We meet Fridays, because everyone's schedules are too fucked up for any other day. We get together at 6. Or we're supposed to. People start showing up at 7 (I've given up being ready at 6 by now). They're all there by 8, but around 7:30 they started ordering or cooking food. Now it's 8:30 and people are eating and talking - two of my players are FFXI addicts and never leave the house, so the rest of us never see them, and everyone always socializes. Now it's 9, and we're starting. The game takes a merry long time because of OOC chatter. Around 11:30 one or two of the players start to get tired because they've been at work all day and they're wusses. The game goes intil 2 or 3 typically, because of this. The last session, I designed for a 3 hour game, and it lasted until 1 something - not bad if you consider we started at 9. The actual content of the plot has to be dumbed down to fit the time reequired, and that makes people's attention spans shrink; less plot is less engaging plot, less for player characters to do etc. Any advice on dealing with players wasting the gaming session?
The problem is in part the players' lives, and in another part the game. I'm playtesting my own system, and experimenting with different styles of play. It worked pretty well as campy horror, linear designed. It's working a little more rough as occult adventure, with a slightly less (but still quite) linear plot. Still, I'm determined not to give up. There're only 2 sessions left in the 5 session plot I designed. I prefer to run more modular plots, and I've run an open ended one too, but the last two semi-linear plots I've run have been really successful, one with this group. Is it the style of the plot? Or do you think it might be idiosyncratic (the theme, mood, villains, lack of character attachment, etc)?
Part of the problem with the system is that it allows players to play mortals or spirits. Mortals wind up doing most things, simply because most things are in the real world. The spirit players tend to observe and make OOC comments during those periods, though they can and do often add IC comments (through their various powers). The mortals, on the other hand, tend to feel TOTALLY left out when spirit things happen.
I realize this forces people running the system (if the PCs are a mixed group) to split the team frequently. Many GMs are terrible at it, and even good-at-it GMs prefer not to sometimes. I suppose there're ways to tailor the system to fix the problem, but the ones I've thought up over the years tend to be problematic. Giving the spirits more easy access "manifest" powers would work, but totally unbalance the game. The reason to play a mortal is that spirits can't make phone calls or surf the web.
This isn't something other systems do, exactly, but there is a parallel. In dark future/cyberpunk games there's always a netrunner/decker. My tactic in Shadowrun and Cyberpunk was to have that done by an NPC. But those are popular games, and I assume there's a way to fit net running into games without losing continuity for the rest of the players. Anyone successfully run netrunning? Do you just send the other players out for pizza? Set up the playstation? How do you keep them in the game, or get them back after they turn off the playstation or whatever? I'm a master of splitting groups up and keeping interest, but this group is 6 players - 4 mortal, 2 spirit. They tend to split into at least 3 groups, and that's rough.