Content of the article: "How do you pace your story?"
TL;DR version up front: I'm in a situation in my campaign where my party hasn't really had what I consider a "main story" development in the past two sessions. I'm tempted to fudge locations and encounters a little just to get on with it, but don't want to feel like I'm fast forwarding, hand holding, or bending the world over backwards for convenience's sake, either.
Longer version: My party killed almost all their leads. Because they're brand new to D&D, I railroaded for a fair bit, then let them loose in the sandbox in the hopes that they would eventually pick up on the enemy trail. This didn't go super smoothly (they focus on weird details and miss more glaring ones). Then one session in particular was one big, really a exciting encounter to the point where I think I overshadowed my "A plot".
Tomorrow, my players are going to visit an NPC who can take them to their next big objective (a hidden enemy fortress), but to get there, the players have decided to cut through a forest, which is the first time the players have really gone off the trail.
I want to convey the feeling of trying to navigate difficult, unknown territory. I have a few wilderness encounters in mind. But I'm also worried that I might have added too much filler. Under normal circumstances, with a more experienced group, I would make the forest be the entire session (it's a long distance even if nothing happens on the trip), but I'm worried that the party might lose the thread.
How do you pace your sessions and overall campaigns in a way where progress is always made, but still have it feel like the players and making the discoveries and setting the pace?
EDIT: my players haven't complained about pacing or progress, but they have horrible memory and attention spans, and on one occasion said "wait why are we here?", so this also doubles as me trying to keep everyone focused.
- Make your players think they outsmarted you from time to time
- Fellow DMs who only have a session once every several weeks/once a month, how do you keep yourself motivated?
- Do fights have to be deadly? How to balance them if game has 1 fight per session?
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