Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Why I don't play 55 session campaigns

I knows many of those of you who read this blog also read Grognardia. Perhaps that mean you have followed the adventures of James' groups in Dwimmermount. Then you have probably also noted that they have played at least 55 sessions in that campaign. I don't play games like that.

Tonight we had another session of 7th Sea, and we managed to play (I think) roughly 2 or maybe 2 and a half hours. This is how much time we have available after working, grabbing a bite, all assembling at my friends and just chat a bit before playing. Now, if you want to feel like you are not playing a online ply by post game where a single fight can go on for weeks, you want to focus. That focus means you want to have everything happen at a somewhat accelerated pace.

Imagine you roll up a character, and decide that his motivating factor is to find the one armed man who murdered his father. If that is not something that will just fade away, you will have to make sure it happens to play a part in a fairly short time, in game. This is just an artifact of the slow pace of our game. If two months have to pass in game before that plot start to develop, it will mean maybe 150 sessions. 150 weekly sessions mean everyone will have forgotten that part, and the player will fell like the GM ignored his interesting story hook.

I'm not sure I like this, but the alternatives are not that many when you have at most 3 hours a week to set aside for a game. Anyway. That is the reason there wont be any session report from our 55th session if this game. I'm guesstimating 5-10 sessions more and then it will be a new game.


  1. In my own games I do accelerated time between events (provided the players don't have anything they want to do) and I also suspend realism on some combats to make them run smoother/faster. In my current game the party flashed forward two months in a military campaign to the next major engagement that involved a character's backstory rather than playing out all the mundane battles and things in between. I let my players tell me the story they want to play out to a certain degree.

  2. I don't run fifty-five session games, either. If a character makes it through fifty-five sessions with me (and I'm not sure any has), it probably means the character's been in more than one game.

    The most fun game I've ever run was seven sessions long, and ended up being very complete. There wasn't a particular planned story, but the characters' development fit nicely into that small number of sessions. When they were done, we very clearly knew it.

    Some of this might be because I don't do sandbox games in the current sense. I work with my players on a setting and a starting point, make sure there are things to interest their characters and cause trouble for them, and then set them loose.

    Sometimes they run into things I'd mapped out in advance. Sometimes I make stuff up as I go along. But they're not directly exploring or mapping my imaginary space, which may make things run faster in certain types of games.

    Also, while I often have a fairly classic view of dungeon adventures (Quarmall, the Scarlet Citadel, Destard, Labyrinth), my dungeons tend to be relatively small. More Year of the Dungeon than the Temple of Elemental Evil.

    All told, my groups end up going through content pretty quickly, which is good, because under most conditions we also make stuff up pretty quickly.

  3. Maybe I have too much time on my hands (I don't think so) but my current conglommerate of campaigns runs well over 75 sessions in the past three years. However, most distinctive stories (which you might call dungeons, although they have very little to do with these in my games) run only two to five sessions. Then the same heroes set out for a new, connected story in the main - pretty huge - story arc.


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