December 29, 2019

Pace of Play

Today’s #newbieTuesday post is all about the pace of play in tabletop role playing games. It’s neither good nor bad to have a fast or slow-paced story; it’s a stylistic preference that the GM & players should be cognizant of when working together on beginning their story.

How fast/slow the story progresses ultimately is dependent on a number of high-level factors:

  1. System
  2. Number of players
  3. GM storytelling style

The RPG system has a wide-ranging impact on how fast/slow a story progresses as it’s what governs all the rules being used for play. How combat operates, how skill checks are performed, and how “turns” are structured are obvious examples.

And of course, how many players there are around the table dictates how many different mouths there are to feed. Each player deserves to have their own individual and collective story invested in by both the GM and other players so, the more players there are, the longer the story takes to progress.

The GM too has a large stake in the pace of play. GMs are story facilitators just as much, if not more so, than they are storytellers. Skilled and experienced GMs organize and optimize their time, their plots, and sense of direction. They’re able to pivot between plot threads, story beats, and player attention without bleeding time.

While it’s difficult for many new players to be fully aware of these factors, try and keep your eye on them as your story progresses. You’ll be able to learn and grow as a player and have a more empowered voice at the table as a result.