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Grumpy, yet verbose.

Thursday, April 14, 2022

Death of the Campaign

 Over the last several months of running Traveller, I've started to notice a pattern in my gaming habits that conflicts with a long-held assumption I've had about styles of gaming and my own preferences. It's forced me to take a serious look at what I want and get out of this hobby.

As a fan of old-school games and things like classic D&D, I've often been a staunch defender of the whole long-term process of characters leveling up over time and getting really enmeshed in an extended campaign. The time it takes to get from 1st to "Name" level being essential to really making the PCs part of the world and for the players to get invested in the setting and what's happening there. There's no substitute for "putting in the work" as they say. It's not that I disagree with this now, but I believe I am at a point in my gaming style, as well as of an age, where my priorities are shifting somewhat.

Lately, I find that I am far more likely to experience burn-out on campaigns that last for months (or longer). This is especially when I GM, but has happened as a player, too. I realize that by some grognardian standards, a 6-12 month campaign is hardly "extended," but when you factor in all the games over the years that have crashed and burned after only 1-2 sessions, I think sustaining one for the better part of a year or more is certainly at the longer end of the curve.

When I went on my game-purchasing spree last year, I originally had the idea of getting at least one published campaign for each system. While Runequest lacks a full campaign (presently), it does have several compilations of scenarios. The thinking was to reduce the workload for me to run the different games and have enough for players to do for a good long while in each game.

The reality has been a little different. While I count myself lucky that my group has really been enjoying Traveller and have gotten engaged with the setting and the campaign, I'm struggling as GM to maintain the energy to prep and run it, even with published materials. My enthusiasm for the campaign has waned over the months and I fear I'm going to need a real break from it soon, which, as experienced gamers know, often means that it will never get picked back up again. Because of this, I've been trying to push through,hoping to regain some momentum. Sadly, that seems to not be happening.

So where does this leave me? Well, for one thing, I've learned something about myself as a GM and a gamer, so that's good. (I guess?) Secondly, I know I will need to make the call about the current campaign at some point, and third, I should focus on shorter, more episodic games where there are frequent "stopping points" to let one wrap up and have some closure before moving on. We had a moment like that in the Traveller campaign right before we shifted gears into the Drinax campaign. Perhaps I should have taken it. Perhaps the open-ended, long term campaign is not for me any more.

Live and Learn.


  1. I've had this sensation too, and reading a fair few blogs I see that this affects others. I can manage DMing a BX adventure of 2-3 sessions, 4 at a push before I become too tired to plan it all out. My dungeons are planned so that there's a firm node where we can park it, with players deciding to leave a level.

    I think that it just comes down to real life pressures and responsibilities getting in the way of gaming.

    A bit frustrating though. I'd like to play in a Pendragon campaign if I could find one.

  2. I feel you on this. I ran the greatest campaign I ever ran in 2020. Then I moved in 2021, got busy, got distracted and never made it back. Now I am starving for a game but don't have the juice to get it going. It's the worst.