All of them?

Facetiousness aside, most of our game sessions start about 6:30pm, so everyone can get here from work. (One guy takes the bus…) We have dinner and socialize — to my mind, the real point of gaming — and that will take us to seven or 7:30. Often, we end about 9:30 to 10 o’clock because the wee one and wife have to be up for school and work, respectively, the next day. If we gab longer than usual, a session can be an hour and a half to two; others are three hours plus. So, to me, all RPGs can be played in short sessions, if you have good time management skills and can structure the adventures with cliffhangers or good stopping points.

In this, it’s much like pacing a movie. Most action or suspense movies (and that’s usually how you could define adventures in an RPG) have action sequences that are cut up by character development or exposition scenes. You wind the audience up with some thrills, then back down to give them a moment to breathe. (Or should…some of the newer action pics don’t get the idea of a breather. After a while, interminable actions scenes aren’t exciting; they’re boring.) If you set yourself up for an hour of character or plot development, and have an hour or so of action, you’ve got a good, short session.

When I plan a con or Meetup game, I plan on a three hour window and break the adventure into a three act play, with each act being roughly an hour. Get goal A (say, character introduction and plot initiation) done by 45 minutes to an hour, and hour for a small action set piece and exposition, and an hour for the final fight and wrap. For shorter sessions, you could make each session an act and get three play sessions out of a story.

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