I'm a long time GM who is a storyteller at heart. Thus when characters wander through a city and try to haggle for prices I like playing that out. Now what I have observed the last year is that my pace is dropping and adventures take a REALLY long time to finish. I've now started a campaign with my RL group and 2 with my online groups where I would like to finish an adventure in them in under 6 months. Thus my question here if there are some techniques that allow for storytelling and fast pace or if I could change something how I do things.

As an example for the speed I'm talking about:

I've read a few adventures played on cons for star wars and WOD,... from what I know people play these in single evenings normally. I know for myself (and once even tested it) that I would need about 6 game sessions with a RL group to play those and almost half a year (aka 20-24 game sessions) for my online groups (text-chats). with each gaming session taking about 3 hours. The low speed is as I've seen that I manage to do only 1 scene per session (1 scene containing for example a short tavern part and 1 combat in pathfinder, or 1 short investigation part in wod,..)

An in play example (text-chat):

OOC-channel: All: A perception roll please

Ingame-Channel: As you enter the store you see that it is quite huge more so from the inside than from the outside. Rows upon rows of shelves stuffed with different things beginning from backpacks going over knives to skulls are on the ceiling high shelves which are all quite packed. Behind the counter an old gnome is standing who is just pushing up his glasses and looks at you his eyes narrowing "you got any money? The last -customer- didn't bring any" he almost spits that out.

Channel where only player B is: You saw some movement in between the shelves a humanoid figure is seemingly hidden in the shadows there as your group moves in to the shop, it seems to follow you guys.

For haggling I like to give players the chance to talk with those with whom they haggle and THEN roll dice (with circumstance modifiers representing how well they talked). In other cases for example dungeons I give the description and then ask the players what they do,...

As a note so far I only got 1 complain from one online group about the pacing. Also I'm not playing everything out....if the players are just on a shopping spree where nothing happens I'm just timejumping there forward.

So like I mentioned my question is twofold there: Are there any techniques/methods to improve pace when storytelling and what could I change to make the game more fast paced.

(also of importance there most of my players are "storytellers" and not "rpg" players. I'm not sure if the differnce in those two words is also in english or not but in my homelanguage there is a deep rift between those who say they are part of either group. IT is mostly about HOW they play the game. Thus if the story is in the middle or the rolling of dices. RPG players around here never haggle in words, they just say "I'm trying to get a better price" and roll dice while a "storyteller" begins "Oh you see there are some small fractures in the axe see?- points to the small scars- so it has already seen heavy use and probably will not be as durable as a freshly made axe how about you give it to me for half the price......" and then rolls dice).

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    \$\begingroup\$ As always if something is downvoted it would be nice to see a reason for that so that things can be changed accordingly. \$\endgroup\$
    – Thomas E.
    Aug 20, 2014 at 11:24
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    \$\begingroup\$ Your question, while long still seems very broad. The core question is "Are there any techniques/methods to improve pace when storytelling and what could I change to make the game more fast paced." \$\endgroup\$
    – C. Ross
    Aug 20, 2014 at 11:33
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    \$\begingroup\$ At the very least, mention what system you're using, eh? Different systems could handle this VERY differently. \$\endgroup\$
    – BESW
    Aug 20, 2014 at 12:10
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    \$\begingroup\$ Voting to close as too broad. Perceived pace drops can occur for loads of reasons, and be resolved in loads of ways. We can probably solve specific slowdown situations in specific situations, but not broader than that. \$\endgroup\$ Aug 20, 2014 at 12:21
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    \$\begingroup\$ An obvious question is being skipped: is this a problem? Are your players happy, are you enjoying the games? If it ain't broke, don't fix it just to keep up with the Joneses running con games. If there is a problem: how about you describe that instead, and we'll see if we can help with that? :) \$\endgroup\$ Aug 20, 2014 at 16:50

2 Answers 2


When DMing, you should more consider yourself as telling the story of a movie or a video game than of a book. Because unlike writing a book, you have a budget. In our case, the budget is the time your group of player (and you) allow to the game.

So, since the group is giving the budget, the group should decide how to use it. If they want a lot of non plot-related rp (sometimes called fluff I think), why not? You don't have to take the same amount of time as written in the adventures you can read.

However, I guess that if you ask this question, you want to change something (and hopefully your players agree), probably meaning that the budget is short and/or they want to have more focus on the main plot. Here are my tips:

To improve the pace of a storytelling sequence, you can either take the character sheets and roll checks by yourself while talking, or simply forget the roll and just grant success depending on roleplay and how good the character is at this (only do that with "storytellers" and not "rpg" players)

To have a faster-paced game, you have to agree with the players to skip the fluff. Meaning, you don't roleplay (or at least do a minimum roleplay) on everything that is clearly not important story-wise (you just say the PC do that, describe a little, maybe roll some dice and give the outcome). Think about a movie or a video game, you don't have 10min worth of dialogue every time the main character goes into a forge to get his axe repaired, you don't have time for that.

So, you can always accelerate the pace of your game, take shortcuts, whether they are on the rule or on the story. Just be conscious about what you are doing and discuss with the players beforehand.

  • \$\begingroup\$ The budget analogy is very good indeed! I would add that the GM can let the player describe his encounter during $fluff. The GM is then free to use whatever the player made up as part of his world thus making the world richer. Good players might surprise you and come up with really interesting content. \$\endgroup\$ Aug 20, 2014 at 12:55

Pace dropping is often related to players role-playing mundane details of everyday life, like the haggling over prices you mentioned. That indicates a lack of urgency with whatever the main story of your adventure is. One possible GM technique to resolve that is considering the actions of NPCs, especially villains. If the players waste time, what will the villains do, what will happen?

What you can do for example is asking each player for his actions, resolving those actions, and then saying something like "now that you all did what you wanted to do, this happens ...", with a clear indication that the story is progressing on its own, even if the players don't participate. That will quickly push them to concentrate on the ongoing story and pick up the pace.


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