This post was inspired by Stopping Short over at Gnome Stew by my former editor Walt Ciechanowski. In it, he asked what was an appropriate thing to do when an adventure ends early in the night and you’ve still got time before everyone goes home.
The obvious thing is to kick back, talk about the session or other things, and be sociable, but say you want to keep gaming… Do you start the next adventure? Do you spend time doing the character adjustments and things of that nature? A bit of both?
My answer is simple: role play. Don’t jump into the next adventure straight off, but give the players the time to handle the “down time” stuff or the “B plot” issues that you most likely glossed over during the mad rush to stop the villain, kill the monster, or whatever you were up to that evening.
Did Character A want to go back and talk to that waitress? Did Character B really want to steal that [insert object] that could lead to a short encounter that could fill up the rest of the night? Did Character C want to have that sad graveside moment with a fallen comrade or loved one, with his friend Character D by his side to do a nice vignette for the rest of you to enjoy?
Maybe the players have a moment to enjoy their hard won laurels and some plot thread they missed can be brought up in conversation…wait, what was that in the Collector’s cage? Oh, crap..! Maybe the experiences lead them to do something different — I’ve been a viper pilot since the Fall of the Colonies, but I think i want to run for the quorum so I can make a real difference in people’s day to day lives that not letting them get killed can’t. Maybe they ended the villain of the piece, but the man who killed your beloved (To quote Rocket Raccoon, “Everyone’s got dead people!”) or made them betray you is still out there. Can you convince the others to help you exact revenge?
Make it about the characters as people. Do a The Walking Dead and talk about their feelings.
Or pull up funny videos on YouTube and kill the rest of the night.