D&D General How do people play so quickly? (# of sessions per adventure?)

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
The biggest variation, by far, in session time versus adventure "progress" is the amount of emphasis the players put on theatricality and thespianism. That's not a judgment or anything, my groups do plenty of it, but it absolutely makes the overall momentum of the adventure slow down tremendously, like up to an order of magnitude slower.

Lots of in-character banter, strategizing and making decisions in-character, scenes that are entirely about characterization and not about plot, are also time sinks. Beloved time sinks, usually, don't get me wrong (I'm really not denigrating playing in character, I swear! I do it all the time), but they mean the game will go slower.
I've also seen entire sessions where all the characters do is fight each other.

Doesn't bother me - there's always next week for the survivors to recruit replacements and get to the adventure. :)

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To the OP: the biggest factor IME other than in-character roleplay - and someone else already hit this upthread - is granularity of detail. As both DM and player, I'll often err on the side of too much detail rather than too little; and if doing so makes things take longer I don't care. I'd rather go into depth than skip over stuff, especially if there's any chance that the skipped-over stuff might have caused - or had the opportunity to cause - the PCs to do something differently.

Another factor - and one that the DM can directly control - can be the DM's own verbosity. Go into detail, sure, but when two words will do don't use ten. This is something I keep having to remind myself. :)

And, IME adventures generally tend to take longer on average as character levels advance; as both DM and players have more to think about in terms of character/monster powers, abilities, and moves.

Long term, our typical session count per adventure - including post-adventure downtime and treasury division, which is often a session all to itself - is about 8-10; with some as short as 3 and the longest getting well up over 40.
 

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Yora

Legend
I think the question of speed is not really one that can be answered in meaningful ways unless we're all talking about the same published adventures and compare our final total play time for it.
An adventure takes as long as it takes. It really depends a lot on how fast players make decisions, but also on how much stuff the players do in the adventure. An adventure is not a race to the finish, so whether the players do only the things strictly necessary to reach a conclusion or if there are hours and hours of scenes with a lot happening without progressing to the next area really makes no difference for how well and fun the game is to play. Detours are not distractions from the adventure but additions to it.
 

bloodtide

Legend
It's all about focus, drive and will power.

Far too many gamers are casual: show up whenever they feel like it, goof around non stop, watch you tube videos, make jokes, take like two hour to order, get and eat food, and then oh, lastly play the game a tiny bit. And for a lot of people this is a "great night": they goofed around and relaxed for five hours and rolled a d20 three times so they "played the game".

So long, long ago....I started to weed players out. You can't show up on time: you can stay home. You want to goof off: you can stay home. You want to watch you tube: stay home.

Then I moved on to the game itself. I expect players to know the game rules, house rules, setting, history, and general knowledge. You also must show up with everything to play. Again more weeding out: You forgot your character: well no game for you. You can't be bothered to look up the game rules for your spells: goodbye.

My houserules are super harsh. You may not ask the DM any questions during the game about metagame things. Ask me what a spell does or even for a "clarification" on what a spell does and I will send you home. Wait until we are mid game to ask some crazy rule question: you are gone. It is harsh: but it does go along with "learn the rules before the game starts". And AND if you have the slightest question or wonder about something ASK me before the game. Really...this does work out so well.

When we get into action or combat, I have a simple three second rule. When asked what action your character takes: you tell me the action in less then three seconds and/or take the action. If you even start to say "um...dm, what about" then BAM your character stands in place confused for that whole round.

And should a player DARE to ask if they "can do something" or "if something will work" they are lucky their character does not stand confused for the whole encounter. This is a big houserule of mine. Ask three time "uuuuuu...DM can my character jump over the pit?" and I'll just say "rocks fall on your character and they die. Leave, nice knowing you."

The end result, plus my other houserules to get rid of problem players, is that the only players in my games are the hard core fast gamers that want to game.

Then, as DM, I Railroad the game along.

And put a huge effort into teaching the players : basic common sense, history, basic survival, basic life skills, philosophy, basic science, basic biology, wisdom, and a great many other things...mostly with a 'fictional spin'.


And then with hard core fast knowledgeable gamers we can zip through games by not having any slow spots. We still game a ton, and role play a ton. But the players will never even slow down even if "they are not sure of what to do" or such. Most often they will do a "standard move", even if they are not sure of what to do, to keep the game moving.
 

Quickleaf

Legend
I think the question of speed is not really one that can be answered in meaningful ways unless we're all talking about the same published adventures and compare our final total play time for it.
An adventure takes as long as it takes. It really depends a lot on how fast players make decisions, but also on how much stuff the players do in the adventure. An adventure is not a race to the finish, so whether the players do only the things strictly necessary to reach a conclusion or if there are hours and hours of scenes with a lot happening without progressing to the next area really makes no difference for how well and fun the game is to play. Detours are not distractions from the adventure but additions to it.
I ran Tomb of Annihilation in ~20 months playing every other week in 4-hour sessions (a total of ~50 sessions). Added some stuff and cut out the "gears" level from the Tomb.
 

Laurefindel

Legend
Today I am going to run the 6th session involving the PCs undertaking the adventure "The Isle of the Abbey" from Ghosts of Saltmarsh. My guess is that it will take 7 or 8 sessions total.

