Today’s comic may look like a dig at players, but in reality, it is I who am Wizard. Shall I tell you the sad tale of how I scuttled my own Starfinder session? Let’s shall. (Minor Splintered Worlds spoilers ahead.)

So no shit there they were, hot on the heels of Corpse Fleet operatives. After a harrowing adventure out in the Diaspora, the plucky crew of that National-Enquirer-in-Space, the Yellow Rag, were chasing a hot lead cross-system to the corpse world of Eox. The clock was ticking. A planet-destroying superweapon was nearly in the clutches of the undead armada, and only the expert investigative reporting of the Pact Worlds’ leading journalists could blow the whistle on the operation. Tensions were running high. Worlds were at stake!

“You guys got my message on the group forum, right?”

“What message?”

“The one about leveling up? You’re supposed to hit Level 6 before you get to Eox.”

“Found it! It looks like…. Dude. You posted this four hours ago.”

So no shit there they were, hot on the heels of Level 6. After a harrowing adventure out in the Starjammer SRD, the plucky crew of my Dead Suns campaign were filling in skill points all across their character sheets. The clock was ticking. A session-destroying fuck-up by the GM was eating into precious game time, and only the system mastery of my players could save the Pact Worlds from yet another missed session. Tensions were running high. The campaign was at stake!

You get the idea.

When a game of Dungeons & Dragons turns into a session of Pencils & Paychecks, it can feel like a giant waste of everyone’s time. Especially in an era of highly-edited actual play podcasts, any time spent bookkeeping at the table seems like an unnecessary delay. The guys on Adventurous Role don’t spend hours of play time buying items and leveling their characters. We’re clearing doing it wrong! Those guys also leave plenty of material on the cutting room floor. While there’s no denying that I screwed up with my Starfinder game (I wound up eating about 90 minutes of a four hour session with my little SNAFU), I’m equally sure that my players would tell me not to worry about it. A little bookkeeping is necessary at every table, and it can even have a few benefits. For example, my guys realized they’d missed a couple of class abilities while leveling up alone, and so came away from the in-game level-up with a suite of unexpected bonus powers. Who knows how long they’d have missed out without the group version of level-up?

So here’s my question to the rest of you. How do you like to handle Pencils & Paychecks sessions in your games? Do you try to keep everything down to between-sessions management, or are you OK devoting a little game time to healing, shopping, and leveling? How much is too much? Sound off with your preferred approach down in the comments!


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