#RPGaDAY 2016, Day 13: What Makes a Successful Campaign?

First, define “successful”. Also “campaign”.

Back when we played the post-college Shadowrun game, I had the whole campaign outlined[1] to create story arcs, season arcs like a television show. Each season started and ended on certain points. When we played that game, we went through the first season and had a good ending. Then we tried to do play-by-email once we started all moving away in the second season and that one didn’t have a satisfying ending.

My answer? Endings make a successful campaign.

Plan for an end point.

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  1. Remember, this was back when I was still thinking of roleplaying games as primarily the GM’s story where the players enter with their characters to see what happens, rather than the collaborative play style I enjoy now. []

#RPGaDAY, Last Year: Day 8 – Favorite Character

Again, not a good topic to revisit, as I typically run games instead of play in them.[1]

So last year today on #RPGaDAY, a subject that really is called Tell me about your character”.

I’ll try not to bore you.

I play in games very rarely. Since picking up that boxed set of Dungeons & Dragons, it seems like I’ve always been the GM. There were a handful of characters I actually played, usually thieves in the pseudo-European magical medieval fantasy games due to my dislike of the Vancian magic system D&D and its imitators favored.[2] As those few moments of being on the other side of the DM screen drifted away into the hazy past, I really only recall two or three characters worth mentioning. They all do the right thing, but wind up suffering for it.

The most recent character I played was doomed from the start.

There’s a Shadowrun adventure called Missing Blood. In it, the heroes come across a private investigator who fell hard for a girl he was trying to find. He never met her, but investigating her, he was exposed to everything in her life, including what she looked and sounded like. He was hit by the love but, hard. In Missing Blood, the runners get some information from him, head off to be heroic adventurers and eventually find the girl, but she’s the victim of a cult and in the middle of a week-long possession ritual that was impossible to stop.[3] She was gone, partially consumed. After the mission, the runners could return to the P.I. and decide what, if anything, they would tell him.

My last character was that investigator. Except I had him go on that mission with the runners, found the girl halfway through her transformation to an Ant Queen, and got her out. And she’s been kept in magical stasis for the past two years in his basement. And he loves her.

There was never going to be a happy ending for Daniel.

Either he saves her and she wakes up and doesn’t know who this guy is or he fails and she arises as an Ant Queen.

That’s my favorite character. Creepy, doomed Daniel. Even if given the chance, I would never go back to playing that character. His story is over.[4]

tl;dr: I guess I really like Hamlet.

ants

  1. Maybe I should rethink this whole “Last Year” concept. Nah. I’ve got some good stuff coming. []
  2. It’s probably why I’ve never read any of Vance’s books, too. []
  3. I’m greatly oversimplifying the situation. []
  4. What happened? In the end, she was threatened, so he dropped the magical stasis on her; she was consumed by the Ant Queen spirit, and — through a sympathic link that insect shamen and queen spirits have — he knew she loved him. It might not have been her any more, but that love was all that Daniel cared about. So I guess it was a happy ending after all. []