This is a site for discussing roleplaying games. Have fun doing so, but there is one major rule: do not discuss political issues that aren't directly and uniquely related to the subject of the thread and about gaming. While this site is dedicated to free speech, the following will not be tolerated: devolving a thread into unrelated political discussion, sockpuppeting (using multiple and/or bogus accounts), disrupting topics without contributing to them, and posting images that could get someone fired in the workplace (an external link is OK, but clearly mark it as Not Safe For Work, or NSFW). If you receive a warning, please take it seriously and either move on to another topic or steer the discussion back to its original RPG-related theme.
The message boards have been upgraded. Please log in to your existing account by clicking here. It will ask twice, so that it can properly update your password and login information. If it has trouble recognizing your password, click the 'Forgot your password?' link to reset it with a new password sent to your email address on file.

Author Topic: Under the Scope: The Long Term Campaign  (Read 863 times)

Abyssal Maw

  • some random jerk!
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 5624
    • View Profile
Under the Scope: The Long Term Campaign
« on: March 28, 2007, 09:44:57 am »
The long term campaign is the ideal gaming situation for many people (me included).

There's really a couple of different types of these.

There's the long term "module" type campaign where there's no continuity between sessions, but there's continuity between characters. I guess Living Greyhawk is like that..(if taken at a larger scale- I tend to think of the Living Campaigns as their own thing) but I've seen a couple of regular campaigns that work like that as well. Players get together for one adventure or 'episode', but it usually doesn't have all that much to do with what happened last session, unless it's specifically a continuation of that module or adventure or whatever.

The kind of campaign I'm really talking about is the one where the game session pretty much starts where the last session left off. Perhaps a day went by.. or even a week or more. But the continuity is ideally unbroken.
The interesting thing about this second type is that there's ususally no 'modules', or if they are, attempts are made to phase them in seamlessly.

I firmly believe that this second type of campaign is the most common type of campaign. Mainly, I base this reasoning on the idea that adventures take a long time to write if your'e trying to create self-contained episodes. But in this second way, you just have to create individual encounters, individual NPCs, and individual entities like towns and whatnot. If your'e a bit lazy, (I am) you can even run encounters straight out of the monster book.. There's a lot of flexibility and improvisation going on.  

Anyhow, with the first type of long term campaign, you don't need much frequency. If all you do is play at conventions or in modules, there's no urgent need to keep track of what happened last session. You can also pretty much handwave or even invent anything that was supposed to happen between sessions.

With the second type, frequency is kind of important. I tend to think minimum frequency for a continuitous campaign is weekly. See, continuity is very cool when you are developing your individual characters story, as well as the shared story of your campaign. The more details that come together, the more interesting and satisfying the story becomes.  

Anything less frequent than that, and you start to lose more than you gain from the benefits of continuity. As each player starts to forget little details, the campaign gets pulled in different directions, and it's quite hard to make the campaign "go" anywhere. I've often seen it as someone asking 3 months down the line "wait, what are we supposed to be doing again? I can't remember how this mission got started..."

Thats actually a frequency issue.
Download Secret Santicore! (10MB). I painted the cover :)

Settembrini

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 6796
    • View Profile
Under the Scope: The Long Term Campaign
« Reply #1 on: March 28, 2007, 11:23:44 am »
The paizo adventure paths need weekly play, but are module based. Due to their interconnection and supplied material, it´s quite a tour de force.
From level 1 to 20 in twelve months.
In reality it took us fourteen months to finish AoW, but you get the idea.
Intense stuff.
If there can't be a TPK against the will of the players it's not an RPG.- Pierce Inverarity

jrients

  • robodroid warlock
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3318
    • View Profile
    • http://jrients.blogspot.com
Under the Scope: The Long Term Campaign
« Reply #2 on: March 28, 2007, 12:14:48 pm »
While I agree that weekly contact is probably ideal for a continuous narrative campaign, I've seen every other week games that handled it just fine.  Heck, there's a local Champions game that meets irregularly, sometimes only every few months, that has strong ongoing continuity.  The internet can be a big help for these kinds of games.  Stuff can be built upon, clarified, or otherwise hashed out between actual play sessions.

For what its worth, I actually prefer the more modular approach.  I tend to think about my games as a series of short stories rather than an epic novel.
Jeff Rients
My gameblog

Pierce Inverarity

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • P
  • Posts: 3230
    • View Profile
Under the Scope: The Long Term Campaign
« Reply #3 on: March 28, 2007, 02:04:15 pm »
I love the road-goes-ever-on campaign type number 2. If I were King of RL, that's what I'd play in the Oval Office every week. In reality though I've been gaming once a month for years now, so alas that kind of play is a distant memory now.
Ich habe mir schon sehr lange keine Gedanken mehr über Bleistifte gemacht.--Settembrini

Spike

  • Stroppy Pika of DOOM!!!!!
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 8064
    • View Profile
Under the Scope: The Long Term Campaign
« Reply #4 on: March 28, 2007, 02:43:19 pm »
I prefer to play in, and tend to run unbroken continuity games, even when I (rarely) pull a module out.  When my players travel several thousand miles from Renbluve in Southron Nornsa to Wei in the Savannah kingdoms I don't just wave my hand and say 'you guys have been in Wei for a while now and the Wei Shakti offers you a quest...' or whatever. They get the travelogue, broken up occasionally by action and interaction, they arrive and continue the journey. This forces them, yes, to decide what to do when their contract as caravan guards expired upon reaching Wei.

