How Long is a Campaign?

By Shamus
on Feb 25, 2009
Filed under:
Tabletop Games

die6.jpg
This is a variant on the “how long is a piece of string?” question, I suppose.

The games I’ve run last a few months. Ten to twenty sessions seems ideal. The last one I ran was fifteen sessions. I know some people have settings and characters that they play for years and years, their tale spooling ever onward as their rulebooks get dog-eared and their character sheets fade with age. As someone who loves inventing new settings and populating them with characters, I don’t want to be stuck in any one place for too long.

Changing systems usually means changing the setting, but a change in setting doesn’t always mean a new set of rulebooks. Anecdotes suggest that some groups are system-hoppers. They leap from one system to another, trying a little bit of everything like kids at a candy buffet. Other groups pick a rulebook and a setting, and then hunker down for a long stretch without possibility of parole. And if you can’t tell which approach I prefer from those descriptions then communication between us is simply not possible.

But as a connoisseur of anecdotal input on roleplaying games (and really, what other kind of data is there on stuff like this?) I’m curious how other people do their thing. How often do you jump systems? How often do you wipe the board clean and start a new setting? And how often do you end a campaign arc and begin a new one?

Bonus question: Assuming your campaigns end, what is the survival rate of characters going from the first session to the final one?

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  1. Kel'Thuzad says:

    D&D sounds so interesting…
    But there are no people around me who enjoy it.

    Oh well.

  2. Joe says:

    Our campaigns tended to last as long as they needed to last, and no longer. Our DMs were always very generous with XP, so by the time we would be going epic the campaign would either wind down or completely change course. Usually this took about 2 months at 3-4 sessions a week of 3-4 hours each.

  3. Cybron says:

    If I’m left to my natural inclinations, we switch settings frequently, often without finishing the current campaign. Recently we’ve been trying to keep one campaign going, but we still have Traveller side games going on the side that we pick up and abandon.

  4. Greg says:

    Heh, when we were playing, we played with the same characters for years (except the handful of casualties along the way, which were replaced as time went on).

    I think our casualty rate was about 1 every 6 months, with a weekend long session once every couple/few weeks. The world was not hard and fast, and borders would shift and islands would be added and towns would spring up, all purely for our band of adventurers ;)

    The rule set we used was D&D, 2nd Edition. All those kits made for a lot of fun :D Our ending party was 4 clerics, 2 bards. And we rocked. (Ultimately, the campaign “ended” when we all left for college/military.)

  5. Casper says:

    Well, my first campaign (DnD rules) lasted for some 8-10 sessions and was half finished when we decided to try something else. I then created my own rules (mostly skill based, with point-buy system). I am still tweaking it (players put in their thoughts on it as well), for instance, I have twice switched the magic systems we use. Second campaign was very successful and lasted somewhere close to 20 sessions. This weekend we will start a new campaign (same world, only different kingdom) for non-good characters this time.

    As for changing characters- my brother, for instance, played the same wizard Drakos for both campaigns. Other players did changed their PCs once or twice, but at least 50% of them ‘retire’ and leave the party (because players decide to try different character concept) instead of dying.

  6. MintSkittle says:

    Our group really only plays Shadowrun, because that’s pretty much what everyone knows. I did briefly play in another groups homebrew, but I couldn’t make most of the games, so I had to bow out of it.

    We do reset the setting alot, whether it’s because the game isn’t going anywhere, lost character sheets, or we just haven’t been able to get together for a session in weeks. because of this, we’ve yet to actually bring a campaign to it’s natural end.

    Our games usually have a very high survival rate, since the games generally don’t last very long. Survivors sometimes make return appearances as NPCs in later games, or get handed to the guy(s) who want to game, but can’t make most games.

  7. Sempiternity says:

    Well, as an honourary member of the “indie gaming community” , i tend to hop systems & settings & styles continuously… and most indie games are really designed for 1 to 6 sessions of play.

    That said, i’d love to play in a long campaign sometime – its the only way to really build up a connection with the fiction, to really dig into the characters.

    But i’ve found that getting a long running game going is a nigh-Herculean task…

    The longest campaign i’ve done is ~12 sessions (and 2 characters, both KIA) of GURPS Traveller, back in college.

    The next longest is about 8 sessions of Iron Heroes (d20) over the last two years.

    Most other attempts at long form only last for a few sessions before petering out… Running a long-form game is definitely a skill that needs to be learned and mastered!

    Oh, and as for diversity of games, even before i found indie gaming, i played AD&D, GURPS, Storyteller, & d20 games regularly through the same time period, rather than picking a “perfect system”.

  8. Joshua says:

    For us settings come in and out of rotation. We’ve got one setting I’ve been GMing off-and-on for about 15 years. That setting has seen about 5 different systems used to run it. My friend GMs one that she’s run since High School, about 25 years, using the same AD&D plus house rules she’s always used. On the other end of the scale, we’ll often do a one-shot in a setting that we’ll never revisit; usually those use one of the old stand-by systems, so the players don’t have to learn two things at once, but sometimes they’re a test run to see if we like some system we haven’t tried or a play test of a homebrew one of the players is working on.

    Half the fun for me is making new settings and new systems. The other half of the fun is playing a setting long enough that the players really start to have a good understanding of the world and it really feels detailed and full of history. So there’s a definite tension there…

  9. zimboptoo says:

    As a college gamer, campaigns tend to last 1 or 2 semesters (10-24 sessions), depending on who is running the game. There are tales in the long ago past of people who ran games that stretched two or three years, switching in new players and characters as people graduated. These are things of legend, and the characters are still spoken of in hushed, awed tones of respect when the topic is ever brought up. We still tell tales of “Storm rolling 43 successes against the Unconquered Sun in the Games of Divinity” (this being a White Wolf Exalted game). But these sorts of campaigns are rare here. However, canon settings sometimes get extended past the end of a party, even sometimes being shared between different STs, which can build up some very interesting and comprehensive worlds.
    As far as system hopping, well, our several groups tend to find and latch on to a new system every year or so, though there are always campaigns and one-shots of the old classics going on.

    As for character survival, if we ignore long-term LARPs (where PKs are about as common as NPC deaths), our establishment tends to be pretty light on the PC killing. This comes partially from a tendency to play White Wolf and AEG games, which tone down the grit relative to d20 systems, and partially from a sort of tradition or expectation from the players that they won’t get killed off unless they do something really stupid. It is generally viewed as an incentive for good role-playing and character development, the idea being that an ST is less likely to kill off a really well-developed character, because that development adds to the role-playing experience, and because continuity is more important than realism. Unless the game is Shadowrun, then all bets are off.

