I really hate how downtime and renown work differently in hardcovers than modules. For renown, I can kind of understand:
Unless otherwise specified, renown is awarded at the rate of 1 renown point per adventure (or 1 renown point for every 4 cumulative hours of play for Hardcover adventures).
But downtime is particularly annoying.
Downtime is awarded at the rate of 5 downtime days per 2 hours of prescribed adventure length (or 5 downtime days for every 2 cumulative hours of play for Hardcover adventures).
(Both quotes are taken from the D&D Adventurers League Dungeon Master’s Guide v3.0.)
I really wish that downtime, at least, just used the actual time played. It’s already a metagame mechanic, mostly used (in AL) for specific types of tasks like trading magic items and copying scrolls. Players can use it for training and crafting, of course, but I don’t know how often that actually happens.
Primarily, the frustration just comes from having two different systems. This means explaining to players why they get less rewards for tonight’s session than for last week’s, just because we’re playing through a DDAL adventure meant to bridge between chapters in the hardcover. (This applies to all three DDAL modules in the Tales from the Yawning Portal storyline season.)
But also, as I’ve noted before, those module estimates can vary wildly between groups, whether due to playstyle or just venue. Groups that spend a lot of time roleplaying, for example, already receive less XP per hour, and that’s okay, but personally I don’t like the fact that it also affects downtime and renown – but only when playing DDAL modules. And online games just take longer, due to lack of normal social cues and dealing with the VTT interface. Moving tokens and figuring things out in Roll20 seems slower than doing it at a table.
That doesn’t even consider the fact that the time estimates for the DDAL modules often seem incredibly naive. Maybe some groups can get through A Thousand Tiny Deaths in two hours, but it seems unlikely.
I recognize this isn’t a major issue at all – it’s a minor “quality of life” thing that probably affects Adventurers League DMs more than anyone else. But we are, in many ways, the lifeblood of the AL. Maybe small QoL things can help keep that lifeblood flowing…