How long is a mission/adventure?

This may seem like a simple question but it comes up occasionally in my sessions and it’s something we want to clear up 100%.
How long is a mission supposed to be?
I’m not asking how long should a session be or a particular arc should be for an in depth storyline.
I’m asking about the term used throughout the books such as with many of the awards in the command book and the character growth sections.
Is a mission/adventure a session or is it from when you get orders and complete them? I keep looking for an answer in the corebook but without a glossary I am at a loss.
For instance we have long arcs that take a while to complete but they’re continuous so should we be calling each session a separate mission?

Far from an official answer, but I treat a “mission” much like an episode in story terms. Some are longer and some are shorter, but they take as much time as is needed to either complete a very specific set of orders/objectives, or to learn those objectives cannot be completed and resolve the situation associated with the orders in a different way. Essentially, a mission starts when the characters are introduced to their main challenge, and it is complete when by whatever means they come up with, that challenge is at least no longer an immediate concern. (As we all know, some threats will lie low and regroup for a while, then come back with fresh tactics to offer a new challenge.)

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I agree with above that missions tend to be an episode worth of content, although there’s obviously other factors to consider. For me, in most cases this takes around about a couple of sessions, but that is largely dictated by the group and gm style.

I haven’t got the command book to hand at the moment to check the wording of the awards, but generally speaking I would suggest the completion of an order (or set of orders) is a good way to look at it. Bare in mind of course that the awards are designed to highlight the above and beyond, so you may go several missions without touching them.

If your arcs are long, perhaps the crew is completing several small missions en route to an end goal. Or perhaps they’re on their own version of a five year missions. In which case a mission contains a large number of subparts. Only you can really answer that, taking the pace of game you are wanting to play into mind. I suspect it is intentionally non-defined for that reason.

Having re-read the OP, just wanted to address the character development part.

I tend to look at this partly in terms of whether the characters have had chance to actually develop. There’s no point giving out a milestone if nobody is going to want to change anything - a lot of banked milestones can be tricky for story telling.

Similarly, reputation doesn’t affect much until they’re in a position to interact with someone who would have heard of them. As such, I think you can give it time to develop to a natural review point.

My interpretation is that the missions are episodic, but they can for an Arc (like DS9) rather than purely separate episodes (like TNG).

I’ve had a session which was framed with a training flight, a 2 parter (we had to break the session due to time, and picked up again next game) and now starting more arc-story driven episode(s)

I’ve been trying to plan around a formula that mirrors the show (4-5 acts). I’m not certain it is the best fit for an RPG session but matching the feel of the source material might help the players get more into it.

Thanks for the responses guys, I wish there was a certain time frame to clarify the question.

@mattcapiche we aren’t using the reputation at all so that doesn’t really concern us at all.

I tend to have an individual mission last 1-3 sessions, depending on how involved and detailed the mission is. Then there’s a clean break and a bit of off-screen downtime between the end of that and the start of the next mission. It’s episodic, mainly because that can handle individual players being absent from time to time, and that’s a big concern for my groups.

Each mission starts with me setting the scene privately for whomever is playing the captain, and them doing a “Captain’s Log” to get things moving (though I’ll have a pre-written Captain’s Log for one-shot games).