Summer is always a bad time for my group when it comes to actually getting a chance to play, and that’s due in part to the fact that we game every Saturday: when stuff comes up, it’s often on Saturdays. One option might be to throw a weeknight game into the mix — much like having a backup RPG on deck, only with a bit more planning.

So what should a weeknight game look like, assuming everyone has work or school the following day? With the caveat that I’ve only ever run a couple of weeknight one-shots, here’s what comes to mind:

Short. Four hours is going to be tough to wrangle, and six is probably out of the question. Two or three hours seems like a good length: finish dinner by 7:00, done with the game by 10:00 — that sounds reasonable.

No lead-in. With so little time for the game, I’d want to keep the pregame socializing to a minimum — 15 minutes tops. As much as I enjoy that aspect of gaming, much longer seems like it’d turn game night into hangout night (not a bad thing, just not what we’re after).

Focused and intense… Like a convention game, being short on time suggests packing in lots of action while minimizing item management and other momentum-killing activities. In his TT interview, Mike Mearls talks about running a lunchtime D&D game at work — it’s all combat.

…or beer and pretzels. On the flipside, a weeknight game could also be a good showcase for a light, fun system like Og: The Caveman RPG, Toon, Paranoia or plain old hack-and-slash D&D. In some ways, this sounds like the best option overall — a break from longer-format games in every sense of the word.

Those four elements seem like they’d just about cover it, but like I said, I’ve never done this myself. If you’ve run a weeknight game — whether one-shot, semi-regular or as a full-on campaign — I’d love to hear about it in the comments.