Friday, February 4, 2022

Downtime in Zyan

On Tuesday 2/8 I launch my next Kickstarter, this time for Downtime in Zyan, It presents a unified and flexible system for handling the actions characters take between adventures. Brought to life by the whimsical art of Evlyn Moreau, the mole rats of the dreamlands will show you how to transform the neglected white space between adventures into a garden in which player-driven schemes and dreams grow with delightful results.

Longtime readers will recognize the discussion of downtime activities from this blog. In terms of rules, it is the single contribution I am most proud of to the emerging OSR style play. The zine unifies, expands, and develops my posts on downtime into a single approach for the downtime phase of play, with rules for acquiring skills, building institutions, cultivating relationships, crafting splendid items, gathering intelligence, mastering martial techniques, researching obscure topics, engaging in wild revelries, plumbing the perilous depths of spellcraft, and seeking enlightenment through spiritual exercises. For newer readers who want a taste of the system take a look at the posts on building an institutioncultivating a relationship,or doing research.

The zine also contains an article on the theory of downtime, and more importantly, an article explaining how GMs can leverage downtime to help build their campaign setting and sandbox world, and prep adventure locations and NPCs. By integrating this system into your campaign, I really think you can supercharge active player involvement in your campaign and bring the sandbox to life in new ways.  

The zine is system agnostic, but written with older editions of Dungeons & Dragons, their retro-clones, or newer rules-lite "OSR" games in mind. It can be used with any fantasy setting and doesn't presuppose familiarity with the setting of Zyan presented in Through Ultan's Door. If you are interested in following the project and being notified when it launches, you can do so here

On Tuesday, when the zine launches, I will also have big news about what's next for Through Ultan's Door. So stay tuned!


  1. I'm really excited about this project. Having looked at the draft I want to say what Ben hasn't ... this is a profoundly useful work of OSR/Classic/Procedural Exploration based or Sandbox play style design. It's modular - effectively setting agnostic, and functions as a set of simple mecahanics that cover or offer models for most sorts haven/downtime goals. What I enjoy about it is that it's designed intentionally to streamline the downtime stuff or allow it to be a mini-game largely outside of the game session. It seeks to keep the focus of play on dungeon/wilderness adventure while allowing player engagement with the haven/setting. Also it's actually succeeds, or should, as it's been playtested and evolved over one of the longer and better still active campaigns to come out of the G+ OSR scene. Years of testing and design have gone into this, honed by the mind of a freaking actual philosopher - who despite his humble demeanor also wrote Ultan's Door, which is a finalist for most evocative and cerebral OSR work, and a credible contender for best OSR work. I am of course biased, but I will be (grudgingly I admit, I hate using other peoples rules) adapting this stuff to my home game/personal play-testing campaign.

    It should have a Zyan carousing tables as a stretch goal and rules for converting your treasure into XP for risky partying - but that's my only criticism.

  2. Looking forward to this. Downtime & the Haven Turn have been a huge part of my games for a long time, but I've only recently started digging into your own work in this area. It's very convenient of you to release them in zine form for me.