  10. Erik says:

    My boss (Alex) has been running gaming sessions close to once a week for about 5 years now. He’s our perpetual DM, and we’ll play pretty much whatever he puts in front of us because he’s always good about softening the rules on any new system so we can concentrate on the session.

    It started with a long running Cyberpunk 2020 stint, maybe 3-4 campaigns lasting around 15 sessions each. The core group with bring their characters from one campaign to the next, becoming progressively more badass. Some people churning through several characters, others managing to barely hold on to their original character. We haven’t played a whole Cyberpunk campaign in quite a while now, and one day hope to bring it back.

    With brief breaks in between, we’ve played between 1 and 10 sessions of many other systems to see what sticks.

    – Short lived Ars Magica (5 sessions or so, just died out with no real finish)
    – A whole D&D Greyhawk campaign (From level one up to 8 or so, got a bunch of cool toys at the end, and then never played again so we could actually use them)
    – Some one-off superhero setting that measured strength in freight trains
    – One-off horror session set with us as the characters in our actual neighborhood. Can’t remember the name, but it ended with fighting vampires in a church.
    – A few one-off Cyberpunk sessions sprinkled in with alternate endings on our old campaign (one with zombies, another with an alien invasion).
    – Another one-off zombie invasion setting that started here in our office and had us as ourselves. Not sure of the ruleset here, was fairly basic.
    – I missed it, but he ran a Feng Shui session set here in the office as well that was apparently fun.
    – Another D&D campaign that was meant to be a higher power level, and set in a custom world that Alex wrote (think post-Fantasy apocalypse, angry gods etc. He even wrote up a detailed history and lexicon/pronunciation guide that most people skimmed). I played an awesome Warmage, and got to level 12 or so before we finished the campaign. One of the early sessions had an area of land known as the “Tainted Scar”. We all burst out laughing while Alex looked at us perplexed. You wrote Chainmail Bikini a couple months after, and it hit very close to home with this campaign. :)
    – Had a bit of a hiatus, and a few of the above one-off campaigns I think, and then started back up with a DC heroes campaign that lasted a few months. Was fun, but we didn’t finish it.
    – After a short break, we started a new session based off of the Elric ruleset. Alex heavily modified the rules/mechanics and set it in the events leading up to the Apocalypse that pre-dated the above D&D campaign. He also wrote a LOT more lore and expanded the character classes around it. We’re currently about halfway through the campaign I believe, and heading towards the big battle with an army on our heels. It’s interesting coming upon the locations we’ve been to in the other campaign, and knowing that it’s all going downhill no matter what we do. Very brutal setting so far. Also, all references to “Taint” were changed to “Blight”.

    I’m sure I missed some, but we’ve definitely been through a lot of settings. I’ll say if anything, having a GM who knows the rules well enough to simplify them for the players helps a LOT. Along with him having done all the requisite math on Character Sheets for die rolling.

    P.S. Bring back any comic that takes the perspective of a gaming group. The way you write player and DM interactions is gold.

  11. nilus says:

    As someone who as gamed for my entire adult and teen life I have to say that a campaign is as long as it needs to be. When I was a kid we use to play the same game every other day for years and it was fun. When I went away to college a lot of campaigns lasted a semester, because that seemed like the ideal way to measure a game. People came, played and then finished. Next Semester a new game started up. Now that I am a full grown member of society its changed again. Since me and my game buddies have busy lifes we don’t actually get to play all that often, so although games have been going for years, they only have been maybe 6 or 8 sessions.

    As far as systems go. My group fell in love with D20 and for a long time we seemed to be saddled with playing everything that way. It seems like that love affair has finally ended though and we are getting back into some different systems(AEG D10 system, savage worlds, D&D 4th)

  12. My main question is what is defined as a “Campaign”. If a campaign is defined by the characters that make up a group, then we’ve been gaming a single campaign for well over a year (that is, while we’ve changed a few players over the time, myself and a friend still have characters from campaign 1,session 1).

    If it is defined by storylines, then we’re on our seventh campaign – we take turns GMing, each with their own “Campaign” storyline. These campaigns usually take a few months.

  13. Aquatopia says:

    My group meets twice a week, and about four of its members enjoy DMing. So one of us runs a given night for three weeks and then someone else’s campaign is swapped in. Some times these campaigns are short and only last the three sessions, while others have stretched on for months.

  14. nilus says:

    I have a question for the group. How many of you play with totally home made rules systems and/or with rule systems that you use pages and pages of house rules.

    Am I the only one who gringes when someone mentions there brand new awesome rule set. I have never once played someones home made rules that hadn’t either a) been exactly like another game just with the serial numbers filed off or b) A stack of disjointed pages that made little sense.

    I am all for creativiy in making your own setting and in developing rules for that setting(new races and classes, maybe a modified magic system). But in my old age my tolerance for home brewed systems has been lost. My current rule is I won’t play in any game where the GM has more then 1 page of house rules.

  15. Mavis says:

    Very very variable for me.

    System changing – mainly each campaign – because each campaign will have a different tone and hence require a different set of rules. I do believe that rules are a key part of build tone – since to me they reflect the ‘rules of the universe’.

    Length of campaign – very variable as well. However used to swap GM’s and each GM would run for 15-20 weeks and then swap. Sometimes we’d then go back to the orginal campaign. It was a good way of not getting stale actually.

    Longest single campaign – must have been heading up towards a year’s worth of sessions. Although split into different groups.

    And fatality rate – assuming you mean “dead and not getting back up”…. pretty variable. After all I’ve run cthulhu campaigns with death rates that are like the black death, and heroic stuff wher enobody ever dies. If you count “out of game” as death – including permimentally removed due to no longer fitting into the plot I’d say it would be very rare for all of the chracters to be the same. But very unusual for at one or two or three not to be the same…..

  16. For me, campaigns are sorta run like TV shows. I have episodic plots that take part in an overall story. Each ‘episode’ is usually 2 or 3 sessions and the campaign normally runs for about 15-20. This can take a year and perhaps spawn sequels.

    Back in the day, we used to switch systems constantly, which lent itself nicely to short stories. Now we mainly stick to the one we created ourselves. We’re not exactly a strict group, so we have players coming and going all the time.

    As for the characters themselves, we have a few PCs that have been around for years. It’s very rare to keep a character after a campaign, but it’s happened a few times. Usually we give them an epilogue and move on to another.

