The One Time Players Will Most Want a Time-Skip

In my experience, players of RPGs demand time-skips a lot. It’s hardly surprising. We only have so much time allotted for session, people want to squeeze every drop of enjoyment out of it, and the last thing anyone wants to do is take valuable time on things that not everyone is enjoying. And those time-skips can come with a lot of reasons: no planned events, lots of distance to cross, you get the idea. But the most common reason for people to request a time-skip?

Waiting.

Whether it’s that part of the group has been captured already and they’re waiting for the rest to catch up, a self-important NPC is letting them stew in their own juices while he takes care of a few other priority matters, or the Mystical Item for will be ready in ten minutes; whether the reason for actually playing out the wait is to aid immersion, to finish playing out the little side-bits that lead to the end result, or because you don’t want them to catch you stalling as you try to figure out what to do with the fact that they chose the one option you didn’t have a plan for; whatever the reason, waiting seems to me to raise people’s hackles in a way that many other unfortunate events don’t. At least with a dead character, you can build the replacement, right? (Interestingly enough, most of the problems I’ve seen with waiting were in play-by-chat games where the players could multitask. Go figure.)

It isn’t just the limited time of session, though that plays a great role in and of itself. It’s also tied to the escapism with which many of these people view RPGs. “Hurry up and wait” is, after all, common in the real world. We get it with our job applications and our requests for raises; with just about any important communication, really; we hurry to the theater to stand in line for the new release or show up early to the convention and cool our heels in the admission line. We get it enough in the real world; why would we want it in our fictional worlds? If we can’t escape it in life, why put up with it in our escapism?

But sometimes it’s appropriate. Where immersion matters, actually playing the wait can get the feel and the resulting emotions, whether it’s the unnerving helplessness of not being able to confirm an escape plan until everyone’s present or irritation with that windbag who holds the purse strings here, in a way that just saying “ten minutes later” cannot. Sometimes, someone may strike up a conversation that could be really interesting in its own right—it’s just that it’s not necessarily interesting to everyone. And every now and then, you really do need to look at your notes.

But if the general level of player irritability starts rising, you’ll know why. A lot of people just don’t like to hurry up and wait.

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