It’s all well and good to build a character, but next you need a method for actual play. We’ll get into this by dividing up time and using it to do stuff.
Divvying up Time: on the Surface
For the heroes who remain on the surface, time is simple: exactly one surface turn passes during each expedition.
The idea of a surface turn is abstract. Yes, it stands to reason that deeper expeditions would take longer and that therefore more could be accomplished in town. Let’s just say that with the sun dead, surface life is slowly growing more difficult and dangerous, with the convenient side-effect of keeping the amount of work that can be accomplished while waiting for an expedition to return relatively constant. DMs should feel free to adjust this in cases where circumstances warrant, of course.
Each surface turn begins with the DM rolling on a table (to be provided later) to determine what random events, if any, are influencing this session. Extreme weather, harvests, attacks, celestial concordance, or other factors may affect the underworld expedition, the heroes on the surface, or (rarely) both. I intend for the DM-facing mechanisms behind this table to slowly make the random events harsher over time on account of how, as you may recall, the sun is dead and the surface world is dying.
What can you accomplish during a surface turn? In general, each hero can do one of the following:
- Work: The hero can just do their day job. This may produce any good or service; it always results in a single unit of wealth that may in turn be traded for other goods or services. Wealth may take the form of trade goods, useful barter, favors, or anything else; it is abstract and can (usually) be converted painlessly into any one good or service when the player desires.
- Worship: The hero may pray, make offerings, or otherwise perform a devotion to a known god in return for a boon; boons are a sort of divine currency that is spent to receive specific benefits, usually through ritual entreaties. One hero’s worship can earn one minor boon, but if all three heroes from a family who aren’t currently on expedition worship together, they can earn a major boon instead, granting more powerful gifts.
- Sending: By spending a boon and spending their surface turn in ritual observance, one hero may maintain a particular supernatural effect. This may take the form of a benefit (a “buff” or the removal of a “debuff”) to the expedition, or it may alter fate for those on the surface (the DM rolls twice for the next random event and the player may choose which result they want).
- Divination: Roll an Inspect check to study the signs and portents. If this succeeds, then the hero learns one true thing on a topic of their choice. The truth may be misleading, incomplete, or hard to understand – unless the roll results in a boost, in which case it is clear and unambiguous.
- Crafting: Roll a Create check to make or repair a known object
- Study: Roll an Inspect check to investigate an object, ritual, or area of knowledge. This allows the character to use Create or Recall later with the relevant object of study.
- Cooperation: One hero may aid another in some task (that requires a check). The hero giving aid may either roll a check of their own toward the same goal, or they may grant automatic advantage to the hero they are helping. A special case of cooperation is caregiving, as described below.
- Caregiving: Roll a Tend check to help menaced heroes heal their wounds or shed their afflictions. If this passes, each hero being tended gains advantage on their save for recuperation, below.
- Recuperation: If the hero has wounds, roll a Constitution save. If they have afflictions, roll a Charisma save. (Only one of each kind of save is rolled.) The save DC is equal to ten plus the number of wounds or afflictions (as appropriate) that the hero is menaced by. A success removes one menace of the appropriate type; each boost removes another.
- Training: If a family’s roster of heroes has been depleted, one of them may select and train a new hero from the family’s ranks. (The player creates a new hero.)
- Ink: A hero may get tattooed based on a deed; either one that they earned personally, or one earned by another member of the family that is shared among the entire clan. A tattoo provides a permanent supernatural benefit based on the kind of deed that inspired it.