    Also, the survival rate in my campaigns is pretty high. I’m a very kind GM; I only kill a character after making it clear that the outcome is likely. I don’t let the dice kill people (maybe critically wound them or something), I let their decisions kill them. Every player that has died KNEW that it would happen. Hell, I even drove a few of those characters to suicide. Fun times! :O

  17. Erik says:

    *Slight corrections to my earlier post
    – We also had a Conan campaign of about 15 sessions or so that we did finish. Basic ruleset, but very brutal and fun.

    – Freight Train game above was DC Heroes, the game I said was DC Heroes was Mutants and Masterminds.

  18. Jimmy says:

    The longest running campaign I’ve been in lasted 15-20 sessions and I ran it.

    I’m weird because I read a lot of roleplaying systems, but all we ever play is D&D. (For long running campaigns at least. Some of my friends play kobolds ate my baby, but those are all one-shots.)

    In fact, I recently tried to start a D&D 4th edition game. I was eager to try out the new rules, but the players revolted. Now I’m planning a 3.5 game since teaching the players a new, complicated rule system isn’t worth the effort.

  19. Lunafysh says:

    We meet twice to 3 times a month on average and usually stay on one “campaign” for about 5 to 6 months. Then the GM gets a bit bored and another one steps in with a different campaign. This does not end any particular campaign. In fact, we have one campaign that has been going on in one form or another for over 5 years. (My first character has retired and now has become part of the cannon of that world.) The only campaigns that end, aside from GM defined ‘one shot scenarios’, are the ones where the GM has left the group (2 so far and those lasted several sessions each). Actually, the current Firefly-style campaign that we’re playing right now started as a MarsCon one shot that I was playtesting w/ my group. They loved the characters and the world so much that they requested more missions.
    Since we play GURPS we can genre shift quite easily w/o learning new rules, just obtaining the correct source books (or making them up).

    The survivability for our groups characters is close to 100%, with character loss usually due to extremely unintelligent behavior, the desire for a new character or exceptional role playing (our last character committed suicide to prevent a death knight from capturing his captain ) We even have a character that is awaiting the return of his player, even though the guy has been gone 3 years.

  20. lebkin says:

    My campaigns suffer from the overly ambitious, “save the good stuff the end” syndrome. Too often, they sputter out in the middle and never get finished. Best advice DM advice ever: if you have a good idea, USE it. Don’t wait for the climax of the campaign, because you might never get there. Use the good ideas while you can, and then figure out new good ideas later.

    Despite the fact that we don’t reach the end, most characters are consistent from the start to whenever the campaign dies.

  21. Doug Brown says:

    Our group consists of my friends from college, who decided to reconnect for a weekly nerd-out. Since we’re widely distributed, we play using MapTool (rptools.net) for the map table and dice rolling and Skype for voice.

    I’m the consistency guy, preferring to stick with D&D 3.5e, because it’s a robust system and I know the rules. My buddy is the system jumper, and he’s had us run microlite d20, d20 micro, True 20, and 4e, and he’s working something up for Savage Worlds.

    As for campaign length, we go for epics. I just retook the DM chair, resuming from the end of a 15- to 20-session adventure I wrote and ran a year and a half ago. I expect to go at least 20, probably 30 sessions on this stage, with more to come later.

    No one has died so far. I was trying to kill my PC in our run through 4e’s Shadowfell Keep, but he turned out to be surprisingly resilient. If I’d managed to drag Kalarel (or however you spell his name. We ended up calling him Carl, and then Hot Carl.) through the portal at the end, it would have been the most fitting ending, but – curse it! – I survived.

  22. Duffy says:

    We tend to jump settings with our game systems. We recently went from D&D 4th Edition (incomplete), to Vampire Requiem (incomplete), then to the current Star Wars Saga (ran by me), with a future D&D 3.5 BESM post-apocolypse game (not me) planned when we finish SW , followed hopefully by the long standing D&D 3.5 world a friend of ours has been working on for awhile.

    We primarily have one DM amongst us, though I have now tried out the mantel, with another one of us slated to do so in the future. We tend to end “boring” games pretty quickly and switch to something else. The biggest problem is that we’ve ran our poor DM’s ragged, it’s hard for them to keep up with constant new ideas. The other problem I think is that our DM tends to string together encounters and mechanics, then think of the story, especially on a spur of the moment game start. When given proper time they usually come up with something good.

    I’ve noticed, and I’ve purposefully refused to use a grid or strict combat rules for this purpose, that games where we use all the combat rules tend to get bogged down. Not necessarily because the plot is bad or the rules are complicated, it’s just that it takes so much time to resolve necessary action that by the time we get back to the RPing aspects of the game we’re burned out. This happened pretty much every 4th Edition session.

    Recently our mortality rate hasn’t been too bad. Usually it’s somewhat of a player’s choice, purposefully killing players just to try is generally avoid.

  23. Colonel Slate says:

    Here is a question, how long is a “session” we usually when we run a system, we run it for as long as we need, usually about 5-10 sessions, our sessions are all about 12 hours long, including drinks, food, the whole 9 yards, it’s more of a party than a session.

  24. Arkmagius says:

    I’ve only been playing tabletop for about five months now, and I’ve only played Forgotten Realms, fourth edition.

    My gaming group, however, has been playing for around a decade. They switch out characters whenever a major update comes along (whether edition or a new campaign setting), and occasionally play new characters in one-time campaigns just for fun. I think they’ve played D&D (Greyhawk, Ravenloft, Eberron, and Faerun), some White Wolf games, Warhammer 40K (hey, it’s still considered tabletop!), and maybe a bit of d20 Modern.

    No player death anecdotes have been told, and given the number of stories we tell at the table…

    The current FR campaign we are running has been going for quite some time – enough for the party to be level seven when I joined, and it’s taken three months to near level nine.

    It’s a hub-based campaign, where the DM gives us several IC ‘hooks’ (module choices) at the start of each session, and we pick one. The modules are generic adventures that he has heavily edited to fit in with the overarching plotline.

    When we hit Paragon (eleventh level) the DM plans to hit Sigil, and branch out to other campaign settings from there. Here’s hoping Eberron 4th is out by then!

  25. Brian says:

    My current D&D group runs some pretty long campaigns.

    Our first campaign started in 2000, on release of third edition, and ran for four years. One player retired along the way, and we added a few more players, but three of the original characters made it all the way through to the end at 21st level. The paladin even survived without ever needing to be resurrected.

    When we finished there we shifted to 3.5 edition, and ran a few shorter games while getting used to the new system. Then we did Return To The Temple Of Elemental Evil, which took another three years. That one was a meat grinder, and nearly everybody had to switch characters at least two or three times. I think my PC was the only original to “survive,” and even he wasn’t really the same person by the end, as he had been reincarnated into a different race and permanently convered to Evil.

