How long do you need to feel you've had a proper session?
When I was younger I would go for anywhere from 6 to 12 hours, or longer if able, without batting an eye. The gaming would just happen. It was a great time, though after about 8 hours I'd be willing to question just how well I was actually managing the world, the story, and other expectations on a GM.
Now, I think the standard is 3 to 3.5 hours for the groups I'm in with the occasional session going longer as needed to resolve a fight, scene, or adventure if we're almost done it.
The thing is, I find myself wanting more time a lot in those 3 hour sessions. Digressions - and they do happen - are so costly, and it can feel so hard to get meaningful progress done when you only have a few hours. However, longer sessions are often impossible to fit in or get people available for. Life is busy, people are busy, and 3 hours is a lot easier to fit in than 4 hours it seems.
On the other hand, one game I am in regularly runs for more than 5 hours when it runs. Sometimes that is great. Other times, well, I'm trained by all the 3 hour games that it can feel long, almost like forever. And someone help me if I slept for crap the night before and my character isn't front and center for a prolonged period of time.
I think my ideal is still 4-6 hours. It gives enough time to get stuff done. It gives room to digressions. It is long enough to justify a small break for bathroom, snacks, etc. And you have flexibility to go a bit longer without feeling like too much is being given up.
Of course, that means the only time I can do an ideal session is Saturday or Sunday, which is also not ideal. At least for my life. How about you? What's your ideal?
We play online and our usual time is 2,5 hours, though depending on whether we need to finish things it can be about fifteen to twenty minutes extra.ReplyDelete
Usually my players show up about 15-20 before the session starts and chat a bit, then after the session we wind down by discussing the interesting or disturbing things that have happened during the session, usually lasting half an hour or so. As a DM I consider that last half an hour as part of the session as well, as it allows me to note stuff for the next session, ask questions about what direction the group wants to go and ensure the next session continues with a running start.
2,5 hours isn't much, so there aren't any real breaks (though whenever a bathroom break is necessary the player just times it with a moment where their PC can be idle for a moment). Sometimes we have a longer session, but only when the player's (and my own!) schedule allow for it. Some of us have to get up really early while others get home late, so there is no space for more time. But it works. :)