Adventuring on the Clock
Kind of a thought exercise, but maybe not.
I've been wondering what would happen if you had a set limit to how long you were playing. You hit, say, 10 p.m., and that's it, the adventure is over.
Now, add to that the fact that the next adventure has to start in some form of civilization.
So if you didn't make it out of the dungeon, the first thing everyone does between sessions is comes up with what happened between the end of the adventure and the beginning of the next one.
If the players don't come up with some ideas that get them home by, say, the weekend after the session, the GM gets to determine what happened and where they end up, but everybody is in the same shape they were in when the adventure ended.
The next adventure would pick up not less than a month later, but could be as much later as the PCs agree on. If they want to wander the world for a decade, and the GM and the PCs agree, that's what happens.
But the GM would have a list of pros and cons that happen if the PCs don't actively adventure for a length of time. Maybe it's a "doom track," where the an evil bad guy takes over more and more of the continent while the PCs are gallivanting.
But there would have to be some kind of benefit to the PCs wandering the wide world for that time, or settling down, or whatever. Some enticement to risk whatever "doom track" the GM comes up with (and it may not be a BBEG taking over the continent, it may just be thieves and assassins coming after the PCs once they make a name for themselves, etc.)
This isn't a really fully fleshed out idea, just me kind of wondering out loud about this kind of thing.