    The current campaign, which I’m DMing, has just reached its second anniversary and party level 10. So far only one character has been killed, and he was not replaced because his player had been planning to retire soon anyway.

    The main reason we stick to D&D is so people don’t have to keep buying books. At thirty-plus dollars per rulebook, and sometimes multiple books per system, changing rulesets very often can get a little expensive. Also, most of my group are very casual RPG gamers. They like playing, but are mainly interested in what their characters do and accomplish, and the rules are just a vehicle for that. Those folks don’t want to waste valuable game learning a different system if the old one still serves.

  26. My group started in university but continued after. Every once in a while someone leaves–moves away, usually. When that happens we continue with one fewer until we run across or think of someone new who would get along with the group. But we still have two people who were in from the very start and one who got involved just one or two years after.
    We normally run two campaigns on alternating Fridays. One is a pretty straightforward fantasy campaign running GURPS, which has stayed the same since the beginning. The other Friday changes, doing a campaign for a couple of years until it reaches a natural conclusion or the GM gets tired of it, at which point another one of us will come up with an idea and run something for a while. This game has generally also been GURPS, but not always, and the setting has varied wildly.

    So, the game started in June 1987.

    We’ve been running the same fantasy campaign with very few real breaks for more than 21 years now. I’m quite proud of this fact. Many characters have retired or semi-retired, often acting as patrons to newer ones. But semi-retired characters will often come into play for a while when a truly great danger threatens (and maybe we feel like a bit of power gaming). I actually have one character still somewhat active that I originally wrote up as my starting character for the very beginning of the campaign. Because of the nature of GURPS and because our campaign style is fairly conservative, he is incredibly badass but not gamebreaking.
    One way we’ve kept that one fresh is that we actually switch off gamemasters when one of us gets tired. We started from the beginning with two of us as co-creators and the two of us switched off periodically. But since then we’ve handed off to a couple of other people at times. We’ve mostly been playing in the campaign so long that its style and power level are kind of ingrained in us, so we don’t mess things up too bad for each other. Plus we tend to keep artistic control over places and plot elements we introduced. I run the imperial politics and the civil war, Eddie handles the Orclands, Darryl is in charge of the angels and sightings of Jesus and so on.

    It’s a lot of fun. The funny thing is, it’s not even a particularly great setting really–we’re using the off-the-shelf fantasy setting for GURPS, which has one smallish continent, a fairly limited group of cultures, limited hinterland/wilderness areas, and an unusually short period of human settlement resulting in not a lot of really cool ancient secrets (at least, not human ones). But because of all we’ve put into it both in terms of GM creation and the player characters themselves having impacts on politics, it has become a more interesting setting than we started with. And many of the characters have become quite thick and meaty, with complex personalities and motivations.

    I also have lots of fun on the other week, where it’s good to try new things and the campaigns tend to last a couple of years; long enough for a good plot arc or two and some decent development of a character’s capacities. But I don’t think any character is ever going to be as dear to me as the guy I’ve been running off and on for 21 years.

  27. Alex says:

    I’m surprised at how little character death most of you indicate you are facing. Our campaigns – even our long-running ones – are always bloody. As a GM, I’ve always felt that if there isn’t a genuine risk of death, there’s no genuine sense of adventure.

  28. “How often do you jump systems?”

    Between every game, pretty much. We generally get tired of the system we’re playing and want to mix things up. Usually, though, we wind up going back to the previous system after the interim game.

    “How often do you wipe the board clean and start a new setting?”

    Between every game. We don’t play two consecutive games in the same setting.

    “And how often do you end a campaign arc and begin a new one?”

    Assuming it gets off the ground at all, most of our games will run for one year.

    “Bonus question: Assuming your campaigns end, what is the survival rate of characters going from the first session to the final one?”

    Depends on the player. My characters have a 100% survival rate because I REALLY don’t like switching characters. Some other people kill off their characters every 5-6 sessions.

  29. Heather says:

    My group has a few systems we use regularly (D&D 3.5, new World of Darkness) and a few we use rarely (Torg) and a few that one person keeps trying to introduce and another person hates with a passion (Cortex settings, GURPS).

    Our campaigns range from one-shot engagements, which usually involve out of town guests, to multi year behemoths, with… surprisingly little in between. An unexpected opening in the gaming schedule might change that for a while, as we try to figure out what we can accomplish plot wise in six weeks.

    As for the bonus question, our gameplay is very cooperative, we very rarely employ the GM as adversary style, so most characters usually live to the end unless the character was badly designed (we had a fairy wizard that died often enough for it to become a bit of a joke), or the player wanted to shelve it.

  30. Ingvar says:

    The group I’m playing with at the moment (well, more like “the last 4-5 years”) are playing GURPS. While we’ve had the occasional setting change, there hasn’t been a need to step outside GURPS (even if we’ve been shifting what add-on books we’ve used). Funnily enough, the first campaign involved a setting change almost every session, as we were playing cross-time agents, jumping between parallel worlds.

  31. Sesoron says:

    When I first started, my group wasn’t as campaign-focused as I’ve since become. Used to be we would run adventures, published and otherwise, with whatever characters we had at the appropriate level — there was little continuity or world-building to speak of. The primary DM in our group (at the time) decided to attempt a long-term, original, story-based campaign. It lasted several months (usually one session a week), but it stopped abruptly after a semi-appropriate session, wherein we fought and defeated a recurring villain (not the main one by a long shot).

    Soon, that same DM decided he was going to crystallize a setting with its own eclectic pantheon and specific geography (which was obviously and admittedly a backwards and distorted Earth). His idea was to run a series of short campaigns within the same continuity, with an overarching storyline and some overlap between them. The first of these lasted perhaps 10-15 sessions, and it stopped abruptly at a semi-appropriate point (again). The next campaign (which started from a different location in the world) went on for a few sessions, after which point I went to Japan for a month-long school program.

    As I heard when I returned, the campaign went on for one or two sessions in my absence, after which it fell apart utterly. That DM had started a job that prevented him from playing at our usual time and place (11PM to 6AM on Friday/Saturday at a local gaming store, which the owner graciously left open for us). I had previously attempted to run a campaign, meaning I wasn’t without experience, so I decided it was my turn. I was determined to run a game that, for once, actually concluded. So I cooked up a world (distinct from the other DM’s) and started up my big arc-based game.

