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D&D 5E Deal Breakers - Or woah, that is just too much

Where did you find this data?

And when was the poll taken? This is relevant as the more recent editions (3e-pf-4e) don't support long campaigns as well as older ones did unless the DM does some tweaking. 3e, in fact, was specifically designed for a 1-2 year campaign. I mean, I played in a 10-year 3e campaign and I've seen posters here talk about 6-year 4e campaigns, but from all I can gather those are extreme outliers for those editions.

I can't currently find the reference, but WotC has stated that its polls have shown this sort of thing for a good long while, and that's why the more recent editions have been designed for shorter campaigns.

Speaking solely for myself--yes, more anecdotes!--WotC's polling is accurate enough. The longest campaign I, or any of my friends, were ever involved in was still less than two years.
 

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TwoSix

Dirty, realism-hating munchkin powergamer
Speaking solely for myself--yes, more anecdotes!--WotC's polling is accurate enough. The longest campaign I, or any of my friends, were ever involved in was still less than two years.
Agreed. I'm in a good group that's been pretty stable for about 10 years, and the longest campaign we've ever had was a little over 2 years (35 sessions). We rotate DMs pretty frequently, and honestly no one wants to stay in the same game for 5+ years.

I mean, don't you start to feel an itch for a new character after a while? Once I've played the same character for 7 or 8 sessions, what little self-preservation instinct I have for my characters drops to 0.
 

Tectuktitlay

Explorer
Er...then...what other measurable metric can I use? We don't record every roll a character makes (and nor are we going to), and this is over a 35-year span with half a dozen DMs running 10 or more campaigns. What I have for raw data is lots of character sheets (but by no means all of them) and logs* showing when they came in, what adventures they were in, deaths, and when (and often why) they finished.

* - many of these logs are online at the site in my .sig, in each campaign there is a "character log" link; and some logs for other games are also listed in various parts of the site.


Backed up by data, putting it a step or two beyond just anecdotes by memory.

Slightly above anecdote, but well below concrete data. It's a pretty perfect example of an extremely limited and inherently biased sample size.

Where did you find this data?

And when was the poll taken? This is relevant as the more recent editions (3e-pf-4e) don't support long campaigns as well as older ones did unless the DM does some tweaking. 3e, in fact, was specifically designed for a 1-2 year campaign. I mean, I played in a 10-year 3e campaign and I've seen posters here talk about 6-year 4e campaigns, but from all I can gather those are extreme outliers for those editions.

http://www.enworld.org/forum/showthread.php?217967-Campaign-Length

So 2008, just as/before 4e came out. I'm not sure how you can say a given campaign can't last X years in a specific system. Or, really, a somewhat modified version of the same system, with varying levels of tweaking. Show me any data to back that up? What makes an AD&D campaign potentially last any longer than a 3.X campaign, exactly? What difference in design alters the fundamental flow of a campaign? Levels 1-20? Check. Same rough tiers of gaining access to new effects via spells and magic items? Check. Monsters roughly the same? If anything, a bit less deadly, meaning characters are a bit more likely to make it further. Potentially unlimited levels beyond 20 if you wish? Check. Campaign worlds? Identical if you want them to be.

What, exactly, about any given system limits the length of the campaign, barring systems with very specific mechanics for characters retiring upon achieving X, Y, or Z? And even those, you can quite easily eliminate that specific mechanic if you want. Characters retire after X? No, they don't. That was easy. You can quite easily play a FATE game for a decade. Without any difficulty whatsoever. HERO System? Super simple, actually.

How do you figure 3e was specifically designed for 1-2 year campaigns? Like 1e/AD&D, 3e specifically discusses at length varying XP rewards to shorten or lengthen the time between gaining levels to set a pace appropriate to your own game. That they put a somewhat more comprehensive structure to XP rewards isn't indicative of designing it to last a certain length. AD&D could quite easily (and has, in my own first-hand experience) be paced at a level right there with 3e. It completely depends on the adventures played in. AD&D explicitly states a character can gain a level as often as once per adventure, or as long as once per 10 adventures. 3e on the other hand has it paced at roughly a number of encounters, but...and this is rather critical...that number of encounters varies considerably between adventures, such that some adventures have so few actual encounters that no one should come close to leveling during that adventure.

4e...yes, 4e was designed to be paced at roughly three long adventures per tier. So over 30 levels you should roughly play nine longish adventures. However...4e explicitly has a section explaining how and why you should raise or lower XP rewards to increase or decrease the rate of advancement. To specifically accommodate any length of campaign. The system inherently tells you when and how to stretch a campaign out as long as you desire. And without modifying anything, is designed for around 16 months of play from 1-30, but only if you actually play once a week, every week, all year.

Jury's still out on 5e but it looks like it could easily be made to handle a long campaign; and may even do so as written.

5e is unusual in that it doesn't actually list an explicit baseline pacing. The closest it comes is the rough xp appropriate per fully packed adventuring day. But it also defines an adventuring day of consisting of ~6-8 medium to hard encounters. Which, on most actual days out and about, is probably quite a lot when not in the midst of a war, a rather populous dungeon, etc. And even then, with that high number of medium-to-hard encounters, it scales. You should, according to that, jump from level 1 to 2 in a single day, but then it gets longer and longer, to ~6.5 such days at level 11, and ~10 at level 19. But that is running under an assumption of quite a few rough encounters each of those days, which really means it's more likely stretched out quite a bit.

