Some thoughts on AP length


Pathfinder Adventure Path General Discussion


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In June of 2010, I started playing in a Kingmaker campaign. This past Saturday, September 2nd 2017, we finally finished. Elapsed time: seven years, two months, and an indeterminate number of days (I'm not sure of the precise date we began).

Around June of 2011, I started GM'ing Rise of the Runelords with a different group. That campaign is currently about a third of the way through Book 5, six years later.

I would like to say that I'm jazzed at finishing Kingmaker. My character Cara even got in the killing blow on the BBEG. But honestly, all I really feel is relief that that's finally over and done with, and I can get on with my life.

I'm going to finish GM'ing Runelords. We have invested so much time and effort in it at this point that none of us can bear the thought of not finishing.

But after that, I seriously doubt that I am ever going to play in or run another adventure path. As written they are just too long. I respect groups that have the commitment to run these things. But, at least with my current groups, it's just not realistically compatible with the demands of an adult life.


How often are you playing, bi-monthly for 4-6 hours?

If so that would explain a lot on how long it's taking your group(s) to play through them.


Yeah, it's totally a scheduling thing. The Runelords group in particular can only meet once every 4-6 weeks. The Kingmaker campaign imploded at the end of Book 3, lay fallow for a year, and then started over from the beginning of Book 1 with a couple new players.

It's not Paizo's fault, or anything. There's nothing wrong with writing long adventures. It's just they're not going to work with my groups. And that's that.


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*nods* Been finding that to be a cause of consideration the past 2 years as well for one group.

If a group can play weekly they can readily chew through an AP in about 6 months depending on how much improv occurs and how long the session goes for.


You should take a look at Pathfinder's module line.
By now there are some great adventures & a few, like 'Dragon's Demand' & 'Plunder & Peril' offer mini-campigns / adventure paths with accelerated pacing. Some offer a set of 3 20 page adventures to be played linked or standalone.
They are perfectly suited to time-poor groups or just those that like to go off-piste & take their time.


I'd also recommend PFS. They're quite hit and miss on quality, but each adventure is designed to be run in a 4 hour block and each year they have a different storyline. You could easily grab a handful of them (hand-waive XP and simply level up every X modules) and run a mini-campaign.

For your first game I'd recommend seeking out advice on which modules to run to culminate in Eyes of the Ten. They're a good series (4 parts) and if you run the right adventures leading up to Eyes of the Ten you would get a very satisfying story (just be careful on which ones you run leading up to it. The PFS forums could definitely help with advice in that regard).


I may run some modules in future. I've also thought about running PFS modules as one-shots. But I think I'm more likely just to make homebrew adventures. I find it way more satisfying to run my own stuff anyway.

Though I'm not above plundering other adventures for ideas!


That's a huge part of what they're there for. :)


Tinalles wrote:

In June of 2010, I started playing in a Kingmaker campaign. This past Saturday, September 2nd 2017, we finally finished. Elapsed time: seven years, two months, and an indeterminate number of days (I'm not sure of the precise date we began).

Around June of 2011, I started GM'ing Rise of the Runelords with a different group. That campaign is currently about a third of the way through Book 5, six years later.

I would like to say that I'm jazzed at finishing Kingmaker. My character Cara even got in the killing blow on the BBEG. But honestly, all I really feel is relief that that's finally over and done with, and I can get on with my life.

I'm going to finish GM'ing Runelords. We have invested so much time and effort in it at this point that none of us can bear the thought of not finishing.

But after that, I seriously doubt that I am ever going to play in or run another adventure path. As written they are just too long. I respect groups that have the commitment to run these things. But, at least with my current groups, it's just not realistically compatible with the demands of an adult life.

My group just finished RotR after 4 years. And we are still playing Way of the Wicked, which we started at roughly the same time, though the last book of that can really drag, depending how you approach it. In our case, we role-play...I know right? Anyway, we played pretty much every two weeks in RotR with some ups and downs; WotW was played more like every week for at least two years. I can't believe how long it has taken us.

