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How Long (in Sessions) To Complete An Adventure Path?


Pathfinder Adventure Path General Discussion

Andoran

About how many 4-hour game sessions does it take to get through a typical 90+ page Adventure Path chapter?

I'm about to start running "Rise of the Runelords" (starting with the 1st book, "Burnt Offerings") with 1st level characters and I'm new to Pathfinder and I never played 3.x.

I'm trying to get a sense of how long it will take to make it through this and future "Rise of the Runelords" AP chapters.

Thanks in advance for any feedback!

-- Dwilimir

Andoran RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32, 2011 Top 16

The group I'm running through RotRL took 9 sessions for Burnt Offerings, and 9 more for Skinsaw Murders. We're 3 sessions in on Hook Mountain Massacre. We normally game for 4 hours, but when you factor out dinner and chit chat, it's more like 3.5 hours of gaming per session.


Most of our sessions are about 5 hours long. I would say it takes an average of 18-24 sessions for us to complete an adventure path.


Well, chapters are actually ~50 pages long. Once you add in the introduction, index, bestiary and other articles, it amounts to 100 pages.

I DMed Legacy of Fire for 27 sessions of about 4-6 hours. Due to time issues I had to speed up the last chapter, so I'd say on average, I need about 30 sessions for an AP.

For Carrion Crown that I'm DMing now, I think it will take a bit more. We're halway through the third chapter and we've had 15 sessions. Usually, it takes about 5 sessions to finish a chapter, but Carrion Crown is specific, because there's a lot of investigations going on, and that adds to the length of the chapter. For example, second chapter lasted for 7 sessions.

So, I'd say that it would take me around 35 sessions in total to finish CC. Among DMs of the people I game with, my campaigns are the shortest (both in terms of RL time and number of sessions), because I try to keep players focused, so I'd say that an average game takes even longer. For example, I'm playing in Kingmaker and we've just finished Varnhold (3rd chapter) after 18 sessions (9 months RL time).


My players so far have run about 15-25 hours per book, which would be 4-6 of the OP's 4 hour sessions and therefore something like 20 sessions for an AP.

But note:

1) I've been running XPless; essentially, my players just level when it's appropriate for the challenge level of the AP. Knowing this, they feel less inclined to absolutely clear every dungeon or equivalent of every living, unliving, or lifelike creature inside it, and

2) My players have a knack for (usually unintentionally) circumventing encounters, which I think cuts down on their play time for a book. If there's a way written into the AP to solve a problem with diplomacy, trickery, or a bit of clever thinking instead of a long combat they tend to stumble across it.

3) So far, I have added very little of my own material to what's in the AP.

So I think higher estimates might well be more accurate in general.


So far, my Age of Worms campaign is 6 years long. That breaks down into 1 friday session per week of 5 hours (20.00hrs - 01.00hrs). 9 Players 1 Dm. Subtracting vacations and unexpected cancellations approx 24 sessions Total time = 1440 hours or 288 sessions!

My group really enjoys not belonging to a cohesive tactical party and contains a majority of the "I'm not very clever, but I can lift really heavy things!!" mentality. What can't be solved with one hammer needs a marginally better hammer.

The consequences are numerous and usually revolve around lots of pain / hurried withdrawal and regroup then listen to the more observant and thoughtful players to formulate a better plan of egress.

We're just about to confront Dragotha in the penultimate book. Which should provide some big smackdowns for all involved.
Initial publication of AP Dungeon Issue 124 (July 2005), illustrated by Wayne Reynolds, which featured the first chapter of Age of Worms.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Rise of the Runelords is great fun, I played in a game of it myself a while back. However if you can wait to run it in a few months we're getting a new Aniversary Edition that's been updated to Pathfinder from 3.5. Just a thought. =)

Taldor

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Been running RotRL for two groups (one adult and one kids). The kids have been going for about 2 years, the adults a bit less. This is with bi-weekly games of 5 hours (kids) and (10-12 hours), with gaps for vacations, illness, RL getting in the way, etc. If the adults game had been played continuously, we would have probably been done 3-6 months ago.

The kids are getting ready to finish #4 and start #5 and the adults are getting ready to go into the endgame in #6.


We play approx. every other week, for 4-6 hours (more often 4 than 6 though).

After a lttle more than a year we are halfway through book 4. I plan on mostly skipping book 5, so I hope to finish sometime in spring.

That would be a total of roughly 30-40 sessions spread over 1,5 years.


Im running an online skype/maptools Kingmaker game and we are about to finish book 1 after 6 session of 3 hrs.

Good luck on your RotRLs game!!!


We play every Friday for about six hours.

