The party that’s been exploring Stonehell has reached a point where getting back to the yet-unexplored part of the dungeon and then out again is taking too much of the play-session, at least if I roll for wandering monsters as they travel and restock the likely places like the Orc’s guard-post. In the old days, we used to freeze time in-between sessions… the party wouldn’t overnight in the dungeon, but we’d break in the middle of things and resume there next time. This was pretty much a necessity when you were squeezing a few minutes play in at lunch-time or in study hall, but it carried over into our Friday night games as well.
I’m a little reluctant to go that route with the current game, preferring the party to start and end outside the dungeon–both because the line-up of characters changes when one kid or the other has a sleep-over or Elyssa is away performing or something, and because even if we froze, so far every session at least one character has been knocked around enough to require rest and recuperation even if nobody except Revenge has been injured beyond the ability of one of Horatia’s miracles to revive. So I’m considering just hand-waving their entrances and exits unless they’ve got monsters in hot pursuit. For one thing, now that most of them are second level and considering the damage they’ve caused, the number of times the Orcs’ morale checks have sent them fleeing, and the psychological warfare they’ve been employing (they’ve actually taken the time to gut many of the Orcs they’ve killed in order to reinforce the impression that Horatia’s god regularly does this to their opponents) it would be fairly easy to justify the Orcs starting to give them a wide berth.
If you run dungeoneering expeditions, how do you handle this? Do you let parties camp overnight in the dungeon? Do you make sure there are shortcuts so they don’t have to traverse lots of explored areas? Or do you just do what I’m contemplating and say, ok, twenty minutes later you’re back at the closed portcullis…what do you do now?