When we GM, we are in charge of a few really important things regarding the story at hand. First, we need to provide antagonists. Next, we need to have some sort of a plan that these bad guys carry out. But pacing is also important, particularly with our group with revolving game masters and a "serial" vibe which I simply love. I want to address this in this post.
In the past few sessions for "To a Bloody Pulp", I've been the game master for half of the adventures. I always want to make sure that we end the adventure with a big, satisfying finish at the end. If you were paying attention, I even time it. I try to make sure the opening action happens by 4:30, we get pizza in the "investigation rounds" at 6:45, and I even try to set a timer to let me know at 8:00 that I need to set up the final confrontation. This is because I know that we aren't all in our twenties anymore (except maybe Tim?) so we all need to end our game well before ten o'clock because we can't stay conscious that long.
I love that as a group our conceit is that adventures are self-contained and that there is always a "beginning" and an "end." This way, each game is appropriate for the story told for whomever shows up. If a player can't make an adventure, or if we want to exchange PCs we can do that. It isn't weird, and PCs don't just "disappear" in the narrative. However, this limits the scope of each particular adventure, and I'm realizing that as a GM I've got to manage our use of time as well.
For example, last game you guys had already found who had Rufus directly (helps to have a mind reader in the group) so the bit about Elizabeth and Lamont was no longer relevant. I kind of had to keep it anyway or else parts wouldn't have made sense. Once the PCs circled back, I kind of wanted to hand wave that part away since it was no longer needed to drive the story.
To that end, I would like to propose a "plot device" rule. Once a game, if the players are taking too much time dwelling on details that don't necessarily drive the plot the GM can call "plot device" and put an end to it, perhaps narrating what happens rather than letting the players flounder. Then, if the GM narrates some sort of coincidence or tells the PCs that they notice something about an element that wasn't looked at before (like "Why would you guys like to check all the abandoned buildings around this fish canning plant?" would have helped in Jason's game) to get the plot train back on track the GM may take a benny.