Pacing the Story Skull with blue fire Skull with blue fire

ore often than not, a story does not run according to schedule. It either drags late into the night, or cast members work too quickly and become bored with their accomplishments. It’s during times like these that you need to reach into your bag of tricks and adjust the pace of the story.

Dealing with stories that are running too long is, thankfully, relatively simple. It’s easy to push on the accelerator. You can start by doling out clues and information through character contacts and new props. One of the simplest tools you can have in your repertoire is a number of characters to throw into the adventure. Simply introduce a character who has the tools to help solve the problem, but for a price.

Prolonging play time is a little more tricky than reducing it. Prolonging play time means prolonging the story, but if the story is complete, you have to make up new events on the spot. However, instead of creating an entirely new plot, you might be able to extend the “finished” story by going on past its logical conclusion. Extending stories works very well if you have a group of Narrators who are flexible, creative, and who like to work “on the run.” If you foresee the story ending early, there are ways of prolonging it by distracting players. Essentially, you introduce subplots in order to pull characters off the beaten path. If you have a chance, work out one or two subplots for every story.

Try not to overuse any particular device for prolonging a story. The best way to slow players down is to present them with something new. Invent a bizarre new Artifact, or have a Doppelganger infestation. One of the more unusual tricks to use while improvising is to create a set of events with no obvious explanation. Then listen to the explanations your players propose and choose one to be the case, or base your explanation on the theory you like best. While this tactic may seem cheesy, some absolutely amazing stories can be developed this way.