In the two years our group has been gaming now, we finished Council of Thieves (as it was being released), Curse of the Crimson Throne, Serpent's Skull (as it was being released) and Carrion Crown (as it was being released). We're now playing Jade Regent and are nearing (hopefully!) the end of the first book.

It takes us between 3 and 4 sessions of playing to chew through one book. In the beginning, we played an extra 2 hours, so some books, like the Bastards of Erebus or Escape from Old Korvosa took only two sessions to finish.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

We are presently in the middle of the last book and have played our 30th game last weekend. So I figure two, three, maybe four more (depending how the final battles go). So 35 would be a good estimate for my game.

Keep in mind though that we play only like once a month, so to save time, I had to "narrate" some parts (like some of the wilderness treks between cities, and a few not-so-important encounters). I feel like I litterally sped through some parts.

For an average game though, I would say about 40 to 45 sessions.

Ultradan

Andoran

2 people marked this as a favorite.

The answer to this question depends on a number of factors which will vary GREATLY from group to group:

1 - The Adventure Path Being Run: Some APs are much longer than other, while a few are quite a bit shorter than others. So far, I think that Kingmaker is clearly the longest of the Paizo APs while Council of Thieves is the shortest.

2- Play Style of the Group and GM: There are some comments on this thread which suggest to me that the speed with which some groups move through these modules means to me that they are playing the game very differently than we do when it comes to taking the time to role-play certain aspects of the game.

It also probably means that the GM is not taking the time to add things to the AP as he or she was supposed to add, either.

Most APs have significant XP "holes" in them which must be filled with other encounters and CP point awards to ensure the party levels at the proper time. Some GMs hand wave this and just award ad hoc experience to level the party when they think they should level.

These different approaches to gaming style and adding content can have a TREMENDOUS impact upon the number of sessions required.

3 -Number of Players: More players, when the CR is topped up to account for the greater number of players (and adding XP points to the adventure will greatly increase the length of time it takes to run combats, all other things being equal) Over the course of an entire AP, this can add many, many sessions to the AP's length.

4. All the Other Differences: There are a vast number of other differences in play style, approach, combat resolution, length of the game session and many other factors which can impact upon the length of time.

In my experience, an "average" Adventure Path, if played weekly, should take about one year to play to its conclusion. Example: Legacy of Fire, Carrion Crown.

A shorter Adventure Path, might be played in 9 months' time. Example: To date, the shortest AP seems to be Council of Thieves.

A few of the longer APs can take 15-18 months to play.Example, Serpent's Skull, RotRL,

The LONGEST AP, Kingmaker, can easily take more than 18 months and come closer to 2 years to play out to its conclusion, depending on the time taken for Kingdom management, additions made to the AP and the detail and approach taken by the GM to resolve the War of the River Kings.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

My Legacy of Fire group of seven veteran players has been at it for 13 months now, meeting for 6-7 hours every second weekend. We have just finished book 4. I expect that the entire AP will take us to about April, so about 20 months.

I think if we had four players we would be very nearly done by now.


Dwilimir wrote:

About how many 4-hour game sessions does it take to get through a typical 90+ page Adventure Path chapter?

My group will be starting the 6th book of RotRL and it will be the 49th session. We play every other Friday from 6:30-midnight. We have a large group (8 players), so it should go faster with a more 'normal sized' group of players (4-6).

Andoran

Thanks for everyone's reply on this! I now have a much better sense of how long it will take and how to budget our campaigns playing Adventure Path this coming year :-)


I DM Legacy of Fire and Kingmaker almost every week. So far, Legacy of Fire at 50 sessions and 3/4 of the way thru book 5 and 49 sessions for Kingmaker and just hit book 4. As Steel_Wind said it depends on a lot of factors and I see this with my two groups and the other games I play in.


I DM two Kingmaker groups over IRC each week for 5-6 hour sessions both days. So far my groups have been going for almost 8 months and are 6-7th level near the end of book two. Being Kingmaker, however, I have added a ton of custom content to the games. Still, I expect it to take at least another 6 months to finish out the series, maybe more depending on what the PCs do.

Andoran

We did Rise of the Runelords in about a year and a half of 4.5 hour sessions once a week.

I ran Legacy of Fire in around 9 months with the same frequency. I DMed the entire 3rd chapter of LoF in under 8 hours. The 5th chapter lasted for no more than 12 hours (around 3 of those were the boss fight).

EDIT: Also, I'm curious if anyone has timings for the Dungeon APs (Shackled City, Age of Worms, and Savage Tide).

Cheliax

Dwilimir wrote:

About how many 4-hour game sessions does it take to get through a typical 90+ page Adventure Path chapter?

