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Page Length vs. Game Time

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#1 James1977



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Posted 23 November 2017 - 02:20 AM

I realize this may be a slightly impossible question to answer as every group is different, but are there any rules of thumb regarding how the number of pages in a scenario relate to how long it takes to play?


I imagine even font size and factors like that could come into play, but I'm just looking for a very general estimation.


My group usually has somewhere between 3 and 6 hours per session so any info might help me to plan better.



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#2 Gaffer


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Posted 23 November 2017 - 04:24 AM

As you suggest, it is very hard to define. For the past 15 years, I've been writing and running con events to fit a fairly strict four hour time frame (give or take).

I now try to keep scenario text to 10-12 pages. That's 8.5x11 inch paper with a half-inch margin all around in a font approximately equivalent to 12 point Arial. Note that a bigger group takes more time to shepherd through the same story. My scenarios are usually written for eight characters, though most can run with four.

Keep in mind that NPC interactions, action scenes, and such can make a great difference. Likewise, any point at which you follow the characters in an unexpected direction can throw the allotted time out of whack. You can find yourself constantly varying your pace to try to keep within your bounds.

A handout can be a huge time sink if it must be read by each player. Party splits require delicate juggling as you cut back and forth between scenes. I always recommend isolating the investigators to reduce red herrings and wild goose chases, at least until you are comfortable with managing improvisations.

Of course, you'll be dealing with a home group, so it's always possible to say "Continued next time" if the story runs long this week. Always be prepared to give your players room for good roleplay when they get into something. That is, after all, the name of the game.
"Two in the head, you know he's dead." <heh-heh>

#3 ReydeAmarillo


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Posted 23 November 2017 - 08:07 AM

I can only agree with Gaffer. 10-12 double sided pages of A4, plus any handouts, is roughly what I would write for a four hour game.

Assuming that the Players are focused and in the "CoC Zone" and not overly put off chasing unsupported red herrings or discussing last nights game!

Edited by ReydeAmarillo, 23 November 2017 - 08:08 AM.

#4 James1977



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Posted 23 November 2017 - 03:14 PM

Great info. Thanks!

#5 GRWelsh



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Posted 24 November 2017 - 04:45 PM

I appreciate any advice to cut down game time.  My gaming group usually meets every other week, but I've noticed that for games like CALL OF CTHULHU which rely on memory of details -- some of which are very crucial -- continuing a scenario two or more weeks later presents some challenges.  Our games more or less run from 7 PM to 11 PM on Fridays, pretty consistently around 4 hours no matter what game we play.  For that reason, I'm interested in shorter, self-contained scenarios that can be played in one 'game night.'


Does anyone ever provide player handouts prior to the game, and/or as email attachments or scans?

#6 CDL113



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Posted 26 November 2017 - 05:37 PM

Here is another piece of advice that has served me well as a GM in various game systems. No matter what the adventure, be it purchased or home written, the PLAYERS will only stick to the script 60-70% of the time at best. But there will ALWAYS be that ONE PLAYER that "pulls a rabbit out of his hat" type move that either destroys the written adventure as is or jumps it further ahead of schedule than the party is prepared to face. BE READY TO THINK ON YOUR FEET!!!!