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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4285 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 77 - most online ever: 565 (October 17, 2020, 02:08:06 PM)
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Author Topic: Session length  (Read 4851 times)
Simon Kamber
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« on: April 10, 2005, 03:31:28 PM »

I recently played my first game of dogs so far. The session went great and was quite enjoyable. I've written an actual play post here, but I got caught in the moment and in retrospect I can see there's a lot of irelevant stuff in it :/

Anyway, my point is, the session was remarkably short. Even though we created characters and ran initiation, the session only took 5 or so hours, which is less than we usually play. So, what is your experiences on this? How long do your sessions take, and how much "meat" do you usually add to the town?
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Simon Kamber
Ron Edwards
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« Reply #1 on: April 10, 2005, 05:14:29 PM »

Hello,

You call five hours of play "short?" We call that really long, a mega-session. Most of our play sessions last about three hours. That applies to almost all of our role-playing now, and since we favor games similar to Dogs (e.g. Nine Worlds, The Mountain Witch, My Life with Master, etc), I think it will apply to Dogs as well, for us.

Is there any particular reason why this length of session surprises you? What happened in your game, in terms of the rate of "important conflicts, powerful resolutions" per unit real time, in contrast to your usual role-playing experiences?

Best,
Ron
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Joshua A.C. Newman
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« Reply #2 on: April 10, 2005, 05:52:28 PM »

Quote from: Simon Kamber
Anyway, my point is, the session was remarkably short. Even though we created characters and ran initiation, the session only took 5 or so hours, which is less than we usually play. So, what is your experiences on this? How long do your sessions take, and how much "meat" do you usually add to the town?


Yeah, I've generally played a town in about three hours. I wish I could still play 5-hour sessions, but that hasn't happened for a good, long time.

I think the reason for this is the absolute lucidity of a Dogs town. There's not a lot of exploration to do. Figuring out the relationships in the town can only take longer than three hours if the relationships are really complex. If you want to make a bigger town, give it more characters and tie their relationships in nasty, gnarly knots.

If you want to double the length of the game, maybe double the number of characters, and make sure that they're all interinvolved? That's the landscape of the story that can be explored, so maybe that's the way to do it.

You might want to have an overarching plot that develops from town to town, so that everything the protags do in a town isn't directly tied to the plot at hand. You could start with any given NPC the characters get involved with and build some big gnarl with that character's Blood in every town after that.
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the glyphpress's games are Shock: Social Science Fiction and Under the Bed.

I design books like Dogs in the Vineyard and The Mountain Witch.
Jason Morningstar
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« Reply #3 on: April 10, 2005, 06:26:12 PM »

I'm sure every group is different, but mine has fallen into a very rigid four hour time block, so our sessions last that long no matter what.  It seems just right for Dogs.
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Judd
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« Reply #4 on: April 10, 2005, 07:05:27 PM »

A town in about four hours is about where my games run too.
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Simon Kamber
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Posts: 175


« Reply #5 on: April 10, 2005, 09:40:07 PM »

Hmm, ok. I'm actually quite surprised by this. But it's a good thing to know.

Why the short game is surprising? Because as I said I'm not used to sessions being that quick. Might be that our group is just different in that aspect.
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Simon Kamber
Judd
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« Reply #6 on: April 10, 2005, 10:20:04 PM »

Quote from: Simon Kamber
Hmm, ok. I'm actually quite surprised by this. But it's a good thing to know.

Why the short game is surprising? Because as I said I'm not used to sessions being that quick. Might be that our group is just different in that aspect.


I found that my strongest sessions are generally much longer, between 8 and 12 hours of play is where I shine as a GM.

Dogs just runs differently and as a result, I ahve been running my games much different, much faster.

This is the situation...whatddya do?
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Bankuei
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« Reply #7 on: April 10, 2005, 10:21:37 PM »

I generally found that games tend to cut play time by at least half if they include the following features:

-Scene Framing
-Getting to the conflict ASAP
-Conflict Resolution

For many games out there, they tend to rely on exploring locations or trying to guess what the GM wants to happen plot-wise.  In both cases, they take up a lot of time, and are rarely fun for a group.  The former is much like the issue of running across a map in a videogame, and the latter is like playing "I'm thinking of a number between 1 and 100, guess!".

You'll notice that the three features I mentioned are also used in pacing scenes for most tv shows or movies, which gets a lot to happen in a half-hour to two hour span of time.

Chris
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Joshua A.C. Newman
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« Reply #8 on: April 11, 2005, 06:47:42 AM »

Quote from: Bankuei
I generally found that games tend to cut play time by at least half if they include the following features:

-Scene Framing
-Getting to the conflict ASAP
-Conflict Resolution


I totally agree. Those things trim off confusion and GM-guessing. There's something to be said for exploring the world, though, and Dogs doesn't really support that.

I bet you can make a complex enough situation that it takes a lot of time to explore it, though.

-J
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the glyphpress's games are Shock: Social Science Fiction and Under the Bed.

I design books like Dogs in the Vineyard and The Mountain Witch.
Simon Kamber
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Posts: 175


« Reply #9 on: April 11, 2005, 07:44:47 AM »

Ok then, sounds like I'll be off best planning for shorter games. The idea with more nasty, gnarly knots probably wouldn't work out well just yet.

Interesting aspect of the way the system plays though.
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Simon Kamber
lumpley
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« Reply #10 on: April 11, 2005, 08:23:17 AM »

Hey Simon, yeah, pretty much towns play out in 3-4 hours each, reliably. I did that on purpose.

I have a couple questions though, in line with Ron's:

First, do you find that the characters accomplish less in the game-world during a Dogs in the Vineyard session than during the longer sessions you're accustomed to?

Second, do you find that you're less tired at the end of a Dogs in the Vineyard session than at the end of the longer sessions you're accustomed to?

-Vincent
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Lance D. Allen
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« Reply #11 on: April 11, 2005, 09:04:06 AM »

I'll be the one voice of dissent in the unified wall of "yeah, short games are typical".

Caveat: We're only in the second town, so we've not been playing a whole helluva lot.

Thing is, we've played 3 sessions, and we won't be moving on to the next town in the next session. The first town played out quickly enough. This second town, which Lx frequently describes as "not that complicated" usually in tones of amused disbelief, has taken us two sessions, and will take at least one more.

Granted, much of it is a bit of distraction in general with the group. We tend to tangent a lot. But a good portion of it is that we've blown things all out of proportion.

What started out as the basic "talk to people, get the lay of the land" turned quickly into "two Dogs near death of injuries, direct demonic attack, an overall jump in the supernatural level of the game, and violence in the town church.

The advice given here is still sound; Plan for short sessions, but be ready for anything. As a modification of the old gaming saw: "No GM preconception survives first contact with the PCs"
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~Lance Allen
Wolves Den Publishing
Eternally Incipient Publisher of Mage Blade, ReCoil and Rats in the Walls
Simon Kamber
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« Reply #12 on: April 11, 2005, 10:36:38 AM »

Quote from: lumpley
First, do you find that the characters accomplish less in the game-world during a Dogs in the Vineyard session than during the longer sessions you're accustomed to?

Hmmm. That varies very much based on which of our previous games we're talking about. We did accomplish more in our longer D&D games. But then again, when thinking back to those, scene framing was actually well at work there. It was just never conscious. When compared to the investigation games we've played (fusion, CoC), it's probably the same.

Quote
Second, do you find that you're less tired at the end of a Dogs in the Vineyard session than at the end of the longer sessions you're accustomed to?

Yup, absolutely. Which is probably a good thing.
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Simon Kamber
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