In D&D, what happens when you finally vanquish the evil crime lord threatening the city and you don't know where to go from there? What happens when you decide to lay low for a while to heal your wounds, or wait for news from a friendly NPC who was sent to a kingdom halfway across the continent to gather intel? Well, in 5E - your characters enter what is called "Downtime", which is simply time between anything super exciting going on involving the plot. However, many players don't understand the insane number of things you can do while on Downtime in 5E, so I am going to compile a list for you so you can keep it handy and maybe it will give you an idea or more than one idea about how your characters spend their free time.
*Note - This list will compile material present in the Player's Handbook (PHB), Dungeon Master's Guide (DMG) as well as Xanathar's Guide to Everything (XGtE). I will try to compile everything in alphabetical order regardless of source, aside from the first basic option of Lifestyle Expenses.
In D&D 5E, the most basic way you can spend your free time is to decide what sort of lifestyle your character wants to live for a given period of time, and depending on your desires or your wallet or both, you simply state to your DM that, for example, you have the means and the want to live a Wealthy person's life for the week you'll be on Downtime, and your DM will then tell you to subtract 28 Gold Pieces from your character sheet. It's 4 gp per day for a Wealthy existence, so 4 x 7 = 28. This method will eliminate the need for you to decide how you want to spend your Downtime. It's assumed that your character just relaxed, as much as possible, and spent their hard-earned money on exorbitant food, services, and housing. That wine ain't gonna' drink itself.
Additionally, if your character doesn't like living in cities and wants to spend their Downtime in the wilderness, as long as they are proficient in the Survival skill, they can live a Comfortable lifestyle in the great wide open. Every Ranger's dream, I'm sure.
It will be up to your DM as to whether anything interesting happens during this time period if you choose not to do any particular activities. Perhaps you gain some wealth unexpectedly, or forge friendships, or make enemies. With this method you largely leave it in the hands of your capable DM.
BUILDING A STRONGHOLD (DMG pg 128)
If the players have been granted a plot of land whether through purchase (through a royal charter, land grant, deed, or inheritance) or through violence, they now possess the ability to build a stronghold of some sort if they wish, during their downtime. What kind of stronghold they're to build depends entirely on your players and their time and money, although the availability of materials may play a factor into it as well. Anything from an abbey to a large castle to a trading post is possible, with an entire chart on pg. 128 of the Dungeon Master's Guide showing the possibilities and the costs of each type of construction.
If the character isn't overseeing construction, there is the caveat that construction takes an extra 3 days for each day the character is away from the job site not overseeing construction. There are lots of homebrew supplements for constructing your strongholds out there, and we published one that may be of some use that we're pretty proud of called Organic Towns and its supplement, Organic Buildings. (At the time of this writing, Organic Buildings is on sale for 33% off for the entire month of June 2023)
Now, if you don't use any sort of homebrew system for upkeep on your town or buildings that you as a player create, (or your players create, if you're the DM), there are daily maintenance costs associated with each type of building, and especially depending on whether or not you have hirelings. These are a part of a subset of rules called "Recurring Expenses" on page 126 of the DMG. Daily maintenance costs for a castle are far more for, say, a hunting lodge. A castle or large palace would require 400 gold pieces (gp) per day for upkeep, while a hunting lodge would only require 5 silver pieces (sp) per day.
Building a stronghold can be one of the most fulfilling things a character does with their money, especially if the players design and each have input on various things they'd like to have as features in the building. If there are any artists or mapmakers in the group, they can have fun drawing or sketching out the concept or even floor plan of the place. Eventually, players could have created an entire town of their own from the ground up. They need only construct enough housing on their land and attract visitors and potential business owners. This is where hirelings and even soldiers can come into play and really transform the kind of game you're running in D&D, so of course make sure everyone is on board with that style of play before you proceed. You don't want to have just one or two players who want to spend all their time governing a town while the others are itching to go out and adventure.
