#RPGaday2015 – Day 16: Longest Game Session

Day 15 and 16’s questions might be hinting that size matters, but either way they move from the longest campaign to today’s longest single game session. Perhaps this part of the series is a coy version of me showing you mine if you show me yours? I will say up front that until I started running games on Hangouts, I felt cheated if a session ran less than 4 hours. I prefer it to be an all day sort of thing, with at least one meal involved, and copious amounts of fluids being consumed. No potato chip in a 10-klick radius should feel safe. With the advent of Hangouts, the ability to game more often with like-minded gamers has increased exponentially, but with it has come far shorter session times. I have two thoughts on this, one being schedule-matching across time zones. The other relates more to the greater investment of energy it takes to run a session through a webcam than face to face.


The longest session I have ever run is one I would not consider doing in a Hangouts environment ever. I say this because of the great amount of energy it would require, and also because of the genre. The longest session I have ever run was one of slowly building horror and madness and I have no illusions about how hard and how little fun that would be online.

In my last year of university, I had the pleasure to live with two great friends and members of our extensive gaming circle. We had a cool house on the top of a hill, and no neighbors to speak of. As that year drew to a close, and as my love affair with Call of Cthulhu was becoming a forever sort of thing, we decided to try the recently-released version of Masks of Nyarlathotep for 4th Edition CoC. As the blurb on the back said some groups had played it for as much as a year, I thought it would be fun to try it on a holiday weekend and see how far we could get. The initial intention was for a single full day of gaming.

It didn’t work out that way.

Character creation had been completed a few sessions before, so that the group would be established before Masks started. That meant that as soon as the players arrived on Friday we could begin play. Plans were laid to take breaks for meals, with a silly and awesome plan for me to barbecue our dinners after dark, outside in thigh deep snow. That was the only plan that actually took place, oddly enough.

We began to play, and played for 12 hours before breaking for the aforementioned BBQ in the snow. An hour later we were back at it and soldiered on for another 6 hours before the one married member of the group got the “Where the hell are you?” call. That should have been it, but it wasn’t. We called that session for the day and he scuttled off home with this tail between his legs and a raft of our apologies hanging around him like a shroud. For those doing the math, that means we played for 18hrs that day and would have gone longer, if not for the meddlesome invention of the telephone. That makes the longest single session I have ever run an 18 hour one over a period of 19 hours. That could be the end of this entry, but it is not, however, the end of this story.

After he left, such fun had been had, that we recruited two more members to join the already large group. They were told to come early to play the next day, and we were shocked to learn that our married friend would be back as well. He did not seem any the worse for wear, and he was prepared to go the distance, so we threw ourselves into the campaign with abandon.

It was another 18hr day. We didn’t even stop to eat. Again we wanted to continue, but two things happened which made that difficult. The first was that I was growing very fuzzy on the details of the later chapters of the campaign as we had gone so far in it. The second was that after a nasty encounter in the UK, most of the group was dead, scattered, or in an asylum. For the fun of synchronicity, we called the session at the 18hr mark and decided to return the next day, the last of the holiday, to set up how the campaign would continue in the aftermath.

The survivors and a few key players, including the married one, showed up on the third day to game. We prepared new characters, new rationales for continuing on, and set in to rescue the ones that could be rescued before setting off on the next leg of the journey. We played for a more typical 6 hours and found a great stopping point. Several of us had obligations to attend to that day, and after a weekend of ignoring everything, we knew we had to get to them. We intended to finish off the campaign, but oddly enough, we never did. Life intruded for just long enough to bring on more work, jobs, late papers, and then graduation for myself and a few others in the group. Most of us then moved away. Twenty-five years later, we still talk about finishing it.

I wonder how many 18hr sessions we still have in us?



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