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

Retreater

Legend
Just for me, I lose interest in sessions about "preparing to undertake the adventure." For me, it's either handwave it, leave it up to die rolls, or plan all of that outside the game (Discord or email).
When I'm sitting down with my friends to play a game with my limited time, I want to roll dice and have high stakes combats, traps, hazards, social scenes, etc.
Lengthy shopping excursions don't belong at my table.
 

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payn

He'll flip ya...Flip ya for real...
Just for me, I lose interest in sessions about "preparing to undertake the adventure." For me, it's either handwave it, leave it up to die rolls, or plan all of that outside the game (Discord or email).
When I'm sitting down with my friends to play a game with my limited time, I want to roll dice and have high stakes combats, traps, hazards, social scenes, etc.
Lengthy shopping excursions don't belong at my table.
That is one thing I really like about Discord allowing you to offload some of the logistics from the gaming session.
 

Voadam

Legend
Since 2021 I have run a weekly three hour 5e game on Fantasy Grounds and Discord using a conversion of the Pathfinder Iron Gods adventure path using milestone advancement to match the AP level track. There are often weeks we do not get together as the four person PC group generally will not go with less than three players. Usually the first half hour is just catching up socially so then about two and half hours of actual gaming. I usually get in at most one combat or skill challenge type of thing a night.

I tend to take plenty of time in running adventures with lots of player choices and lots of details and the group usually explores a lot of what the modules cover. I'd say my style is on the slower end of things.

Pathfinder is designed for a lot of combat encounters per level.

So two and a half years in the party is now level 6 and near the end of module two out of the six.

In my face to face group when it was weekly four hour games pre-pandemic I was running a 5e conversion of the pathfinder 1e Carrion Crown adventure path and I think over the course of a year and a half (Oct 2018 through to early 2020) we got through one and a half AP modules and two short Legendary games supplemental modules. The party went from levels 1-5.
 
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Quickleaf

Legend
They are hard to do well, absolutely

Buuuuut I've been having a grand time with Dungeons of Drakkenheim. The authors clearly saw the organization, railroading and weak hooks problems of many of the 5e big adventures, and it's really stellar. But ... yeah, a lot of these huge campaigns are not great.
Wish I could play in your game! I enjoyed the play by post years ago, and I've heard good things about Drakkenheim. (y)
 

FitzTheRuke

Legend
Since 2008 I have been playing what I call "Fast Forward Speed" or sometimes, "Just the Facts, M'am".

For example: Rather than spending time with in-character dialogue, we usually describe the whole conversation in a few sentences. Ex. "We negotiate with the Troll for safe passage across the bridge." (probably a check involved) as opposed to RPing it out. Most scenes are resolved this way. A lot of discussion occurs, with players having a LOT of story-telling agency. As long as their version of the story doesn't drastically converge from what the DM has in mind, it becomes cannon. (DM can tweak it here-and-there as it is coming out of the player's mouth!)

I'd rather play it out, but we just don't have time for it.
 

ad_hoc

(they/them)
Since 2008 I have been playing what I call "Fast Forward Speed" or sometimes, "Just the Facts, M'am".

For example: Rather than spending time with in-character dialogue, we usually describe the whole conversation in a few sentences. Ex. "We negotiate with the Troll for safe passage across the bridge." (probably a check involved) as opposed to RPing it out. Most scenes are resolved this way. A lot of discussion occurs, with players having a LOT of story-telling agency. As long as their version of the story doesn't drastically converge from what the DM has in mind, it becomes cannon. (DM can tweak it here-and-there as it is coming out of the player's mouth!)

I'd rather play it out, but we just don't have time for it.


This is a completly valid way to play and I don't think makes for any less engaging or storytelling experience than doing it in first person.

I like a combination of both. For less important interactions or prolonged ones like conversing over a meal I like your approach.

For a tense situation I like doing it in first person.
 

pogre

Legend
I have not run a WOTC book for a while, but I think I would qualify as one of the breakneck pace types.

We play 4 hours every week. We take a few weeks off during the fall for football season. It typically take my group around 15-18 months to hit 20th level. We use conventional XP.

I push the pace and I have a table of players who enjoy that style.

I just can't imagine going much faster without losing something of the experience.
We absolutely miss something of the experience in the manner you describe.

For example - in your game:
One session arranging to get passage to the island
In my game handwaved.
One session meeting two surviving pirates (one of which is newly introduced PC) and making their way across the island, searching the surface ruins and going down to the dungeon level and encountering the cultist survivors
In my game 10 minutes max with the pirates. I don't remember the searching and cultists part of the adventure. If it is just one encounter - probably 20 minutes max.
One session in a protracted negotiation with the death cultists to convince them to leave peacefully that eventually breaks out into a harrowing fight.
Hard to know, but I'm guessing that negotiation goes for about 15-20 minutes before my players call for a throwdown.