BUYING A MAGICAL ITEM (XGtE pg 126)
Naturally, players will want their characters to purchase magic items to help aid them in their quest. A Fighter might want a new set of armor, a magic sword, or even some powerful healing potions. A Rogue may want some magical boots, a magic cloak, or a powerful magic dagger to help them deal damage from the shadows. In either case, the characters will have to spend time and money seeking out individuals who have access to these powerful magic items that can't normally be found in city traders' supplies.
The gist of the base rules is that a player can have their character spend 1 workweek of effort and use 100 gp worth of expenses to track down a seller who can provide some genuine magic items. Keep in mind, the magic items for sale will be generated by a random table unless the DM wishes to provide the requested item if it's specific among the items for sale. A character seeking to buy a magic item makes a Charisma (Persuasion) check to determine the quality of the seller found, and then for every additional workweek worth of time or 100 gp spent in addition to the first, the character gains a +1 cumulative bonus on the check to a maximum of +10.
As you can see, the tables generate random items for sale from the DMG and the player may spend time and money looking for a magic item that they just can't find. This may be frustrating for the players, so it's up the DM whether they allow certain items to be included in the sale. There is also another table which I won't post here (page 126 of XGtE), but which introduces complications if the DM wishes. These may be ways in which the players are brought into the plot of a new side adventure, new campaign, or could be just a way in which the process of buying the magic items has a little intrigue and excitement associated with it. The item could be a fake, the item could be a sentient and enslaved entity, or the seller could be murdered before the sale takes place. In any case, the other bonus with any sales-related downtime is that the character has a chance to make NPC contacts who could come in handy somewhere down the line.
CAROUSING (DMG pg 128/XGtE pg 126)
In the pages of the core DMG, Carousing is listed as players engaging in "...hedonistic activities, such as attending parties, binge drinking, gambling, or anything else that helps them cope with the perils they face on their adventures." Characters no doubt want to spend their hard-earned money on ample amounts of food, wine, and various forms of entertainment from time to time, and Carousing is one way to do it.
If a player wants their character to Carouse, they simply state the desired amount of time they wish their character to Carouse, and then must spend the amount of money equal to a Wealthy Lifestyle each day. At the end of the period of time which the player wishes their character to Carouse, the player then rolls percentile dice and adds the character's level, then compares the total to a Carousing Table.
In XGtE, the concept is developed further and expanded upon. In XGtE, they list Carousing as explicitly being 1 workweek of time spent with "...fine food, strong drink, and socializing." A character can attempt to Carouse not just in general as in the base DMG table and rules, but with a certain subsect of society. Whether the character Carouses with lower class, middle class, or nobility depends entirely on their individual desires, and access to nobility. And going further with gaining contacts, in XGtE once the players have spent at least a week Carousing, they must make a Charisma (Persuasion) check to see what sorts of Contacts they've made.
Again, it is possible to achieve a negative result and actually make an enemy or a hostile contact. However, in comparison to the table in the DMG - the chance of getting a negative result is way lower. Of course, the tables in the DMG and in XGtE could be used in conjunction to really get the most mileage out of Carousing. And, like most other downtime activities - XGtE has a different table, which I will not list here but which are on page 128 of XGtE that can add complications to carousing with different subsects of society. If you Carouse with the lower class, your character might find themselves a victim of a bar brawl, being pickpocketed, or married. Middle-Class Carousing might find you spent a lot of money trying to impress strangers, you may have accidentally insulted a guild master, or a social gaffe has made you the talk of the town. Finally, Upper-Class Carousing could see you challenged to a joust by a knight, you may have agreed to take on a noble's debts, or a pushy noble family wants to marry off one of their scions to you. You have to personally decide if the negatives outweigh the positives, but overall Carousing is meant to give a little flavor and randomness to the world your character inhabits.
