You’ve prepped the adventure, and your GM game face is on. Your quest hooks are laid like bait in a bear trap. You’ve got bandits waiting in the woods. Deadly peril is prepared to spring from the darkness in A3 (the Old Mill) and B1 (Collapsed Passage). Excitement and danger are hovering just around the bend, and all the players have to do is walk out that door. But then, to quote the alt text from “Walk Away”:

“Come on, ladies. Let’s faff about in town all session.”

“I’m going to talk to an inn keeper for several hours!”

In today’s comic, it looks like the heroines of Team Bounty Hunter have made good on their plans. And if I’m running for a group like that, you’d better believe that I’m pulling my hair out in frustration. I know where the adventure lies. It’s right freakin’ there! Why can’t we just get on with it? If only everyone could quit dicking around for five minutes and actually play the damn game! But you know what? That “dicking around” is the game.

Sure there are limits. If folks come over and drink all my beer and bullshit for three hours without rolling any dice, Ima be irate. But if there’s RP afoot, and if the PCs are pursuing their personal lives, and if everyone is having fun interacting rather than following “the main quest,” it’s on me as a GM to let it happen. In those moments when I find myself frustrated by the seemingly glacial pace of a campaign, I have to remind myself that the “main quest” isn’t the point. Sure it can be fun to cue the goblin raid or the drive-by dragoning or Cthulhu rising from a nearby pond, but there’s no need to force it. If everyone is enjoying themselves, and if you’re the only one champing at the bit, you can afford to let the group entertain themselves for a while. Those adventure hooks will still be there in another ten or fifteen minutes. You’ve just got to be patient enough to let your players bite ’em at their own pace.

Question of the day then! Have you ever seen a GM trying to move the plot along a little too hard? I’m not talking about your run-of-the-mill railroading, but more of a need to get-on-to-the-next-thing-immediately rather than letting the game develop naturally. Conversely, have you ever been that GM? Did your overactive quest giving help or hinder the pacing of the game? Tell us all about your heavy-handed hooks and obnoxiously urgent quests down in the comments!


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