    That lasted just about a year (again, at about 1 session per week). It would have lasted longer — perhaps another 6 months — but people actually started requesting that I bring it to a close, so I significantly compressed the latter stages into about five sessions. As I recall, none of the characters who were in Session #1 were also there in the final battle: only one or two of the players were actually in the group both at the beginning and at the end, and at least one of those characters was permanently killed off. So yeah. Mine went about 45-50 sessions.

    Other DMs in our group (come to think of it, just about every regular player attempted a campaign at one point) have run games that never saw completion, even those who were actually good at DMing.

    As far as system goes, we started off with D&D 3.0, adjusting to 3.5 as the updates became obviously necessary. Since 4th Ed came along, those of us who remain have made the switch. We’ve dabbled in other systems (Call of Cthulhu, for instance), but D&D is the only one we ever do long-term.

  32. McNutcase says:

    I have plans for a campaign that… well, it go on forever, or it could build fast and finish big. Kind of depends on the players, really. I’m starting them at a level which allows for good character development opportunities, and depending on their actions advancement will come fast or slow.

    But then, I’m a player-driven guy.

  33. Mark says:

    Best campaign my group ever ran went for 2 years, playing once per week during uni terms (so approx 50-60 sessions). One of the things that made it good was that we knew we wanted to get to the Big Finale at the end of that 2nd year, and collaborated in bringing it to that smooth conclusion. But the thing that made it really good was that we knew we had that Big Finale, and it gave definition to everything that happened.

    Other games have included deliberate mini-series (2 or 3 sessions tops) and rambling campaigns that slow and get picked back up. We’re definitely moving away from “one campaign at a time” towards a mix-and-match approach.

  34. RussellEldrin says:

    Whenever my group plays, we usually have several different campaigns running simultaniously, sothat we can play whichever or the three we most feel like during a session. Also, If I was sticter as a DM, the mortality rate in my campaigns would be outragous, not because of the difficulty mind you, but because my players will pull ridiculous stunts rather than ‘ride the rails’. Last time this happened they killed a vampire by chucking a bramble seed down his throat from across the room(A bramble seed is small nut that expands into a 5×5 wall of throrns when it makes contact with water.)

  35. Anaphyis says:

    We are now stuck in a (fantasy, Dark Eye setting) campaign running since about 9 years. This however is a once or twice per month gig, with most of us having secondary or even tertiary groups on the side with shorter campaigns and other settings.

    Both approaches have their merit, the ever changing group always has fresh material and new insider jokes while the long running campaign is a chance for characters to really shape a setting with their actions and establish an epic narrative. The long campaign is hosted by 3 people including me rotating in GM duties and it’s a bitch to keep track of all the major and minor plot threads, the relationships with NPC’s, general setting continuity and so on. But it’s really worth it and I recommend it to everyone thinking about it. Having a character and a setting so filled with life and tradition beats every novelty a change could introduce (and urges for new stuff can be satisfied by another group) … it’s not RP until you see a grown man cry when his character bites the dust after 3 real time years.

    This however is only possible if the group is constantly the same and we were lucky in that aspect. Also, you have to maintain consistency as a GM (see above) while keeping the plot as fresh as possible at the time.

    As for characters, there is no character left from the original day as they are either dead or way too powerfull to still be playable. We (the GM’s) are keeping some NPC’s the players are familiar with on the side in case a character dies so the player can pick him up as a follow up (pretty much what happened in Darth&Droids after Qui-Gon’s death.) And since not all of the old characters retired at the same time, some players simply picked up the progeny of another players character as his own. That alone is a really special thing in a long running campaign.

  36. Andrew says:

    I’ve just called time on a World of Darkness game (both PCs survived)and I’m starting a Shadow Run.

  37. Mari says:

    I haven’t played in a serious game for quite some time, but back in the day when I didn’t live in the middle of nowhere with nobody to game with, our campaigns were known to last anywhere from 1-5 years of real time. But my group differentiated between “adventure” and “campaign.” The same characters (assuming they survived) could go on multiple adventures spanning enough “campaign” time for some PCs to die of old age. We’re talking about starting a new campaign with level 1 characters and running them through enough adventures to break TSR’s (at the time) level-up charts and then some. These PCs would end up running kingdoms, building keeps, training younger adventurers, you name it.

    Obviously, survivability was pretty high in our adventures although that was sometimes only through the use of extreme means like full Wish spells or actual “quest for the ingredients” rez spells.

    More recently I’ve had a hard time finding a solid new group of serious gamers who manager to keep meeting regularly so there’s a fair bit of campaign-hopping. I miss getting a character from level 1 into the epic levels, though. There’s something immensely satisfying about it.

  38. Alexander says:

    Our campaigns are typically in the months, once a week (with gaps for various events), and I’d estimate 20 sessions. As for survival rate, extremely high. We just finished a Shadowrun game with all survivors. The closest anyone came was being in an elevator with a grenade, but apparently in Shadowrun, you can just burn edge to survive pretty much anything. (I don’t really know the rule-system that well, so I couldn’t comment.)

    In another campaign (BESM fantasy/steampunk) only one player has died. We had no leads on the plot, so two of us just went to the bar and got drunk. When I was taken away by plot, the bartender offered the other character coffee. He had no reason to refuse, the coffee was poisoned (the bartender was the bad guy from the start) and one roll later, he’s dead. Of course, in combat, we slay mighty enemies without breaking a sweat.

  39. Cat Skyfire says:

    My campaigns last awhile, with a good survival rate. Part of it is my belief that it’s not about ‘killing the PCs’. I mean, if I want them dead, my arsenal will permit it with ease. My goal is to weave a good, enjoyable story with a sense of risk but not much in the way of actual deaths.

    I will also say that they last a long time, because we only meet for about 5-6 hours every two weeks, and periodically others get the chance to DM. This can make things seem even longer… (I’m laboring under a game right now where character deaths are not uncommon, simply because things being thrown at us are much more powerful. Some challenge = good. “If he hits you, you’re dead” = not so good.)

  40. Gandaug says:

    Only once did I get into a gaming group and we played for about two years. The GM had what turned out to be an awesome idea. We switched systems a few times but each time was an advancement in technology. We started with D&D and ended with Shadowrun. The thing is it all took place on the same planet. The DM created a very detailed and complete world and kept it around for each new system. He changed what was necessary to show the passage of time and how things turned out politically, geologically, and just plain randomly. The whole thing had a persistent feel to it. It was very satisfying firing an assault rifle in the same mountain range a previous character of mine was bashing trolls with a mace three thousand years previous.