CRAFTING ITEMS: MAGICAL (DMG pg 128/XGtE pg 128)
Crafting an item, especially a magic item, is a lengthy process involving a lot of personal time, money, and even sometimes bodily danger. To craft a magic item according to the base rules in the DMG, the character in question must be a spellcaster with spell slots and must be able to cast any spells that the item could theoretically produce. Depending on the item's rarity, the spellcaster must also be at a level minimum of a certain number. On top of all that, the character in question must have access to a formula or schematics to create such an item and must also provide the raw material components of said item.
When it comes to the updates and expansions in XGtE, they specify that potions of healing and spell scrolls are exceptions to the rules and have their own specific tables. The table found in XGtE differs from the one in the DMG because instead of reiterating the minimum level one must be to craft the item, it lists the CR (Challenge Rating) Range of the monster you'll need to defeat in order to find or harvest the special materials you'll need to craft the item. So, you basically use the above and below tables in unison. One for the cost and level, one for the materials.
They even went a step further in XGtE to state that players just need to "halve the listed price and creation time for any consumable items" just before showing the updated costs of magic item creation. They also specify the length of time in workweeks the item takes to create and go on to say that a character needs whatever tool proficiency is appropriate for the job (ie smithing tools, etc) as well as the Arcana skill.
There is, of course, a table listing complications with creating magic items that the DM may want to implement. I'm not going to post the table here, but essentially you can have your tools stolen, or you may have a wizard ask to shadow you, or a dwarf clan might accuse you of stealing their secret lore to fuel your work. As with all complication tables, they may or may not be used at the DM's discretion.
Lastly, the potion of healing table lists the time and cost associated with producing each tier of healing potion.
The rules specify that the character, in order to create healing potions of any tier, must meet all the requirements including having proficiency in Herbalism Kits (and of course owning an herbalism kit). Spending your downtime crafting a magical item is a good investment and is one of the most useful, yet time-and-money-consuming downtime activities characters can participate in.
CRAFTING ITEMS: NON-MAGICAL (PHB pg 187/XGtE pg 128)
Simply referred to as "Crafting" in the PHB, it states that "You can craft nonmagical objects, including adventuring equipment and works of art. You must be proficient with tools related to the object you are trying to create (typically artisan's tools). You might also need access to special materials or locations necessary to create it. For example, someone proficient with smith's tools needs a forge in order to craft a sword or suit of armor."
The base rules state that for every day of downtime you spend crafting in this way, you need only spend half the item's cost on expenditure costs on the raw materials and you will produce one or more items with a total market value not exceeding 5 gp. It also states that multiple characters can combine their efforts toward the crafting of a single item, provided that the characters all have profiency with the same tools and are working together in the same place.
XGtE further elaborates that to see the creation time of an item, divide its gold piece cost by 50. It also explains that multiple items can be created per week if the combined cost of all the items isn't more than 50 gp in value.
Creating magical items may be more of a long-term investment but creating mundane items is much more straightforward and practical way to spend your downtime on.
CRIME (XGtE pg 130)
Okay, so some people like to drink on their time away from adventuring. Some like to be industrious and build a stronghold or magic items. Still others like to do...Crime?! Yes, according to XGtE, Crime is a jolly old pastime for your favorite characters of chaotic or evil leaning alignments. With high risk, high rewards, Crime may just be the downtime activity of your choice.
Like most other downtime activities, especially within XGtE, a character must spend 1 week of time and at least 25 gp gathering information on potential targets before committing the intended crime. Then, when the time is right, the player must roll a series of 3 ability/skill checks set against the DC (Difficulty Class) of the crime the character is about to commit.
Depending on which target your character wishes to rob, the DC gets higher the more money there is to steal. The checks your character must then make are Dexterity (Stealth) and then another Dexterity check for using Thieves' Tools, then the player's choice of Intelligence (Investigation), Wisdom (Perception), or Charisma (Deception). Failing all the checks means your character goes to jail and must pay a fine equal to the cost the heist would have accomplished, in addition to serving 1 week in jail for each 25 gp of the fine. If only two of the checks are successful, the heist is partially a success, netting the character just half the listed payout. Success on all the checks means a successful heist and they earn the full value of the loot. So, depending on your luck with the dice, you could end up with a nice amount of coins, or you could end up wasting away in jail for a few weeks. Fortune favors the bold?
