Rules Index | GM Screen | Player's Guide

Chapter 1: Gamemastery Basics / Running Exploration

Flow of Time

Source Gamemastery Guide pg. 17
As noted in the Core Rulebook, you rarely measure exploration down to the second or minute. If someone asks how long something takes, the nearest 10-minute increment typically does the job. (For long voyages, the nearest hour might be more appropriate.) You convey the passage of time through your descriptions, but not just by addressing it outright. In a roleplaying game, information and time are linked. Time will seem to slow down the more detail you give. Think cinematically! A long voyage through a series of tunnels works well as a montage, whereas progress searching a statue for traps could be a relayed as a series of distressing details in quick succession, and would feel more tense due to that precision.

With that in mind, when is it best to speed up or slow down the passage of game time? Usually, you’ll slow down and give more description when you’re establishing something or progressing the story. When the PCs enter a dungeon or a new area, describe how it feels, slowing down to give the players a sense of what’s ahead. When a PC stops to do something important or makes a key decision, and slowing down gives that moment its desired weight. You can also adjust the flow of time to reflect PCs’ mental states. As a PC returns home after decades away, you might pause to ask the player what their PC is feeling, matching time to the rush of memories and emotions filling that PC’s thoughts.