In this thread on EN World, punkorange posts about handwaving 4 levels and over a year of game time in his D&D campaign. Reading this, my first thought was, “Neat! How does that work?”

And more importantly, how could you give this a shot in your own game?

Punkorange’s question is framed around getting advice about the specific monster (a dragon) that he wants to use to challenge his group — that’s not the part that interests me. What I’m curious about is how easily this technique could be applied in any RPG that places importance on PC advancement.

I can think of two ways to approach handwaving significant PC advancement (and game time): as a one-off for a change of pace, or as part of the structure of an entire campaign.

Punkorange’s post talks about the first approach — presumably after making the “big jump,” the PCs in his game will go back to levelling up normally. Fox’s new show Reunion is a perfect example of the second way: one year passes between each episode (which sounds pretty cool to me!).

In both cases, this is definitely something you’ll want to talk over with your group ahead of time (and doubly so if you’d like to use it as the basis for a campaign). Assuming that everyone is interested in the idea, though, here are 5 questions I think you should address in the process:

  1. Handwave advancement once only, or several times over the course of the campaign?
  2. After the jump, where does the group want to wind up (time and place)?
  3. Is there a story-driven goal in mind?
  4. What events transpire “offscreen?”
  5. What happens to the PCs’ stuff (particularly important in D&D)?

Questions 2 and 3 are directly inspired by my recent reading of Sorcerer and Sword (a supplement for the indie RPG Sorcerer), which addresses stepping out of the traditional GM/player relationship in RPGs. This seems quite relevant to handwaving significant PC advancement and large chunks of game time: to get the most out of this idea, the whole group — players and GM — will need to brainstorm and toss around ideas about what sounds like the most fun for their game.

What do you think: does this sound like fun to you? Have you ever tried it, or something like it, in your game? Are there games that are particularly well- or poorly-suited to handwaving PC advancement?