So the latest campaign for my Saturday group is a combination of Silent Moebius, BladeRunner, and Lovecraftian Horror. The PCs are all high powered super cops facing down horrors from beyond mortal understanding. The first two sessions involved putting down a spell slinging corpse, being attacked by flayed sacks of human skin, braving bent and warped reality, facing a minor eldritch abomination and that was all on their first day on the job.
This immediately begs the question of 'What next?' for the players. Did we begin researching the next case? Maybe start looking for other nasties to go kill? What about ticketing a shoggoth for jaywalking? I'll tell you what we did next. We did what any self respecting group of PCs would do.
We hit the bar.
Session 3 of this campaign saw the PCs waxing and relaxing at a local bar doing nothing more important than knocking a few back and shooting some pool. Well, for the first third anyways. Once that was done, we took the time to get acquainted with our new offices, while we waited for our next case. That ended up with a wild goose chase around the city looking for a 'stolen' droid that the research team decided to take fishing. There went our rep on the force.
So we had a full session where not much at all really happened plot-wise. What did happen was that we had a full session of nothing but straight character time. All of the members of the team got to sit back and act like actual people... including the genetically engineered replicants. Why on earth would we do that? Because it's fun.
Downtime is a very useful thing in RPGs. Sessions like the one I just mentioned can be used for couple of things. As mentioned already, you get a lot of good character development and interaction which helps group cohesion as characters get a chance to see eye to eye on things. There's also an effect on the tension level of the campaign. If you keep the tension high, as is common in action or horror gaming, the effect can dull rapidly. Using downtime like this can give the campaign a nice break to let things unwind before turning the screws on the next story arc.
To further expound upon the point, here's a couple of things that happened at the bar. Our technomancer blew up an arcade stand. Two of the older characters taught one of the youngest how to play pool. Half of the team decided they weren't done at last call and went bar hopping on their own and became good drinking buddies. And in the end, our non-human members started to see the squad as a sort of surrogate family. Not a shred of plot to be found, and everything was player character driven.
While I don't see this as the type of thing to come up regularly, I do hope we get more sessions like this throughout the whole campaign. It's a lot of fun for fun's sake. There's not much more I can really say on the subject other than to tell all you gamers out there to take time and smell the roses once in a while. You may enjoy it!
Also, if you are wondering, there is a link to the campaign website now, off to the side. Plenty of bluebooks and other fiction to check out if that's your thing.
Until next time! Stay Classy!