Now, no one can accuse us of being task masters in our sessions, but, we DO play, and make progress. But, I read on these forums of groups chewing through APs in around 6 months. Even at once a week like clock-work, I can't imagine it taking less than a year. I think it depends very much on how you play, and how the GM gets you along.

Our past games were almost entirely homebrew Forgotten Realms, in one big sprawling, shared sandbox Faerun with everyone taking turns as DM, and a huge patchwork of interrelated PC groups. I think that is our problem, too sandboxy when we should be helping our players move through the AP.

I recently committed to GM Curse of the Crimson Throne, although we haven't started and may have hit a snag. That was a huge commitment for me, looking at our two other APs. I don't want to run the same module, written by someone else, for FOUR YEARS! I have resolved to MOVE THAT TRAIN ALONG.


We started Strange Aeons 14th of January. Now (almost 9 months later) we are about 1 or 2 weeks away from finishing book 3. Book 6 always goes quickly for us. So I'm expecting to potentially be another 6 months or so.

Shadow Lodge

Yeah, how long it takes to get through an AP depends on the players, GM, and scheduling. I like the AP format, though you'd basically need the kind of group that'd all be committed to watch an entire season of a TV series when each episode first airs to get through it. Or at least, that sort of commitment.

Not counting APs that fell apart right after Book One, I've finished an AP in almost two years, and am running RotRL for a group of new players who are chewing right through it - after an unsteady start where two players left and I had to search for another, we've been meeting weekly and going through a book every 5 or so sessions!

In the APs I'm playing, I'm in the last book of one of them, which we've been playing for just over a year. Though we tend to spend an hour making up plans, then ignoring all of them, we tend to run after the next plot point, sending the GM e-mails about our respective goings-on. Everyone else is secretive about their own, and nobody cares about mine :\

In the other (Way of the Wicked), it's taken 3 years for us to finish Book 3 because we're all a bunch of incompetent fools who are always surrounded by each other: one guy was set up for an intrigue-heavy adventure of subtle infiltration, another just wants to kill everyone, and my character shifted to CE for a while out of sheer frustration. Our lack of co-ordination made us almost die all throughout Book Two, and the GM lets everyone go on their singular silly escapades during game time. We still want to finish the AP, though in my case it's become about finding out how the good guys finally finish us off once and for all.

So, yeah, it depends on a lot of things.


Pathfinder Companion, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

I noticed the other night that my son's 1st level Giantslayer character was created on 30 September, 2015. We should finish book 5 in 2 or 3 sessions. With another one-month life break coming up (my buddy takes lengthy contract jobs out of town), I expect we'll finish in late November or early December. Over 2 years. Seems like it was just yesterday when we started.

Personally, I enjoy these. We have a lot of fun, and there's enough "closure" at the end of each book to keep it interesting. This makes the length seem less important. We're already planning our next AP, which will likely be Ironfang Invasion. It looks to be a more balanced affair, in spite of containing several elements that are similar to Giantslayer.


I started running Helps Rebels about 15 months ago. We're very close to finishing Book 3, just the Ruby Masquerade to run. Meeting weekly definitely makes it movie quicker even if we only play about 3 hours a session


Tinalles wrote:

In June of 2010, I started playing in a Kingmaker campaign. This past Saturday, September 2nd 2017, we finally finished. Elapsed time: seven years, two months, and an indeterminate number of days (I'm not sure of the precise date we began).

Around June of 2011, I started GM'ing Rise of the Runelords with a different group. That campaign is currently about a third of the way through Book 5, six years later.

I would like to say that I'm jazzed at finishing Kingmaker. My character Cara even got in the killing blow on the BBEG. But honestly, all I really feel is relief that that's finally over and done with, and I can get on with my life.

I'm going to finish GM'ing Runelords. We have invested so much time and effort in it at this point that none of us can bear the thought of not finishing.

But after that, I seriously doubt that I am ever going to play in or run another adventure path. As written they are just too long. I respect groups that have the commitment to run these things. But, at least with my current groups, it's just not realistically compatible with the demands of an adult life.

Thanks for making a thread about your AP preference. You are aware that you can just play one installment and be done with it? So you would like to deny those of us that have the option to continue a campaign with continuity the chance to do so? Play one installment if that's what works best for you. Start with part one or part six, it doesn't matter.