  41. Freshmeat the Dead says:

    Well, I can say right now, that my group is not your normal group. We currently number roughly a dozen people, depending on who’s free, with two established GMs, and myself considering GMing a game.
    Now, our campaigns tend to last as long as they need to, or get left at a stopping point when the players or the GM gets tired or bored with it. Sometimes the stop is in a slow point, sometimes it isn’t. Last time we did that, it was literally during a seige, the enemy had broken down one of the gates, and we were part of a massive firefight inside the base. Then the other gate blew up, making way for our reinforcements. It was a nice, grand enterance, and a good “to be continued” moment.
    As for character death, I can only think of two occasions in recent memory, three going a few years back, that involve a character dying unintentionally. The first two, were during a Rifts campaign, and one involved my good-aligned character doing what one would have done at the time. Taking his powered armor out to delay the enemy choppers so the refugees could run like hell.
    Funny, how I haven’t played a good alignment since.
    Anyways, the second death, involved someone’s character trying to negotiate with the Big Bad, so we could ambush him inside his own camp. Think you can guess how that went. This resulted in all the survivors, save my character who was in melee with half the camp, piling into one of our hovercraft, leaving me and our truck on the ground… then Tom shot me, and the truck, and the mob around me. With missiles. I barely made it out of there alive, on a stolen motorcycle.
    Dave, our GM, was rather happy with himself. It isn’t often he manages to make us run like hell from something in Rifts.

    As for game systems, mainly we do D&D, with the occasional trip into the Palladium system (Rifts or After the Bomb). In truth, we have just recently switched to D&D 3rd edition, after spending over a decade playing 2nd (since it was what we had). An example of just how different these two systems are, is the game I’m planning. There are elements of the world setting that would be very hard for me to do in 2nd ed. D&D, but only require minor modifications to make work in 3rd. Until we started dabbling in 3rd ed., I had been planning on using Palladium’s fantasy setting, because I knew I could make it work how I wanted it to.

    I think that’s about all I have to say… I do have a question though, for Shamus and anyone else that feels like answering it.
    Have you ever tried running the same campaign more then once, with different groups? If so, any stories on how they did things differently from eachother?

  42. Jeff says:

    We tend to just play.
    If it works out it’ll go on for a long while.
    Otherwise if we tire of it or it putters out, it just fades away as we look for something shinier.

  43. Simply Simon says:

    We are still playing through our first campaign of D&D, and it’s been going on since last summer. We are using “drakar och demoner, trudvangs hjältar” (dragons and demons, the heroes of trudvang), a swedish rpg that makes it impossible to survive far a long ammount of time.
    The first of our characters (out of the four that we started with) that died was the bard, who ran out of “raud” (basically the limited ctrl-z of the game. You get a number in the beginning and can’t get more unless you know the rulebook inside out) and died while fighting a giant rock troll.
    My priest was the second one to die, just after I got my first healing spell (half a year after we started)I, too, ran out of raud and died because I forgot to tell the DM in time that I knew that there was a small trap in the middle of the room. (Our DM had designed a Tomb of Horror-style dungeon. Traps in every corner. Two of us died down there.)
    First time group + overly complex system = Character death and MST3K-ish dialogue when the DM is talking. (And a cliché plot. But at least you can make fun of it)

    Some of us are now starting a new campaign to run when the whole group cannot meet. We are going to be using a homebrew system I’m working on based on trudvang and d&d 4th ed.

  44. Namfoodle says:

    I’ve been playing since middle school and I’m a bit older than Shamus.

    Over the years we’ve tended towards the long campaign arc or just re-using the same characters in a series of unconnected adventures. Most of us played the same characters from 7th-8th grade through high school. The high level high school characters got recycled as NPCs post college graduation.

    Originally, we played 1st Edition D&D along with some Traveller, Gamma World, & Metamorphosis Alpha. Also a lot of Champions with “villian of the week” evenutally becoming longer plot lines.

    When 2nd Edition came out, we mostly gave up on D&D and switched to Rolemaster.

    When the Birthright Campaign setting came out, we converted it to Fantasy Hero and played it for a few years. We had a Southern California group playing in one part of the campaign world, and a Northern California group of players in another area of the campaign world. The two groups of players met at a convention so that the “super group” of PCs could adventure together. Good Times.

    We’re now back in D&D 3.5 We meet once a month and play for about 6-7 hours. We switch between two campaigns. There’s one campaign that started a few years ago and the characters are 13th-14th level. I started running another campaign for the same group about a year ago and the characters are around 4th level.

    Over the years, we’ve had very few permanent character deaths where the player has to roll up a new character. Most folks who have a character die in combat manage to get it resurrected or reincarnated.

  45. Fipps says:

    I have run a few games that lasted a long LONG time. One went from level 1 to level 23 over the course of a year and a half playing 2-3 times per week.

    Having learned what worked and what didnt from that, I aim for a single act of play to last about 10 sessions. At the end of each act we can decide if we want to keep playing. The players almost always do. We’ll usually take a longer than normal break so I can plan out some new adventures and often move about the game world.

  46. Ericc says:

    We’re coming up on our final session or two for a D&D campaign that has lasted two and a half years twice a week. Part of the drawn out length is due to wanting to avoid burnout on my part as DM–we jumped into Necessary Evil as a side trek periodically.

    When I started to hit the wall last summer (I ran every game for our group), I convinced a player to take the reins on Friday nights and run a campaign. That campaign lasted four months or so and was a great deal of fun. We finished it and are now starting on a new 4e campaign with him.

    My last D&D campaign ran two years and prior to that we had a year long Vampire game.

    So yeah, my games are epic.

  47. Slycne says:

    Mostly one offs or short 4-5 session campaigns in various systems, the longest campaign I ran was for Shadowrun which around probably around 10-15 sessions meeting every week or every other week. The group I was running it with was pretty much all min-maxers, so by the end they were neigh unstoppable(they ate cyber-zombies for breakfast). The last session I tried to introduce some home brew rules to ramp up the campaign for a finale, but it didn’t work out very well.

    That campaign did have one player death though. The player took a full burst from an Ingram Smartgun while racing on his motorcycle at around 100 mph. He survived the bullets(just barely), but falling off his bike finished him off.

  48. Bizarre says:

    The first game I ever managed to complete was a Star Wars Saga Edition game – the second game I ever ran. I had the experiences of my first rather abortive World of Darkness game to help me run it (Note – when running nWoD, don’t allow multiple corebooks. It’ll save your sanity.)

    I lost a couple of players and gained a new one, but ultimately I took the game to a fairly satisfying conclusion. It took a few months of generally-regular weekly play. About 4-5 months, I believe.

