It all started out so well. There was a real buzz at the table, and every session was great. But now, the game seems to have lost that buzz. Is your campaign about to die?
Nothing is forever, and even the greatest, most successful campaign eventually ends. However, lots of campaign die before their time because the participants aren’t enjoying themselves.
As GM, you’ve invested a lot of time and effort in your campaign. Keeping an eye out for the following signs enables you to take pre-emptive action to save your campaign from an ignoble death.
- GM Demotivation: If the GM is not enjoying himself, the players are going to realise that fact pretty quickly. Perhaps you can never seem to find time to prepare, you cancel sessions for trivial reasons or even start to dread game night. Any of these are a good sign the campaign is dying.
- Non-Attendance: If you enjoy something, you make the effort to turn up. Sure, every now and then the harsh realities of life – a sick child, an accident or what have you – stop a player attending. If this starts happening regularly, it’s a sign the player would rather be doing something else with his time.
- Players Ignoring (or Messing with) the Plot: Some players love hack and slash, but the overwhelming majority in my experience find an engaging storyline (no matter how basic) central to their enjoyment. If the players start wilfully ignoring – or even deliberately trying to wreck – the campaign story that’s a good sign they are not enjoying the campaign.
- Players Not Invested in their Characters: We played a pickup game of Basic D&D recently and we all have great fun. However, I noticed players doing stuff they would never do if they were invested in their characters. In my Borderland of Adventure campaign some of the players have had the same character for over two years of real time and three years of game time. Because they are invested in their characters they don’t do stupid stuff with them – in my Basic D&D game their attachment to their characters was somewhat less…
Spotting the signs of impending doom is the first step in saving your campaign (if you want to). The first thing you want to do is determine why your campaign is dying. Once you’ve done what you can decide to end your campaign or try a change of pace to revitalise flagging interest. Whatever you do at least you are doing it on your own terms.
Help Your Fellow GMs
Have you had a campaign die? Did you spot The End coming? Are there any other signs you’d add to the four above? Let us know what they are in the comments below and help your fellow GMs avoid campaign death.
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