But that's how I roll.

As a Player I'm all about the visionary dreams, the architectural challenges.  As play progresses I chose to focus my character on 'grand stage' things, which often prove less satisfying (if even possible) in episodic play.
For you the day you found a minor error in a Post by Spike and forced him to admit it, it was the greatest day of your internet life.  For me it was... Tuesday.

For the curious: Apparently, in person, I sound exactly like the Youtube Character The Nostalgia Critic.   I have no words.

Mah Book

Bradford C. Walker

  • M.A.: Liberal Studies
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1816
    • View Profile
    • http://bradfordcwalker.blogspot.com/
Under the Scope: The Long Term Campaign
« Reply #5 on: March 28, 2007, 04:18:27 pm »
This sounds a lot like Episodic vs. Serial to me.
Find me on Twitter.
Read my work at Empires Must Fall, Walker's Retreat, Walker's Study and Stabilizing Rifts.
Reavers of the Void, Book One of the Star Knight Saga, is available now on Amazon.

Settembrini

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 6796
    • View Profile
Under the Scope: The Long Term Campaign
« Reply #6 on: March 28, 2007, 04:44:37 pm »
Strange, I thought it was about how play frequency produces a deeper game.

So, abyssal, what´s it about?
If there can't be a TPK against the will of the players it's not an RPG.- Pierce Inverarity

Abyssal Maw

  • some random jerk!
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 5624
    • View Profile
Under the Scope: The Long Term Campaign
« Reply #7 on: March 28, 2007, 06:35:40 pm »
Quote from: Bradford C. Walker
This sounds a lot like Episodic vs. Serial to me.


I guess it is. Is that an official terminology broken out somewhere?
Download Secret Santicore! (10MB). I painted the cover :)

Abyssal Maw

  • some random jerk!
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 5624
    • View Profile
Under the Scope: The Long Term Campaign
« Reply #8 on: March 28, 2007, 06:46:43 pm »
Quote from: Settembrini
Strange, I thought it was about how play frequency produces a deeper game.

So, abyssal, what´s it about?


I don't know about "deeper", for sure. It certainly is more detailed, and easier to sort of take creative ownership of a long running campaign, played weekly, which has that kind of continuity.

At the beginning of every game session, no matter how you play-- you probably have some kind of exposition wherein you sort of set up the pre-existing situation. Usually this is a GM's job. He says something like "You are all galactic troubleshooters, floating in your disabled ship outside the Necromundos zone of the Cerean Starcluster.." or whatever.

In the continuous mode of a campaign, you can dispense with most of that, because the exposition cosnsists of the phrase "where did we leave off last time?"

In this kind of campaign, the exposition is something everyone already knows.

Usually you can even go around the table and do something like "what is your character doing in the two days since last adventure..?"

This is where players tend to do stuff like craft items ("I work on brewing up some potions", or bring in subplots ("I try and research that mysterious mask we found two sessions ago"... )

Can you do that in another type of campaign? I think you wouldn't really need to since those kinds of creative entities and plotlines never or rarely carry forward onto the next session.
Download Secret Santicore! (10MB). I painted the cover :)

Arminius

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 7270
    • View Profile
    • http://ewilen.livejournal.com/
Under the Scope: The Long Term Campaign
« Reply #9 on: March 28, 2007, 08:02:02 pm »
There's the technique of bluebooking, where players privately keep a sort of journal of what their characters do outside of the at-the-table game sessions. I haven't used it but it sounds like a good way to maintain continuity in episodic games.

Abyssal Maw

  • some random jerk!
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 5624
    • View Profile
Under the Scope: The Long Term Campaign
« Reply #10 on: March 28, 2007, 08:10:07 pm »
We use a wiki, but it seems everyone has a different take on it. Now when I used the wiki as a player, I ended up writing short stories about my character's pre-history and 'secret life'.

When my friend Nick uses it, he writes session recaps in 3rd person.

When my friend Justin does it, he tends to write in-character diary entries.
Download Secret Santicore! (10MB). I painted the cover :)

J Arcane

  • Esquire
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 7790
    • View Profile
    • http://www.bedroomwallpress.com
Under the Scope: The Long Term Campaign
« Reply #11 on: March 31, 2007, 09:43:27 pm »
Quote from: Abyssal Maw
I guess it is. Is that an official terminology broken out somewhere?
"Official" in what way?

I know I've seen just the break down Walker described in quite a few games over the years.
Bedroom Wall Press - Games that make you feel like a kid again.

Arcana Rising - An Urban Fantasy Roleplaying Game, powered by Hulks and Horrors.
Hulks and Horrors - A Sci-Fi Roleplaying game of Exploration and Dungeon Adventure
Heaven's Shadow - A Roleplaying Game of Faith and Assassination