Recently, while playing, I had the unfortunate feeling that the situation I’d dropped the PCs into was going to take a lot longer than I had suspected to resolve. I was right, what was originally supposed to be a single, four hour session of rollicking adventure quickly became a three session slugfest between the players and their adversaries.
It was terrible. Or, at least, it was from my side of the table. The adventure was taking too long! We were way off schedule! It had been three weeks and we were only supposed to take one! Disaster of disasters, I could only see that we were taking far too long with the whole thing, getting caught up on minutiae, and that the players were using an approach to the situation that was really time consuming. I spent the entirety of the second session improvising details, and the entirety of the third session trying to compute the world’s reaction to the PCs’ shenanigans, and the insanity it caused.
In retrospect, everybody but me was having fun through the second session, but by the third session it had become the slog I’d imagined it to be. So, what does one do when the adventure, story arc, or what have you runs overtime? I’m gonna talk about this, but first get a couple things out of your head:
Yesterday I read Mike Mearls’ Legends and Lore post on The One Hour D&D Game and found myself nodding along with what he had to say. I think I agree with what he’s doing here, he’s trying to up D&D’s speed of play. My list of games run recently goes like this: D&D 4E, Pathfinder, Savage Worlds. In truth, I’ve started to realize that’s because I’m trying to increase Speed of Play. When I talk about speed of play, I’m talking about the ability of the Game Master to make the session in a short period of time. I’m talking about the actual game taking up less time for everyone to have the amount of fun they associate with the hobby.