Session Length

  • 8 Replies
Session Length
« on: September 10, 2017, 02:22:16 AM »
So I wondered this a bit in first edition, but it's more stark in second edition...

Each of the playbooks has a Barter section where most of them say "At the beginning of the session, spend 1- or 2-barter for your lifestyle." In the Hardholder playbook, it makes clear that 1-barter will get you "a month's hospitality, including a place to live and meals in common with others."

If we had all the PCs pay one barter for rent at the start of every session at my table, they'd be paying a month's rent every, like, 1-2 in-game days.

So questions: Is this because our sessions are shorter than most peoples (or Vincent's)? We play for 2.5-3.5 hours at a time. Is it because we play way more moment-to-moment that most people? I'd say a session covers anywhere from a half a day to a couple of days. Almost never a whole week, let alone a month. There's just too much stuff going on. Because it might be relevant to play time, I'll also mention that we have 4 players including the MC.

What do other folks do? How long are your typical sessions in real time? In game time? How many players do you have?



  • 1293
Re: Session Length
« Reply #1 on: September 10, 2017, 12:34:54 PM »
1-barter isn't a month's rent anymore. It's a session's baseline living expenses. Could be a day, could be a couple of days, could be just part of a day, it doesn't matter.

The hardholder's barter section posed a bit of a conundrum. Ultimately I decided to let a 1-barter gift be worth a month's hospitality, but that really only works for NPCs, since for PCs, the start of session lifestyle rules would apply instead. Per those rules, if you're a PC living on the hardholder's hospitality, you're asking the hardholder to pay 1-barter for your lifestyle at the beginning of every session.

edit: But to answer your other question, I basically never get to play for 3 hours. It's usually 1.5 - 2.5 hour sessions around here!

« Last Edit: September 10, 2017, 12:42:53 PM by lumpley »

Re: Session Length
« Reply #2 on: September 10, 2017, 03:53:45 PM »
Ahhh. This makes some sense, then. Thanks for answering, Vincent. <3

Anybody else please feel free to answer about how long you play in real time and how that maps to in-game time. I'm curious.

Re: Session Length
« Reply #3 on: September 11, 2017, 12:17:53 AM »
Our sessions are in the 2-4 hour range pretty consistently. (Maybe 3 or 3.5 hours more often than not.)

They tend to cover events happening within a short space of time (typically all within a few hours, or the same day), although occasionally a session will cover a handful of days "in game".

The only ongoing game where we've used the new barter per-session rules is a Fallen Empires game. It's felt fairly natural because each session started a significant timeskip after the previous one, like separate "episodes".

I'd be curious to hear about people's experiences with per-session barter in general, both good, bad, and just curious.



  • 415
Re: Session Length
« Reply #4 on: September 11, 2017, 02:38:14 AM »
Our sessions are 5 to 7 hours real time typically, and we tend to cover between a few hours and three days in play, normally averaging about a day and a half.

The new barter rules puts real onus on the players to make some type of capital every single/other week, and this tends to be a very valuable effect because it emphases the scarcity of basic goods and needs in the world at large. If a player had a huge pile of barter, then tended to live the high life for every session they could until they literally didn't have a choice but to go back to the standard squalor. We made it count.

I found that in AW1 stockpiles of barter were like nukes the players piled away until they wanted to basically buy off an entire army, arm an entire army, or something similar. This tended to mean that I gave out very little barter normally, and they would spend it very cautiously. In AW2 the barter really FLOWS and shows much more of an economy. Everyone is getting it and using it all over the place, and that's actually inspired quite a few little stories all by itself.

What it normally means, especially when the players are very busy on scene, is that they're getting moonlighting during the pauses between scenes working for some wealthy npc. This was interesting because it allowed an NPC hardholder to actually have significant influence over the day to day living conditions of the party. Sometimes we had that moonlighting blow up, but most of the time it went pretty smoothy and was more like "a Gunlugger on call" or a savvyhead doing general / consistent "maintenance" .

If the NPC got killed or that money got cut off, the players Immediately felt it, even if they had enough for a session or two of being stingy. Like most people with a consistent cushy job, they were very fond of their boss. Even when she was being a little sadistic.


In AW1 if a month of gameplay took 4-5 sessions before we passed time, then I would expect 1 barter to be earned during that period with more if they worked their asses off for it. a barter was HUGE, like a suitcase full of cash.

In AW2 a barter is more like a coat, a nice blanket, etc and because it was zoomed in so much these was significantly more interesting. But we had some weirdness still with the 1-barter auto 10 from the barter moves section. That never made any sense on scene. Not Once.
« Last Edit: September 11, 2017, 02:46:52 AM by Ebok »

Re: Session Length
« Reply #5 on: September 11, 2017, 03:09:16 AM »
I just ended a shortish game with two players. A session was 3-4 hours and lasted between a few hours and a couple of days in game. The players never did any gigs, partly because it didn't make sense in the fiction but also because there wasn't really any time for that in game. I wish we could've had some more breathing room and maybe had some time pass between sessions, but we usually ended on some sort of cliffhanger. In the final couple of sessions one of the players had no barter and the other ran out in the final one.



  • 417
Re: Session Length
« Reply #6 on: September 11, 2017, 06:20:43 PM »
Our sessions tend to run about 3.5 to 4 hours. That can cover anything from an afternoon to a month in-game, it really just depends on what's happening. And if there are significant "breaks" in the action for the passage of time, you'd better believe I call for lifestyle while that's happening. I've found that the AW2 lifestyle rules make poverty more pressing and give the PCs more impetus to go out and find trouble.



  • 138
Re: Session Length
« Reply #7 on: November 05, 2017, 08:17:48 AM »
Ebok, I scratched out the auto-10 part of barter. Interestingly, the first edition booklet I'm looking at has the line "By default, the characters have access to the barter moves, but the MC might decide to limit them."

I wonder what's up with that.

In addition, since this seems to be all about the economy, Vincent: four barter for gigs, 90% or more of the time. Why four? Why not dependent on the difficulty of the job?

My thoughts as I write this is that the easy jobs have all been taken, so to get one, you have to look extra hard, wait a long time, do without, or kill for it.

Re: Session Length
« Reply #8 on: November 06, 2017, 01:10:14 PM »
Spwack, the books say you can give +/- 1 barter for doing a job well/poorly, but recommend that you don't, and instead just have the npc who gave the mission be really happy or upset with the players when you can.

I think that's because it's more interesting and keeps the tone of scarcity without shifting the focus onto bean counting.

It should be possible to stretch this a little to gig difficulty. Keep the rewards the same (I think it might have been 3 barter as standard, not 4), but if it's easier, maybe have some of the npcs not take it as seriously. If it's harder, everyone in the hold is going to love them just for taking it on. Similarly take consequences of success/failure into account as well as just the barter.

If they fuck up an easy mission, they'll be a laughing stock, but other than that it's not really a big deal. If they get it done, maybe it opens the door for harder stuff, maybe nothing happens. For a hard mission, have a good look at your threat moves and countdowns.