Jeremy the Dragon has come a long way since his murder and subsequent rise to lichdom. He’s got his own party now, a proper knightly nemesis in the person of Cavalier, and even seems to be enjoying a leadership role (if “enjoying” is the right word). I hope he’s got his phylactery in order.

Any dang way, despite the title of today’s comic, this one is not about the 3.X concept of Taking 10. Instead we’re talking about the more prosaic version of the phrase. In other words, we’re talking about instituting a formal mid-session break.

It’s not something my group has always done. Sure we would press pause for pizza or GM bathroom breaks, but those were obligatory interruptions. As the resident forever GM I’d scarf my slice, exit the john in record time, and get back behind the screen as fast as humanly possible. I always had vague notions in the back of my mind about keeping the momentum going. We’re just about to get to the good part! They’ll lose focus if I let them! We must maintain immersion at all times! My players meanwhile would excuse themselves to take a call or grab a fresh beer, but those were always catch-as-catch-can moments. We never put much thought into it, and in retrospect that might have been a mistake.

Like so many GMs out there, I think this is one of those times where it’s important to pause, reflect, and give a heartfelt thanks to Matt Mercer. It honestly didn’t occur to me to institute a formal mid-session break until I noticed the cool kids on Critical Role doing it. And while I’m all aboard the you don’t have to emulate CR train, this is one instance where I’m glad I did. At the bare minimum, taking ten offers all players a chance to grab a snack and take a bio break without rolling to save vs. FOMO. It’s also an opportunity to refocus, letting everyone pause and absorb the session-so-far. But speaking as a GM, the chance to check my notes and plan my next move has proved invaluable. Freed temporarily from the pressure of hustling the story along, a few minutes worth of intermission is all it takes to double check important plot points, incorporate the consequences of player shenanigans, and set up for the next scene.

My own sessions tend to last about four hours. If your group goes longer than that, you might institute more than one break. But if you’re at all worried about letting players slip outside the magic circle, rest assured: no one has complained about it yet.

So how about it, guys? Does your group take formal breaks, or do you try to soldier through from start to finish? Other UX design questions apply: How frequent are these breaks? Who gets to call ’em? And if you’re the GM, how do you spend those precious moments of intermission? Tell us all about your desperate rewrites and mid-session adjustments down in the comments!


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