal: Clean up the environment, screw over my clanmate - two birds with one stone!
Using: Science Bureaucracy 3, Presence 3, Dominate 4, Mental 9 focus Wits, Elite Influence: City Hall Records Clerks

Influence Bookkeeping:
Elite 5) One used for the party, four left.
Underworld 2) Two left this month.

Downtime and Alts

You may elect to submit downtimes for your alt character while you are playing a different character. It should be noted that these will be subject to Staff approval - for example, you can't attack someone in downtime and then be shelved and thus resistant to reprisals. However, if you want to craft, or use influence actions, or similar, that is totally acceptable.

To be clear, you may submit downtimes for either one of your characters - but not both. All downtimes in a given week must be for the same character.

Also, generally speaking, you should have an IC reason for why your character is shelved. (And for example, why they are not accessible by phone.) This may limit what you can do during downtime as well.

Stats FAQ

Q: Do I need to include stats with downtimes?

Yes please.

Q: Okay, but I turned in my book at the end of last game. Do I still need to include stats?

Actually, we collect all the books at the end of each game. Everyone did that. We'd still like it if you included stats.

If you don't know them by heart, that's okay. Take your best guess. We're certainly not going to penalize you for guessing.

Q: But you have my book! Surely it would be easier for you to look them up than to remember?

The book is probably in Ralph's garage. The Staff answering your downtimes are scattered across two to four different counties. It's sometimes possible for us to look something up, but usually we just want a general ballpark anyway and your memory is going to be a lot better than ours.

So please include your stats.

Q: What if I forget?

If you forget one time, hey, that's fine, we'll try to remind you. We'll often put a note asking you to include stats. We do this often; it doesn't mean we don't like you, honest.

If you forget every time, something has gone wrong. Please take a little more time and just guess your stats.

Q: What if my mother is on fire and I only have five minutes to send in downtimes while sitting in the ambulance?

Personal emergencies happen. We understand that and we'll do our best to be understand about those, just as we expect you players to be understanding when Staff makes a mistake or is slow to reply because we have stuff going on too.

But try to send stats the next week after the nice ambulance people put out the fire, please?

Q: What if I don't feel like sending my stats, and instead I send my downtimes without stats, and ignore the dozens of requests for stats? Will I be penalized for this?

We'll keep asking, I guess. So far we haven't penalized anyone for not including stats.

But, uh, listen. This is a labor of love for Staff as much as it is for players. We're not getting paid for this; we just love the game and want to make it good. We hope that you're enjoying the game and want to make it fun for everyone, too. This is just a little courtesy that makes our Thursdays go by a little faster. It will probably take you an extra twenty seconds to do every time, and save us an extra half hour of work every once in a while. It may not seem like it matters, but it really helps.

So, please include stats?

Honest, it really would help a lot.

Q: I already do include stats. Is there anything I should do differently?

Nope. Thank you so much! It helps a lot and we really notice the difference.

Q: You've asked me to include stats, and I decided not to anyway. That's okay too, right?

Actually, please do include stats. We get asked a question like this about once a month, and it always surprises us. I sure don't mean to be sarcastic or repetitive; this is just intended as another reminder.

If you have any further questions about whether you should include stats or not, please feel free to PM Staff.

Thanks very much!

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