New GM would like to thank the community


I am new to being a GM and would like to think the community for all their great thoughts and information that are posted. I would also like to say, I have never seen such a great group of people interacting with those asking for help. We started playing again with Hackmaster and the GM decided he was not into to it so I picked up the mantle. I decided to use ICRPG after seeing all the great videos from Hank and the guys from Roll for Effort. I needed something not as rules heavy being new GM. I don’t think I could do it without this wonderful forum and those that post such wonderful information.

The players are having a great time and enjoying our games (because I give them a lot of LOOT). I have one friend driving 3.5 hours and renting a room so we can play this wonderful game. Our sessions are 12 hours every two weeks. We are making it worth his time to travel that distance. So we are basically playing 2-3 regular game session in one day. We are all old friends who played D&D 2e back in the day. RPGing let us become friends so long ago and I mean years ago 35 to be exact. I get excited every time someone post on the forums because of all the great information that is posted here. I get overwhelmed sometimes but it is so much fun. My brain actually hurts after our sessions.

Trying to keep everything flowing during our game sessions is sometimes hard. Any references and/or advice would be greatly appreciated. Please keep the information coming.

Sorry if I am rambling but I really wanted to say THANKS to everyone.



Awesome story!

I love the bit about your friend driving in for the marathon sessions! I’d be all over that assuming the right group!


Welcome aboard and happy your group is enjoying the ICRPG experience! 12 hour sessions is super intense, no wonder your brain hurts after your sessions!

As far as advice for keeping the flow, I would say taking breaks would be a good thing (actually leave the gaming table and go outside if you can). Give your brain a little reprieve! Maybe even throw in a quick filler dice or card game to break things up, something different than the game you are playing.

Just a few things off the top of my head:

It’s ok to take pauses during gameplay, you can add suspense sometimes this way, especially if you pause and chuckle insidiously to yourself and pretend to be doing something behind the DM screen (roll some dice for effect - it doesn’t even have to be for anything). It’s ok to mix high energy combat encounters with slower, more narrative and descriptive travel (mix it up, it’s impossible to keep it high energy every second) Passing notes to players with “secret” information is fun too, take time to write something down and pass it with a sardonic smile (don’t do this too much). Also, have handouts and visuals that can be passed around or left on the table, maps or map fragments, pictures of items or monsters, etc…


Oh…I miss 10 hour sessions…12, would be a bit long…I’m going to ask questions and assume the answer…

What breaks do you have?
I assume a meal and a bio break every 2 or so? If not and people are just wandering as needed you have a less disciplined game…but with 12 hours that is fine.

But remember to give yourself a 10 to 15 minute break every 2 hours. And at least a 30 minute break at the 6 hour point.

These breaks can take on different aspects, one on one with a player away from others, in a dream or one on one exchange with the PC, catch up personally with the players, their lives and such. Or grab some headphones and zone out for a bit. Read up on your notes, draw a map…This is a mentally exhausting effort. Take some time to be less aware of everything and just on one or two things.

Start with light snacks, veggies and such, low/no caffeine. If you take a meal break, keep it light, but have some caffeine and sugar (this can be in the form of fruit or fruit juice). After the meal (middle point), start hitting the sugar and caffeine button as the craving hits…stay hydrated…eyesight is the first to go when not hydrated if you need an indicator.
In the last 2 hours, you can hit the light alcohol button as a sugar hit. But if you have to drive…that is a no go, just start tapping the breaks on the stimulants. Brownies and cookies are a possibility, beef jerky is another. And water!!!

Get them rolling or engaged right away…if you end the last session on a cliff hanger this is easy, but that requires great luck and skill. But even if it is the group helping a merchant catch his horses that got untied or a sudden break in a fuel line…get them in the game.

Give the players tasks…plan something, make a shopping list, figure out how they want to gather information…and you walk away, take a break, or eat something in earshot in case they have questions. But train them to be complete and recognize that questions should be limited while they figure out a course of action at these times. This give you a break from the mental heavy lifting. If they have better ideas than you had…adopt them…players feel clever and you seem smarter.

Let them have these moments of just them, encourage role playing…but to each their own.

When you fully come back to the table…answer their questions, give them results. And force them to implement their plan/shopping and move back on with the story. Don’t let them replan with you fully present.

