by Jason Campbell
I’ve been running a weekly Dungeons & Dragons 5e campaign in Monte Cook Games’ Ptolus city setting since January of 2022. I have 5 players with PCs currently at level 8. A few weeks ago they delved into a dungeon they discovered beneath the Temple of the Ebon Hand, hunting for an evil wizard and artifacts he had stolen.
This adventure began with the party splitting up, which I’ve discussed earlier (https://shadomain.com/splitting-the-party-in-ptolus/). They went through the entire dungeon, which ended up taking three (2.5 hour) sessions. They eventually defeated the evil wizard, recovered the artifacts and fought many minions and monsters to free citizens in the prison section.
So after three combat heavy sessions, the following session they returned to their lair and rested and recuperated. It’s interesting to note that not only did the PCs need a calming break, due to low HP and spell slots left, but I think the players did. It’s often mentioned that GMs need to manage pacing within a session, managing up and down beats. The players filled the session by checking in with their friends and mentors, so they ended up getting a lot of information, but making very few die rolls and no combat.
What do you think? Do you manage long campaigns by balancing combat heavy sessions and sessions with down time and similar low risk activities? Let us know in the comments below!