I’m walking down the path where I’m going to lock down my next campaign for my online group, as well as my intent to make it a long-runner. And I’m realizing that I may be mentally self-sabotaging the campaign a bit as I get to the point where I need to lock it in and really start writing.
My gaming history has been a constant fight between my desire for long character arcs and my game ADD, where I have no fewer than 3 ideas I want to run at any given time. I have abandoned games because of this, and had them peter off to a whimper as well. In looking forward, I need to be aware of this and try my best to stop doing it.
My online group is looking at 5-ish sessions left in our Star Wars: Force and Destiny game, which would put me at a start point of around November based on our typical schedule. Add in a wrap session (I need to run the finale of my Apocalypse World game) and the holidays, and I’m probably going to be a primary GM in January. Still, that means I should start writing now, especially as I’m waiting for a sourcebook to drop in November. I’m planning on running D&D, and my intended campaign is a development of my post-apocalyptic fantasy idea I’ve been harping on for some time. There will be a lot of exploration, supported by a hexcrawl scaffold, as well as some potential for domain-based play in the future. While I don’t know how long the game will run, I want to give XP at a standard rate, meaning this could be a runway for quite a long one if people are into it.
And now, just as I need to start focusing on a single idea, I start hesitating wildly. I’m worried about doing the same thing for a long time, and worried that I’ll lose interest. Objectively, neither of these things have to be true, but I know I’ve done it in the past. My last go-round at 5e withered because I didn’t know where I wanted it to go. And my last major campaign, Interface Zero, kind of limped towards an ending because I wasn’t sure how to make it turn in just one direction. Apocalypse World also got to a point where it became difficult to continue without a major writing overhaul, but at least there I ran one arc as is typically designed in that game. I told the stories the characters set out with, and feel it turned out fairly well.
So I want this 5e game to be different. I want their to be motivation from both myself and the players to continue. And while the 1-to-20 progression provides some of that, I’m hoping the sandbox will as well. The world is unknown and there’s tons of things to discover. The bottom-up sandbox will also force me to prep, which, trust me, is a thing I need to do for longer campaigns.
I’ve also started writing a world background that does not look like the typical D&D race spread. Using Volo’s Guide to Monsters, I’m going to create a range of races that looks quite different, and hopefully get away from the race=political unit problem that plagues a lot of D&D settings. The other hope is that I’ll get some player input on the world as it expands…I want things to be mutable. That’s one of the huge advantages of post-apocalyptic games; since there’s a storyline around rebuilding, there’s a very real way for the players to change what the world looks like.
All of these things take time to develop, of course. And time is the main resource I squander by looking around at different games I could run instead of the game I’m running now. So it’s time to put the blinders on and commit. Think I’m going to buy the necessary sourcebooks today…start putting some investment in and get serious about this. If I have the focus, this could be a truly great campaign.