GAINING RENOWN (DMG pg 129)
If your character belongs to any of the main factions in D&D 5E, you may be surprised to hear that your character, during downtime, can seek to become more renowned within the faction they belong to. This is an overlooked downtime activity, especially since many players (and DMs) forget that these factions exist in the first place.
The DMG states that "Between adventures, a character undertakes minor tasks for the organization and socializes with its members." After the character pursues these activities for a combined number of days equal to their current renown multiplied by 10, the character's renown increases by 1.
The point gain of +1 isn't really something worth writing home about in most cases, but if your character is still pretty low level and/or low within the faction in terms of renown, it can be a good way to pass the time and really forge those connections to your fellow faction members. As a DM this can also open up the door for you to introduce new plots, NPCs, or villains.
GAMBLING (XGtE pg 130)
Gambling, sort of like committing crime, is a high-risk, high-reward pastime for any character who wants to possibly make a decent amount of coin during their downtime. The description in XGtE reads: "Games of chance are a way to make a fortune - and perhaps a better way to lose one." Gambling requires that the character expend at least one workweek of effort plus a stake of at least 10 gp to a maximum of 1,000 gp in order to be able to gamble. There is an accompanying table where it shows what happens when you pass or fail the three skill checks involved.
As you can see, you have a pretty decent chance to either gain double or lose everything. To Gamble, the player has their character make three separate checks which are Wisdom (Insight), Charisma (Deception), and Charisma (Intimidation). If the character has proficiency with a certain gaming set, then they can also use that tool proficiency with any relevant checks. The DC for the checks is random, at 5+2d10, and a separate DC for each check needs to be generated.
As usual, there is also an accompanying Gambling Complications chart in XGtE on page 131 that may have to be rolled on as every work week in time spent on gambling brings a cumulative 10% chance of a complication. The results can be anything from the character being accused of cheating, to a guild wanting its money back that you won, or that the town guards raid the gambling hall and throw the character in jail.
PERFORMING SACRED RITES (DMG pg 129)
For the more religious-themed characters, a good way to gain Inspiration from the DM that they can later use to affect rolls is to spend their time Performing Sacred Rites. This is a very similar activity to another religious-themed downtime called Religious Services but is different enough that it warrants its own mention.
Performing Sacred Rites is a pretty straightforward activity with no tables to roll on or skill checks to make. The player need only tell the DM that their character is spending at least 10 days performing sacred rites, and that character will then receive 1 point of Inspiration for the start of each day for the next 2d6 days after the 10-day period is over. This is a very low risk, high reward downtime activity that can be super-helpful for the character's immediate future. After all, a healer who has inspiration every single day for potentially for a week or two is very powerful indeed.
PIT FIGHTING (XGtE pg 131)
For those martial characters, and those just foolhardy enough to participate regardless of character class, there is always the option of spending your downtime engaging in bloody arena battles as a Pit Fighter. This combines the possibility that one may win money against the physique and battle prowess of the strongest fighters. According to XGtE, "Pit fighting includes boxing, wrestling, and other nonlethal forms of combat in an organized setting with pre-determined matches. If you want to introduce competitive fighting in a battle-to-the-death situation, the standard combat rules apply to that sort of activity."
With just 1 workweek of effort from the character, they must then make three separate checks with a DC determined at random based on the quality of the opposition. The check the character must make are for Strength (Athletics), Dexterity (Acrobatics), and a special Constitution check that has a bonus equal to a roll of the character's largest Hit Die (this roll doesn't spend this die). If desired, the character can replace one of these skill checks with an attack roll using one of the character's weapons. The DC for the checks is 5+2d10 and a separate DC must be generated for each check.