    The next one after that was a little shorter, because the game I finished up on was meant to be the first part of a series of stories, but as is my wont, I got distracted by the idea of running 4e DnD. That was about… 12 sessions, maybe less, of White Wolf’s Aberrant system. I do plan to revisit it after my current DnD game, with a system conversion to Mutants and Masterminds.

    The game I’m running now I fully plan to end, but I’m not sure how long it will take. I tend to plan my stories incredibly loosely.

  49. Brian Ballsun-Stanton says:

    I’ve been running an Ars Magica game for 20 sessions now (10 months) and we’ve just finished the Prologue. Character mortality is a function of the players: Two of my original players still have the same starting character, a third has suicided by stupidity ::counts:: 3 times? and a fourth has a third character because she couldn’t get the hang of the other two.

    Mind you, I’m also running a very sandboxy world, so the players have remarkable control over their fate and the world (which encourages some to be cautious, because there’s no force preserving their life. There are no real signs of it slowing down, but “Chapter 1” is changing the focus of the characters to building their own covenant. if the world is rich enough, you can keep going for quite some time.

    The Ars Magica rules are also nice for long running campaigns because I’m not required to give out XP per session, only by in-world time. If we have a tangled story that takes a few sessions to resolve, the characters don’t uber-level.

  50. Schneebrunser says:

    How about PbEM? My last tabletop experience was almost twenty years ago, but a few years ago, I started in on Play-by-E-Mail. Different experience, but still engaging enough to satisfy my D&D fix. The tendency with PbEM, it seems is that is just turns into one LONG session. There seems to be less game loyalty in PbEM, though I have one group of three guys who are rock solid.

  51. Bryan says:

    How often do you jump systems?

    I ran first edition AD&D games between 1980 and 2005. I have also played a few games of GURPS, traveller, and second & third edition D&D from time to time. As a DM I stuck with first edition for so long because I knew the rules, which made it easier to DM on the fly. (I rarely have time to plan long campaigns.) Recently, I have started a fourth edition campaign which meets about twice a month on average.

    How often do you wipe the board clean and start a new setting?

    The longest was a greyhawk setting which I ran for 5 years. The shortest was a GURPS game I played for a couple of months. (It didn’t hold my interest, so I quit.) Most ran from 2 to 3 years for D&D first edition.

    How often do you end a campaign arc and begin a new one?

    That depends on how you define a campaign. For me, a “campaign” consists of a story arc and its side quests. This is usually between 6 months to a year for my campaigns, but I had one that lasted 3 years.

    What is the survival rate of characters going from the first session to the final one?

    My campaigns average better than 90%. Most player deaths are either intended by the player, (“I want a heroic death”) or a result of doing something really stupid. (“I want to trigger the mega-deathtrap just to see what happens.” Yes, he actually said that.) I actually don’t like killing PC’s in my campaigns if it can be avioded. I will instead give them a break from the action just long enough to rest and heal, or allow them to retire a character so they can start a new one. But some people want or need the consequences to happen in order to enjoy the game.

  52. Guile says:

    I like to mess around with different systems (most recently, I’ve taken up MAID, which plays like a silly harem anime, and is awesome), but I always come back to D&D 3.5.

    Unfortunately, I’ve only been able to find online games for the last year or so, which tend to die every few months with no closure as people get bored, lose internet access, or get interrupted by Real Life.

  53. David says:

    I’ve been a player in a 1st Edition AD&D game for over 5 years, in the same campaign. We play once a week, and our incredible DM posts a weekly write-up. The first 142 sessions can be found here:
    http://www.dragonsfoot.org/forums/viewtopic.php?f=26&t=7503

  54. Well, my groups are students or recently ex-students, so campaigns (excluding the odd short) tend to last either half or full academic-years. So that’s usually about 30-38 sessions. Plus we run summer campaigns, which tend to last as many sessions everyone’s around for, so usually about half as many as if we’d run a session every week.

    I tend to write campaigns with an ending in mind, and work with my players as to how we’re going to get there. As I’m usually playing WFRP or WoD, player deaths are a rarity. I think I’ve had one in all my games, and that was a skaven PC, and more or less expected.

  55. Conlaen says:

    I’ve been playing in an Exalted game (downgraded fromt he original over the top to a more political intrigue thing, with just hints of the original Exaltations) for over 2 years now. Me and 2 others of the group have been playing the same character for that entire time, with 1 session per week. The 4th player is on her 3rd character (the first was pretty much suicidal, the second was killed by the rest of the group as she could not get herself to be trustworthy, which in the type of game, really could have been a party killer, so the party killed the danger).

    We do expect this campaign to come to an end within the next 6 months now. I expect no real fatalities until maybe the last session now (or just because of incredible stupidity at any point). It would be kind of harch of course if a party member died now that the climax is so close. Even more so because this close to the endgame, it’s pretty much impossible to add a new character in a believable way. So anyway, that character will be my longest lived one.

    Shortest lived characters, and this should be no surprise: Cthulhu. We played a Horror on the Orient Express campaign from beginning to end. Most people went through 3 characters in that at least. Sometimes a character would only survive 1 session. But one of the players actually managed to survive the entire campaign on 1 character. Of course his sanity had taken a severe hit and he had phobia’s up the waazoo, but he made it from beginning to end!

  56. Zaxares says:

    I’ve lost track of how many different campaigns I’ve played, but it was at least into the double-digits. I was a player in some of them, but for the most part, I was the (more-than-willing) DM. Sadly, for one reason or another, none of those campaigns have ever ‘finished’ properly. Since I tended to run campaigns for my brother and his friends, owing to the unfathomable intricacies of high school friendships, if one player left the game, he often ended up dragging a couple of other players with him, and that would send the campaign into a death-spiral as there wasn’t enough players to continue the campaign on a meaningful note. (Plus, I think filling a more than half a party with DM-controlled NPCs is kinda missing the whole point of RPGs…)

    Then, some months later, the arguments that caused the death of the previous campaign would be forgotten, sworn enemies would be forgiven, and I’d be approached to start a new campaign. Almost without exception, arguments would flare up again and the campaign would self-destruct. (Clearly, I have too much faith in my players to work together without sabotaging each other…)

    D&D has been the setting of choice for more than 75% of these campaigns, starting from 2nd Ed, and going through to 3.5. (We’ve yet to give 4th Ed. a whirl. We’re leaving that open until our current campaign finishes (or self-destructs), or until 4.5 is released.) We’ve also played a couple of Star Wars and Call of Cthulhu campaigns (the latter always at my request.) Most of these sojourns rarely last beyond 4 or 5 sessions though, as imagination and enthusiasm peter out (and because my players don’t seem to understand that trying to take on the horrors of the Mythos with ever bigger guns JUST DOESN’T WORK!)

