GM Help: Leave Them Disappointed

At the end of a session, there is nothing more satisfying than hearing my players complain and say how disappointed they are. Why? Because they are sad that the night is over, they were so caught up in the session that they didn’t realize it’s the end of the session and now they must wait, oh so long, till our next session. This article is non rules specific, and should help you come up with great ways to close out your game sessions in ways that keep your players excited for the next session.

What to do and not do.

  • Mind the clock. It’s easy to let the game session slip away, especially when things are on a roll. You need to make sure you’re watching the time. If you end at a regular time, make sure to pace things as you get towards the end of that time. Don’t get them involved in a potential seven rounds of combat or more if you only have twenty minutes of time left. Don’t get them caught in a web of dialogue and role play if there are only ten minutes left. You build up to it, but don’t start it.
  • Do not hand them everything. These are not games of perfect information. Don’t spoon feed stuff to your players. Don’t fill in all of the details, especially at the end of the night. Perhaps answer a question that has been building up, but answer it with another question, so they are still interested for the start of the next session. Hold back on things if it’s getting too close to the end of the session time. Delay some information if you must, but if you’re delaying, you might as well end it early.
  • Do not be afraid to end things a little early. If you only have 20 minutes until the game session is done and there is a big fight coming, reveal the details of the fight, build up to it. There is no need to fill the 20 minutes of time with dialogue though. Just end it right before the fight, as both halves ready for battle, or as the players setup the ambush. Same with role playing. When you don’t have time to engage, then end it there. It automatically gives the players something to look forward to, and ponder, till the next session. There have been times when I’ve had to end up to 40 minutes early just because it was needed. In some of those cases I had run out of stuff to run. I needed proper time to build and handle what the players were doing. I gave them some tidbits of information about where they were going, just enough to paint a basic picture, and called it. It just felt right, and my players agreed. Why push for more play time when it won’t feel as good as something fleshed out a bit more?

When to stop things.

  • Just as it gets exciting. Right as the players are leaning forward in their seats, readying their dice, flipping pages. You kept an eye on the clock, five minutes to go. You give a description, and call it a night. This builds anticipation for the next session!
  • Just after a hard battle. Great victory or loss is an amazing way to end a session. Perhaps someone crucial just died, or the players finally beat someone after going after them for multiple sessions. This ends the session on a super high note or super low note. In both cases it gives the players something to ponder over for the next session, they get to wonder about their next step; how to celebrate the win and move on, or how to get through the loss.
  • Just before a big encounter. Set the scene for the encounter and build it up, just before you call for initiative, instead you end the night! Pre-encounters make great natural cliff hangers and, of course, give the players something to wait for before the next session.

All in all, these tips should help draw a natural conclusion to a session; as well as keep your players interested at the end of the night. These things provide good cover for any potential boring moments the players might have had. Keeping your players interested can be a tough task, I hope this made it a little easier.

Till next time,
~Vexar

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