Longest Game Session Played — #RPGaDay2015, Day 16
Wow, here’s a topic to separate the gamers into their respective age strata. I can’t speak to the tendencies of the younger players these days (it’s a sad note to realize that it’s been a very long time since I’ve played with anyone younger than 20 years old), but I wonder if they’re nearly as willing to devote the time to the hobby as we did, back in the mists of yesteryear. It would be a sad thing indeed to see the glorious sleep-deprived weekends of my wasted youth disappear into overscheduling and deprioritization.
Longest Game Session Played
These days, it seems that the largest enemy to long game sessions isn’t that my groups don’t have the free time, it’s that they don’t have the free time on the same days as the rest of the people in the group. We’re all outside of a college setting these days, which changes things somewhat dramatically. Back when we could schedule classes and work around a gaming schedule, that allowed a better allocation toward particular campaigns that were running, which in turn allowed longer sessions when needed. Even then, I’m not sure that we managed more than the occasional 14 hour session under specific circumstances. More often than not, sessions ranged from eight to ten hours on a regular basis, usually as part of a Friday or Saturday schedule. The danger was that, as soon as someone’s homework burden increased by any measure, there would be player attrition on that basis. Depending on how well prepared our group happened to be for midterms or finals, there would be a drop-off of scheduled games while people tried to brush up on specifics for their exams. (Between an English degree and a Photo degree, most of my important work was in the form of papers or projects, so the same sort of pressure rarely applied to me.)
Even with the freedom of a collegiate life, none of these games ended up attaining mythic length. We tried, though, especially if there was some sort of short break coming up that would allow us to recuperate from the long hours and poor nutrition choices. The end of finals week or the first week before classes started would occasionally let us power through longer sessions, but even then we still valued our sleep too much to rise early on a game day. If we were lucky, we’d rise at noon to meet for a game session around 2:00pm, and finally push ourselves away from the table come 4:00am. It was probably better for our overall long term health, but it definitely didn’t set any records. The prevailing theory was that we’d be more likely to adhere to regular games if we kept to more regular hours for these sessions.
These post-collegiate days tend to regulate to schedules with four hour slots, for better or worse. One group that I’m in has been running more or less consistently for about 20 years, and their set-up has been to run from 7:00pm until 11:00pm on normal Thursdays (even this has had to modify to occasional Wednesdays, due to scheduling conflicts), which allows a solid regularity at the cost of session duration. It’s not ideal, but it’s what has allowed the group, in all of its various iterations, to hold solid over the years.
And having recently moved, I’m in the process of coalescing a new circle, which is making me wonder if I’m going to be able to manage longer sessions at any point, or if the only solution is going to be to build out short regular sessions like the established Thursday group. If this is what has to be, I suppose that it’s going to require the necessary adjustment.
Back in high school, we managed a regular group on either Friday or Saturday, depending on other conflicts. Our usual methodology was to meet at someone’s house (usually mine) and settle in for the night. These games would start sometime in the late afternoon or early evening, run through the night and get called when the last player’s endurance had hit the inevitable wall. This led to scenes of players holding themselves off the table by cradling a Mountain Dew 2-liter, the occasional blurry inquiry as to what sort of monster we were fighting, and the weird sense of wonder at seeing the sun rise outside the windows, often in the form of a “Hey, it’s getting light out” declaration. The sessions would end at the point of unconsciousness, if we were crashing for a couple of hours on our host’s floor, or at the ragged threshold before sleep so that someone could drive other people home. These were our regular weekends through most of high school.
The longest single session was either one that I ran or one that I played in around my senior year. The one that I ran was something that I had planned out for a couple of weeks one summer, making sure that I could garner a fair group of people on a specific point. (Looking back, I realize that summers were anathema to our gaming schedule, for one reason or another.) We’d set aside the time, the place and I’d worked up a massive adventure for the night in question. An adventure that, from what I remember, we only barely managed to get any traction on. This was the time that my mother had taken it upon herself to cater, and her weird cruelty had managed about 100 jelly donuts and a single bag of chips. And copious amounts of soda to wash it all down with. I have strange aversions to those donuts these days, even as I occasionally eat them.
The other session was one my friend doctored up as part of a larger campaign, which mysteriously only ran a couple of times. (Not to say it wasn’t memorable, mind you, but I have the feeling it was a matter of personal frustration for him, overall.) The set-up was a weird sort of overland wilderness campaign, with dungeon elements, and each person had something like six characters. (It was high school, we were experimental, etc.) The session in question was one that had accidentally run long, as our characters had been probing into the dungeon complex with little success, only to run into a random wandering monster encounter while we rested on the hillside outside the ruins.
The random encounter in question happened to be a trading caravan. Which we then attacked mercilessly.
The ensuing melee (complete with high level caravan guards that our lower level characters mobbed) took several hours, and when we stepped out of the massacre, the GM was wholly bound and determined that we should actually get a little farther in his planned encounters. It led to the following:
GM: You see three giant rats, wild-eyed and snarling. (Looks blearily at his notes.)
GM: No, wait. You see an illusionary wall. (Blinks several times, replaying what he just said.)
GM: No, wait. (Tries to figure out if there’s any way to salvage the encounter.)
GM: Screw this, I’m going home.
As far as I can recall, we never went back to that dungeon. It was probably for the best, really.