I could continue, but I think you get my point. PC-to-PC roleplaying interaction is virtually unheard of at my table. Patience runs thin on extended roleplaying encounters of any kind. I would like a little more roleplay, but I know my players.

We had an ongoing thing in my previous campaign where as soon as one of my players announced, "I am twirling my luxurious moustache." This meant the fight was on.

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.
100% My game would be a terrible stream, unless you love miniatures and terrain. Even then you can only look at terrain and miniatures for so long! ;) The gameplay part would not be very exciting for most. A couple of my players enjoy Critical Role, but they would hate playing in a game like that. They have admitted as much.

So, our game is a weird blend. It's not bogged down with resource management, mapping, and other dungeon survival challenges like the first games I ran in the 70s. It's certainly not "slowed" by extensive roleplaying or PC-to-PC interaction. However, for us it is a lot of fun and we look forward to playing every week.
 

  1. One session arranging to get passage to the island, arriving and making their way through the beach.
  2. One session meeting two surviving pirates (one of which is newly introduced PC) and making their way across the island, searching the surface ruins and going down to the dungeon level and encountering the cultist survivors
  3. One session in a protracted negotiation with the death cultists to convince them to leave peacefully that eventually breaks out into a harrowing fight.
  4. Next session, harrowing fight continues and takes most of the session.
    Between sessions, searching the rooms the cultists occupied using discord and finding the secret passage
  5. Next session - a contested long rest dealing with surviving cultists who try to escape potentially interrupting the rest - searching the Winding Way and discovering the Jade Statue.
  6. Last session (as described above)

    That is six sessions (plus) and at least one more session to go.
Your pacing sounds close to how my group's games go. This is an example of what we covered during our game this week, which was just under 3 hours long.
 

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:
Thanks Quickleaf! Here are my notes from the video.

There were 8 players with 6th-level characters and one manticore.

The sequence of events was:
-They started with a few minutes of introductions, followed by what amounted to a summary of a (non-existent) session that got them to their starting point on a ship under a floating tower with flying potions.
-They entered the tower and had some social interaction, until a combat broke out with four redcaps.
-After the combat there was some exploration that involved looking into two adjacent rooms, and sending a familiar down a passage to another room (they abandoned that line of pursuit shortly).
-A second fight broke out with what appeared to be a normal beholder with a spectral appearance. This one took place both in the initial room and the vertically connected room that the beholder started in. Flying potions were still in effect.
-The video basically ended with the conclusion of the second fight. (The game continued.)

Things I noticed that can affect speed (either speeding up or slowing down):
-As mentioned, there were 8 characters and a pet
-The players knew their characters and the rules pretty well
-The DM, being the lead designer of 5e, knew the rules pretty well
-After they got going there was negligible out of character chatter
-In-character chatter started light, but picked up after the first combat was over
-The players often spoke in their character's voice, described mannerisms, etc
-At the beginning, each player acted completely independently with no planning or coordination, in-character or out.
-After the first combat was over they did a light to moderate amount of planning and coordination
-The first combat took about half an hour, the second a little longer
-Initially, the players had few questions for the DM except about range to target.
-After the first combat finished, and particularly during the second combat, more questions popped up, but I wouldn't say it was excessive
-During the first combat, the DM used an expedited side initiative (going around the table clockwise)
-The second combat really began a bit before initiative was rolled. One character and the beholder exchanged some attacks that would have taken more than a single round.
-The DM used set damage rather than rolled damage for monsters
-The DM fudged a 28 hp fireball to kill a 45 hp monster at the end of the first fight
-The DM was on the generously favorable to the players side in rulings on non-standard action attempts (such as allowing a blindness/deafness spell to shut down 2 of a beholder's eyes when it failed it's save)

I consider my group pretty slow, and with 5 PCs, we likely would have taken a bit longer.

We would have taken a lot longer if you include that we would have actually played through getting the mission and traveling to the destination in a previous session(s), and that we likely would have explored downstairs before going into the beholder room, but let's just look at this session's events.

The initial time-frame before the first combat would have taken maybe 5 minutes longer.

The initial combat might have taken 6 or 7 minutes longer (I'm assuming we were properly matched, rather than overmatched because of lower number of PCs).

The exploration after combat, assuming we decided to go the way they did, would have taken up to about 8 minutes longer, unless we set off the beholder (probably pretty easy to do).

The second combat (again, assuming the beholder was weaker to match our party's relative power) would have only taken another 10 minutes longer than theirs I expect.

Their 90 minutes would have taken us around 115 - 120 minutes according to my estimates, so up to about a third longer.

My assessment is that this wasn't a particularly fast group.

You know what would really help us see the difference, is watching videos of different groups all playing the same adventure. (I'd love to see how anyone gets through the Lost Mine of Phandelver in 20 hours.)
 

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