Monday, February 27, 2023

The Long Haul

I ended my recent review of The Spinward Extents for the Mongoose edition of Traveller by noting that reading the book "left me wanting to start a campaign in this region of space" and I meant that. Over the past few days, I've felt a powerful lust for doing just this. It's a feeling I haven't felt in a while, in large part, I imagine, because I'm already refereeing two ongoing campaigns: House of Worms for Empire of the Petal Throne and Barrett's Raiders for Twilight: 2000. Though I don't post about them all that often, they're both going strong and I don't anticipate either one of them ending anytime soon. 

It's been general experience that having an ongoing, regularly-played – preferably weekly – campaign is a surefire inoculation against the ravages of "gamer attention deficit disorder."  For as long as I've been involved in the hobby, gamer ADD has been a great scourge, one that's only become more insidious as the number of roleplaying games available has increased. In my youth, there were only so many RPGs and thus the temptation to abandon one and pick up another was not as great as today. The present age, though, is blessed (or cursed, depending on your point of view) with a surfeit of RPGs about every conceivable subject matter, thereby increasing the temptation to take up with one of them, despite already playing another.

I've mentioned this desire to start up a Traveller campaign to others and they've been little help in steeling my resolve against it. "Go for it," they say, "you've got the time to referee another campaign, don't you?" Others tell me, "Traveller is your favorite RPG. Why wouldn't you want to start up a campaign? It'll be fun." This is all true. I do love Traveller and I do have the time. Despite this, my will is unyielding, my resistance remains strong and for a very simple reason: I initiate every campaign with the expectation that it will last for years. If I don't feel confident that I can achieve that, I don't see much point in refereeing.

I am very committed to long campaigns. Certainly, not all of my campaigns have succeeded in lasting multiple years and indeed many of them have not lasted even a single year. Yet, that remains my ideal, the thing I hope for every time I decide to invite people to join me in playing a RPG. Anything less than that feels frivolous and simply not worth my time. I'm of an age where I have no interest in flitting like a butterfly from one game to the next. I want to put a campaign properly through its paces, exploring every inch of it with my players and, in my opinion, that can only be done by devoting years to the endeavor. Anything less holds little appeal to me.

Refereeing a long campaign lasting years isn't something one can do casually. It demands not just time but dedication on the part of both the referee and the players. This is, in my experience, not always easy, especially at this present moment in history when distractions abound and compete for our attention. The perseverance required to stick with a single RPG and play it loyally sometimes seems to be in short supply. This is why I considered myself particularly blessed in having not one but two groups of players who show up week after week to play in my campaigns (though there is, to be fair, considerable overlap between the two groups). 

So, for the time being, refereeing a Traveller campaign will have to wait – and that's fine.


  1. Why not -pause- a campaign with one group, play another game with them, then -pause- that after a certain point? In one of my groups, I've been doing just that. We started out in Mongoose Traveller, took a break, played 1e AD&D. Now we're back to Traveller, same characters/game as before. at some point we'll
    -pause- Traveller and resume the AD&D game.

  2. Rationally, I can't disagree with the logic of your post, James.

    Emotionally, I mourn the loss of what your Traveller game might have been.

  3. PS: Committing to a game is like committing to a relationship. How can you know, before the first date, that a relationship will last for years?

    Games and relationships need a courting period. Give the game a test drive, and only then can you hope to learn if it's a game that could survive the long haul.

    It's better to have played and stopped, than never to have played at all. :)

    1. It's interesting that you should make the relationship analogy, because, as I was writing this post, I realized that much of what I'd written could apply in that sphere as well. For me, I guess it's my situation is akin to being happily "married" to my existing campaigns; starting a new one would be like cheating.

      That sounds weird, doesn't it?

    2. Yes it does. You have two games now. You're already a polygame-ist.

      If the new game caused you to end one of your existing games, then you have a point. But if you can handle three games simultaneously, what's the harm?

    3. I don't know, throuples tend to be less stable than pairs or quads IME. One of the three always winds up feeling either left out or put-upon.

      Oh wait, you weren't talking about that kind of poly, were you? :)