Gaming Tonic

Genesis of the Long Term Campaign

imagesI have been batting around running a Pathfinder game lately.  Lots of playtesting D&D Next and playing lots of 4th Edition before that had kind of occupied a lot of the fantasy role-playing time with my regular gaming group.  My group had been floundering a bit lately in our gaming.  We have been playing a variety of shorter lived games for a variety of reasons. The majority of the players longed for the epic campaigns that we played when we first banded together to throw dice and consume snack foods eleven years ago.

One night a few of our members were unable to show for our game.  We used the night to talk about what games we might play this year.  I started writing on the whiteboard attempting to put together a little schedule of what we would be playing which weeks coming up over the next few months.  My players were still itching to play a long term campaign, for some reason I am still unable to hear their pleas.

My group likes to debate each other, a bit heatedly sometimes on the finer points of rpg systems, settings, styles, builds, races, spells, equipment, color of dice, choice of beverage or pretty much anything else.  My mental fortitude was worn down by what seemed to me a huge waste of time because there was no right answer for the group.  Role-playing games are a group activity which lends itself to individuals with strong personality, intelligence, and problem solving abilities.  This is good in a game, but in between games it will have you believing that nobody is satisfied with their favorite hobby anymore.  I was still not running a long term campaign although I knew that would renew interest, I didn’t want the headache.

It is hard to run a great game when you can’t even get your players to agree on a system.  We could use the D&D Next rules but they were in constant flux and we were looking for continuity in our game.  A lot of our gaming sessions had been doing the Open Playtest for the last year and the group needed a break from the system for a bit.  I ran some Hero Fantasy before the D&D Next, but I know a few of my players are burnt out on the Hero System because we had been playing a lot of different games using the system in the last few years a well.  Mix in all the 4th Edition, and the opposition that some of my group had with 4E, and that is a few systems to run a great fantasy campaign with eliminated.  Did some Dungeon Crawl Classics a few months back but that won't work for the kind of game my group needs.  Savage Worlds is not in-depth enough to hold most of my players’ interest for a long campaign.  It didn’t matter I wasn’t running a long term fantasy campaign for the rest of my group, even though I knew it could work wonders for our groups camaraderie.  I had better uses of my role-playing time.

I found myself at first thinking to myself, then commenting in one on one situation with my players, then complaining that we did not seem to function well as a group anymore. Perhaps are play styles have changed over the years.  We might not enjoy the same things in games anymore.  I wanted to fix the problem but I wasn’t being a leader and that is what our group seemed to lack.  We are a large group and everybody would have to give something to get a game going.  That included me if I wanted to run a campaign for my long-time group again.  I needed to run a campaign, an epic campaign (in scope as well as level), and inspire instead of complain.

So now I have my players interested in something because I listened to what they were looking for.  If asked, most players that I have played with in three decades would say that running long term campaigns are one of my DM strengths.  I just had to listen to my players and get out of my own head.

Now I have to make sure that my campaign, which is set in my homebrew world will have something to satisfy each of my players.  I also have to make my players understand that not every part of every session is going to be their favorite.  Role-playing is really cooperative storytelling and you have to give and take each session and trust that your DM has something for your play style and character coming up soon.  I will be updating the progress of the game and what trials that my group faced to attempt to reach high levels playing by the experience point rules in a long term campaign.  I would really be interested in hearing how you get a game together for your group.  Do you play what the DM is running or does group input shape the next game?  Should group input shape the game or should the DM run the game he wants?  That is what the comments section is for so feel free to use it.  Until next time, Roll Hard!

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  1. Usually I pick a system and then poll my friends to see who wants to play. We have a few DMs in our circle, so that helps a lot.

    We’ve been playing a 40k Dark Heresy campaign for the last year and that’s been really great. The rules for character advancement get sluggish later on, so I recommend being pretty loose about what advances people can take.

    Group input should definitely shape the game. It’s easy for a DM to get caught up in pushing a story or just providing the wrong kind of details.

  2. I think a long term campaign is a great unifying element for any gaming group, and also the ability to lay a foundation, take a break, and then come back is basically required.

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