#RPGaDAY Day 09: What is a good RPG to play for about 10 sessions?
  • #RPGaDAY Day 09: What is a good RPG to play for about 10 sessions?

    It’s August and that means that the annual #RPGaDAY ‘question a day’ is here to celebrate “everything cool, memorable and amazing about our hobby.” This year we’ve decided to join in the fun and will be canvassing answers from the ENWorld crew, columnists and friends in the industry to bring you some of our answers. We hope you’ll join in, in the comments section, and share your thoughts with us too… So, without further ado, here’s Day 9 of #RPGaDAY 2017!

    #RPGaDAY Question 9: What is a good RPG to play for about 10 sessions?

    Darryl Mott: Any game works for this so long as you plan your story correctly. Think of all the TV shows that are episodic but have an overall season plot and a "Big Bad" of some sort. Just plot it out in a three act structure: Sessions 1-2 are the First Act of introducing the characters and their world with an introduction to the overall plot. Make Sessions 3-8 about questing, finding out information about the plan, learning ways to stop it, undoing the evil being done, and a musical episode thrown in to boost ratings. Sessions 9-10 should be about finally confronting whoever is behind it all and defeating them once and for all (until the sequel).

    Angus Abranson: Darryl (above) was obviously in the same brainspace as me with his answer. There are plenty of campaigns and adventures that can take up to 10 sessions to complete but if you’re actively planning on a ten-session campaign then I’d treat it as a ‘Season’ of a TV show or a limited series of comics. Whether the ‘season’ is a continuous story more like Game of Thrones or Daredevil TV series or if it’s more of a ‘monster of the week’ affair with an over arcing story being slowly revealed throughout the series such as Buffy: The Vampire Slayer you need to decide what each session should reveal to the characters and how to pace those reveals over the course of the 10 sessions. With that in mind my pick for a game which is good to play for about 10 sessions is the Supernatural RPG. When we played it we even had ‘Guest Directors’ which allowed different people to GM one-shot evenings throughout the larger run – thus giving the main GM (the ‘show runner’) a chance to play and a week off here or there to prepare for the next phase.

    Stephanie McAlea (Stygian Fox Publishing, The Things We Leave Behind): D&D 5e, Call of Cthulhu, or Pendragon.

    Wes Otis (Plate Mail Games, Realms of Rothaen): What is a good RPG to play for about 10 sessions? Call of Cthulhu 7E is great for 10 or 12 session runs. It’s been my experience that a limited run of session work better for cosmic horror. You can do several smaller mysteries with one over arcing storyline that the players can wrap up at the end of the sessions. If their character’s is doing well and survive, they can be reused in the next set of sessions.

    Mike Lafferty (BAMF Podcast; Fainting Goat Games): Honestly – I think there are a lot of gamers I know personally who are hung up on running or playing in a long, epic campaign to such a degree that it detracts from their enjoyment of the hobby. IMHO - there’s more fun (and easier scheduling and planning) to be had when you focus on casual, short campaigns and one-shots.
    (Although for many of these folks, 10 sessions would just be getting started…)
    Having said that, I ran a M&M 2nd Ed campaign for a couple years that was great fun. The system is in-depth enough to be of interest to gamers who like more crunch – but is easy enough for beginners to pick up quickly – which is a balance that many superhero RPGs fail to achieve.

    Eran Aviram (Up to Four Players; City of Mist): Phoenix: Dawn Command lends itself completely to a style of play that has a clear start and ending, since you're asked to solve a specific mystery by a series of mission, while having a specific limit (7 lives!). In many ways it's like a game of X-COM - you unravel the mystery mission after mission. Every session is a mission, and the whole campaign should take around 10 missions from start to a very satisfying finish.

    Simon Brake (Stygian Fox): Paranoia. Enough time to get through several families of clones, and just enough time to see several of the weird facets of life in Alpha Complex without getting bored with it. There’s room for a lot of variety in 10 sessions, and I’d love to build up to an apocalyptic ending, but I think the players might hate me and each other if I were to drag it out beyond ten sessions.

    Garry Harper (Modiphius Entertainment; The Role Play Haven): A Song of Ice and Fire by Green Ronin.

    Martin Greening (Azure Keep, Ruma: Dawn of Empire): Red Aegis from Vorpal Games is designed to be played over 10 sessions. Players make a new character each session, a descendant from their previous character, as the game progresses through history from anicents times to the far future.

    Federico Sohns (Nibiru RPG): I'd have to go for an RPG such as Ryuutama. It's a game that is nice to run for a limited number of campaigns, describing a simple journey and forging bonds along the way. I wouldn't play it for an epic, years-long campaign, but ten sessions seems great for that!

    Laura Hoffman (Black Book Editions; Polaris RPG): Any RPG can be fun as long sessions and it is more about the group playing than the actual game I believe. But so far I think the longest gaming session I enjoyed the most would be a 40k Dark Heresy campaign I played in my RPG club, super intense intrigue, it felt like it could go on eternally.

    Ken Spencer (Rocket Age; Why Not Games): Ten sessions, there was a time when I could barely get past five before being distracted by a new game. Honestly, nearly any RPG can be played for ten sessions and have a good time, but one that would fit well would be any iteration of D&D. You could do a level a session, maybe each one covering a year of game time much like Pendragon does with its winter phase. Such a steady progression of PC levels might seem extreme, every session you have something new you can do or power you gain (at least in most editions). You would also get to a good stopping point for D&D, the most recent editions start to break down after level 10, and the older editions change tone so much around level 9.

