Thursday, June 9, 2011

Campaign Sustainability

...I feel like a goddamn hippy with a post title like that.

Lately I have been thinking about campaigns, and how most of them (mine and others that I have played in or heard about) seem to fade away prematurely more often that not; that is, they do not have an "ending." I've often mentioned that I consider gaming to be its own thing and that it needn't copy forms of narrative like novels or TV shows, so perhaps an "ending" is unnecessary. Still, it seems that there is always dissatisfaction from one side of the screen or the other when a game ends before everyone is ready to send it off. I know I've ended a lot more campaigns feeling unfinished/abandoned than feeling finished.

As a DM, I usually have a point where I can see the death spiral of a campaign beginning, be it my own or one that someone else is running. In my own games, I can tell when the game starts getting cancelled more and cancelled at the last minute... and people don't seem to be as disappointed or bothered by it as they used to be. I find that I'm not excited about where the game is going, or I find preparing for it to be a chore. Sometimes I'm still loving it but players are slipping away to outside obligations like school or a new family. In one case, the events in the game had lead to a point where it didn't make sense for any of the characters to stay together anymore... the game had quite suddenly reached a logical conclusion, and everyone was okay with letting it go while we were still on a high note. (To go back into the dicey realm of comparing games to TV shows, we wanted to end it before we "jumped the shark.")

I am happy to report that my current campaigns do not have these symptoms. Pathfinder is going strong, and in fact we played an extra session last week. Stars Without Number is highly anticipated by my Sunday group, and now that the gang has their own ship, it really feels like the campaign is just beginning, if anything. (Most of it has found the players stranded on a single planet)

So, homies, I ask you this.... what do you do when you begin to feel that nagging sensation that a game is not sustainable,that you are losing steam? To you fight against it, as I did most bitterly with the end of my AD&D 1e game, or do you acquiesce to entropy and let a game go out on a high note, as we did with my Warhammer Fantasy 2nd ed game? Are any of you going through this right now?

1 comment:

  1. I play in a rotating GM campaign. One of us runs for 8-12 weeks, and then it's the next guy's turn. Most people run the same campaign when their turn comes up, but I prefer not to. It helps keep things lively.