Of course, there is the possibility that the character will enter a bet and lose their money. However, unlike Gambling, the odds of winning VS losing are very low. Even on one success, the character will win 50 gp. Of course, the longer the character spends pit fighting means that they have more of a chance of complications. Every workweek spent pit fighting brings a 10% chance, cumulative, of a complication. Complications can vary from an opponent swearing to take revenge against your character, you are accused of cheating, or you accidentally deliver a near-fatal wound to a foe. The monetary rewards aren't as high as gambling, but considering it's a passive thing you can do to earn money if you have decent physical scores, the risk is worth the reward as the investment is so low.
PRACTICING A PROFESSION (PHB pg 187)
One of the most down-to-earth and traditional ways for a character to spend their downtime is by working an honest job. Whether the character is an entertainer, a tavern keeper, a blacksmith, or a farmer - the character can spend their time away from adventuring by engaging in their chosen profession. It can be hard to go back to the daily grind after an adventure, but some folks feel at home in their work. If a player wants their character to work in their downtime, it allows them to maintain a Modest Lifestyle without having to pay 1 gp per day, per the Lifestyle Chart at the top of this blog post.
However, if your character happens to be a member of an organization that can provide gainful employment, such as a temple or a thieves' guild, that character can instead earn enough to support a Wealthy Lifestyle instead.
Lastly, if you have proficiency in the Performance skill and put your Performance skill to use during your downtime, you can earn enough to support a Wealthy Lifestyle instead.
Engaging in your character's chosen profession may not be as exciting as other options on this list, but it allows you to avoid expending gold during your downtime, especially if the downtime happens to be frequent or for long periods of time. It ain't much, but it's honest work.
*NOTE: This is different but similar to a later entry in XGtE called "Work".
RECUPERATING (PHB pg 187)
If your character is severely wounded or suffering from some sort of disease or poison, you may have no choice but to spend your downtime Recuperating after you stumble back into town, or your fellow adventurers find a way to drag your character to a healer. The PHB describes Recuperating in pretty simple terms. "You can use downtime between adventures to recover from a debilitating injury, disease, or poison."
After 3 days of downtime spent recuperating, the player must make a DC 15 Constitution saving throw. On a successful save, the player can choose one of the following results for their character:
End one effect on them that prevents them from regaining Hit Points.
For the next 24 hours, gain advantage on saving throws against one disease or poison currently affecting them.
This is often the only option for some characters for what they are able to accomplish in their downtime, but healing is important if you want your character to live to a ripe old age and to enjoy the spoils of their many adventures.
RELIGIOUS SERVICE (XGtE pg 131)
Much like the earlier entry, Performing Sacred Rites, religious-themed characters have the chance to perform religious services during their downtime. From XGtE; "Characters with a religious bent might want to spend downtime in service to a temple, either by attending rites or by proselytizing in the community. Someone who undertakes this activity has a chance of winning the favor of the temple's leaders." If the character wishes to attend Religious Services, they need only expend 1 workweek of time and then must make either an Intelligence (Religion) check or a Charisma (Persuasion) check and whether it's a success or failure, the player just consults the chart on pg 132 of XGtE.
The goal of the Religious Service downtime is not Inspiration like Performing Sacred Rites, but more to gain favor from those within the temple. Here's what the entry says about favors; "A favor, in broad terms, is a promise of future assistance from a representative of the temple. It can be expended to ask the temple for help in dealing with a specific problem, for general political or social support, or to reduce the cost of cleric spellcasting by 50%. A favor could also take the form of a deity's intervention, such as an omen, a vision, or a minor miracle provided at a key moment. This latter sort of favor is expended by the DM, who also determines its nature. Favors earned need not be expended immediately, but only a certain number can be stored up. A character can have a maximum number of unused favors equal to 1+the character's Charisma modifier (minimum of 1 unused favor)."
