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On average, how long do sessions tend to last in Adventurers League organized play for D&D 5e?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Curious if we can answer this question objectively. Im excited to find out \$\endgroup\$ – Premier Bromanov Aug 30 at 21:11
  • \$\begingroup\$ @PremierBromanov It can almost certainly be answered objectively. It might require a bit a data collection though. \$\endgroup\$ – NeutralVax Aug 30 at 23:06
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Average is difficult to pin down.

There's no good way to determine how long the "average" session is, because there's a great variety of content available. That said, the DDAL Content Catalog can provide some guidance on expected lengths. You could calculate an average based on all published content, but it wouldn't reflect popularity. Some content is simply better than other content, and as a consequence played and replayed more often.

Published Length

Modules range anywhere from five one-hour mini-modules, to two-hour, four-hour, and a small number of eight-hour modules. Season 8 added the concept of one-hour "bonus objectives" to both two-hour and four-hour modules, resulting in the possibility of any single module taking from one to eight hours.

Actual Length

I've been running and playing DDAL for many years now in game stores, at home, and at conventions. Over that time, I've come to the conclusion that the published module length is generally off by about 50% if you want to give the full, unrushed experience: two-hour modules take three, four-hour modules take six, and so on.

This is problematic in a game store or convention where the time is limited. You either have to split up the module (and hope you get all the same players for the second part), cut down the module to squeeze it into the allotted time (giving an inferior experience), or drastically curtail roleplaying and characterization (no fun in my book).

Hardcover adventures can take many, many hours - sometimes over a hundred (I recently completed playing Dungeon of the Mad Mage over 36 sessions at four hours each). While they can be done in a game store with a rotating cast, they're best done with a fixed cast - trying to rush or squeeze a hardcover adventure is highly detrimental to the storytelling.

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Most sessions are specifically timed to last about 2 hours (exception is longer sessions, typically scheduled on weekends, that tend to last about 4 hours). Some campaigns and modules are too long to fit in this time frame, in which case they would be broken up into multiple parts so each part can be completed in about two hours.

How long the session actually takes depends a lot on the speed of the DM and players, so it can vary a lot, but generally the modules are written with the idea that they can be completed in a 2-hour time frame.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Welcome to RPG.SE! Take the tour if you haven't already, and check out the help center for more guidance. \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Sep 1 at 20:42
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    \$\begingroup\$ Your post would be improved if you could link to, or cite, an official source that supported your statement. Adventurer's League adventure writing guidelines, GM guidelines, or other similar source would be idea. \$\endgroup\$ – ValhallaGH Sep 1 at 21:31
  • \$\begingroup\$ As I'm only a player in AL, not a DM or an organizer, I'm only speaking from my personal experience; I don't have access to the materials that would "prove" this is the case but this is fairly common knowledge I'm sure could be substantiated by talking to any DM or organizer in AL, or by referring to materials that state this. I was just trying to answer the question as best I could based on my knowledge and experience, but if anyone wants to cite something more authoritative, then I'd certainly have no objection to them doing so. \$\endgroup\$ – Troodon Sep 1 at 21:43
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    \$\begingroup\$ Even if this is just personnal experience as a player, add it to the answer. We like our sources and knowing it will help inform voters if they need to compare answers \$\endgroup\$ – 3C273 Sep 2 at 3:40
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    \$\begingroup\$ Just knowing if you've been told this by a GM, or if you've noticed this pattern for multiple gms or multiple organization would be pretty good. \$\endgroup\$ – 3C273 Sep 2 at 3:41

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