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  1. #1

    Session length: what do to think is “right”

    First this question is posed as part “research” for me to consider for a new campaign I hope to spin up in the coming months but I’m also just curious what people think.

    My standard sessions have been three hours for many years even go back before I started playing with fantasy grounds (2018).

    But if you were searching for a game as a player and saw sessions were planned to only be two hours or two and a half..would that turn you off?

    I’m considering shortening my games as a compromise to less spare time I find myself with, at the same time I enjoy running games a lot so do not want to give it up completely.

    That’s it was just wondering.

    Ps I made a typo in the title sorry but it doesn’t let me edit the title to fix it.

  2. #2
    Personal opinion - 2 hours might be pretty tight. IT will feel like you are just starting to get going before the session ends due to people being a few minutes late, recap, general conversation at the start, etc. I run 3 hour sessions and man do they go by fast.

    I would run at least 2 1/2 hours so you have the 1/2 hour to do all those things listed above.

    I will also say this though, if you do not have the time and have to run 2 hour sessions, then do it because, playing a little bit of D&D, Pathfinder, etc is better than not playing at all!

  3. #3
    JohnD's Avatar
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    Mar 2012
    Johnstown ON
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    Most of my games go for between 2.5 and 3 hours, finishing closer to the 2.5 end of the range. Occasionally I go up to an hour beyond that, but it kind of depends on the night and the in game situation, and whether the players present are all up for it.

    Back in the day I could DM for 8+ hours at a stretch and be happy with a bottle of pop and a few slices of pizza... now I don't think my body could do it and my brain certainly can't.
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  4. #4
    GunnarGreybeard's Avatar
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    Jun 2008
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    Mine are targeted for 3 hours but shorter could certainly work. I would think as long as the players understand the time goal, it'll be fine at 2.5 hours. Might also depend on where players are locally and that local time. We play a Saturday night game starting at 7 EST (all but one US based) and our Malta based player gets up at 1 AM to play. I try not to keep him up more than 3 hours.
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  5. #5
    If you have the flow of the game down with FGU (and for me extensions) then the normal in person times really no longer apply at all. I can literally get in double the amount of play time (no calcs - moving stuff around - other delays for in person games) than in an in person game. So for my players with a good pre game session prep before play time takes 2 - 2 1/2 hours which is comparable to a 4-5 hour in person game for the amount of actual play time we get. Plus...

    Never measure things by what other tables feel is the right amount of time. Measure them based on how YOU and your PLAYERS feel is the right amount of time.

    2-2 1/2 hours in FGU (plus extensions) lets me get plenty of play time with a much better and faster flow of the game without all the hiccups involved with manual dice roll and calculations of an in person game. Not that in person games are still not fun - I do them once a year now. But weekly (or as weekly as we can do with all older players) is much more convenient - someone can not show even up to the last second its not great problem (we have not had to drive out someplace) and reschedule.
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  6. #6
    Thanks for the feedback all. Good points made about playing with FGU does make play more efficient. I agree to that.

    2.5 hours seems good. I’ll add I do think back to when I was just in my early teens (I was 14 in ‘88) during summer break from school we’d have 10 hour sessions playing on our enclosed deck with thick woods all around . Food and drinks, and some breaks mixed in.

    The days of our youth huh? No responsibility or close to it.

  7. #7
    LordEntrails's Avatar
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    May 2015
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    So the 4+ year long campaign we completed was done in mostly 2 hour sessions. This was done on Wednesday nights. So none of us wanted to commit to longer sessions. Sometimes we would play 2.5 or even 3 hours, but only a few times. Given FG, we were usually able to pick right up (even stopping sessions mid combat) within 5 and occasionally 10 minutes of start time. I will agree that the pace of combat resolution is so much faster than in person.

    I found when I would remember to use the MOTD, the players always appreciated that and helped everyone remember where we were at with only a minute or so of reading. Much faster than trying to verbally have a recap at the beginning of the session.

    The last weekend campaign I played in (a few years ago) we would run 4 hour sessions. Those are fine, but I do really like the weeknight 2 hour sessions. Fits into my life pretty well.

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  8. #8

    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    I'll weigh in on the opposite end. I run 5 hour sessions, so more stuff gets accomplished - and yes these are weekend games. I routinely complete 1st to 15+ level campaigns in 7 to 9 months and then start another.

    However, I have run one shots and open table games that were 3-4 hours. I also have found that mid week evening games of 3 hours or so are good.

    As SilentRuin mentioned, I think, the minimum amount of time for a session varies from group to group and has a lot to do with the type of campaign (freeform, sandbox, plotpoint, roleplaying) and how organized the players and GM are.

    Some of the funnest times are those role play segments where nothing much campaign-wise is being accomplished, but *are* the reason we play roleplaying games in the first place. I do think that too short a game session would prevent some of those role playing segments, as people rush to get things done before the session is over.

  9. #9
    I run my weekly sessions from 7 PM to Midnight Eastern. That 5 hour block gives us time to roleplay, get side tracked, etc. It is also good for the players on the East coast of the US to be able to log in and then log out early, while those spread across several other time zones can log in late and pick up the action to continue the story after some East coast people log out.

    We are entirely chat based so everyone can check in on what happened during the time of the session they missed. We will hit the 30 year mark next week, with 20 of them online so there is lots of information on our site for players to cross reference as needed.

    I am in the middle of creating a second campaign that will only meet in person for 3-4 hour blocks every 3 weeks or so surrounded with play by post to continue the story going between those sessions.

    Always try to find the balance in your own life for time spend prepping versus playing. My goal is to try to be 1 to 4 (1 hour of prep for 4 hours of play) and to depend on the players to create along the way.
    We do not stop playing because we grow old.
    We grow old because we stop playing.


  10. #10

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