Of course, just like with any of the entries from XGtE, there can be complications. Every workweek spent in religious service brings a cumulative 10% chance of a complication. These can vary from offending a priest, to having to take on a holy quest, to being offered membership by a secret sect in the temple. It'll be ultimately up to your DM. Overall, there is slightly more risk involved in this activity than in Performing Sacred Rites, but not enough to not make it a worthwhile investment of your character's downtime.
RESEARCHING/RESEARCH (PHB pg 187/ XGtE pg 132)
For bookworms and social butterflies alike, downtime can be spent researching specific information on various individuals, magic items, locations, and monsters by sitting in a library and poring over dusty tomes or by sitting in the tavern and asking regulars if they know anything about what you're trying to find information on. There are essentially two different versions of the same activity found in both the PHB and in XGtE.
In the PHB version, Researching is a bit vague. The control is largely placed in the DM's hands as to what sort of information you find and how many days of downtime it will take to find it and whether there are any restrictions on your research (such as needing to seek out a specific individual, tome, or location). The DM might require you to make one or more ability checks, such as Intelligence (Investigation) to find clues pointing toward the information you seek, or a Charisma (Persuasion) check to secure someone's aid. If the player has access to a library, they will gain advantage on the rolls. For each day you research, you must spend 1 gp to cover your expenses. This cost is in addition to your normal lifestyle expenses (as listed in the table at the head of this post).
In XGtE, there are more parameters to Research than there is Researching. In XGtE, the research is specified to be about a particular monster, a location, a magic item, or some other particular topic. It also specifies that this research typically has to have access to a library or a sage to conduct research, which is different from the version found in the PHB where you didn't necessarily need access to a library. Before researching, the player declares the focus of the research - a specific person, place, or thing. After one workweek of time, the character makes an Intelligence check with a +1 bonus per 50 gp spent beyond the initial 50 gp, to a maximum of +6. If the character has access to a well-stocked library or a particularly knowledgeable sage, the character gains advantage on this check.
The main difference besides the focus of the XGtE version VS the PHB version is the cost. The cost of the research in the XGtE version is much more, and as with all downtime activities in that version, there is always the 10% accumulative chance that there will be complications, unlike the PHB version. Each success from the table reveals one true statement or piece of lore about the subject of research. Examples include knowledge of a creature's resistances, the password needed to enter a sealed dungeon level, the spells commonly prepared by an order of wizards, and so on. The DM is the final arbiter of the information revealed. Complications can result in the damage of a rare book, being banned by a library or offending a sage. The DM may use one version over another, or may blend the two into their own version.
RUNNING A BUSINESS (DMG pg 129)
Business savvy characters can spend their downtime making money by running a business they may have inherited or purchased with their adventuring money. An adventurer who owns a business should be concerned about maintaining the building and making sure it runs smoothly in their absence.
A character rolls percentile dice and adds the number of days spent on Running a Business (maximum 30) then compares the total to the Running a Business table (DMG pg 129) to see what happens.
If the character in question is required to pay a cost as a result of rolling on the table, but fails to do so, the business begins to fail. For each unpaid debt incurred in this manner, the character takes a -10 penalty to subsequent rolls made on the table. Running a business can be risky, but if the character's luck holds together well enough and the character doesn't ignore their debts, it can become a profitable venture during every period of downtime.
SCRIBING A SPELL SCROLL (XGtE pg 133)
For spellcasters wishing to make a little money on the side or to craft consumable magic items in order to aid their friends, a good way to spend downtime might be to scribe some spell scrolls. From XGtE - "With time and patience, a spellcaster can transfer a spell to a scroll, creating a spell scroll." However, scribing a spell scroll takes an amount of time and money related to the level of the spell the character wants to scribe.
In addition to the immense time and money involved, the character must have proficiency in the Arcana skill and must also provide any material components required for the casting of the spell. Moreover, the character must have the spell prepared, or it must be among the character's known spells, in order to scribe a scroll of that spell. (If the scribed spell is a cantrip, the version on the scroll works as if the caster were 1st level.)
