When I forget to encourage getting out by the end of the session, we have a tendency to camp out in the dungeon. This isn't a terrible thing, but I don't like it because it complicates scheduling and tends to limit where we end up adventuring.
The scheduling thing is the biggest bummer: it's hard enough to get a quorum, what with everyone being busy adults and all. It's even harder to get the same batch of players together twice in a row (case in point: the last session we were missing jladell and gained Merryoldsoul).
I'm not too upset about verisimilitude. It's a game, players drop in and out, that's okay. But if every session is a totally different cast of characters, it's a little weird at best.
The other thing that bothers me about it is that without a little more urgency to get in and get out, its all too easy to spend multiple sessions hanging around the same dungeon. Again, not terrible, but does tend to limit the number of places we hit (and it's more interesting for me to run different dungeons).
A lot of the old school bloggers absolutely prohibit camping the dungeon. They have random tables you roll on to see if the characters made it out off-camera, or died horribly (usually the latter). That sucks. Nobody should die off-camera.
Another common tactic is to play out the overnight and roll for wandering monsters. By the book this is once every half hour. With a 1/6 chance of an encounter, that's a virtual guarantee of an encounter, which necessitates playing out the night, which leaves less time for exploring and getting home… doesn't work for me.
Here's what I'm proposing: I've been saying that the game calendar is pinned to the real calendar. In other words, if you set off for the Lost Mine on Nov 11, that's the day in-game your characters headed out. At that point the real calendar and the game calendar can diverge. If you spend a session wandering around for 5 days, it's Nov 16 at the end of the night.
Generally this has never even been noticed, because we play infrequently, so the adventures are all weeks apart in game time. But I propose that when we break in the dungeon, when we pick up a week later, the PCs have spent a full week in the dungeon, hunkered down, driving off attackers, eating rations, making scouting trips, etc.
What will this mean at the table? This means that if you camp the dungeon you need food and water. It also means that I'll fill in some of your map to represent scouting. It provides a convenient way for PCs to drop in and out of the game (getting lost and found). And it also means that I'll roll wandering monsters, but instead of springing them on you off-camera or forcing us to play out the intervening time, I'll just place them somewhere in the dungeon (which helps me re-stock cleared areas).
What do you think?
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