Has anyone had any experience with running very short sessions?  The members of my group have had some shuffling of…

Has anyone had any experience with running very short sessions?  The members of my group have had some shuffling of…

Has anyone had any experience with running very short sessions?  The members of my group have had some shuffling of work responsibilities that have made it hard to find good overlapping blocks of time to meet in.  In the past we’ve run roughly 3 hour sessions, which feels like a good length for DW.  What I’m considering now is trying to run 1 hour sessions when schedules align, hopefully getting in 3 hour sessions when we get lucky and have more time.

My gut feel is that this might work (you can do a lot in an hour with DW), though it might mean the players have a harder time really getting in the groove with their characters.  I’m also thinking I’d need to change the end-of-session move and instead run it every few sessions, possibly at natural transition points in the story.

Can this kind of schedule work or will the play just get too fragmented?

8 thoughts on “Has anyone had any experience with running very short sessions?  The members of my group have had some shuffling of…”

  1. Aaron Griffin

    I like your idea of having a parallel communication channel to cover some of the out-of-character details.  I can almost see a sort of hybrid between play-by-post with short sessions, where maybe we resolve things like end-of-session and bond resolution off-screen via the text-based channel, then keep the face-to-face sessions for fast-paced events.  Perhaps even some in-character conversation threads that happen over text, then spill over into live play as appropriate.

    Some things to mull over…

  2. I have some further thoughts on crunching it to a one-hour session.

    Talk candidly about the goals behind actions. Lots of time is lost during games when players say “I attack” without really having a game plan. It makes things feel flat, slow, and makes it hard to create interesting consequences.

    So when the player says “I attack,” ask why! “Well, it looks scary and I don’t like it!” / “So you’re attacking it because you’re worried for your own safety?” / “yeah!” / “ok well it rears back and whines as you draw your sword. It looks scared. It doesn’t seem to be too threatening anymore, do you still want to attack?” etc etc

    The idea here is that you can get to some end state that a player wants in a simpler manner if you know exactly what they want. This encounter could have gone direct to combat, and then people would need to heal up, maybe make shoddy repairs on their gear. And by that time, 45 minutes have passed.

    Edit: and that combat could have certainly been fun and interesting, but is it what the players want? Sounds like they just wanted to get by this creature, with no true reason to fight it…

    Cover overarching plot threads, goals, and tasks at hand in a recap. With one hour sessions, you’ll probably have a lot of cliffhangers. Starting a session with “ok so the lizardmen are attacking” is fine and dandy, but it’s easy to forget why they are attacking and what the players are doing there in the first place. Before you set the scene, remind them “The lizard princess has contracted you to take back her throne from her evil uncle. She begs you not to harm her misguided and confused people if you can help it. You recall this as the snarling group of lizards charge at you from the jungle”

  3. One other thing that might help with the secondary communication channel is to use it for some of my question asking, freeing up more time during the sessions for action.  Sort-of mixing asynchronous world-building activities with fast-paced in-character play in the world we’re building.

  4. You’d need to be careful about that, because not everyone pays attention at the same rate.

    I’ve asked questions before hand and said “answer them in play” though, giving people time to think, but not leaving people in the dark if they didn’t read all the posts.

  5. I’ve done one hour sessions. Basically, I took a “one shot” adventure and broke it up into 4 sessions. Although I think you could do a longer campaign this way, too. I already had the adventure plan ready and sent them a brief intro. Then had them email me their characters. They also wrote up brief backgrounds that I then emailed to everyone and told them to think about their bonds and party dynamics.

    The first session was spent ‘formally’ introducing their character and getting ready for the adventure/investigating. The next two sessions were spent building to the climax. The final sessions was the climax and wrap-up. The key is to plan. Which for DW means have your dangers written, have a list of likely monsters with stats at hand, think about the places in the area and NPCs which populate it. Make GMs moves to keep the action moving. Advance those dangers.

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