Monday, May 11, 2009

Permission to Fail

It's weird how things work out sometimes. I'd originally planned for the Mongoose Traveller game to just last for one semester. Plan was, I'd be wrapping that game up around now, and then start a new game (maybe Vampire, maybe Encounter Critical) next year. I didn't have a clear idea of how the Traveller game would end, but I figured that was something that would resolve itself.

Now here I am, getting set to run another semester of it. (At least.) That's not a bad thing; I'm doing it because the players enjoy the campaign, and there's still quite a bit left to wrap up just on the plot threads that are already going. I still don't feel like this is going to be one of those games that lasts forever (could be, but some of the players are already talking about doing something different someday, though they're still having too much fun for someday to be soon) but it's kind of nice to see it go a little longer than planned.

And if it hadn't, that would have been okay, too. Intending for the game to be short (though not building it in to the premise) helped it get this far. There were a couple of points earlier where I was frustrated with the game, and would have considered shutting it down then and there, except that I knew that it was only going to run until the semester ended anyway, and then I could be done with it. Now that I'm there, it's good enough to keep going, but it wouldn't have gotten this far if I hadn't had permission to end it in favor of something new when I got to this point.


  1. It seemed inevitable that your campaign would continue beyond the end of the semester, simply by seeing how invested your group has become in the campaign itself.

    Having a goal of how long you will be running a campaign for is one of those things that never really worked for me personally, perhaps because my group isn't synchronized by semesters or the like, and perhaps because we are so easily swayed by the idea of running new things which gives us a tendancy to switch campaigns with alarming frequency.

    That said our current campaign has been going strong for something like 9 weeks now and I attribute this directly to having an episodic format. By allowing me to mix things up at the drop of a hat I've been able to keep the party (and myself) interested despite the other ideas being bandied around.

  2. The last two campaigns I ran before this one had built in time limits bef; one was started about six months before a bunch of people went off to college and the group broke up, the other was during the summer between college. There are other factors -- my two more successful completed campaigns began with the end in mind, and the success of that tactic has shaped the way I've thought about campaigns since then -- but it's mostly just a "realities of college life" kind of thing.

    Everyone's got their own sweet spot in between "20 year campaign that goes on forever" and "nothing but one shots." Finding it can be tough, but usually there's a happy medium where it's long enough to be satisfying but short enough to try something else. I like mixing campaign lengths, too; over breaks I run a bunch of off the cuff one shots, but when things are more stable I shoot for longer campaigns.

    And good luck with your current game. Longer games are hard -- maintaining the right balance is tough, and keeping track of everything is tougher -- but when it works it's really worth it.