How Long Can You DM ?

questing gm

Villager
If you have take your game with a certain level of seriousness rather than just having the group sitting together on the table for a simple game of beer and pretzels, we all know that DMing can be strenuous work.

The amount of things that the player's do and what happens next requires a large amount of concentration. It is recommended to have short breaks in between a session, not only for players to hit the bathroom but also the give the DM a breather.

So being experienced or new DMs, how long was the longest time you could ever DM for a group without rest?

My only experience was that my group had a marathon session, and we played for nearly 12 hours, non-stop. But by the time, we agreed to stopped my brain was totally burned out and became a practical zombie the moment I hit the sack. Not withstanding how crappy the session went, and the amounts of empty coke bottles that were on that session, it was the longest record for me.

So, what is your longest time ever ?
 

Menexenus

Villager
I haven't ever DMed for more than 6 hours at a time myself. But back in the day, soon after I graduated college, my roommate took our group through the Temple of Elemental Evil in one week. We basically played 2nd edition D&D for every waking hour 5 days in a row. And I can definitely confirm the "zombie" effect that you describe. At the end of some of those long days, the DM would just stare off into space, and it would take him a while to react even after we called his name more than once.

DMing is definitely a psychologically draining experience, especially when done for sustained periods of time.
 

el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
Back in the day I would DM for 8 to 12 hours at a time.

These days after about 5 or 6 I just can't concentrate anymore - it takes a lot out of me.
 

Flynn

Villager
Nifft said:
Five years and counting.

I can do it indefinitely.

Cheers, -- N
Five years without a break, no sleeping, eating as you roll the dice, that kind of thing? Man, you are a DMing robot. I couldn't do that.

The longest session that I ever ran was 19.5 hours, with food delivered and flying by the seat of my pants for most of it. We started around noon on Saturday and wrapped up around 7:30 the next morning, gaming non-stop.

I'm not that young anymore, and so I doubt I could run more than 8-10 hours without having to take some kind of break, get some sleep, that kind of thing.

But five years... man, you're just a dice-rolling robot...

Happy DMing,
Flynn
 

Nifft

Penguin Herder
Flynn said:
Five years without a break, no sleeping, eating as you roll the dice, that kind of thing? Man, you are a DMing robot. I couldn't do that.
You're doing it right now, reading up on DMimg tips while your players take a week-long bathroom break.

Cheers, -- N
 

sirwmholder

Villager
Let's see I have DM'ed sessions that lasted for 12 hours... and yes those took a lot out of me... I don't think I could do that again... now a days we take a break every 3-4 hours depending on what is going on in the story.

William Holder
 

Mark Hope

Explorer
Longest was a 24-hour marathon session when I ran Vecna Lives. The players refused to go home until they got to see it through to the end. I hadn't slept much the night before and didn't sleep at all the night afterwards (for reasons that transgress the Grandma rule, I can't go into details :]). We did take a brief break after about 16 hours to grab some food from the K-Mart at the end of the road, but we were so into the game that the players insisted on going to the shop in marching order and remaining in-character throughout. Bizarre. Highly enjoyable but definitely bizarre. Regular games would generally be around 10 to 12 hours.

These days, however, family life limits it to brief bursts of 4 or 5 hours on a Tuesday night. Barely dents my endurance, heh heh...
 

EricNoah

Community Supporter
I start going bonkers, rushing things, forgetting details at about 5 hours in. 4 hours is about my sweet spot. 3 hours is good too.
 

replicant2

Villager
Mark Hope said:
We did take a brief break after about 16 hours to grab some food from the K-Mart at the end of the road, but we were so into the game that the players insisted on going to the shop in marching order and remaining in-character throughout.
That's classic. Did they remain in 5-foot squares, two abreast? And who had the light source?
 

DaveyJones

Villager
replicant2 said:
That's classic. Did they remain in 5-foot squares, two abreast? And who had the light source?
that would have been 10 ft squares indoors and 10 yard square outside in the parking lot. ;)


edit: longest was 25 hours.
 

Woas

Villager
I like short and to the point sessions of about 3-4 hours. Anything more and I start getting terse and start thinking about other things I want to do with my time.
 

Evilhalfling

Villager
My regular game used to run 8 hours each week, but the last hour was iffy if I hadn't gotten enough sleep. Family life, and a chronically late player have dropped it to 4-6.
I think I managed 13hrs once, but that game may have ended (@4am) with "Shut up!, a giant blue smurf eats all your characters! *thunk* Zzzzzzzzz....."
 

DM_Jeff

Explorer
Back in the 80's and 90's it was 6-7 hours.

Nowadays it's about 5. I usually feel it coming on the last half hour.

I ran a marathon session towards the end of last year that ran for 10 hours, and I survived but the last hour was filled with missed details and crummy strategy.

-DM Jeff
 

Mark Hope

Explorer
replicant2 said:
That's classic. Did they remain in 5-foot squares, two abreast? And who had the light source?
:D

This was during 2e days, so no 5-foot squares. But yes, two abreast, lol!

DaveyJones said:
that would have been 10 ft squares indoors and 10 yard square outside in the parking lot. ;)
Heh heh. That sounds about right :).
 

Flynn

Villager
Nifft said:
You're doing it right now, reading up on DMimg tips while your players take a week-long bathroom break.

Cheers, -- N
No, I have a wife and kid, and I like to sleep. The session does not go on for me forever, simply because there are matters of higher priority that take precedence. ;)

I get your point, and I even appreciate it, but it doesn't seem to fit what the OP was asking for. ICBW, YMMV. :)

Hasta,
Flynn
 

ejja_1

Villager
Longest evah

27 hours, 4 of those spent in a bar getting rumors and local info and arrested for drunk and disorderly. (The dwarf finally got drunk and slapped what he thought was a barmaid on the fanny, turned out to be a half orc mercanary.....)
By the end of the game we had consumed 4 cases of jolt cola and 2 boxes of no doz, and most of my players crashed right were they were sitting on my sectional couch.

As an aside, I find 5-6 hour sessions are usually best.
 
It really depends on starting time and what i did before the game. Regular weekly game i start gettign cranky after 4 hours. Sunday game with a calm saturday before that and i can manage 12 hours.
 

Dave G

Villager
I think I prefer to go about 5-6 hours as long as there's a significant break at some point in the middle for food, getting up and stretching our legs, maybe getting some air, etc.

Conversations typically continue during the break, but I try to step out of the DM's shoes for that time if possible.
 

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