Downtime moments in RPGs have been a thing I struggle with to depict properly. I wrote before about how I enjoy sessions where you deal with the things that matter directly to the plot. In my opinion, character development should happen during gameplay in response to interesting conflicts. However, sometimes those conflicts are between characters while they’re unwinding together. These scenes can be interesting, as well as good motivators for future action in the game. On the other hand, at times they are also massive wastes of time.
I find it hard to strike the balance there. I’ve had scenes where the players are just sitting around chatting in-character about random stuff. For my personal tastes, this leans too much into the simulation side of things. Sure, your characters would do that, but I’d much rather have a player tell me “Okay, my character and hers spent the night chatting away and bonding over childhood stories”. That lets me know the crucial points of what’s happening, while skipping over two people doing comedy improv for fifteen minutes.
To figure out where that perfect balance is between skipping over fluff and allowing for interesting character conflict is a tricky one that I’m still working on, and one that also depends on each group and each individual player. Some people just want more chatter while others want more storyline.