My third Waterdeep Dragon Heist-related product on the DM’s Guild is Downtime Businesses.
The hardback adventure itself presents player characters with an option of running an old inn and tavern — Trollskull Manor.
It’s a attractive option, should the PCs pool their coin and find a couple of investors to cover the balance of the tavern’s maintenance and operational costs. The accompanying side quest, involving the owner of a rival pub, is also quite good.
On the other hand, running a tavern isn’t for everyone. And because the initial investment required of the PCs is likely more coin than they earned in the first part of the adventure, I thought it made good sense to present DMs with other options.
Downtime Businesses provides a floor plan map of six other Waterdeep locations the PCs can use to start a business (or simply set up as a their adventuring group’s headquarters). In these, I left the initial cost open ended — giving the DM the flexibility needed to match price to the player character resources.
It also meant there was enough options if every member of the party wanted their own downtime businesses. Spellcasters, in particular, are probably more interested in establishing an inner sanctum where they can contemplate and hone their magic. Clerics could find a spot suitable to start up a temple or faith outreach center. Some PCs just want to be craftsmen, forging arms, armor or something else entirely. Again, the space could be used as a workshop or forge.
As for the others? Well, carousing is still a downtime option. Ask many an adventurer: Running a tavern is real work. Hanging out there is much, much better.
In addition to the six floor plans and the site descriptions provided by friendly local real estate agent, Tessalee Amblecrown, the product’s other feature is a d100 chart of complications.
The Downtime rules allow for a Complication to occur about 10 percent of the time. It’s a mishap that carries a penalty when rolling on the profit-loss chart for that time period.
But rather than the Complication be some abstract occurrence, I thought a d100 chart would provide a concrete answer as to why the business took a downturn during that tenday period. Moreover, many of the results are actually adventure seeds. Adventurers aren’t going to stand still if some element of organized crime deals a blow to their business. They are going to take action if the downturn is related to escalating prices because of a city emergency. And they are hardly going to sit still if a rival uses illegal or unethical means to undercut them.
Not all complications are story hooks. If the pipes burst, you’d better call a plumber and leave it at that. But even that has potential. What if the plumber in Waterdeep turns out to one of the merfolk who needs the PCs help in the harbor? In Waterdeep, anything is possible.
Some players like downtime activities because the adventure doesn’t end just because their characters emerged from the dungeon victorious and with a bag of loot. DMs like them because the downtime concern ties the PCs ever more tightly to the setting itself. In essence, they’ve “bought into” the imaginary world of the game.
And if that imaginary world comes with Guild fees, taxes and the inn’s staff requiring a raise to deal with the latest calamity on the Complications chart, so much the better.