How to get the game moving faster


Advice


My friends and I have been getting together a lot recently to play pathfinder. We are all having a fun time, but lately the sessions have been moving a lot slower. After three hours of gaming, we got done in one could have been done in one. It is okay that we socialize a lot in our games, we all enjoy it, but do you know any tips that can get us engaged and moving quickly while still being able to socialize?
Thanks!

Sovereign Court

Is there a lot of complaints about the speed of the game?

If everyone is enjoying the time then just enjoy the time.


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OilHorse wrote:

Is there a lot of complaints about the speed of the game?

If everyone is enjoying the time then just enjoy the time.

We are having fun, but we all agree that it would be good if we were more focused.


-removal of electronics (unless its for running the game itself)

- my group has 15 minutes of "get the giggles out" before we play, due to none of us seeing each other outside of game sessions

- breaks, believe or not, can also help with keeping the pace up, as it gives a chance for information to digest (especially important with AP's).

Grand Lodge RPG Superstar 2015 Top 32, RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

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I'd say the first thing is to identify the time sinks: when specifically are you losing time? Are people taking a long time to decide on their actions in combat? Are people launching into "Oh man, this ONE time..." stories whenever something happens that reminds them of a previous game/session? Are people getting caught in endless paranoid planning every time there's a door to open? Are people showing up late? Are people showing up and then just gabbing for a long time before the session gets going? Are people constantly looking up how their abilities work or adding up the same unchanging numbers round after round?

Each potential area of time loss can benefit from different strategies, so step one is identification.


How long are your sessions? Our group usually meets for 4-5 hours....which doesn't seem to be enough time really. I find it's hard to get them through a full adventuring day most of the time....combat takes so long, I'm basically forced to usher them into the next combat quickly or abandon all pretense of attrition.
I think Pathfinder is best played all day long....if you really want to get anywhere. Most of the time I feel that it's almost a choice between roleplaying and combat...either you over reward players for roleplaying....or you spend the whole session fighting.
This has just been my experience from playing 3-4 hour sessions...ofcourse you can always have 1-2 combats and more RP, but if you don't heavily reward the RP the party will level very slowly.

Sczarni

Having a meal or break together before or after to let you socialize could help. Then you could get down to gaming for a specific period of time. As long as everyone's having fun I wouldn't worry too much though. Hanging with friends and enjoying each other's company is part of the deal.

Another thing you could do is try to handle things like loot and gold through email when you're away from the table, freeing up more time to play.


in the game i am currently in it seems we can only get 1 or 2 fights done in was seems like 3-4 hours


I think breaks are a good idea. That can help isolate the out-of-game social stuff rather than letting it bleed into the game.

Regarding combat...

I like the idea of speeding up combat with a timer, similar to speed chess. It adds an adrenaline factor and can make combat feel more like, well, combat!

If they take too long to announce their intended action then they delay in initiative.

I've never actually used this in game, but I've heard of others. Try it and let us know if it works.

Also, maybe allow for some prerolling of dice.

Another good rule, especially for higher level casters, is to average out high numbers of dice rolls for sneak attacks or spells. The way the statistics works is that the more dice you roll the more likely you will hit the average anyway. So just use the darn average.


For combat:

1. Let them know enemy AC ahead of time so people can roll in advance before their turn.

2. Have initiative clear for all to see so they know when their turn is. Also announce who is next when you call on the current person so they can prep.

3. Tell people to delay if they don't know what to do.

Grand Lodge RPG Superstar 2015 Top 32, RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

Larkspire wrote:

How long are your sessions? Our group usually meets for 4-5 hours....which doesn't seem to be enough time really. I find it's hard to get them through a full adventuring day most of the time....combat takes so long, I'm basically forced to usher them into the next combat quickly or abandon all pretense of attrition.

I think Pathfinder is best played all day long....if you really want to get anywhere. Most of the time I feel that it's almost a choice between roleplaying and combat...either you over reward players for roleplaying....or you spend the whole session fighting.
This has just been my experience from playing 3-4 hour sessions...ofcourse you can always have 1-2 combats and more RP, but if you don't heavily reward the RP the party will level very slowly.