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

That's kind of rude, don't you think.

Of course they know they don't have to finish it.

And they aren't denying anyone anything, just telling it as they see it.


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Brother Fen wrote:
Tinalles wrote:

In June of 2010, I started playing in a Kingmaker campaign. This past Saturday, September 2nd 2017, we finally finished. Elapsed time: seven years, two months, and an indeterminate number of days (I'm not sure of the precise date we began).

Around June of 2011, I started GM'ing Rise of the Runelords with a different group. That campaign is currently about a third of the way through Book 5, six years later.

I would like to say that I'm jazzed at finishing Kingmaker. My character Cara even got in the killing blow on the BBEG. But honestly, all I really feel is relief that that's finally over and done with, and I can get on with my life.

I'm going to finish GM'ing Runelords. We have invested so much time and effort in it at this point that none of us can bear the thought of not finishing.

But after that, I seriously doubt that I am ever going to play in or run another adventure path. As written they are just too long. I respect groups that have the commitment to run these things. But, at least with my current groups, it's just not realistically compatible with the demands of an adult life.

Thanks for making a thread about your AP preference. You are aware that you can just play one installment and be done with it? So you would like to deny those of us that have the option to continue a campaign with continuity the chance to do so? Play one installment if that's what works best for you. Start with part one or part six, it doesn't matter.

There were no demands made to 'stop making the long APs, ugh'. And your tone is rude, and very presumptive. Move along.

Shadow Lodge

More a meaning of, "They're just too long for me and my friends." I can sympathize, and I hope the suggestions in this thread make for good ideas so that the Original Poster can get their gaming on without having the whole thing stall.


Our group took about 4'ish years to finish Savage Tide and another 4'ish years to finish Runelords. I like it that way personally. There is a feeling of significant accomplishment. We just started Crimson Throne now too and that will probably take another 4'ish years.

Playing, to me, is just getting together with my friends, hanging out, not worrying about work and bills and such and slaying monsters and solving mysteries. I don't care if we finish one AP in 4 years vs. 14 modules.

The idea that "you can now get on with your life" shows that playing full APs isn't really your thing. There is nothing wrong with that, as there are plenty of good modules and scenarios out there. You can even play single books of APs as modules or even single chapters of a book as short adventures.

If you really like the level progression, depth, and complexity of full APs, but not the time investment, then that will be rough. The depth and richness of an AP is tied to the time to play through it. You or your GM can work through more storytelling speed things up, though. It probably isn't as satisfying but you get some of the experience.

You can also get involved in more PbP or virtual games along with an AP with your core group. That may help satisfy some of your concerns and are less time intensive as you can just play from home.


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justaworm wrote:

Our group took about 4'ish years to finish Savage Tide and another 4'ish years to finish Runelords. I like it that way personally. There is a feeling of significant accomplishment. We just started Crimson Throne now too and that will probably take another 4'ish years.

Playing, to me, is just getting together with my friends, hanging out, not worrying about work and bills and such and slaying monsters and solving mysteries. I don't care if we finish one AP in 4 years vs. 14 modules.

The idea that "you can now get on with your life" shows that playing full APs isn't really your thing. There is nothing wrong with that, as there are plenty of good modules and scenarios out there. You can even play single books of APs as modules or even single chapters of a book as short adventures.

If you really like the level progression, depth, and complexity of full APs, but not the time investment, then that will be rough. The depth and richness of an AP is tied to the time to play through it. You or your GM can work through more storytelling speed things up, though. It probably isn't as satisfying but you get some of the experience.

You can also get involved in more PbP or virtual games along with an AP with your core group. That may help satisfy some of your concerns and are less time intensive as you can just play from home.

Absolutely agree. I realize you aren't speaking directly to me, but regarding my earlier post: don't get me wrong. I am not complaining about the APs. They are the greatest innovation in adventure publishing and, I believe, have as much to do with the continued success of Pathfinder as anything.

