Sometimes, there’s no shortcut for experience. We talked with Tim D about this a bit when we had him on to talk AS&SH. We need to try and do and keep trying and doing to get good at something. It’s been said you need 10,000 hours to be proficient at a skill. Does this apply to RPGs? GMs and Players?
- Many RPGs do their best to shorten the learning curve when it comes to not only running/playing the specific game, but for RPGs in general.
- Most of what we on this podcast do is try and help people do the same thing actually – bypass some common mistakes or issues we’ve run into. Doing our best to help folks “learn fast.”
- Youtube channels, APs, and all sorts of RPG seminars are designed to help do this as well.
- When it comes down to it though – you have to put in the time to get good/better/proficient/etc
Matt V. comments on Brett’s new approach to his upcoming game
My “favorite” campaign length has changed a lot over time. Most AP’s are made for about 50 session of 4 hours each, give or take 50 hours. So they end up lasting about a year if you do weekly 4 hour sessions. That’s more or less how all the games I played or ran were for the better part of my gaming experience. I’ve played in one weekly campaign hit two years but that was the longest. Never had an epic 15 year campaign, though it sounds cool!
Over the last ten years I have really moved to a shorter campaign structure. So my acceptable range has dropped from about 8-24 sessions, with 12-16 being the “optimal” range for me. I was lucky enough to be a player in a 6 session campaign a couple years back, and that was fine by me. The story was well played out, and prolonging it likely would’ve made it worse. I definitely agree with Sean, it should be no longer than it needs to be, even if that is short.
Even if I am running an AP, I’ll cut it to what I consider relevant content. Every campaign I’ve ever seen, which is well into the double digits, has a lot of unnecessary fluff. Usually I’ll cut them down to about 15ish sessions. I’ve never had anyone complain that it felt rushed or was incomplete.
I generally know within 1-2 sessions how many sessions it will take to run the entire campaign. For instance, in my recent Shadowrun game I knew each run would take one session, with the “main story” runs taking two sessions. Of course a TPK can always end it early 😉 But even less precise games I can usually pinpoint pretty well. I’ve really moved to an “episodic” style over the last 4 or 5 years, so try and keep each session very precise. I’ll move it out if I need to but really like the episodic playstyle.
I ran a similar kind of thing as Brett is talking about. I ran a lot of “side missions” for players via Skype. Most of the players would do an entire mission in between every session or two. It was a lot of fun. It’s something that would be cool to revisit someday, but I just don’t have the time at this point in my life. I was spending an additional 10-15 hours per week just taking care of side business with players and expanding on those details. I know a lot of my players really enjoyed it and I really did too, but for me it was very time exhaustive. Hopefully I get to retire someday and can get some sick gaming like that again!
Jared Rascher comments on average damage technique
I just wanted to chime in on the “average damage” discussion, because I totally use the average damage listed for monsters in D&D 5e. There are two reasons for this.
- As the DM, I’m juggling a lot, and honestly, it frees up a lot more cognitive load and time than you would think once you have started doing it.
- I ran enough sessions of Pathfinder where a really scary, dangerous monster continually rolled super low on damage, and an encounter turned into a cakewalk.
Yes, this can happen to players as well, but its the same math that affects a lot of RPGs . . . players are rolling a lot more dice than you are as a DM. Your chances, as a DM, to roll low and not do something impressive with your boss fight are way higher than the entire table of PCs rolling lower for all of their characters.
Plus, there are sill fun moments, like when my big, hulking ogre scored a critical hit, and I did less damage than average ON A CRIT than I would have with a normal attack, because my dice really like to roll 2s for some reason.
Cory Man of War comments on ASSH
After having listened to this episode, I’ll have to provide some clarification to Fafhrd’s comments since he mentioned me. The issue in question was a Gary Con game run by someone (who will remain nameless) before the 2E hardcover came out. So we are working with the first edition spiral bound books. In this particular game which was an evening game, we all showed up to the table and that’s where stuff went wrong.
First of all, the “referee/GM/etc.” let two walk-ons join the table. I’m not against that at all, because at my games I run at conventions I always have at least one additional pregen for precisely that purpose. However, at this game there was NO pregens… We were told we had to make 7th Level characters. The ONLY two people who had the player book from 1st Edition AS&SOH were me and the ref. He left his book on the table and I picked a fighter to quickly make a PC so I could pass the additional book around to those who needed to make a pregen. At this time, the ref decided it was a good time to spend about 45-55 minutes AWAY from the table to NOT answer questions and let us “have at it”. We didn’t start actually gaming until an hour and fifteen minutes after event start time and with that, a lot of people still had issues about resolving things from a 7th level character gen standpoint. The rails were much stronger than the worst thing Sean could throw at us as things in the beginning were as rigid as a straitjacket.
To make things worse, as we concluded, a few players had to leave because they had an event in the next hour block (SOMETHING THAT COULD HAVE BEEN AVOIDED IF THERE WAS REAL PRE-GENS!) So the rest of us stumbled on as we could for the next hour… something only possible because the table wasn’t scheduled for another event. Then as the “conclusion” the ref just narrated out what happened since we were “running late” despite the complete ignorance/willful disregard of us having to make 7th level characters including magic items with almost no books or referee input because the ref was “away from the table.”
I was thoroughly disappointed with this gaming session and resolved to NEVER play again in this particular person’s games and avoid that person when I see that name show up as the “DM/GM/Referee” ever since.
But to end on a good note, I have played with Jeff T., and many others who work on AS&SOH and I run a home game for it also. If any of you wish to read my foolish attempts to write it up, here goes…