...Why do you have to finish an "adventuring day" in one session? Why can't the session end between scenes? Are you worried that people will change their records of remaining HP/spells between sessions or something?


Jiggy wrote:
Larkspire wrote:

How long are your sessions? Our group usually meets for 4-5 hours....which doesn't seem to be enough time really. I find it's hard to get them through a full adventuring day most of the time....combat takes so long, I'm basically forced to usher them into the next combat quickly or abandon all pretense of attrition.

I think Pathfinder is best played all day long....if you really want to get anywhere. Most of the time I feel that it's almost a choice between roleplaying and combat...either you over reward players for roleplaying....or you spend the whole session fighting.
This has just been my experience from playing 3-4 hour sessions...ofcourse you can always have 1-2 combats and more RP, but if you don't heavily reward the RP the party will level very slowly.
...Why do you have to finish an "adventuring day" in one session? Why can't the session end between scenes? Are you worried that people will change their records of remaining HP/spells between sessions or something?

I know personally that it is a pain when the group hasn't played in a month and everyone needs to figure out what they have or don't have available. It wastes time and people make mistakes. It probably wouldn't be an issue for other groups if they are usually on the ball...but that doesn't really describe the majority of my group, and I doubt that I am the only one.


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Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

Usually, the best method to speed up play is for everyone to be prepared and ready to go before they start playing:

1) Everyone should have their AC (normal, touch, flat-footed; with and without a shield, if applicable), attack bonuses/sequences, saving throws, CMB, CMD, etc. pre-calculated (to include all feats and equipment); if there are "standard buffs," then calculate their effects in advance, as well (both singularly and together, in case of dispel magic, dropping out of rage, silence on the bard with Perform (Oratory), etc.). A good tip is to use notecards to switch between states readily.

2) Everyone should be familiar with what equipment and magical items their character is carrying. They should now what the effects are, how many they have/charges per day, restrictions, etc. so they can choose what to do and game out the results quickly. Again, notecards are a good resource to use, instead of flipping through books to find out exactly what each item does.

3) Players running casters should know what spells they have available and what they do: ranges, durations, area/targets, effects, etc. Having a stack notecards detailing each spell known/prepared (or a purchased equivalent) can speed up play considerably; prepared casters can "customize their deck" when they prepare spells for the day, so they only have to look through what is actually prepared.* If using summon monster/nature's ally spells (or variations), have the creature statistics (most of the time, the player will only use one or two of the options with any frequency) already written down (including modifiers from Augment Summons, etc.) so that they can be run with minimal disruption to the flow of combat.

4) Players with "pet" classes should have their animal companion, eidolon, mount, etc. fully written up and ready to go, as if the pet were another character (which it effectively is).

5) If any of the players has Leadership, then the cohort should be fully written up, too.

6) The group should either decide what they intend to do at the end of the previous session (allowing them to make rough plans of action, decide which spells to prepare, if they want/need to purchase specific items, etc.) or allow time at the start of each session to make the same decisions.

*- Wizards that leave spell slots open are a bit more complex, but not tremendously so if the player just transfers a "spell card" into their "hand" when filling an open slot.


Jiggy wrote:
Larkspire wrote:

How long are your sessions? Our group usually meets for 4-5 hours....which doesn't seem to be enough time really. I find it's hard to get them through a full adventuring day most of the time....combat takes so long, I'm basically forced to usher them into the next combat quickly or abandon all pretense of attrition.

I think Pathfinder is best played all day long....if you really want to get anywhere. Most of the time I feel that it's almost a choice between roleplaying and combat...either you over reward players for roleplaying....or you spend the whole session fighting.
This has just been my experience from playing 3-4 hour sessions...ofcourse you can always have 1-2 combats and more RP, but if you don't heavily reward the RP the party will level very slowly.
...Why do you have to finish an "adventuring day" in one session? Why can't the session end between scenes? Are you worried that people will change their records of remaining HP/spells between sessions or something?

