[RPG] Trying to do a time skip, but how to justify it to the players


I want to run a game in Eberron, but start it on the Day of Mourning (using the adventure in the back of the 4E book), then advance the time four years. However, as I want to use 5E, I want them to use what amounts to four years of downtime. I don't feel it's fair to take that away.

But here's the problem: I know they'll try to say that they continue adventuring, but that undercuts the point of the time skip. I want them to be able to do everything except explicitly adventure. How would I justify telling them they can't?

I initially thought about saying that Khorvaire is too unstable for adventuring to be viable, but that feels flimsy. Are there other reasons I could use?

Best Answer

I have had similar instances in the past involving required time-skip, or what I call "interrupted adventuring" for one reason or another. There is a few things I would recommend doing. First and foremost, just inform them of the situation from your side. Something along the lines of..

"We can't have you adventuring when you are not in the party, but we need to do this time-skip because of [reasons]".

People are usually fairly happy with that on its own. However if they ask for something more here are a couple of suggested methods for dealing with it.

  1. Use some role-playing finesse. Last time I had this situation happen most of my players had intricate background stories that I used to fill the void and give them a "purpose". This can be anything from their background, or something you discussed with them that they are happy with. Maybe they will go to work for four years... maybe they will open a tavern.

    "So we will be having a time-skip now of 4 years. [Player1] I see your background is from a farming community [someplace far to the south]. You receive a letter from your Mother, and your dad has become deathly sick and they need you to return home."

  2. Give them something to compensate the "lost time" that takes their mind away from the fact that they just lost 4 years to nothing. You can even give them some rewards (this is especially useful if the party has fallen behind in gear/gold). My favorite is something along the lines of...

    "An acquaintance of yours has discovered clues to [some lost treasure]. He has invited your group to assist in recovering it. The expedition will take you across the world and take four years to recover."

  3. Traveling can be used as well. Depending on location, you can use travel time as a way to pad your numbers. For example, if the location of the next adventure is months of travel time away, perhaps they had to work in a town to gain enough gold to pay for the trip. Perhaps its dangerous to attempt without a proper guide. This alone (work day-to-day, pay for trip, and travel time) could easily equal a couple of years.
  4. Magic. Your greatest fall back is to just simply use magic to somehow stasis them and skip the time as required. It is very heavy-handed in terms of DM powers, but useful if they do not cooperate with any other ideas.