For most of the last 2 decades, when I have run RPGs, I have been running Adventures - designed to be played in perhaps 4-8 hours. During the 1990's it was mostly 2 or 4 hour adventures to run a conventions to promote Fudge. Of course, I am delighted that my players had lots of fun playtesting them and the convention players seemed to enjoy them as well. In the 2000's work became much busier and the opportunities for RPG sessions became farther apart and fewer in number. Mostly for those reasons, the trend for short one-shot adventures continued. In the last 18 months, I have had more free time and my desire to run a multi-adventure campaign resurfaced. I have developed out a rather far reaching Terra Incognita campaign and my players have been going through the first adventure in the series. Even though we have been managing to play fairly frequently, the progress is proceeding slowly - although the players are enjoying every session. I can't help but wonder sometimes if we'll ever get to the "end" of the campaign.
Thus, I have been wondering what other Fudge GMs and players feel about preferences for Campaigns or single-shot Adventures. And, of course, regardless of preferences, what do they actually end up running or playing?
I, like you Paul, have been focusing a lot more on one shot adventures. Even when I attempt longer campaigns, the individual adventures are meant to be more episodic. Having, if possible, a resolution to an individual moment allows for people to miss a game night without having to forfeit control of the characters for that night, or have them be of no consequence.
That said, unless an adventure is extremely well written (like a number of Grey Ghost's) then I do prefer to have a campaign setting than an adventure. I do like to write my own adventures, and feel more comfortable in a setting if I have a feeling for the whole setting, and don't just have to trust the stats and explanations in the adventure. An example adventure in a sourcebook helps to establish what the writer feels is the tone of the game, but densely written campaign setting would be higher on my list.
To be clear though, I don't need a 200 page sourcebook with all of the nobles and the governments and the thousand year history of the empire spelled out in numbing detail. I'll take the broad strokes of the setting with emphasis on the non-cliche parts and the more gameable bits.
In the last few years I seem to have ran only adventures (though players create their own characters). Mostly it's time constraints rather than anything else that stop us running campaigns. I prefer campaigns myself, even if the adventures are episodic. Like watching a TV once-off that you wish was a series.
Some 8 years ago I've GMed a two year long campaign, with game happening every week, at least 3 days a week. It was beyond epic, and since then I've been more into Campaigns. I miss having so much free time and don't having so many responsibilities! Today, however, many of my games are one shots or short adventures, due to my fellow face-to-face players' time constraints.
Two year campaign? Wow! I bet that left glorious memories.
I personally like running campaigns (I have done mostly online style RPGs) though I found the hardest thing to to is keep people's attention on it. Plus with the internet being such a finicky place you could have two characters vanish and some new people that want to play. You had to be quick on your feet bringing them up on the story and getting them worked in.
There are two fundamental changes in how we play these days. In our formative years (we've been playing together since the 80s) we would always opt for the long haul and campaigns, meeting weekly, usually all day Sunday we'd play the same characters for months, even years. This did result in GM burnout on more than one occasion....
Jump forward a few decades and we've all relocated, in some cases to different continents and / or conflict zones! As a result our gaming is conducted online. That alone changes the gaming dynamic, but that's a subject for another topic!
Despite being part of a dispersed group, we try to meet up once a week for a few hours, but with work, family and other commitments it averages out closer to every couple of weeks. (E.g. We will have had 30 game sessions this year.)
So, location, time, and online play has contributed to not only changing how we play but the way we play too. Full-on campaigns are no more, but we each take turns GMing. This relieves the pressure on one individual to do all the GMing work. I guess you could call what we do episodic campaigning? That's to say that each GM runs series of linked games that conclude in 2 - 4 game sessions. Another GM then runs his 'campaign', picking up some time after his game's previous episode ended. (This means that all character recuperation and back-story elements are conducted out of game time, perhaps via email or verbal exchange out of game time.)
I think we make the very best of what time and technology has to offer. And in many ways playing different genres, with different GMs (and rule systems) helps to keep everything and everyone fresh and challenged.
A great many people have been excited by Savage Worlds recently; and I think that the focus of the game on fast set-up and the very substantial library of free "one sheet" adventures has contributed substantially to this popularity. The chaps at Pinnacle noticed a change in the way they game - in common with many of us finding less time to both develop the grand campaigns and actually play them out - and responded by developing a game tweaked to support single session and short run gaming, but still providing for campaign play. Fudge has lots of "official" and fan-written adventures too, but they're not gathered centrally and I don't think that there has ever been a concerted effort to push Fudge as a system you can play with minimal prep time.
My own desire is to run long, growing campaigns. I'm a great fan of the Tékumel setting and would love to make the most of its richness and depth, but the reality is that, like so many people, I mostly play short adventures over a few sessions. My most successful recent games - using Fudge, as it happens, albeit a rather bungled and clunky build of it - have been connected adventure arcs which form short, independent scenarios but which also follow on from one another to make a sort of patchwork longer campaign. Under present circumstances it's perhaps the best I can manage... but I still dream of watching characters grow through years of play rather than, at most, a few months.
‘If a man does not make new acquaintance as he advances through life, he will soon find himself left alone.
A man, Sir, should keep his friendship in constant repair.’
- Samuel Johnson
Robbie wrote:As a result our gaming is conducted online.
When you say "online" I assume using Chat? Like IRC. Or do you use some other approach? Does the technology limit you? For example, in my current games I use a lot of visuals - hand out to the players of picture of locations they are traveling to, photographs of NPC, maps, etc. I realize I could drop all that in a server and during a chat based game just provide player the URL and give them a moment to pop it open in a browser. Do you online game use anything other than text? I assume dice roles are on the honor system.