They don't keep records....it would be up to me to to enforce it and track it personally....otherwise ending the session is like shaking an etch-a-sketch. I don't want to personally go over each persons character sheet and notate their current status.

That's why I try to at least complete a single day in play and get the party "tucked in" and ready to resume next game.
I am seriously considering making a party tracking sheet for that purpose...but it's tedious.


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Most players math. Roll. Forget the math. And math again.

Always roll then math.

Grand Lodge RPG Superstar 2015 Top 32, RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

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Larkspire wrote:
Jiggy wrote:
Larkspire wrote:

How long are your sessions? Our group usually meets for 4-5 hours....which doesn't seem to be enough time really. I find it's hard to get them through a full adventuring day most of the time....combat takes so long, I'm basically forced to usher them into the next combat quickly or abandon all pretense of attrition.

I think Pathfinder is best played all day long....if you really want to get anywhere. Most of the time I feel that it's almost a choice between roleplaying and combat...either you over reward players for roleplaying....or you spend the whole session fighting.
This has just been my experience from playing 3-4 hour sessions...ofcourse you can always have 1-2 combats and more RP, but if you don't heavily reward the RP the party will level very slowly.
...Why do you have to finish an "adventuring day" in one session? Why can't the session end between scenes? Are you worried that people will change their records of remaining HP/spells between sessions or something?
They don't keep records....it would be up to me to to enforce it and track it personally....otherwise ending the session is like shaking an etch-a-sketch.

So, what, they don't write down how much HP they have left after taking damage? They don't mark off a potion they use? So when they finish one fight and move on to another, they just have to remember everything?

If they're not recording anything, then you already have an in-session problem, not just a between-sessions problem. If they are recording things, then I don't see why they can't just read their character sheets when they arrive at the next session.


Player's often use scratch pads and dry erase boards to track use per day powers,HP and spells. The character sheets are in plastic sleeves so they can use dry erase.
It's not insurmountable...but I used to be able to have full sessions without it being an issue.
It's not just PF, I love the crunchiness...most of the people I play with are married with children and jobs...so time and logistics are difficult.
I'm not saying PF is slower than 3.x, but it's definitely slower than 2nd (and better for it), I was just able to play games for 6-8 hours then.
I mainly just wanted the OP to know he wasn't the only one struggling with time and game restraints.
I'm not looking for a solution myself...I just need to find some players with more free time.


Use pencils and a ruber for the Character Sheets.

Use a scribblinbg paper for the current buffs / afflictions / current HP / ...

Grand Lodge

E6


Assume that the party are semi competent quasi trained professional murderhobos. They've lived this long. they know to stop and listen for doors, check for traps if they're not in a hurty, and that you see with your eyes not with your hands. Saves SOooo much time on the "I look at this i'm not touching that i'm over here, i have a rat on the end of a ten foot pole....

Shadow Lodge

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

Really depends on playstyle and group comp.

1st, make sure everyone's read the combat section of the Core Rulebook and you've had a session to discuss questions it's raised. Seriously this ends up removing the vast majority of time chewing questions I've ever seen raised at table and gets everyone on the same page.

2nd, have your casters check out Perram's spellbook. They can print cards for all their spells, lay them out like a hand of cards when they prep, and reference them throughout the game.

3rd, Condition and buff decks. Save yourself the trouble of looking a bunch of stuff up and just have them on cards. With the buff deck make sure to have stuff that's used pretty constantly (rage, bless, haste, etc.) on top so they are easy to get at.

4th, Dyslexic character sheets. Forewarn the sheets are big but they have all the formulas, space, and metrics for every class out so far (and some 3rd party ones). Basically if you have these your need to reference the book for how to calculate DCs, ability powers, and the vast majority of class abilities will be vastly reduced.