And again - since this is in XGtE there is the option for complications to occur. Every workweek spent scribing brings a cumulative 10% chance of a complication, such as a thief attempting to break into your workroom, a wizard pressing you to sell your scroll to them, or a priest accusing you of trafficking in dark magic. Overall, as a player, you'll really have to put in a lot of investment in the hopes you can sell it for a profit or that it's used for a very important cause.
Selling A Magic Item (DMG pg 129 / XGtE pg 133)
One of the most frequent ways for adventurers to spend downtime is trying to sell magic items they may have found in their travels. Often, selling magic items isn't as simple as in video games where your character can just sell to any merchant they can find. In TTRPGs like D&D, a merchant can be limited as to what they can afford to buy, and sometimes selling or buying magic items can make you an immediate target for gangs, thieves, or even assassins.
In the DMG version of the downtime activity, "A character who comes into possession of a common, uncommon, rare, or very rare magic item that he or she wants to sell can spend downtime searching for a buyer. This downtime activity can be performed only in a city or another location where one can find wealthy individuals interested in buying magic items. Legendary magic items and priceless artifacts can't be sold during downtime. Finding someone to buy such an item can be the substance of an adventure or quest."
For each salable item they wish to sell, the character makes a DC 20 Intelligence (Investigation) check to find buyers. (Another character can use his or her downtime to assist with the search, granting advantage on the checks.) On a failed check, no buyer is found after a search that lasts 10 days. On a successful check, a buyer is found after a number of days based on the item's rarity.
A character can definitely attempt to find buyers for multiple magic items at once, although it requires multiple Intelligence (Investigation) checks. The searches are all happening simultaneously, so the results of multiple successes or failures aren't added together. The player then need only roll the percentile dice and consult the Salable Magic Items table (above). The character must make a Charisma (Persuasion) check and adds that check's total to the roll. The subsequent total determines what a buyer offers to pay for the item. On the DM's side of things, they get to determine the buyer's identity. Sometimes, buyers use proxies to fetch items for them, and sometimes that means the buyer is shady. The players could face issues down the road from NPC's they sell to, either directly or indirectly.
In XGtE, the sale of a magic item is inherently fraught with danger. "Con artists and thieves are always looking out for an easy score, and there's no guarantee that a character will receive a good offer even if a legitimate buyer is found."
A character can find a buyer for one magic item by spending 1 workweek and 25 gp, which is used to spread the word of the desired sale. A character must pick one item at a time to sell, which is one of the main differences between XGtE's version and the DMG's. A character who wants to sell an item must make a Charisma (Persuasion) check to determine what kind of offer comes in. The character can then choose whether or not to sell but would forfeit the money and time invested in finding the buyer.
Of course, you guessed it - for every workweek spent trying to sell a magic item there is a 10% cumulative chance there will be a complication with the selling process, which could be a thieves' guild targeting you, the buyer being murdered before the sale can commence, or even a sorcerer claiming your item is their birthright and demanding you hand it over. It'll be up to your DM ultimately which version of selling magic items they go with. They're very similar except the prices are better in XGtE and there is less of a risk with the DMG version.
SOWING RUMORS (DMG pg 131)
Sort of a niche downtime activity only prevalent in certain types of campaigns, Sowing Rumors is very useful when it comes to swaying the opinion of the general public on a certain issue or for/against a specific person. "Swaying public opinion can be an effective way to bring down a villain or elevate a friend. Spreading rumors is an efficient, if underhanded, way to accomplish that goal. Well-placed rumors can increase the subject's standing in a community or embroil someone in scandal." Sowing a rumor about an individual or organization requires a number of days depending on the size of the community.