Understand the objectives and let them run through them, but if you can orchestrate that they hit the boss fight at meal break…perfect. They come back and have an epic fight, let that conclude, and the last few hours is hitting the next adventure. Ending it just as the first combat would start.


Know your NPCs. They have plans, the PCs are a disruption. The NPCs are not speed bumps for the PCs…they have their own wants and desires.
Knowing what your main NPCs would do in almost any situation…allows you the freedom to let the PCs do whatever they want and you have the NPCs do what the NPCs want. When those desires have conflict…dice rolls happen.

Some times your players will walk all over your plans…make cool npcs that they enjoy humiliating…the players did it right!!! Don’t feel bad.

Other times your players screwed the pooch, and you need to tone it down??? Humiliate them, if the TPK is about to happen, strengthen the main bad with allies and take them all down in an overwhelming way…have the characters wake up in a pig sty nearly naked, with a brand on forehead, cheeks and butt cheeks. No gear. Except the internal stuff.

In ICRPG that is a reset. Let that NPC get stronger. Let them learn what the brands are after they start empowering themselves again. This NPC is now an arch enemy.

Brands can be anything, kill on sight, banishment, magical trackers, escaped slaves…summoning runes.

Or have a totally new starting adventure in your back pocket in case they all die. But those NPCs still exist and are still working their plan to rule the world.


Welcome to the fold and awesome stuff!

When we were young, we used to play that way. Hell, once we tried a 48 hour marathon on a weekend. It was both glorious and exhausting.

Wait. I said young but it occurred to me that we played a 7+ hour session just 3 years ago. We started at 9pm and played until past 4 am. It was a single boss battle lol! We were playing D&D 4E (Keep on the Shadowfell end boss battle).

Anyway, welcome!


Welcome to the shield wall, @tkingokc!

I first started DMing after a 10 year break from D&D. I had moved away from my group and never met any other folks who regularly played. When I realized I needed to start my own group I was nervous because my only experience playing included sessions that were never shorter than 8 hours. In fact, after highschool we would all basically crash at the DM’s house and play until we were all exhausted. At least one time for 16 hours! So many good memories! I’ve since learned how to plan 3-4 hour sessions thanks (in large part) to the shield wall. This place is really wonderful!

That’s awesome that y’all try to make it worthwhile for the one friend driving in and it is amazing that your group has been together that long. Congrats!

When we had marathon sessions we’d always take a long break, physically get up and go outside for a bit. Somewhere around an hour or so to either cook food or whatever. Sometimes we’d pack into vehicles and go pick up food (a real life quest!) just to have a break from the game all the while recounting all the cool stuff we were doing. I strongly recommend getting up and getting a change of scenery. Also water. Tons of water.

I stumbled across a link to The Alexandrian Website just recently as I dug deeper into the forums for guidance and man, that is another place filled with incredible insight and information. Strongly recommend you check it out if you haven’t.

Thanks YOU for the great post! :metal:t4:


Really is the best here


That is awesome! So glad you can join us!

I just have one bit to add besides the great advice in this thread. Vary the pacing. Specifically I mean to vary the types of scenes in two distinct ways. Fast vs slow scenes, and tense vs relaxing scenes. I would try not to have the same combination in a row if I could help it.


  • Fast, Tense scene - Combat
  • Slow, Tense scene - Hostage negotiation
  • Fast, Relaxed scene - Dance party
  • Slow, relaxed scene - chilling on the beach, having a nice drink

The idea is to vary both the intensity and the speed of scenes a bit. Hope it’s helpful!


Hahaha! Nice! This actually reminds me of a game I ran back in the day where the party ran across a group of skeletons having a rave. Why not, nothing else to do in a dungeon!


Wildstar, thank you for you comment. I wish 12 hours at work would go that quick.


@rgperminator, thanks for the advice. We do take breaks, I have told them a few times that before this happens its break time because I know its going to get intense.


@Paxx thank you for the advice on everything. I just can not get over how everyone tries to give such positive advice in this forum. My prep now consist of bullet point of where I would like the session to go but as everyone knows players seems to never go where you want them. I never thought about the Diet side of it, great advice …
@Khan @Moose @Drake
Thanks everyone for making me feel so welcomed.