Ideal Scene Length?


  • Pitcrew

    It occurred to me today, not for the first time, that I tend to get antsy when a scene lasts longer than 2 1/2 hours.

    When you think about it, this makes sense. I have about three hours after getting settled in for the morning and before having to do lunch. Ditto for the afternoon and in the evening after supper. When a scene hits three hours, I start to think, 'I'm hungry,' or 'I need to go to the store.'

    You also generally need about two hours to get into any real meat and then see some sort of resolution. If a scene is much shorter than that, you'll probably just end up spinning wheels.

    In general, I also just loose attention when something goes longer than three hours, even if there's nothing pulling on my attention. I dislike sitting that long, it gets uncomfortable. I want to get up and go be in a different room doing something else.

    Now obviously, there are factors that affect this. If a scene is really engaging or if I know and plan ahead of time for something to take really long, I can stretch out my attention longer. Likewise, if the scene is kinda a dud, or if something else is pulling at my attention, I don't last nearly as long. Also, sometimes things can be resolved more quickly or may take longer to discuss, but in general, give me about 2 1/2 hours of RP and I'll be satisfied.

    So, question to you all: Do you have an ideal length of time when it comes to scenes?


  • Pitcrew

    To orgasm.

    In serious response though; I think in the older days it wasn't uncommon to see a scene go 5-6 hours sometimes, am I right? I remember being able to push through heavy RP sessions, multiple people involved and getting into it, maintaining focus, etc.

    With so many side distractions available now, I'm with you. I like 2 hours - 2.5 hours tops. This means I'm not committing my entire evening to one thing alone. I could get a good scene in, still get some other games or TV or even get to bed at a reasonable hour. The truth is, we're all older. We can't power through to 2 AM the way we used to do.



  • @lisse24 2 1/2 to 3 hours is about the sweet spot, I think.


  • Admin

    @lisse24 I consider any scene under an hour to be very short, and the threshold between 'normal' while 'okay this is getting long' is around 2.5 hours.

    But time is only one metric, the other being pace. Without account for pose length which can vary based on how fast people type, there are scenes that can maintain a tempo of around a pose every 10-15 minutes (which I consider ideal) while others can take while longer.

    So I can be in a RP that feels very full and meaty for two hours because so much happened in it and there were a lot of exchanges going back and forth with my partner(s) and others where we play for three hours and barely got past the initial pleasantries because it's so slow.



  • Entirely variable. Speed and number of folks present are a factor. Whether there's system crunching afoot is another.

    I'd say 2.5-4 hours, since I tend toward long and folks I write with tend toward long. Not always, but the random novella happens all around.

    The more people in the scene, the more time it tends to take to get anywhere.

    That said, that's more my metric: does it feel like there's some purpose to the scene -- and I'm defining this very loosely here, because I'd count 'an idle trade of ideas or characters sharing a joke' to be things that potentially have purpose in the context of storytelling and character building. That point may hit after less than a half an hour. It may never get there after six, eight, or twenty-four.


  • Pitcrew

    It can vary for me depending on the person, on the scene, etc. I'd say I'm in the 'couple hour' range, too, if I'm able to focus.

    I knew someone who would try to drag me into making a scene last a few days. She would just keep tacking on "and then"s. She would never let the scene end. It's like she was afraid you'd go off and RP with someone else, as if you'd never come back and RP with her again. Each scene would just drag and drag and drag. I adored her, but it would just sort of make me cry. Every time we'd stop RPing, it was just a pause. And I'd have to be dragged into RPing with her again for a 'new' scene......because I knew it'd be days and days of RP and 'please I need to sleep now.' Honestly she trained me out of staying up half the night RPing faster than anything else.


  • Pitcrew

    2ish hours. 3 can be comfortable depending. But this is in regards to a social scene. For a GMed scene I can easily deal with 3 because theres time usually for me to stretch/walk around, ect. When I GM, I prefer to keep things under 4 hours from time of scheduled start (I build in time for scheduled breaks and unscheduled breaks). I am old. Literally I start to hurt pretty bad if I am stuck without a physical stretch break of 5-15 minutes every 90 mins or so.



  • Around the average length of a movie if the RP is good quality.


  • Pitcrew

    No real preference as far as length, but I find I'm usually the one who calls 'cut', or one of the first to leave if there's a big group. I've always got an eye out for the organic or dramatic ending to a scene, because I find that a lot more satisfying than letting things ramble on and peter out.



  • Maybe length should be measured by the number of exchanges, whether that's a literal pose/emit count, or something more like phases of conversation eg initial pleasantries and setup.

    It might even be a scene contents/hour type thing, where it's rushed or too much/too slow at either extreme.


  • Pitcrew

    2.5-3 hrs maximum, though some can run shorter and there are a few people where it can run much longer if we want it to (or if we're RPing at work and have lots of slow breaks).

    If I GM a scene that runs longer than that I generally break it into 2 nights - and sometimes yes, it just takes that long to give players meaningful choices that change what happens. Because I can't come up with MY pose until you come up with YOURS. But that I don't mind, especially when players are doing interesting things.


  • Pitcrew

    @darinelle what about if they're just dithering in the woods?



  • I used to RP for up to a day at a time, one scene bleeding into another as players overlapped and came and went, but now I can only manage a few hours before I need to pass out. :<


  • Pitcrew

    @farfalla Honestly I don't mind that if it's a fun scene either. Even in the dithering there are choices being made.

    Also - who WAS camped back at those ruins? The world may never know.



  • @darinelle Gremlins!


  • Pitcrew

    I generally schedule about 3 hours for a scene. If it's shorter than an hour, it doesn't really feel worth it (exceptions made for truly awesome and fast-paced scenes). I'm also okay with a GMed scene taking more like 4-5 hours, although I know some people start to fade off pretty quick after 3-4.


  • Pitcrew

    Fortunately, FS3 combat scenes can go pretty quick! Thank you, @faraday for a system that can manage combat so well so people can focus on posing and story. <3



  • A scene is done when it is done. If it is only meant to be a ten minute conversation, then the ideal length is ten minutes. So the ideal length is variable.

    Anything longer than three hours for a single scene, unless it is of exceptional quality (hint: It almost never is), is too long.


  • Pitcrew

    As long as I actually have the time RL, I prefer just letting the scene happen naturally. Usually if the scene feels like it's running long, it's running long. Otherwise, I've been in day-long scenes that are entirely welcome and not tiring at all, keeping me engaged the whole time. Really, it just depends on the characters involved and the dynamic presented.


  • Pitcrew

    When I organize events and stuff I am upset with myself (... which is stupid, I can't control how others pose!) if it goes over two hours.


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