"Having a player resource that is unchanging like a college, academy, or conservatory is nice, but may not be completely believable. It is a game-inspired resource, not necessarily a narrative one, especially if you can just fast-forward time."
It does strike me as odd that the writer perceives that a narrative is something anathema to "a fast-forward," but that is not my goal here. Nor do I want, especially, to dispute the writer's point. I only throw it up to highlight the apparent dismissive idea of fast-forwarding the campaign ~ as though it is, somehow, a sort of cheat, or bamboozle, or reach around that circumvents the all-important tempo that the players must subscribe to if they are to role-play.
Suppose that we are running in a campaign ~ yours, perhaps ~ and we have accumulated a comfortable pile of wealth, enough to sustain ourselves for at least a year. And suppose the question arises, "You arrive at the little town of Liddick. What do you wish to do?"
And if we, the party, wish to answer, "We settle down," is that allowed?
I suspect that in most campaigns, it isn't. I suspect that most DMs would ask, "Do you wish to retire your characters?" I suspect most DMs would quickly transform Liddick into a town full of adventure. Suddenly, there would be hidden passages leading to dungeons, there would be criminals of every stripe come to rob we players of our money, a host of intrigues, unexpected hordes invading the town and what not. I feel confident that we would be compelled back into the narrative because it must be so, else what is a DM for?
Yet suppose we don't have a DM that rattles the cage, but that we adopt the ordinary, expected lives of everyone else in the local community. What ought to happen? Rolls for wandering monsters? Day-to-day encounters? With what? We're in a town. We're paying our bills, paying our taxes, buying food for ourselves, investing in the local economy, perhaps buying some land, perhaps buying some animals, perhaps taking a little time to improve ourselves. Where is the wrong in that?
But there is "wrong" ~ one can hear the implication in Ant Wu's words: especially if you can just fast-forward.
Now, I don't mean to deconstruct the writer; I very much doubt that his intentions included any special read into this particular assemblage of words. We are dealing here with an habitual perspective, not a premeditated one.
The passage of time in most campaigns is fixed. Time passes very slowly in the dungeon, then at a median pace between the dungeon and town, then very fast in town. It can take four or five sessions to play out an hour or two in a dungeon. It can take just enough time to describe the journey (the first time) between the town and the dungeon, where we roll the possibility for an encounter or two, potentially filling up one whole session. Then, in the space of an hour or two, a week goes by in town. Then we are headed off to the dungeon again.
In most campaigns, this is it. Town, road, dungeon, road, town. We might vary it with town, road, town, road, dungeon, road, town, road, town, road, dungeon, road, town and so on, but the pattern is there. The game, according to every source we can read, every source we can buy, every source espoused by the manufacturer, fits the formula. The town for supply. The road (path, trail, whatever) for narrative and creating tone. The dungeon (ruin, caves, lost city, whatever) for the actual game. This is it. More to the point, for the general community, not only is this all we're allowed, this is all we're entitled to want. If we want anything else, if we challenge the formula, we are a pariah upon the very community in which we dare to commit our voices. There's no room for us.
So why would the passage of time ever need to pass more quickly? To what purpose? Getting to know the community, establishing an enterprise, castle-building and anything else not having to do with a dungeon are not game elements ~ that is why the rules for such things always stress two conditions: how much does it cost to build and how much does it cost to maintain. There are never any rules for what it produces, who it attracts, what status is offered or what purpose it might serve, because the fundamental reason for the player castle's existence is that it is a money sink. It costs, thus emptying the player's wallet, thus requiring more dungeoneering.
Fast-forwarding to things like the harvest, or the taxes we might gain (always described as paltry), or an education we might pay for, these things circumvent the strict town-road-dungeon formula. They seem, therefore, weird, different, even surprising.
Yet isn't life-span just another resource that should be available to the players? Isn't the number of years they have left just another limited supply ~ apparently unlimited at the start of the game, but steadily less and less so as the player moves towards the age when they will lose their strength, constitution and dexterity benefits. Why shouldn't this, and this alone, be the only meaningful price to pay ~ along with, of course, the price of feeding and supporting oneself? Why is this never considered? Players in the game never seem to age . . . primarily because they are go-go-go all the time, living fast and dying young.
Why not live slow? Why shouldn't we enjoy a little good life, a few months, a year, between our adventures? Why shouldn't we make friends in the community, engage ourselves in their struggles, gain their perspective, apply ourselves to preserving them as well as ourselves, all the time living a year a session, until we reach our sixties? Why must everything fit the timeline of the dungeon?
By my count, most games I've seen hardly last forty sessions. If each session covered the events of a full year, a campaign that ran every two weeks would last 18 months. And would the DM not be challenged to come up with a meaningful set of events to make a year seem important? Would the players not be put to problem solving, if the challenge was how to steadily expand their assets year by year, rather than their experience or the number of magic items they possessed? How would the game actually be any different? Would we not still be role-playing?
Apparently not. Perhaps we can't imagine four persons engaged in a unified struggle against an enemy unless they also happen to be trapped in a room between hosts of monsters.