    I have good hopes for my current D&D 3.5 campaign though, which is a series of published adventures that have been edited and tweaked to suit it more for my group of players. We’re currently up to our 22nd or 23rd session, and we’re still going strong!

  57. Gasoline says:

    In our PnP group we use to do some System-hopping.

    We did an excessive WARHAMMER-campaign of several years (real years with more or less regular meetings once a week) where at the end the whole group got wiped by an asskicking demon. We had a lot of fun, really, I mean it!

    We also play some CULT (in one campaign all of us went to hell. It is not quite dying, as there might be the possibility that we will return – but for then it was the end of our group *g*), we played ARS MAGICA (everybody survived here but we were really close to kill each other -in character of course) and every so often we play CALL OF CTHULHU for a few months (here player-characters die or become insane but we never had a group-wipe. But death or insanity is absolutly normal in CoC – at least in my opinion).

    The reason for our “system-hopping” is, that we rotate in the GM-function and everybody has “his or her” favourite PnP RPG. An advantage, as we think, is that if only the GM knows all of the rules of the game, we avoid annoying discussions about rule interpretation or comparisons of GMs within one system. What the GM says is the rule – End! And if the GM bends some rules to keep the game going, nobody will know it (at least not for certain).
    The other interesting thing is, that by playing different systems you get to know (and mybe to like) PnP RPGs that you would never have played.

    Now I am looking forward to play WEREWOLF. I am quite curious how this RPG will be…

  58. Greg says:

    The end goal of roleplaying is enjoyment. Our games start when someone has an idea and ends when people aren’t enjoying them anymore. So that’d be one to 180 (estimated from a 3.5 year game played weekly) sessions depending on the game. Survival rates vary between 0 and 100 percent.

    I don’t aim for a particular campaign length, but sometimes we have situations where a GM says to their group “You’ve done everything I planned out at the start of the game and seem to still be enjoying it, should I write a new adventure for this world or shall we move on?” and that conversation can go either way. Though myself and a couple of the others are from the school of plotwriting where the first elements of plot 2 & 3 should be introduced as plot 1 reaches the middle and the start of plot 4 will come up as the first one is ending. That way the players are always at the climax of something and there’s generally a sense of urgency from knowing there are at least a couple of other things they should maybe be doing (Also when the plots interrelate or converge and diverge, or particular options will aid progression in one but cause problems for another etc it provides a lot of interesting roleplay opportunties) so those games go on for as long as the GMs can think of threads and the players are still enjoying it.

    As for survival rate I tend to pitch my games at around one PC death per 4ish sessions, varied by how complex character gen is and the tone of the game (less for high adventure more for grittier games). I’m not actively trying to kill anyones PC (unless a player wants to get rid of the character and surreptitiously asks) but I like for the risks of PC death to be real enough that players think twice before performing obviously daft actions.

  59. Jack of Spades says:

    I’ve been running nothing but GURPS since 1995; I always consider other systems and always come back to GURPS. Campaigns last 1-2 years of biweekly sessions if they make it past three months.

  60. Vadimirin says:

    I game here at college, so games that actually approach completion go for about a semester. We had an attempt for a multi semester game, but we figured out that doesn’t work since people don’t always return. I have had one game that’s been going on for over a year now, but other than that all my games have been in 4 month long chunks or so.

  61. Cloud Divider says:

    My campaigns tend to have a pretty strong bimodal distribution. The campaigns either grab my imagination and run, leaving me with a (to me) extended campaign, or they eventually die/fade away due to my GM’s ADD (“Hey cool, shiny new game! Let’s play that one for a bit!”…3 months later, “Hey cool! Shiny…”…repeat)

    I’ve had two campaigns that I’ve run that I’d consider “very long,” running on the order of 30-50 sessions (roughly weekly for a year to a year and a half). One of these (a sort of anime-inspired campaign set in fantasy 16th-century Sengoku-era Japan) “ended” due to my GM burnout, but I at least ended the campaign with a sort of end narrative that tied up the main plot arc, had the PC’s save the world, etc. It was material I’d really wanted to play through, but the campaign wasn’t going to realistically last long enough. The other campaign (Eberron via Savage Worlds is still ongoing, even after a two-year hiatus and a system transplant). The long campaigns are really neat, because you get to really explore the world, and develop the characters, as others have said. It works best if you’ve got some “buy in” from the players, too.

    There’s a fair number of moderate-length campaigns (perhaps a 6-12 sessions), mostly in a persistent world, where each of the different campaigns’ activities affected the others to one degree or another. I ran these throughout college. The duration roughly maps to a single semester, or summer break. With the exception of one, those campaigns “petered out” rather than ending on any kind of proper finale.

    Then there’s the short campaigns. Either they were attempts at starting a new one that didn’t work out as planned, or in some cases, were designed to be a short duration. These are on the order of perhaps 2-6 sessions. If you count one-shot convention games or similar demos, you can add a couple more.

    To put it into a histogram, there’s 2 “long” campaigns, maybe 6-8 “moderate” campaigns, and probably on the order of a 10-20 “microcampaigns” over my gaming career (~15 years).

  62. Ian Price says:

    A short campaign would last 4-8 sessions. Right now a group of friends and I are taking turns running such short story arcs on Tuesday nights.

    A moderate length of game would be around 50 sessions for my group – though that’s counting them as weekly sessions like the above. A monthly all-day session is usually good for the same amount of story as 2-4 weekly sessions. The common thing here is, a moderate length game would play out over about a year of real time in my group.

    A long campaign takes multiple years. For example, even counting out all the months we’ve missed sessions, I’m in the fifth year of running my World of Darkness game. It now meets about once every six months for a two-day bash because so many players have moved away and/or ended up with extremely difficult schedules.

  63. Tizzy says:

    I have not played in over a decade. I played very intensively as a teenager, hopping from system to system was tons of fun, especially between modern and fantasy settings.
    I don’t think I could sustain such a rhythm these days.

    As for the survival rate, there was 100% survival rate until we started playing “Paranoia”. After that, games were never the same, and fellow group members were never to be trusted.

    (To be fair: it might have been related to our transition from pre-teens to teens…)

  64. Yahzi says:

    I prefer the long campaigns. I always start my players at less than level 1, and then we play until the world breaks.

    In D&D that’s about level 11 or so. In GURPS, it can be much longer.

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