GM Advice: Why You Should Change the Pace of Your Campaign

A change of pace can breathe fresh life into a campaign. Combat and challenge are exciting, but both can turn into a grind if that’s all you do…

By William McAusland (Outland Arts)
By William McAusland (Outland Arts)


Recently, in my Borderland of Adventure campaign we finished a rather intense combat-heavy adventure in which the PCs were trapped in a demi-plane. Most of the party survived the ordeal, and once they’d escaped they moved onto their next adventure. However, instead of immediately throwing them into another combat-focused adventure I’d prepared something a little bit different.

Don’t get me wrong, I love challenge and combat, but I felt the campaign needed a change of pace and mood. Sometimes the unending grind of combat can get a little bit old. For me, changing the campaign’s pace has several advantages:

  • Overcome Different Challenges: Sometimes you need to mix up a campaign to keep it fresh and interesting. For example, we’ve had over 70 sessions of my Borderland of Adventure campaign. That’s a huge investment in time and one I don’t care to throw away because one style of adventuring gets repetitive or boring.
  • Move on the Story: Combat and challenge are an integral part of the game, but you need a story to give them purpose and to frame the narrative. Roleplaying and investigation are a great way of moving the story forward while allowing the characters to grow and develop in ways other than mechanically.
  • Different Players get the Limelight: Inevitably, some players like – or are better at – combat than others. Focusing on different areas of the game such as social interaction, problem solving and investigation gives other players a chance to grab the spotlight. Focusing on a different player, not only makes that person feel important, it gives him a chance to show off his character. A bard, for example, is going to be good at social interaction while a wizard’s knowledge skills may prove vital in unearthing certain clues that will vast improve the party’s chance of success.

Help Fellow Gamers

Do you change the pace of your campaign for reasons other than those I’ve listed above? If you do, why not leave a comment below and help other GMs make their campaigns even more awesome!

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Creighton is the publisher at Raging Swan Press and the designer of the award winning adventure Madness at Gardmore Abbey. He has designed many critically acclaimed modules such as Retribution and Shadowed Keep on the Borderlands and worked with Wizards of the Coast, Paizo, Expeditious Retreat Press, Rite Publishing and Kobold Press.

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