Using allies in downtime

Having allies is more than just having some warm bodies back at the stronghold; they can be beneficial during downtime for a multitude of tasks.

Having allies do things in the background can be beneficial for the party. I don’t leave it to the players to come up with all of the ideas as well. As a StoryGuide, we spend a lot of time thinking about the adventure, things the bad guys are doing, and what the players may want their characters to do. The players often have much less time to think about this, so I have no issue giving them pointers.

In my Craven’s Hollow Campaign, during one downtime, I knew they wanted to know more about some strange happenings, but they had not thought about sending out some of their allies to spy for them. After a quick reminder of their “infiltrator” ally, they had her off for some cloak and dagger spy work. I had the rogue in the group roll some d20 rolls. Normally when I do skill checks like that, I base the results on how high the rolls were. In this case, Saret rolled well as the ally, so she returned with a lot of interesting information and was not detected.

Two things I try to keep in mind. One is not everyone likes this, so I try not to bog down the table with too many rolls. And two, I like to keep it as streamlined as possible. If in doubt, I fall back to the ever present DC12.

During downtime, the allies can be leveled with time and money. I often get through this with a wave of a hand; allies are supposed to be a small bit of flair, not a whole night’s work. Unless that’s what your table likes. This is also a great thing to deal with on a nongaming night.

If your group enjoys this, some downtime with your allies can be great. Use this time to show the players how their adventurers have changed the world. Show them that they have made the characters in their lives better or worse off.

Allies can also help with things other characters normally do, like train or help remove corruption or horror.

Probably the most popular thing for my players to use allies for is crafting. First, be warned, a power gamer can come in and quickly set up a craft farm, and the group can start making a whole lot of money. Crafting takes three things – a crafter, a place to craft, and gold. Seeing that any craft can make 150gp worth of goods per week while only spending half that in gold, the group can quickly accumulate lots of gold. This can be balanced by events that happen at the stronghold, like storms damaging a building or the dreaded Taxman showing up.

It can also be overwhelming if the party has many allies, so I often tell the group to pick one ally per week and tell me what they do.


Saret, Nevarth, and Entroth all have a week of downtime. They were unsure of what to do during the time, but I knew it would just need a little StoryGuide prodding.

Saret wanted to craft some poisons but also wanted to spy a bit on a noble lady the group didn’t trust. I pointed out that they had a Lvl 3 Infiltrator Ally who could help. Saret decided he would stay and make the potions and send the ally out to spy. I had him roll a few rolls for Awareness and Thievery, both high, so the ally came back with a wealth of information.

Nevarth never took much prodding for crafting, so he already had a plan. He had two allies among vodka for their caravan trade routes, and he personally worked on studying some new spells.

Entroth wanted to build some defensive walls (this was a money cost, not a time cost, for the character), but also spend the week training some locals in defense. This raised one local Guardsman to level 3.

Sometimes as Guides, we forget that we spend more time in the world than the players get to. So a little help from us can be needed to remind them of all the great stuff they can do, even in downtime.