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Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Do You Prefer Shorter Campaigns or "Epic" Ones?

As I get ready to kick off the new S&W campaign in the Souther Reaches of the Wilderlands of High Fantasy, I find myself looking back at the campaigns of run over the years.

Most came to an end one way or another in the 5-7th level range, but the epic campaign back in the day lasted until most characters were level 11-13, which in my mind is fairly epic.

I'm already painting, with very broad strokes, where this campaign might get to, and I'm hoping that's name level or higher in AD&D terms (9+ in level).

Some folks say the sweet point of play is the levels in the area of 5-7. I won't argue that the game doesn't change above those levels, but the higher levels become a nice challenge for both the players and the DM.

Do you prefer campaigns that end at at mid levels, or do you prefer to get your heroes to the point where they are Heroes?


  1. If the campaign is shitty then I like it to end as soon as possible. If it's a blast then I'll take it for the long ride. Seriously I like both, more favoring the long campaigns.

  2. Why not start them at 3rd-4th level (or equivalent experience points) then you get to the sweet spot after a few sessions of gelling as a party. Worked for Dragonlance.

    1. "My sweet spot is first level!" would make a great t-shirt... ;)
      But, seriously, I like the struggle on the first levels, and without it, the higher level feel kinda unearned.
      That said, I really like long campaigns...

  3. It's not really an either/or for me. I think there is something immensely satisfying about the short, story centric campaign that knows when to stop. Likewise, keeping a game going for the long-term in no mean feat, and has a different kind of reward.

  4. Not too many years back, I ran a series of what were for me short campaigns, but that from the players' perspective was two and a half years of the same campaign. I'd run what was for me a stand-alone campaign for about 9 months (bi-weekly, with some scheduling snafus, y'know), and from one 'segment' to the next they could switch characters if they wanted to... Two players stuck it through for a total of about 14 levels. One guy switched after each segment. Things started at 6th level, IIRC.

    That was about as long as I'd care to run the 'same' campaign (9 months), but carrying on with the same characters gave the players the sense of an epic campaign. And by the time they hit about 13th or 14th level I was working harder than I really wanted to, but it was still fun. In future, I think about 14th Level will be a cap (but don't hold me to that).

  5. I guess I favor long campaigns....tonight just wrapped a campaign that ran weekly for 18 months, with about 8-10 players weekly and 7 consistent players from start to finish. They began at level 1 and ended at level 15-16. We weren't out of stories by any stretch...everyone had stuff they wanted to keep doing....but the poor GM (me) finds it really hard to build a proper challenge at that level of play. So we're starting a new campaign at level 1 next week, and here's to the new game lasting 18 months through 15 levels of play!

  6. Most of my campaigns by number have been shorter: ca levels 1-8, around 20-30 sessions - and when running 3e D&D that's pretty much the only way to do it, unfortunately. But yes my favourite campaigns have been the epic ones. My current 4e campaign has gone levels 1-15 over 2.5 years, should go 15-30 over the next 2.5-3 years, and is probably my favourite campaign ever short of my original high school AD&D campaign (3rd to 100th+ over umpteen years).
    8 or 10 levels works well for 'single story' campaigns, eg I think Adventure Paths should really be 8-10 levels not 15-20. But big 20-30 level campaigns work best for open worlds where the PCs are unlimited in what they can do.

    1. I definitely like to see the game move beyond the mid-level 'footloose adventurers' range, into politcal, military and rulership concerns at high/name level. And I think the high level stuff is much more satisfying if it's worked up to in play rather than the starting point. Not sure why that is; maybe because players really need to understand the game-world, and be invested in it, before they can really enjoying doing that stuff on a long term basis.

  7. I'm over 20 sessions into my campaign currently and the highest level PC is 3rd level. NPCs are just starting to notice the PCs exploits. This time next year I'm figuring frequent players with successful characters will be 7th to 10th level.
    I like a long lasting campaign but they aren't all epic.

    1. Sounds like my online Yggsburgh game (1e AD&D) - 45 sessions and the highest level PC just hit 5th! :)

  8. I've struggled with that question, and my solution was to run arcs. So we could do an arc in a campaign, then step away and do something else. If we come back, we pick up and keep going. If we don't, then it isn't dangling out there unfinished. A good compromise.

    The games that turned out to be really popular had lots and lots of arcs. However, we did not have to play every session back to back, it rotated in and out.

  9. I'm a younger DM and so is my group so we currently play DCC as much as possible, Weekly to Bi-Weekly. And 3 players are around so often I'm starting a AD&D 2e campaign in the same setting for them so they can play whenever they want, and effect the world without throwing off the main campaign for everyone.

    I've been running this now for I wanna say 3-4 months and every one has hit 3rd-4th level and since this is most peoples 1st game of D&D I'm gonna try to take it to level 10 (DCC's cap).
    On that note I guess I prefer to stick it the long run, as long as I as a DM are entertained, but if I'm bored or frustrated with a game I can't.
    Though I still want to run an AD&D 2e game to max level since I was late to the party on that one being younger and I want to run a 4e game from level 1-30 at some point.
    Probably in Forgotten Realms if I can get my head around the spell plague because the Neverwinter Heroic setting is amazing.

  10. I just like to know ahead of time which is being anticipated. I have been in campaigns that were to be epic and ended quickly, and in ones that were supposed to be a "fill in" that lasted over many sessions. Knowing which is being planned helps put me in the right frame of ,mind.



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