I don’t recall what was the longest game session I’ve played—the first time I encountered a roleplaying game I was twelve or thirteen and I know that I’ve experienced quite a bit of gaming since then. Games in college would last up to six hours with my friends and I gathering for an afternoon (and the requisite pizza break). But, none really stood out as a long game session.
Maybe that thing back in high school.
I still remember the last name of the guy who invited everyone over: Smet. SmetCon was this guy inviting over two or three groups of gamers to his house one weekend afternoon, where he was going to run us through an adventure. Perhaps a dozen players were there. Make the most powerful AD&D character you can at whatever level. So I made a druid, which I never played before, but at that level would have been super powerful if any element of the adventure took place outdoors. It turned out to be a dungeon crawl.1
Our large party decided to split up so our characters could cover more ground—which naturally meant that half of the players had to be sent out of the room, because “you get to have no fun for a while” was the accepted method of playing RPGs back then—and then the game slowed to a crawl as the two groups decided the heck with plundering the tomb of whomever and decided to set up traps and kill each other off.
It could have been awesome, but we were all pimply-faced teenagers and it turned into a crappy afternoon if you were on my team’s side, who seemed to have longer gaming timeouts than the other (although I’m sure that’s because the “you have no fun in the other room” time seemed slower than actually doing things at the table), and one egregiously asinine moment when the red team successfully detected an anti-magic force field thing you could pass through which disenchants everything2 so they teleported to the exact opposite side of the field in an attempt to fool any of us who could track them into thinking they walked right through. Of course, when our team investigated the barrier and—not finding anything odd—we passed through, we didn’t notice the instant neutering of our magical glowing and floating stuff. We were all near 20th level: the half of our gear that didn’t glow actually spoke to us. Hell, at least one adventurer had a bunch of magical pebbles that were orbiting his head.
Cue the inevitable cries of foul from teenagers going through puberty once the subterfuge “and none of your magical items work” ambush was sprung.
That might have been it, but it’s one of the few games I actually played in and one of the few games in which I, and half the players, were sent away to not play the game while playing the game3 which is why it probably seemed so loooooong. Thing is, I didn’t learn from that—in the college games, I still regularly sent people out of the room to have No Fun until much, much later when I realized that I characters keeping secrets from each other is far more rewarding when the players know what’s going on.
- Yeah, I was kind of a stupid kid. [↩]
- This is the type of bullshit we had to put up with in the early days of Dungeons & Dragons. Did you know that Gary Gygax’s first game with his children had them finding a huge chest full of coins and treasure, but the chest was too heavy for them to move? What a dick. No wonder so many people approach the GM/player divide as adversarial roles instead of as a collaborative one. [↩]
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