Day 13: What makes a successful campaign?
I mentioned on Day 12 that I was in the process of wrapping up one campaign and gearing up for another, so this question is on my mind quite a lot right now. In no particular order, here are some factors that help make a campaign successful. You don't meed to meet all of them to have a good game, but they all contribute, and missing too many of them can keep a game from being as satisfying as it could be.
- Players who are dedicated to playing long-term. Everyone has scheduling issues now and then, but players who make the time to keep playing the same game as regularly as possible help keep the momentum going.
- Players and a GM who know the system well, or who can at least steadily improve their mastery during play.
- A good match between the system and what the characters are expected to do in game. If the system doesn't support the primary activity you have in mind, you should consider other systems that do.
- The players need to feel that their characters' choices matter. Heroes are there to make a difference, after all. And even the less heroic PCs need to have a stake in what they're doing.
- Memorable NPCs, including both major allies and villains as well as the occasional recurring minor role. NPCs make the world come alive for the players, and the more of an impression a given NPC makes, the better (and longer) they will recall that part of the story.
- A variety of challenges, rather than just more of the same. Changes of pace help maintain interest, and allow different characters or skills their own turns to shine.
- A fair and consistent GM. Apply the rules consistently, and if you do decide that you need to change how you usually do or interpret something, make sure the players know why so that they can be on board with it. (Spring surprises on them in game all you want, but not in how you implement the rules.)
- Characters with enough background to give the GM some hooks to use in game. You don't necessarily need to know your PCs's entire history, but a few interesting details will give you a starting point for roleplaying, and make it easier for the GM to give you ties to what's going on now. Also, be open to collaborating with the GM to adding new background details now and then so that future plot hooks can be worked in.
I'm surely forgetting some critical ingredients, so I welcome suggestions in the comments!
Day 14: Your dream team of people you used to game with?
In no particular order:
- Katie Rahhal, whose praises I sang here.
- Eric Reuss, who creates very rich settings and detailed NPCs for the games he runs. I never had as many opportunities to play with him when we were still local to each other as I would have liked.
- Anne Cross, who played in my 3-year-long GURPS fantasy campaign.
- David Helms, who ran multiple long D&D campaigns that I played in.
That list does not include Erika Emrick, or Seanna and Chris LoBue, because I still game with them regularly, as I have been for most of two decades. But a true dream team of my gaming friends would be incomplete without those three.