    Originally created by Dave Chapman (Doctor Who: Adventures in Time & Space; Conspiracy X) #RPGaDAY os now being caretakered by the crew over at RPGBrigade. We hope you’ll join in, in the comments section, and share your thoughts with us too!
    Comments 12 Comments
    1. Kite474's Avatar
      Kite474 -
      Even though the rules may take time I would say Shadowrun. 10 sessions is more than enough (or just enough depending on how big you want to go) for a big job or heist.

      The first couple of session (1-3) getting the job and getting the details on all the players in on it. Get the "prologue and introduction" set and ready

      Next few (4-7) are all about the leg work, getting the favors in, laying down plans, establishing contacts, casing out the joint all that awesome stuff

      and finally (8-10) you have the big finisher the heist goes off and then you have Entry, Finishing and getaway, and then the aftermath of your action.

      Now this may be a bit slow for alot of folks but I feel it builds up to that incredibly sweet moment when the plan comes together... Or horribly falls apart, its Shadowrun something always goes wrong!
    1. Simonpaulburley's Avatar
      Simonpaulburley -
      #RPGaDAY 2017: 9) What is a good game to play for about 10 sessions?

      Most of my experience these days is at conventions, so I don't have a good answer for this.

      However, I've noticed that cross convention games of Savage Worlds - "campaigns" - seem to peter out after a bit. The rules seem to be great for creating settings and a range of interesting characters to explore those settings. BUT there are hundreds of other interesting settings waiting out there for you to explore next........
    1. TrippyHippy's Avatar
      TrippyHippy -
      The World of Darkness games or other horror RPGs tend to work best within a set number of episodes, I've always found. D&D or Traveller, by contrast, can go on for years in a picaresque fashion.
    1. Eminence_Grise -
      Legend of the Five Rings is a game that worked well in 5 or 10 game sessions. Enough to get satisfied with the setting and to minimize the number of PC deaths.
    1. lyle.spade's Avatar
      lyle.spade -
      Quote Originally Posted by TrippyHippy View Post
      The World of Darkness games or other horror RPGs tend to work best within a set number of episodes, I've always found. D&D or Traveller, by contrast, can go on for years in a picaresque fashion.
      Good point. Horror is hard to maintain over time, I've found. Intrigue tends to have a longer lifespan, but actual fear and dread-causing horror is hard to keep up over a long campaign. WOD can be pretty heavy, if done well, and that works best in short story arcs.
    1. Ghost2020 -
      We almost exclusively game in small campaigns like this. The +/-10 sessions is just perfect amount of time to build story, get into the characters and experience some advancement as well.

      Then we move on to another system or another mini-campaign within the same system. A different set of characters and someone else gets to GM. That way everyone gets a break and a chance behind the screen.

      We game weekly and we have 2 campaigns running at a time. They run every other week. Keeps it fresh and exciting!
    1. Brodie's Avatar
      Brodie -
      If you utilize the available material for the game, Shadow of the Demon Lord is perfect for ten (or eleven) sessions, especially if you use the Tales of the Demon Lord campaign. Each adventure is designed to be one session (of varying lengths of time), and the idea is that when the PCs finish an adventure they level up. Tales is eleven adventures, with the first being a sort of 'zero issue' story to get the players of out of the zero level and acquaint them with the rules.

      (I'm aware most of my answers so far have involved SotDL... I really like the game.)
    1. Ralif Redhammer's Avatar
      Ralif Redhammer -
      I’d go with any of the narrative-based games definitely including the Storyteller system games. Shadowrun Anarchy would be another choice of mine. Provided you have a group that can really get into that sort of playstyle, I think ten sessions is a perfect run time to allow some great role-playing a storytelling.

      On the converse, a throwback D&D game of the white box or 1e and one of the classic modules would be another choice.

      Quote Originally Posted by TrippyHippy View Post
      The World of Darkness games or other horror RPGs tend to work best within a set number of episodes, I've always found. D&D or Traveller, by contrast, can go on for years in a picaresque fashion.
    1. Yaztromo's Avatar
      Yaztromo -
      I agree with Call of Chtulu (various versions), perhaps Paranoia (although I prefer it for one-shot games) and definitely Gamma World and Mazes and Minotaurs, that are very fun for a while and then you feel it's time to move on.
      Quite a few Savage Worlds would be suitable as well, such as Beasts and Barbarians, Ultima Forsan and Kata Kumbas.
      A game that could cover a bit all lengths, including the 10 sessions, is Numenera, if well-managed in order to have a self-completing adventure cycle.
    1. Madmaxneo -
      I'd have to say Dreamchaser again.
      What makes this game so great for something like this is the players are the ones who set the goals. So the players could easily set it up to last about 10 sessions or more, or less.
      This is really a great game and that has a lot of potential. I believe you can pre-order the book and stuff if you want by going to Imagining Games. I am currently waiting on my Kickstarter physical rewards.
    1. Lord Mhoram's Avatar
      Lord Mhoram -
      This one I have no idea on. We run long games, anything under 15-20 sessions is considered a failed start of a game.
    1. Anand's Avatar
      Anand -
      I'd say the 10 level / 10 sessions variant from 13th Age is a blast.
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