[RPG] How to handle time


I want to run a campaign where time is a central factor, in the sense that NPCs will be certain places at certain times, and learning these patterns is important, but I'm not sure how to handle it. In combat, I can use the "one turn is 6 seconds" rule, but how do I keep track of time elapsed while my players traipse around the town? While they talk to NPCs?

Best Answer

1 Simple task = 15 mins/.25 hours & 1 complex task = 1 hour

Crafting, training, and other more long term tasks are handled fairly well in the books with concrete requirements and values given for making a magic item or learning a new tool proficiency. The rules however fail to cover everything that happens between those 6 second combat rounds and the longer, day+ activities. My suggestion would be to use a rule of thumb where a simple task takes 15 minutes and a complex one takes 1 hour. This will encourage time management and multi-tasking by the party, but shouldn't be overly stingy or punishing.

Time × Speed = Distance

Handling time increments for travel is easy, every creature has a given speed and the rules show how to convert that to overland travel speed (including whether or not a PC is encumbered, and other factors). Break down the creature/pc's day speed into an hourly movement rate and you can easily represent/account for travel between districts in a large city or moving around the countryside in a small region without taxing the PCs too heavily.