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The Embarrassment of Riches

Usually when I have issues or problems with a campaign, it’s because something is threatening to cut it short. Perhaps I’ve run short of material. Perhaps the players managed to leap ahead towards the end. Perhaps there was a TPK. Perhaps the players are losing interest. Perhaps the game sessions kept getting cancelled. Perhaps one or more players left the group.

None of that is affecting my current D&D 5e campaign; it’s running great on all counts. My master plan is intact and the players are progressing well. I can easily see this campaign finishing as intended, even if it takes several years.

And therein lies my problem.

I’m a freelance writer and I have little time to game. Almost all of my gaming time is this single “every other week” campaign. My mind is full of all of these other great campaigns I’d love to run or play in, but I simply don’t have the time. The thought of being stuck in this one campaign is a little disheartening.

And yet, things are going so well that I don’t want to rock the boat. In spite of my desire to do other things, I haven’t lost interest in this campaign any more than my players. It’s a lot of fun! I’ve thought about taking a break, but, as I wrote in Odyssey [1], I fear that any such break would become permanent as it would be hard for me to come back to this campaign once I let it go.

I’ve also thought about shortening the campaign to get to the resolution more quickly, but right now the pace is natural and working well. I fear that trying to shorten it up would feel forced and less fulfilling. I’m at a loss as to what I should do beyond trucking forward with it.

How about you? Have you ever run a campaign that was going well but you still found yourself looking for a way out? What techniques have you tried? Did they work, or did you effectively “ruin” a good campaign?

5 Comments (Open | Close)

5 Comments To "The Embarrassment of Riches"

#1 Comment By DrummingDM On November 2, 2015 @ 6:38 am

I was in this situation a few months ago – I have a great, long-running, regular monthly gaming group. Because of schedules, lives, kids, jobs, significant others – the usual – one Friday a month is all we can swing, but we’ve been together for 9 years now, and we’re all committed to the group. We’ve got a GREAT Pathfinder game going right now, everyone is invested in their character and plot, and they’re all “buying in” and advancing the plot in their own character-specific ways.

The only problem is that I have 3-4 other games I’d love to run. And if I put this game on the back burner, in reality, it would probably just end on a shelf and we’d never come back to it.

So, I’m finishing the game, at it’s organic, natural pace. And I’m writing the hell out of these other games, so that when the time comes to pull the next game out, I’m ready to go 100% from day one. It’s not the perfect solution, but it’s keeping me happy, and I’m not making my players switch games mid-stream.

#2 Comment By black campbell On November 2, 2015 @ 8:46 am

Yup — and not too long ago. We’ve had a long running Battlestar Galactica campaign that has been consistently high quality — from the use of motif by the GM and the players, to excellent character development, to good storytelling, it’s been easily the most ambitious, enjoyable, and high-quality game I’ve run since…probably ever.

I looked to cut it short as we were going to lose one of our players about two years ago, and I’m glad I didn’t do it. It would have been a good time to pull the plug, there were new games and campaigns I wanted to try, and I was getting a bit tired. Then one or two episodes opened a whole new series of plots and ideas to explore and with the group still mostly intact we pressed on. Good thing, too.

Work and family life — that crap never lets up and if you let it eat all your time, you’ll regret it. (Hell, Walt, you now better than most — I had to walk away from contracts just to do the “good dad” thing. Hated doing it, but…) If you let the game schedule slip past every other week, my experience is the game will collapse. If everyone is enjoying it, it is a worthwhile thing to keep doing.

#3 Comment By Scott Martin On November 2, 2015 @ 10:31 am

I’ve had this problem before, but usually it was prep (particularly as I chose to prep) that ground me down by the end. The players would keep showing up, excited and happy at their new powers (in d20/D&D 3.x games), but I had less and less fun as I was spending too much of my effort on getting monster stats right.

Having a plan in place in advance is a huge help for bringing games to a timely end. For my group with BryanB, we successfully played “a Star Wars movie”, set it aside, then came back to it a year later for the sequel. Getting in the habit of limited runs helps you switch to keep interest high–and gracefully abandon systems that are good, but not worth continued investment of time. Or when the new shiny has just become irresistible to everyone.

#4 Comment By John Fredericks On November 2, 2015 @ 3:35 pm

Like Scott, once a D&D campaign gets above a certain level, it becomes MUCH harder for me to come up with credible threats. I’ve done two reboots so far. Most of the players have been good with it.

However, I think as a DM that I need to run other genres more than I do, to grow. But I don’t want to upset the regular game’s applecart. It’s the group’s game, not my laboratory.

So I don’t think there is an easy answer to Walt’s original question about how to wrap things up gracefully. But we’ve all been in the same boat Walt.

#5 Comment By Roxysteve On November 6, 2015 @ 11:30 am

My problem is that the times I have available to game in do not match others’ calendars well, so my campaigns start strong but bleed players as time goes on.

I’m trying to finish up a Deadlands:Reloaded Last Son’s campaign that has reached the last but one plot point before the climax with only two of the original four players, one of whom has recently told me his fantasy game date is about to slide into the same time slot as my Deadlands game.

This means that much pruning has happened and the evocative events of The Great Winter will never be seen or experienced, which is a real and palpable loss to the players as it is perhaps the best written part of the whole affair.

It is very vexing.

Our D&D 5e game has foundered on the rocks of “no-one wants to play on a Sunday afternoon” too.

My First Saturday Of The Month Delta Green game is still going strong, but even that has taken some “missed date” hits due to illnesses and family obligations.

Don’t get me started on the games I’d love to run but cannot get people interested in playing: Call of Cthulhu, Solomon Kane, Space 1889 (Savage Worlds version), Firefly, One Ring, the list is extremely large indeed.

#6 Pingback By Sporadic Saturday Sweetness: 2015-11-15 | Ravenous Role Playing On November 15, 2015 @ 11:18 am

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