The specific adventure is not so important to what I am posting about (since this while on the high end of average of how many sessions an adventure takes is still typical), but rather that while my sessions for this campaign tend to be significantly shorter than I'd like (3 hours rather than 5 hours for my in-person group) I am still amazed not that it takes so long for my group to get through adventures, but that other groups (based on the anecdotal evidence of these boards and social media) seem to blast through adventures and advance so quickly. I just can't imagine going much faster without losing something of the experience.

Since we only get to play about once a month (sometimes twice) that means we started this adventure in December of 2022 and will probably wrap it up in July or August, or maybe even September!

Anyway, this is not a complaint or a suggestion that anyone else is playing too fast. Nor, am I asking for advice for speeding up. I am just trying to imagine how given the base amount of role-playing, investigation, combat, exploration, NPC interaction, planning, etc that I imagine a D&D adventure having, how folks play through whole campaigns in a few months, even with longer or more frequent sessions.

This campaign has been going since May of 2020 (with a break of a few months when we lost some players and needed to recruit some more) and the PCs have only recently hit 5th level and this adventure on its own will probably not be enough for them to hit 6th. Today is the 37th session.

We even use discord to cover as much between session stuff as we can - esp. logistics that might eat up session time if we didn't.

Wildest of all, these 18 hours of gameplay (including today's forthcoming session) represent two adventuring days of time in-game.

So how long does it take your group to get through adventures (accounting for session length and frequency)? How do you account for that amount of time?
To add to what all the posters stated, a group playing on a weekly basis will not only spend four times as many hours as your monthly play, but the will likely be more coherent as last sessions are still clear in their mind.

We also tend to play once per month. Remembering the state of our characters and the details of the last session is hard enough; we’re missing stuff that happened four or five sessions ago, even if it’s been a few hours for the characters. When we get a good stretch and manage to play three or four times in a month for two months in a row, we get a lot farther than we would in the same playtime stretched over 6 months.
 

I've also wondered about this. I haven't watched a lot of streams, but I've never seen one where the game (at least, a D&D game) moves as fast as people report. I believe them, but I would love to actually see it.

Let me be direct. Are you any of you who run it that fast willing to put it up where we can actually see what you are talking about? Or if you know somebody who already has, can you give us a link? I think it would help everyone if we could see an example, since it's easy to find streams that take a slow approach.

I suspect that the reason you don't see games moving that fast is that they would be boring to watch, but I don't know.
 

Quickleaf

Legend
I've also wondered about this. I haven't watched a lot of streams, but I've never seen one where the game (at least, a D&D game) moves as fast as people report. I believe them, but I would love to actually see it.

Let me be direct. Are you any of you who run it that fast willing to put it up where we can actually see what you are talking about? Or if you know somebody who already has, can you give us a link? I think it would help everyone if we could see an example, since it's easy to find streams that take a slow approach.

I suspect that the reason you don't see games moving that fast is that they would be boring to watch, but I don't know.
I recall watching Mike Mearls GM a 1.5 hour live event with 8 actor/voice actor players that seemed a lot like a 5-room dungeon which played pretty fast... Here it is:
 

J-H

Hero
In combat, a lot of it has to do with people picking what they are doing before their turn starts, and rolling dice and doing math quickly. At high levels, it can be a swing of 2 minutes for a single person's single turn in combat.
The same also applies to the DM.

On a more campaign level side, it matters if the 5-8 encounter day is holding up or if it's a bunch of nova encounters, plus how long the party takes to make decisions, argue, etc.
 

Stormonu

Legend
Hmmm, I seem to remember running The Isle of the Abbey in about 3 sessions (arrival, exploration, climax). I'm not sure what we might be doing differently, but I suspect it may be tighter on combat (we can get through at least 3 combats in a single session) and our RPing might not be as in-depth as yours (we still RP, but it's a bit on the light side and I try my best to limit an single PCs interactions - if other people start pulling out phones or whatnot, it's time to move on).
 

el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
To be clear, and as I tried to make clear in my opening post, I am not asking for advice on speeding up. The pace of play works for me and the group (though I sometimes I wish that there was more role-playing not less). We don't really use a VTT (we play over zoom, I have a table camera, minis, and dungeon tiles), except using Owlbear Rodeo for dungeon exploration mode.

I do think the shorter sessions end up making things take a little longer because there is more catch up and wrap up after each session (I make sure to jot down on the erase board where everyone is at in terms of hps, hd, and spell effects).

I've been DMing for almost 40 years, so I am really good at moving the players along when we they need to be wrangled, but I also like to give them room to do the things they want to do how they want to do them because my sense of priority doesn't take priority (if you get my meaning). But I also don't like "speeding up time" too much unless it is downtime or travel in populated areas because whatever emerges from the player choices is part of the fun of the game to me. So along those lines, I think those who play APs in such a way that "playing along" is important and keeping the main plot moving, versus following where their plans and idea happen to take and shape the game also changes the pace significantly.

In today's session, the party discussed the statue that they felt was clearly going to come to life and attack them and what might trigger it. When it was finally triggered, they fought it (it was a tough fight), took a short rest, and then the party did some searching, found a secret door, discussed which way to go, picked a way, started chopping down a door whose lock the rogue failed to pick, the noise drew a couple of ghasts to them, there was another short fight, they finally got through the door, discovered a zombie golem (a flesh golem made from zombie parts), and the magic map that they were looking for etched on the floor, and we called it right when I would have called for initiative again.
 

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