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I know you may be asking for something concrete. My approach is always to maximize fun. So, is limiting it to once per month limiting the fun? And if not, roll with it. But, also consider that by allowing for more downtime, you potentially increase opportunities for fun.

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On 12/16/2020 at 5:13 AM, klecser said:

I know you may be asking for something concrete. My approach is always to maximize fun. So, is limiting it to once per month limiting the fun? And if not, roll with it. But, also consider that by allowing for more downtime, you potentially increase opportunities for fun.

Maximise fun , always this. 

You can use downtime as a tool to help pace your game as well. It can also be used to add elements into the main scenario from the investigators lives, which in turn can add benefits or dangers to the investigators as you desire. 

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I've been short on time recently and I've been meaning to give you examples. My players have all sorts of secondary objectives that they work on during downtime. The way that I handle it as Keeper is to allow them to do whatever they have time for. We "negotiate" how long a particular task will take and decide what they can accomplish in the allotted time. Things like reading tomes, learning spells, and improving skills require concentration, so they tend to take up a lot more time.

Maintaining contacts, information-gathering, purchasing and other logistical tasks can be done a lot more efficiently. I often give players an option to explain how they are fitting in some contacts and logistics around more time-consuming tasks. My players also love to continue research into prior characters to see if they gain any new insights. We have lengthy exchanges (which I often save) over chat/email that enhances the depth of character relationships. Our engineer works on weird tech.

A detailed conversation that happened between an investigator and an NPC at Kolkata between games (ME=Medical examiner):

"ME: Hello, are you a relative of the deceased?

Alex: Not a relative. I'm a detective back in the states. Since he was from New York I'd like to get some details to better aide any possible investigation.

ME: *asks for credentials *

Alex: *already has them in hand. Pursaude roll 4/ 62 extreme success*

ME * get all the records AND access to picking the brain of the ME* What do you want to ask?

Was the neck dislocated/ broken?

No, it was not broken

Any defensive marks?

No defensive marks,  but the body was badly burned. 

Any unusual findings on the body? 

Burns consistent with flammable liquid, likely kerosene

And did he have luggage left over from the ship?

No,  burned in the fire

Alex:  That's a real shame that his belongings are gone.  Could have found an address to notify the proper family of the deceased. I'll just have to look him up back in New York,  unless authorities here are going to send word.

ME: Word will be sent. 

Alex: It's strange,  doctor,  I had breakfast with this man.. not even half an hour before this incident.  He was having a hard time finding a guide for the area so we grouped up. He was genuinely excited to be in your country and to have fellow people with him on his trip.  I didn't read any dissatisfaction in his voice or actions.

ME: That is very strange. I wonder about his business. It seems as if he could afford to travel, which is not afforded all.

Alex: He was a jeweler, he had a lovely piece he made that had a sapphire elephant on it.

Alex does not feel safe sending a telegram to New York to inquire about Adam's place of business.  (Another thing to look into real quick when they get back to the states)

Alex: Doctor, um, I didn't get your name.

ME: Jash. Jash Preveed

Alex: thank you for your time, I would ask if anything else comes to light or seems abnormal to contact me, sadly I haven't found lodging yet.  Please take care of yourself.

ME: I am eager to help the authorities in any way that I can. 

*Psychology roll, 33/70 hard success

Alex suspects that Jash benefits from the British Raj and likely has a "authority always has the answers" view on things.*"

Some of my players like to take time to travel to other places/locations while the other investigators are drilling down on reading and spells. They feel really useful when this happens.

"I learned this awesome spell that I'll probably use rarely because it will drive me insane, but I have an option now!"

"I went into New York City and did a job for a mob boss and now we can call on them as a contact!"

"Ooh....ahhh...."

I've been GMing RPGs for a long time and one of the most important things that I have learned is that restricting secondary objectives rarely makes games more fun. Let your players play in the world! :D 

As to "too beneficial," I think the key is that investigative games do not suffer from the same challenges of power creep as combat-focused games. Yes, you give a DND player an inch mechanically and you risk giving them a mile. In CoC, you can have a player gain +10 in virtually any skill and it only gives them marginal increases in effectiveness. CoC is designed to make characters that are ineffective. That is the point. That is its charm. That is its challenge. You want +5 in a skill? Sure! It honestly isn't going to make much difference. Now, if it makes your player feel good because they got advancement, that's ok and we've accomplished something.

Edited by klecser
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I always really enjoy when a game gives some advice or structure for downtime, because I always hate just skipping over it. (At the same time, I don't like it to take up TOO much time)

It's a very good point that power creep isn't really a worry here. Fun is far more important, and allowing more downtime activities allows more chances for creepy encounters.

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I think that some home scenes we can import to Call of Cthulhu like staying on the case. Some are more akin to Delta Green. But in the end we will do what ever suits Our tastes and Our group needs. Don't we? 

Edited by alter
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