I'm about to start running "Rise of the Runelords" (starting with the 1st book, "Burnt Offerings") with 1st level characters and I'm new to Pathfinder and I never played 3.x.

I'm trying to get a sense of how long it will take to make it through this and future "Rise of the Runelords" AP chapters.

Thanks in advance for any feedback!

-- Dwilimir

My players have averaged 10 sessions (3-4 hours each) per chapter, but I DM a rather large group of 8 to 9 players, so that might slow down things a bit - in the earlier parts during the roleplay encounters, in the latter during the combat ones.

Austin Morgan wrote:
EDIT: Also, I'm curious if anyone has timings for the Dungeon APs (Shackled City, Age of Worms, and Savage Tide).

I've run the Shackled City AP when it was being published in the magazine form (even though I had already purchased the hardcover when I got to play the final installments), and it took just slightly more than two years of gaming.

Osirion

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Charter Superscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Cards, Maps Subscriber

I agree with Steel Wind there are variables. Some of them with an individual group and some of them with individual Adventure Paths.

And variations between chapters within an adventure path.

We have been playing adventure paths since Rise of the Runelords came out.

We usually play once a month for 8 to 12 hours and sometimes 14 to 16 hours. Early chapters in an adventure path usually take us two sessions. Back when we started I would say the first two chapters in an adventure path have taken us 30 hours of play. Some chapters have taken longer.

Recently we are playing Serpent Skull and Carrion Crown.

In Serpent Skull which we began in February we have not finished the second chapter. Both the first two chapters in this adventure path were a lot longer playing than most adventure paths we have played. It will probably take at least one more session and maybe two to get to through the second chapter of Serpent Skull.

Carrion Crown which we began later (another group) we will likely finish the second chapter in one more session. The first two chapters in this adventure path took about six sessions and this group does shorter sessions. Probably 6 to 8 hours.


Austin Morgan wrote:

EDIT: Also, I'm curious if anyone has timings for the Dungeon APs (Shackled City, Age of Worms, and Savage Tide).

I DMed Savage Tide for a group of 6 (so everything took longer than intended) for 44 sessions over the course of 23 months.

I played in Shackled City for 3-4 years, and we stopped somewhere in the 10th chapter. Never finished it.

Andoran

From my experience RotR 1.5 years, CotCT 1 year, LoF (1st adventure) about a month, CoT (1st adventure) about a month. 4 PC's about 1.5 times/week.

Kingmaker, 3 months for the first part, in the first month we played almost every day (vacation), but includes a lot of other adventures


Some of the time-frames described in this thread blow my mind; I simply can't conceive of running through an entire AP if just a few months. Our five player group has recently started the 5th module of RotRL and have so far logged 46 sessions of approximately 4 hours each; having played 1 session every other week. Based on my personal experience, this a highly focused group that barely pauses to roleplay or chit chat with NPCs. We normally tear through most combat encounters with superior tactics and then quickly move on. We normally handle most downtime stuff and loot division/selling/buying between sessions over the net so as to not waste table time. At our current rate, we'll likely wrap up the AP after 65 sessions or a little over 2.5 years of game play.

I simply can't conceive of playing an RPG much faster than this. How do others do it?


Maybe your DM is adding content to the AP.

Contributor

I've been DMing a Kingmaker campaign that meets almost every Sunday for about hours. We're about 21 months in and in the middle of book 6.

Cheliax

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Tales Subscriber

For my group of five players + GM, the Rise of the Runelords lasted 29 sessions averaging around 4-5 hours of playtime. We're now fifteen sessions into Serpent's Skull and just started the fourth book so we're more or less on the same schedule with that.

We have the campaign hosted on a wiki, and the downtime stuff like item crafting and buying and selling gear is handled there, which saves time at the table.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game, Tales Subscriber

It generally takes us about three six-hour sessions per AP chapter. You can visit the links for full chapter by chapter breakdowns and session summaries, but we did Rise of the Runelords in 26 sessions and Curse of the Crimson Throne in only 18. RotR was 3.5 and using normal XP rules; CotCT was Pathfinder Beta and using "level as we need to", so we were a) more bad ass and b) not having to scrape dumpsters for XP. Plus we were mostly only 3 PCs for CoCT and 5 for RotR, which has an effect. Those are both for just straight playing through an AP; I have been running one campaign where it took like 40 sessions to get through the first two chapters of Second Darkness, but with about a dozen or so other adventures added in.

Cheliax

Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Maps, Modules, Pawns, Roleplaying Game, Tales Subscriber

Well the group of 6 that I am GMing through Runelords just finished week 24 , we missed maybe 4 weeks out of those so 20 sessions of about 5 hours average and we just started book 3 tonight.


