Sunday, January 18, 2015

What if we Slowed Everything Way Down?

How do you define a session of your favorite pen & paper game? One act of your story? Two combat encounters, a skill challenge, and a little roleplaying?

If your session were a movie, how long would it take? Could it be done in a half-hour TV show? A one hour network episode? A full-hour pay-per-view show? A two-hour feature film?

Here's a thought. Maybe we pen & paper players should actively move away from that kind of pacing. Maybe the one or two session adventure is a bad style for our medium that we just haven't been able to see, because it is so ingrained in our play-style.

This is something I'm going to work on myself, and I encourage you to do the same. Slow. Down. Your. Games. See what it feels like to spend the entire four hours of your session on one fight. This obviously means making every turn more visual, more sensory, more cinematic. It means bringing in character thoughts and inner monologues more often. It means considering regrouping, hiding behind cover to plan, creating ebb and flow in the drama of one scene.

There will be players who don't like this. There will be players who get bored very quickly. It is the age of light-speed, micro-entertainment, after all. But perhaps that's a good thing. We obviously want the hobby to be as inclusive as possible, but we also want to make use of the magic of tabletop games. The magic of collective storytelling and creativity.

I like playing all kinds of games, but when I DM, I'd give my left arm for the courage to take it slowly and deliberately. Most of the time, I am too afraid of boring my players. I tell myself it is because most of my players don't want that kind of play, but maybe I think that because my players and I have never really given that kind of play a try.

Let me know how it works.

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