I have once again been inspired by an RPGnet thread, this time one brought back from the dead a few days ago after being fallow for 18 months. The question is simple: what games would you run if you and your players had an infinite amount of time available?
There are so many possible answers to this question. Infinite time also implies you’d all be able to get together in person and play with the best space and play aids possible…so many things are doable when you’re no longer bound by the constraints of time or money.
First, I’d run Burning Wheel. This is obviously the one I’m trying to get towards in real life, but since it is number one on my RPG bucket list, it gets first billing here, too.
As far as campaign structures…this question made me think, especially since I’ve been trying to figure out how to run a long campaign pretty much ever since my online group started. Even with infinite time, I would still need to figure out what sort of campaign would hold my attention.
I’ve been wanting to run a post-apocalyptic fantasy game for a long time now. The world-building would have to be intense: huge maps of continents holding dozens of ruined cities, an internally consistent magic system that exists prior to it being usable, and of course the nature of whatever tribes/groups/etc. currently exist. So beyond that, the scale I have in mind is nothing short of insane. The PCs, coming from whatever settlement they do, have an essentially limitless opportunity to go out and seek their fortune among the ruins. In order to truly amass power and fortune, though, the PCs would need to help rebuild. In short, a massive pre-written world with a robust economic system that reacts to PC actions, latent magic that must be rediscovered in order to be used, and the possibility that the PCs may become landholders, wizards, or pretty much anything else in between. In writing this, I can feel my brain itching, wanting this to be real right now.
There’s also “The Space Campaign”. This one actually has one hell of a backstory. When I was eight or nine years old, one of my close friends and I both had crazy overactive imaginations. It wasn’t really an RPG (though it sure laid the groundwork), but we had our own shared science fiction world we made up and pretended to exist in. When the world we developed kind of became stale, we came up with *another* made-up universe, stating it was the most popular MMORPG inside the world we first came up with (this was right around when Everquest had come out, and we were too young to understand how limited MMOs were). So, years later, I wrote down from memory everything I could recall about a world I came up with with an elementary school buddy as a video game inside of a yet more complex imaginary world. Yup. So I actually tried to run this in GURPS in college, and everything ground to a halt because I was still learning how to balance character builds in GURPS. I still have all the notes somewhere, including the alien races that I didn’t include. One of them were kind of standard little alien dudes, the others were nine-foot tall armored space scorpions.
Beyond that…man, I don’t know. I want to try so many things. I want to run Steampunk. I want to run some really crunchy nearly-board games with hexcrawling and a lot of resource management. In short, my list ends up being a fierce battle between continually experimenting with playstyles and reaping the benefits of sticking to one for an extended amount of time. Unfortunately, infinite time is not a thing I or anyone else has.
One benefit to writing out what you want to do is that you start to focus the use of the time you do have. While I didn’t write it here, a character-driven, high-drama Cyberpunk game is also on my list. I didn’t write it here, of course, because I don’t need infinite time to do it: it’s my next planned game. But realizing what I want, and taking the time to clarify my vision, helps me to understand how to achieve it. I’ve been reading all sorts of cool games, but for what I want when I revisit the Cyberpunk genre this time, I should use The Sprawl. I knew this, but with all the distractions I’ve had it’s sometimes important to reiterate to yourself why you make the choices you do.
In considering this question, I’ve realized that, even without infinite time, there is still a lot of time to do what you want, especially if you are already blessed with time for hobbies. If I have this strong itch around running an ambitious campaign like the one I’ve described above, it’s in my best interest to start writing and try and actually run it. It’s beyond the scope of anything I’ve ever done before, but I don’t think it’s beyond my abilities. If I start writing now, I may even have something to go with when it’s time to run something new. In this, like all things, not having infinite time is no excuse not to make the best of the time you have.