Austin Morgan wrote:
EDIT: Also, I'm curious if anyone has timings for the Dungeon APs (Shackled City, Age of Worms, and Savage Tide).

Shackled City and Savage Tide each took about 16 months for us, fairly weekly gaming at 3.5 hours a session.

Second Darkness, 8 months
Legacy of Fire, 12 months
Crimson Throne, 12 months

Andoran

DMFTodd wrote:
Austin Morgan wrote:
EDIT: Also, I'm curious if anyone has timings for the Dungeon APs (Shackled City, Age of Worms, and Savage Tide).

Shackled City and Savage Tide each took about 16 months for us, fairly weekly gaming at 3.5 hours a session.

Second Darkness, 8 months
Legacy of Fire, 12 months
Crimson Throne, 12 months

Here's a follow-up question: for those of you who have done multiple APs, do you generally retire your character after an AP ends, and then start a new 1st level character with the next new AP you start?


Toadkiller Dog wrote:
Maybe your DM is adding content to the AP.

I don't think so. You can check our game log if you're interested.


Quote:
Here's a follow-up question: for those of you who have done multiple APs, do you generally retire your character after an AP ends, and then start a new 1st level character with the next new AP you start?

What's the other option? Start an AP designed for lvl 1 characters with a ~15 lvl character? :D


I recently running Runelords. It went 42 sessions of around 5-8 hours or so. We also are easily and heavily sidetracked as a group and socialize heavilyduring gaming so that translates to 3-5 hour sessions. My players also skipped a huge chunk of book 5, mull over details too long sometimes and spent 5 or more sessions wandering around the city in book 6 just trying to figure out what to do... I have yet to complete any other aps but they would probably go 28-40 sessions each at my groups speed. Also we took many breaks due to life issues so there were months that we didnt play so runelords went 42 7 hour sessions over like 2+ years...

Andoran

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Dwilimir wrote:
Here's a follow-up question: for those of you who have done multiple APs, do you generally retire your character after an AP ends, and then start a new 1st level character with the next new AP you start?

All APs are designed to be played with new 1st level characters.

We always roll new characters for each AP. Frankly, playing a new character concept is part of the attraction of starting a new AP.

You will find exceedingly few groups who do not do so.

Lantern Lodge

Dwilimir wrote:

About how many 4-hour game sessions does it take to get through a typical 90+ page Adventure Path chapter?

I'm about to start running "Rise of the Runelords" (starting with the 1st book, "Burnt Offerings") with 1st level characters and I'm new to Pathfinder and I never played 3.x.

I'm trying to get a sense of how long it will take to make it through this and future "Rise of the Runelords" AP chapters.

Thanks in advance for any feedback!

-- Dwilimir

We've been running RotRL for a year and a half now, trying to play every Monday, though between work, kids, and life in general we average 3 sessions a month. That said, we're halfway through book 4, and on our 51st session. Of course there was a lot of extra content added to explore character background story arcs, but for the pure AP content, it takes us between 8-10 sessions to complete one book.

My group has 5 players and is a mix of experienced gamers and players new to RPG's. We also enjoy role playing and have spent a lot of time in the adventure path getting to know the major NPC's in Sandpoint and Magnidaar. It's made for some really great tense moments in books 2 and 4.

-Duane-


It took us exactly 6 sessions per chapter to do Shackled City (we stopped before the last 3 chapters). At not quite once per month, that took 5-1/2 years, 2003-09.

It's working out to about the same for Savage Tide, which isn't finished yet, either. We're not planning to completely finish it, but I'm not sure where/when the DM will wrap it up.

Kingmaker's on deck, perhaps by 2013-- my turn to run.

To the follow-up question: we're good and tired of the characters by the time we're done, so yes, we roll up new ones.

Andoran

Dwilimir wrote:
Here's a follow-up question: for those of you who have done multiple APs, do you generally retire your character after an AP ends, and then start a new 1st level character with the next new AP you start?

I realize I didn't phrase my question very well. What I was getting at is "Do folks generally retire their 14th/15th level character at the end of an adventure path, or do folks keep those characters going in home-brew campaigns up to 20th level?"


Retirement. One 6 chapter AP is enough to play out a character and by the end you're more excited about the new ones.


I have run:
RotRL1: 33 sessions, about 4-6 hours of gaming per session.
RotRL2: About same as first campaign, maybe couple less. Sessions were about 4-6 hours long.
CotCT: 31 sessions, about 4-6 hours of gaming per session. Larger group than in either RotRL.

