Saturday, August 13, 2016

RPG a Day - Day 13

Today's topic: What makes a successful campaign?

I haven't played a lot of campaigns, but I've read much about others' campaigns. By far, the one element that every successful campaign shared was that they were completed. Many a campaign crashes on the rocks and never reaches its destination. Those campaigns that actually reach a conclusion? Rare.

The biggest mistake I see GMs make is a misunderstanding of their players' appetites and enthusiasm for the campaign being played. The GM conjures a truly epic campaign, an adventure spanning years of game time and passing from levels 1 to 20, until the characters slay the greatest evils and ascend to godhood. In his mind, it will become the game that defines them as a group.

Then the players get three sessions in and say, "This isn't really cutting it for us. Want to play Star Wars?"

Alternatively, the GM comes in with no solid plan, no "path" between the start and the end of his campaign. The adventure meanders about from one thing to another. Eventually the players start to wonder, "Is this going any where? Or are we just playing modules until you get bored of running the game?"

The point here is that your players aren't just your friends, or your game group, they're your audience, and "Know your audience" is timeless advice. Do they want to play the RPG equivalent of War and Peace? Do they want something episodic that can be picked up or shelved at will? Perhaps they just want a short, self-contained adventure arc, to see if they have any real interest in your game.

Maybe you get a few sessions in and they realize they don't enjoy this the way you thought they would; can you adjust the pace to renew their interest, or at least end things before they revolt?

Nobody will ever go broke betting against the successful completion of a campaign. Avoiding that fate means knowing what your players want out of a game and matching your plans accordingly.

Comic made by the estimable Shamus Young.

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