Friday, August 25, 2023

That New Car Smell

Is there anything more intoxicating than the promise of a new campaign? Whether you're the referee or a player, the vast horizon of possibility that a new campaign lays before you is a feeling like no other in the hobby. I thought about this the other day because a friend was preparing to start up a new campaign and I must admit that, in hearing about it, I was more than a little bit envious.

As you probably know, I'm currently refereeing two different RPG campaigns: the House of Worms Empire of the Petal Throne campaign, currently starting its ninth year; and the Barrett's Raiders Twilight: 2000 campaign (now in its second year). Both continue to chug along each week and I – and my players, so far as I can tell – continue to enjoy them. Nevertheless, even I am not immune to the scourge of gamer attention deficit disorder, particularly when I hear about others trying something new with their own group of players.

It's a fascinating phenomenon. I used to think – and, to some extent, still do – that gamer ADD is largely a consumerist impulse facilitated by how many RPGs are now competing for your time and attention. In the early days of the hobby, this impulse was probably less powerful, though still far from non-existent. I remember how my friends and I used to bounce from one campaign to the next. Of course, back then, we also had a lot more free time to devote to such things, so it was genuinely practical to have multiple campaigns running in parallel to one another. 

Nowadays, that's nowhere near as practical. I'm fortunate to have a large pool of devoted and enthusiastic players from which to draw, but very few of them could play in multiple campaigns at the same time. Moreover, I'm fairly certain that, were I to pause one of my current campaigns for any length of time to take up a new game for even a little while, it'd likely deplete the momentum of – and perhaps even interest in – the original. Better instead to avert my eyes and not give into temptation.

Yet the temptation remains. 


  1. One of my groups has been jumping from game idea to game idea, running one-shots and short campaigns just to try things out. We've finally settled on only my favorite thing with one of my favorite systems: Star Trek Adventures.

    First, it's Star Trek. Actually, that's probably the first 5 things. I do love me some Star Trek gaming. On top of that is the fact the gang suggested rotating GMs/Narrators, each taking on an Adventure/Story Arc or two until they don't have another idea or someone else really has a good one.

    Am I excited? REALLY excited. As you said, a new campaign offers endless possibilities. Additionally, I get to play as a player in one of the few game settings where I never get to play and really want to.

  2. Going back 20-30 years, my group used to swap systems every few months - playing 3 or 4 different RPGs regularly. Over the last 20 years its been play one campaign for maybe a few years, then swap to another - not more than two "active" at a time. I have written introductory adventures and setup guidelines for two whole new campaigns but that's more my personal interest in writing stuff than any actual chance my group will start a new game.

  3. I love the anticipation and boundless potential of a new campaign, but what you GM, and what you play have to be balanced within your personal schedule. Will your schedule allow you sufficient time for your House of Worms, Barrett's Raiders AND sha-Arthan play-testing, or a possible campaign?

  4. I've fallen prey to that impulse before. Is there any way to revive a campaign that's been on the backburner?

    1. I recently did a oneshot with an older setting of mine to give the table a break from a megadungeon...the change of pace was fun for all so I started giving them a choice before the we play in this Zylarthen setting more often than not. I think it may be partly due to a less claustrophobic milieu but truth be told, ones own energy is contagious. I wanted the break, too. The investment was quickly shared.jmo

  5. I just started a new campaign with my group of 20+ years. It's my first real attempt at something that is partially home brew. It's a mish mash of rules from different systems. I'm using Adv LL as the basis, with Swords of Cthulhu, Realms of Chaos, and a couple of other things. The game world is Hyborian Age. Came up with a system with racial modifiers for what race of human you play. Alot of it was lifted from the Hyborian D20 web site. It's kinda sandbox. modules of various level ranges are placed throughout the game world, so I'm not paying attention to level ranges at all. whatever you stumble upon, you better be on your toes.

    The first session went great, i.e. session 0 character creation. We did get into the first adventure a bit and they all had a blast. Going back to real old school roots is a big hit. Simple character creation, fast combat, and dangers around every corner.