I have played:
SD: About 20 sessions. I have lost count while playing but in #4 part we only had 12 sessions so 20 sessions isn't bad guess.
CoT: I didn't count sessions. Somehow I feel that about somewhere between 15-22 is correct. Funny thing is that we played this through in two months.

Now I'm runnign SD as "elf only"-campaign and we have played three times. I can't really say how long it will take as I'll encourage my players to improvise and not follow obvious leads and metaplay. So far it has been good advice to them, we had fun.

Andoran

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Dwilimir wrote:


I realize I didn't phrase my question very well. What I was getting at is "Do folks generally retire their 14th/15th level character at the end of an adventure path, or do folks keep those characters going in home-brew campaigns up to 20th level?"

Depends on the AP. Each AP presents some general suggestions on how to carry on the campaign past book 6, but you need to appreciate that there are problems inherent within Pathfinder RPG that make this very difficult to do.

The underlying math behind BAB, Hit Dice, Saves and the DCs for spells and SR in Pathfinder tends to break down around 14th level or so. 3..x/ Pathfinder doesn't do high level play very well. Especially when it comes to the SR system, Pathfinder is on a pretty wobbly mathematical foundation.

Rumours swirl that we will see "Mythic" rules for Pathfinder in the future, which is the current buzzword James Jacobs has been using instead of the "Epic" moniker used in 3.xx. Should the rules system for "Mythic" play renovate the underlying arithmetic in the game, it may become more viable. Even so, I find high level play to be exceptionally difficult to run - and Pathfinder, like 3.xx, tends to favor the character who acted first in all high level confrontations.

In any event, the short answer is NO -- most people retire their characters after the conclusion of an AP. Most does not mean "all" -- but it certainly does mean "most".

I would add that there are some APs which carry on more naturally than others. Most especially, I can see how a Council of Thieves AP could carry on quite naturally past the conclusion of Book 6 as the players can be as low as 11th level (and very unlikely to be higher than 12th) at the end of the AP as written. Accordingly, there is still some challenge left to present to those PCs should you wish to continue on with the campaign.

However, the general approach is to conclude the campaign at the end of the AP and move on to a new campaign. That is the approach adopted by the overwhelming majority of Pathfinder GMs.

Andoran

Steel_Wind wrote:
...the short answer is NO -- most people retire their characters after the conclusion of an AP. Most does not mean "all" -- but it certainly does mean "most".

Thanks for this insight.

Are you the Steel Wind of Chronicles:Pathfinder Podcast fame? If so, I just wanted to let you know I've been listening to that and I really enjoy the podcast -- it's very helpful to me as a new Pathfinder GM. :-)


Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber

I am currently playing in _Council of Thieves_ and running _Kingmaker_. Can't offer anything toward the "how long does it take" question, though, as I didn't record when we started. Maybe a year of playing 2-3 hours 2-4 times a week, alternating between the two campaigns every couple of months. We put in a lot of outside material.

Both campaigns are going to have to go past their module-6 ending in order to be satisfactory. The way that the CoT game developed, the PCs are very invested in their new roles in Westcrown and the player would be seriously bummed not to get to see them in action. But the PCs are only 11th, and while that's already very high for my tastes, it's bearable.

I cut down _Kingmaker_ so that the PCs are supposed to be 13th at the end. (For reasons already described, I don't like to run high level. We did RotRL as written and the last two modules were not very entertaining.) But I can already see that the PCs will simply refuse to accept the ending that the AP offers and go straight into the "what happens next" epilog material, so I am making plans to run that as well. I think we might have another year on that campaign. I don't know if CoT will last that long as the GM is finding the political game very challenging to run. (I am proud to say, I have a PC *on the Council of Thieves.*)

RPG Superstar 2014 Top 32

It depends on your pace. We play in a group that is quite RP heavy, and take about 12 x "4 hour sessions" per adventure path module (so 72 sessions per Adventure Path)

Our actual sessions are a whole weekend with 16 hours of gaming though, so we finish it in 3 real-life sessions.


I'm running Curse of the Crimson Throne right now and we're almost done with the first volume. I add content though, and the players like to go off on little tangents themselves. I figure two more game session should do it, and that will make it 13 total. We average about 4 hour sessions, though some are 5 to 5 1/2 and others are 2 1/2 to 3.

I'm blending each volume into the next so there's no clear line between adventures (the last event of the first adventure hasn't taken place yet but the first event of the second adventure has). But even with added content i anticipate the each remaining volume taking no more than 15 sessions and no less than 10. (So we should be finishing volume 3 or partway through volume 4 this time next year with our every other week schedule).

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