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Friday, October 24, 2014

In Defense of the Campaign:

Before I start to  wander here is my main point:
Rpg's, to be at their best need the consistency and structure of a regular continuing game.
Let the digressions begin.

I am not saying that one shot games can't create some very interesting and memorable experiences. I will however say, it's not the same. There are some excellent games out there designed to be one shot experiences, which are tightly designed, elegant and effective. They are also  much closer to party games in my  mind then they are to RPG's. If a person says to me, "We're going to play this one shot RPG today." In my mind they might as well be saying, "lets play  munchkin, or cards against humanity, or Blood Bowl." This is not an attack on one shots, I enjoyed "Project Ninja Panda Taco," and I LOVE "Hell for Leather" by cobweb games.

One-shots can create memories, campaigns can create mythology.

Does your group have a personal mytholgy? When the PC's visit a city do they  know things that have happened there in the past? Is the statue down by the docks that of a fighter who played in that game years ago? Did you players once save, or loose a city? Are there recurring villains that just pop up every now and again? Are the ruins the PC's are exploring the remains of a city the once walked in and fought over as different characters? Is there a ruined tower near the shore that once belonged to a PC?

Esta Carnahan, Personal Mythology

Campaigns provide the fertile ground in which the next set of adventures grow. After a game is well established the adventures practically write themselves.
How does this relate to what I'm doing right now?

I have said before on this blog but it bears saying again, we are in a golden age of gaming. There are more RPGS to pick form than there ever have been before. Everything from big ticket new editions of the "greatest role-playing game EVAR" to small press Indy games. Old school dungeon crawls, new school story games, everything in between. On top of that every type of game seems to have it's own supporting community. I have been gaming for a long time and I have never seen games, of such quality, in such variety, and  so available as we have right now.

It's too tempting to leave the safe waters of whatever game / campaign  is being played at the moment and start sampling other things.


For example the group I am involved in over the past year or so has played, The Strange, Numenera, Ad&D 2nd, D&D 4th, D&D 5th, Dungeon World, a version of Gum shoe ( I missed the games so I'm sorry to say I'm not sure which one.) We also tried some Car Wars, my game AAIE, even at that I might be missing something. This does not even take into account my inability to not work on some random game projects.

It's a blessing, to have some much to choose from and a group to  play it all with. There are as they say  two sides to every coin. I have found it extremely hard to stay focused on any one thing. I have two 5th edition fighters, an Akido cop in The Strange, A 4th ed half dragon,  and a glaive in Numenara whose name I DON"T EVEN REMEMBER.*

When I said in a thread on G+ that "I want to focus on something.** "One of my friends replied and I am paraphrasing. "I want to focus on something Until I (meaning me) get bored (there fixed)."
The comment was in good fun and no offense was taken. It was thought provoking, because I'm never bored, I just get disconnected. In fact think from an observer bored was a fair thing to say just not wholly accurate to what's in my head. 
I have decided a better way to put it.
It's burn out.

Burn out kills campaigns.

Back to my first point, I don't thing RPG's work without campaigns.
When a player or  gm burns out  for one reason or another campaigns because they are hard to do, tend to get sent to the back burner first. Once something slides to the back burner, good luck getting that momentum back. Good luck reestablishing that personal mythology, good luck hooking players away from the next thing coming down the pipe.

What I need as a table top gamer is to get back to basics. I need to work (emphasis explicit, it is work) on my campaign. I need to sit at a table with players and play. I need to be consistent about it. 
In order for me to stay with this hobby *** into what will statistically speaking be the second half of my life I need to get back to building the personal mythology of the campaign. Anything else seems pretty empty right now.

Thank you for reading, 
Please leave any questions or comments in the huge barrel of pickles bellow.
-Mark.



 *(My friends would know that's not like me I generaly take allot of time and thought with my characters.)
**(the original thread was me asking our group what projects everyone was actually interested in so I could pair back a bit.)
***(This is something I have been thinking about quite a bit, not just with  RPG's but many of my hobbies. It might be another blog post. The second generation of RPG players is turning 40. What does that mean for the industry?)