Another issue came up in the last session of my Pathfinder campaign – chronic PC impatience.
It happens especially when they go to cities and between adventures. They go into a frenzy of trying to buy and sell and talk to everyone and do everything to the point where I have to start enforcing fatigue rules to get them to stop pounding on people’s doors at 3 AM demanding magic item sales. Sometimes there is plot related time pressure but often there’s not.
In this campaign, I knew it was happening a lot. Heck, the last huge multisession fight they got into was initiated with Serpent going to visit the Cypher Lodge in the middle of the night and waking people up to demand magic item sales (with no idea that it had been taken over by the forces of evil… He found out quick though). So I tried to give them an out, a friendly (as such things go) local crime figure they’re aligned with (Saul Vancaskerkin from the Second Darkness Adventure Path) offered to take care of buying and selling and whatnot for them. I reckoned that would get it off our play session plates and let us get to adventure. “Sure!” they said. And then they immediately went out to do it some more! They literally made that deal with Saul at 3 AM, went to bed, woke up, and then demanded of him immediately whether he’d gotten everything on their wishlists yet. When he hadn’t, it was out to kick down doors.
Serpent, and his player really, was getting frustrated. He keeps wanting to sell and or buy his stuff NOW. Well, I run a fairly realistic game world. If you want to sell something like that in a four hour span, then like in the real world you’re going to get pawn shop prices. And if you want some specific magic item, you’re not going to be able to find it in that span – especially if you have shitty Diplomacy/Knowledge: Local skills. I also run fairly low magic so there’s not “magic shops”. I try to reward their persistence with some randomly generated magic stuff that some decent scavenging lets them find some gypsy selling or whatever, but this doesn’t sate their desire for to-spec items. It’s not just buying and selling, it’s anything they end up wanting to do in a city (Get information! Build a criminal empire!), but that’s a handy example I have that shows the syndrome. PC impatience vs. the realistic pace of the world.
Am I being hard-headed? I guess I feel like a lot of this, and I’ve said this out loud to the players, can be elided easily. Say you are looking for X, let’s all say you loiter around in town for a week, and it’ll probably show up. It doesn’t have to take GAME time, it can be over with in one sentence. But for whatever reason, they don’t want to “let time pass” – every waking hour is spent in high activity mode. And in cases like this, it ends up making things take a lot more game time than a more relaxed approach would.
I understand that’s easy to do in a game – it’s why in many computer games we set our character to “run” by default, why would you want to go somewhere slowly? But it does stretch my (and NPCs’, in my world) patience when the group is a nonstop tornado – trouble in any 24 hour period is practically guaranteed.
It’s not just this group either. I always laugh when I see con game adventures that are time-based – the PCs arrive at the inn at 5:00, then dinner is at 6:00, the body is discovered at 6:30, and then this big list of things that are supposed to happen after the next 24 hours. Here’s what really happens: from 6:30 to 7:00 the PCs (insisting on being in combat round time the whole time so that they get the most out of their buff spells) beat, intimidate, interrogate, tie up and/or kill everyone in the whole inn. That’s if they’re good characters and a murder is needed to provoke them of course; otherwise that happens from 5:00 to 5:30 instead.
Of course maybe I’m worrying about it too much – if they didn’t want to waste game screen time on it, they wouldn’t; they’re adults and I’ve explained all the above to them explicitly. And heck, I can’t really claim it’s unrealistic – adventurers in town is just like sailors or cowboys or whatnot; they have a short time to play hard before they head back out on the sea/trail/etc. But it seems to frustrate the players (well, especially the one) because he seems to think it’s unreasonable that he can’t get what he wants quickly.
Comments or ideas? I also posted this as a question on RPG Stack Exchange to see if it garners any good answers.