The character must spend 1 gp per day to cover the cost of drinks, social appearances, and the like. At the end of the time spent sowing the rumor, the character must make a DC 15 Charisma (Deception or Persuasion) check. If the check succeeds, the community's prevailing attitude toward the subject shifts one step toward friendly or hostile, as the character wishes. If the check fails, the rumor fails to gain traction and further attempts to propagate it fail. Sowing rumors won't change every single person's opinion, as individuals may hold to their own opinions, particularly if they have personal experience in dealing with the subject of the rumors. In a political intrigue campaign or adventure, make sure you don't overlook this powerful yet forgotten downtime activity!
TRAINING (PHB pg 187 / DMG pg 131, 231 / XGtE pg 134)
One of the most productive ways your character can spend downtime is for them to take part in Training. Training is such an important skill that there are differing entries for it in the PHB, the DMG, and XGtE.
In the PHB, "You can spend time between adventures learning a new language or training with a set of tools. Your DM might allow additional training options." A character need only find an instructor willing to teach them, and the DM determines how long it takes and whether one or more ability checks are required. The training then lasts for 250 days and costs 1 gp per day. After the character spends the requisite amount of time and money, they learn the new language or gain proficiency with the new tool.
The Training listed in the DMG is actually a variant rule for leveling up. "As a variant rule, you can require characters to spend downtime training or studying before they gain the benefits of a new level. If you choose this option, once a character has earned enough experience points to attain a new level, he or she must train for a number of days before gaining any class features associated with the new level. The training time required depends on the level to be gained."
However, there is a type of training a character can get in lieu of a financial reward for a completed quest or important task, located on pg 231 of the DMG. This is very rare, but possible. "A character might be offered special training in lieu of a financial reward. This kind of training isn't widely available and thus is highly desirable. It presumes the existence of a skilled trainer - perhaps a retired adventurer or champion who is willing to serve as a mentor." A character who agrees to training as a reward must spend downtime with the trainer. In exchange, the character is guaranteed to receive a special benefit such as:
The character gains Inspiration daily at dawn for 1d4+6 days
The character gains proficiency in a skill
The character gains a feat
Finally, the Training listed in XGtE is a more revised and detailed version of the one found in the PHB. "Given enough free time and the services of an instructor, a character can learn a language or pick up proficiency with a tool." Doing so takes at least 10 workweeks, but this time is reduced by a number of workweeks equal to the character's Intelligence modifier (an Intelligence penalty doesn't increase the time needed). Training costs 25 gp per workweek.
And, as always with XGtE, every 10 workweeks spent training results in a cumulative 10% chance that complications might arise, including your instructor disappearing, your teacher asking for help in dealing with a threat, or your teacher being a wanted criminal.
WORK (XGtE pg 134)
What about characters who want to make some money but don't yet own a business, or don't have many marketable skills like the wizard's ability to create spell scrolls? Well, if your character spends their downtime doing odd jobs for other NPCs, they can make a tidy little sum for their efforts. "...an adventurer can turn to an honest trade to earn a living. This activity represents a character's attempt to find temporary work, the quality and wages of which are difficult to predict."
Performing a job requires 1 workweek of effort. To determine how much money a character earns, the character makes an ability check; Strength (Athletics), Dexterity (Acrobatics), Intelligence (using a set of tools), Charisma (Performance), or Charisma (using a musical instrument). According to the total of the check, the results are on the table above. Of course, being XGtE, there is a cumulative 10% chance per workweek that a complication might happen including a fight with a coworker, gaining a reputation for laziness, or a crime ring targeting the business for extortion. Working essentially negates the necessity of lifestyle costs and provides a chance to get a little extra money on top of that if everything goes well.
Well, those are all the "official" downtime activities, although players and DMs are encouraged to create their own. In Acquisitions Incorporated, there are several new downtime activities but most are specific to that campaign setting, so I didn't bother to list them here. No matter which downtime activity you choose for your character, the most important thing to remember is to have fun and not worry so much about min/maxing. Don't be afraid to give a little flavor to your characters! Let us know about your favorite downtime activities in the comment section below! - Joe