5th, Automate. I know some GMs hate internet devices at the table but the fact of the matter is google searching a rule is WAY quicker than having to sift through your collection to find the answer. Masterwork Tools, Initiative Tracker, and Pathfinder Tools on the android operating systems are godsends that make my work as a GM a breeze. I have my initiative table preset and just have to hit a button and it starts, have all my parties mods for secret rolls like Perception, Sleight of Hand, and Linguistics loaded and just need to hit a button and Masterwork Tools lets me google up whatever spell or feat my player or monster might have that I don't know offhand. Some of this I let players use like googling but it's a YMMV kind of thing. I find that it's easier to let the players use them and disallow certain players from using them if they become a disruption at the table but usually its much faster and cleaner to google than digging through my pile of books for one answer.


I find it often takes a hard start to get the session started. Sometimes announcing "roll initiative"* (for an APL-1 mook encounter) works really well to get everyone focused at the table. Sometimes a combat encounter isn't appropriate, but you can get the same effect by having the PCs roll some perception checks, sense motive, will saves or other passive checks (save the rolls for later in the session, this can cut down on meta gaming).

Another helpful tip is to start each session with a quick recap of the last session or two. This is especially useful if it has been a month or two, or there is some kind of cliffhanger in progress.

If possible, allow PCs to start the session after a rest, and with full HP, spells, etc.

In my group, planning was a huge time sink. It resulted in endless debates about what might happen, and how to deal with every possible contingency. What I found to be very helpful was to allow a little planning, then start the adventuring. Once the players have an idea about what is going on and what they are up against, allow them a short break to make a quick plan and get on the same page, then go back on the rounds/minutes clock. This was especially helpful if they had a task that that was restricted by in-game limitations such as everyone needing to be flying, but having to rely on 5 minute duration potions. Also be aware that some types of difficult encounters, such as dragons or vampires, really require the PCs to go in prepared. These can be great fun if they are the exception, but very boring if too frequent or if planning becomes dysfunctional or argumentative.

* Somewhere there is a blog post about starting the game that way. It isn't my original idea.


Preparation, preparation, preparation.

For GMs - Have everything you need for encounters already set aside. Have all the rules relevant to the encounter at hand. The strategy for the NPCs ready to go. If you use miniatures, I'd recommend buying Target brand wrapping paper - it has a 1in x 1in grid on the back - and pre-draw all the areas you're going to have encounters in. The wrapping paper does quite well with crayon and colored pencils.

For Players - Know everything about your character and equipment. Have the relevant rules either printed or bookmarked. Bring your own miniatures fire you and any summoned creatures / followers / pets and have their stats at hand. When it's not your turn, figure out what you're going to do.


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Regarding the issue of losing data between sessions, I highly recommend using computerized character sheets but printing them out so you can track stuff like HP, potions, spells per day, etc on the paper version. I usually print out sheets and use them repeatedly for about a level. I'm sure somebody could probably design a decent touch screen sheet for iPad, but paper and pencil seems less likely to have problems with things getting accidentally selected or deselected.

I agree with chaoseffect that letting people know the enemy's AC can be helpful. Even if you don't pre-roll people won't have to keep asking, "Does a 37 hit?" Another thing which the DM can help control is the difficulty of the encounters. If they're too tough it can really slow things down. Not only will each fight last longer, but the players are likely to become stressed. This can make them dawdle over decisions which seem important to the survival of their PCs. It can also cause people to go searching through their options, which can be particularly impactful in the case of certain casters.

I'm not saying that every encounter should be a mook stomping festival, but having more reasonable encounters should tend to lead to quicker play. Just last night we had to spend a fair amount of time cajoling one of the players into participating in a big fight since he felt his PC was in danger and he wasn't sure if he could contribute effectively (at least I figure that's what was going on). That one fight took almost half the session and seemed to put the player in a bad mood.

Conversely, some folks say that they don't have as much fun if their characters aren't seriously threatened. I find that even CR = APL encounters tend to produce some scary moments over time though if the DM plays the monsters as at least somewhat tactically astute.

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