Back in the day ('87 to 2000), we gamed often, with a sprawling cast of interconnected subgroups of characters, and nearly every adventure was at least half home brewed. It took me 13 years, of which probably 8 were regular for my main, to reach the vaunted 20th level. Our characters aged, hell we aged, and matured.

To me, the APs are just too long in the same adventure. It feels like you are trapped, and cannot do anything else. There is no end in sight for so long. It ain't over until the BBEG sings. And though taking 4 years to level from 1st to 18th takes some of the weird feeling out of fast leveling, in story it's like 6 months to 2 years of the PCs young lives. So, when you think about it, it still feels too fast.

But, obviously, that's just my personal feeling about my own gaming. I have long struggled with the power curve of D&D/Pathfinder, and have sought solution for as long. But my group plays PF, so...such is life.

-Cheers


We started Strange Aeons February 19th.
We are in the middle of book 5. We meet once a week, for 5 to 6 hours. Sometimes we skip a session (this sunday we had a wedding), but sometimes we make a 1 day-long marathon of 10-12 hours,so I guess 5-6 hours a week is a good average. Probably slightly less,as marathon are less frequent than missing sessions.

We started Iron Gods June 1st of 2016, finished February 2017. So I guess
9 months per AP is our average.

Our average age is 40, and everyone is married/coupled/has children. So «adult life schedule» and stuff.

A few key things that work for us: we play if we have quorum. If we had to wait until everybody can play at the same time, we would not play. Once a month something happens and someone miss a session. We only skip it if it is me (the GM) or at least two players.
I skip non-relevant encounters against underleleveled opppsition that are not related to the AP. The «there is a bear in this room for some reason» encounters, that are there to fill up an XP budget. We level up when we are supposed to do so, and we do relevant or interesting fights only, including fights to wear down resources before bosses, but not «random meaningless encounters». We don't rush, but we don't waste time in fights we don't think are cool.

We level up at home,and use Wassap to buy and sell stuff, leaving game sessions to play, free from homework and bookkeeping as much as we can.

We play gridless. With maps, but gridless. We move using premeasured sticks, and it is way faster than counting 10 different paths to see if you can get there without AOO and not wasting squares to the second diagonal. Some easy, quick fights are done mapless, asasit it takes longer to draw a tower and two goblins at the door than killing two goblins.

I, the GM, use «take 10» for initiative. Only pcs roll. It's like a «initiative DC» of sorts. Less rolls make combat faster.

I also use 5 hp per CLW charge, instead of rolling 1d8+1, and sometimes take average instead of rolling (spell) damage. Saying «35» is faster than rolling 10d6 and adding them up.

Players help during combat. One of them keep initiative, other score damage for monsters, other marks monsters with conditions.

Everything adds up.


For the Adventure Paths I have run, the typical duration is about 2 years at 3 hours per week.

Rise of the Runelords: September 2010 to August 2012. Two years at 3 hours per week equals 312 hours.

After a break on Fall 2012, I resumed the campaign with The Witchwar Legacy and GM-written material to get the characters to 20th level. January 2013 to August 2013 at 3 hours per week equals 104 hours.

Jade Regent: September 2012 to December 2012 for first module, resumed September 2013 to March 2015. One year and 11 months at 3 hours per week equals 300 hours. The players derailed the campaign in the 5th and 6th modules, so parts were replaced by GM-written material.

Iron Gods: December 2015 to present at only halfway through 6th module. If we take 3 more months to finish, that will be 2 years at 6 hours per week for 6 months changed to 3 hours a week, for 390 hours. The players' unusual style of setting up residence in the campaign locations led to many game sessions with lots of GM-written color yet little plot advancement.

As for whether I like those durations, as a player I like about 8 three-hour sessions at each level. For a campaign that runs from 1st to 17th level, that would be 128 sessions at 3 hours per session for 384 hours. The pacing in the adventure paths is fine.

However, running those adventure paths felt like they had some filler material. In Rise of the Runelords, the 5th module was a side quest to prepare for the last module. In Jade Regent the 2nd and 3rd modules were about the trip over the northern ice cap rather than the main story about the royal families of Minkai. In Iron Gods, the 3rd and 4th modules were about the android Casandalee rather than the main story about technological gods.

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