If all goes well, this Saturday night will be the final session of our 1950s WitchCraft campaign. For my group, the fact that the campaign is ending is bittersweet. While everyone is excited to see the big questions raised throughout the campaign to finally be answered and everything wrapped up, all of us around the table know that there is a lot of life left in the campaign and don’t really want to end so soon. So why are we?
A little over a month ago, one member of our group announced that he is moving away. Our group is small and with his loss there is really no satisfactory way for the campaign to continue as-is. While the time he is leaving is nebulous (it could be anywhere from a few months to the better part of a year), summer is here and that means a lot of schedule disruptions. Not only do we anticipate several skipped sessions but we have to do a bit of Gen Con event playtesting as well. I’d have to count on my player being here for several sessions after Labor Day and I’m not sure I can do that so I made up my mind to wrap the campaign sooner rather than later. I probably could have saved the final adventure or two for fall, but I decided not to for one reason: Momentum.
Momentum is a powerful thing. Right now, my players eagerly await the next session and they are all “into” their characters. The overarching plots and themes are still fresh in their minds. If I held off through summer I risk losing that and having the final adventure feel flat. Worse, I may lose the urge to bother running it or keep putting it off until it’s too late. I have files full of campaigns that were halted with an intent to finish and never were. All things considered, it’s best to wrap things now, even if it feels slightly rushed.
Funnily enough, I have another fresh example of momentum, or lack thereof, with another group. I run a Hellfrost campaign every two weeks, but scheduling issues have prevented me from playing for over a month. While I’m supposed to GM this Friday, it dawned on me today that I can’t remember where we left off or even what adventure I was running. While this isn’t a big problem (I’m running published adventures, so boning up isn’t an issue), it is still a great illustration of what happens with a loss of momentum.
Once momentum is lost, it’s difficult to recapture. My very first Witchcraft campaign suffered from this. Our intended one month break turned into a three month break. Worse, it was in the middle of an investigative adventure. I could not expect my group to remember anything from that adventure. I managed to overcome it by producing a “cheat sheet” that brought the players back up to date and laid out the clues and evidence they’d collected thus far. The result was that the first session upon resumption was very powerful and the campaign ran strong for another year and a half.
So how about you? How has momentum affected your campaigns? Have you ever been able to fully recover from a loss of momentum? Have you ever felt that a campaign would have ridden to a satisfactory conclusion had it not been for a loss of momentum? Have you discovered a great way to keep momentum?