1.1 Length of Play

How long does roleplaying take? There are three ways to measure time spent roleplaying. First is the session. This is the actual amount required to play a game. Game sessions usually last from three to five hours, though some are shorter and sometimes they go for much longer. The second measure of game time is the scenario. This is a chapter of the story. There is usually a beginning, middle, and an ending to a scenario, consisting of some roleplaying, some action, and a dramatic resolution. A scenario may take one or more sessions to play through. The longest measure of game time is the campaign, a series of scenarios linked together to form an epic or engrossing longer story. A campaign may be finite, with a beginning, middle, and end, or it may be open-ended, going until it ends.

For an easy way to wrap your head around it, liken it to reading a novel. The session is the amount of time to read a chapter. The scenario is one or more chapters. The campaign is the whole novel itself. ‘One-shot’ games are scenarios that do not have a place in a campaign—they’re like short stories. They may take longer than one sitting to read, but they do not continue beyond the end of the story.


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