And...interestingly enough...the length of a campaign is so much easier to handle...wait for it...if you remove XP from the reward structure entirely, and simply level everyone when you want to level. ;)

Something that multiple editions, including both 4e and 5e, explicitly point out as an option. 3e does so in a roundabout manner, suggesting an alternate structure where everyone gets a set level of XP per encounter of session, determined on the fly by the DM, with all the characters getting the same amount. Which is just another way of saying: level the characters when you feel like it (but hand out the XP so they feel like it's a reward).

IME the only thing that gets endangered by reckless not-sober behaviour at my table are the poor defenseless characters they're playing.
And in my experience, that can be quite hit or miss depending on the drunk. Additionally, in my experience, people not-sober on not-alcohol are very rarely any danger to anyone else, including themselves. Considerably less endangered than a drunk person is, even a drunk person with just a buzz-on drunk, who can still quite readily wobble about and bump into people/things, knock potentially expensive objects over, or spill food/drinks, etc. Rare indeed is the stoned person at a table unable to walk around and function, in my experience. Same with people mildly tripping on various psychoactives.

And keep in mind I'm talking about nice-buzz-on drunk rather than faceplant-on-the-floor drunk; passed-out players are really dull, and a passed-out DM kinda puts an end to proceedings. :)

Besides, how can you have a beer-and-pretzels game without beer?

Again, there's a difference between somebody being a little buzzed and somebody drugged to irrationality, which is what I have to deal with IRL in my work environment (downtown retail) and absolutely do NOT want to deal with anywhere else.

Having worked retail for well over a decade (no more, screw that, never again), and half that time was actually downtown (in a college town, no less!), I do somewhat understand. But again, the drunks? Always vastly worse than people on the majority of drugs. The stoners, the people obviously tripping, or people rolling, were easily the least offensive, and least irrational. It was the drunks or the tweakers that caused the problems, as far as intoxicated people went. Although they never held a candle to the ridiculously entitled people with more money than sense. The latter were easily the most obnoxious and belligerent customers I ever had to deal with.

It's because it's what I'm familiar with, meaning I can somewhat predict what comes next particularly with people I know well (and this game with).

And again, radically different than my experiences. Except for people I know and trust, I find the behavior of drunk people in particular to be extremely erratic and unpredictable. You never know what will set them off and turn them into a loud, belligerent, potentially violent person. I know that 99.9% of the time someone who is stoned, someone who is rolling, someone who is tripping and didn't take some ludicrous dose, is generally going to be extremely easy to both predict, and to calm down. Other than alcohol, it's the people tweaking on meth or crack that are incredibly unpredictable, IME.

What I am, however, is quite certain based on the raw statistics, that odds are you regularly deal with people mildly stoned, or mildly tripping on a psychoactive, or mildly stimulated on coke, and had no idea. The sheer number of people out and about every day a bit high on pot is quite staggeringly large, and the vast majority do so while being fully functional members of society. Even the number of people addicted to opiates, or who use coke, who you likely come across on a daily basis, don't actually exhibit the signs stereotypically attributed to those drugs. I think you'd be quite surprised at the number and types of people on recreational drugs of one variety or another you encounter. Truckers, kitchen staff, and retail workers, are on pot with some regularity. Lawyers, cops, and executives have very high rates of using cocaine or other powerful stimulants regularly.

Just saying, as drugs go, alcohol is demonstrably one of the more addictive, and strongly correlated to reckless, dangerous, or violent behavior.

Would so much rather game with stoners and people on psychoactives than people who want to get drunk on the regular. This is not to say I don't drink when I game. We do in fact have wine fairly regularly when we game, in moderation. Sometimes beer, but not as often. Not to the point of being drunk, just mildly buzzed at the very most. Usually it's a couple of glasses lasting the entire evening.
 
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GX.Sigma

Adventurer
I only have 3 TRPG dealbreakers:

  1. The GM is incompetent.
  2. One of the players is a jerk.
  3. Play styles don't match. (I like in-character roleplaying and can't stand minmaxing, for example.)
 

Desh-Rae-Halra

Explorer
I'm adding another one.....when you bring snacks to share, and then the GM and his kids/family eat them all before you even get one of them.
Or when you and your wife chip in $25 towards getting pizza, and then only get 3 slices each because that same ravenous horde swiftly eats everything else.
 

GX.Sigma

Adventurer
Again, there's a difference between somebody being a little buzzed and somebody drugged to irrationality, which is what I have to deal with IRL in my work environment (downtown retail) and absolutely do NOT want to deal with anywhere else.

I can vouch for this. I've had a D&D group totally messed up by excessive substance use. And I've had another D&D group that was tighter than any I've ever known (meeting almost every week for 2-3 years before I moved away), where everyone had a few (weak) drinks every session. As a very mechanically-minded DM, I find a small amount of alcohol helps me loosen up and get more in tune with the players. Moderation is the key.

Would so much rather game with stoners and people on psychoactives than people who want to get drunk on the regular.
Gaming with people who want to get drunk (or high on whatever substance) leads to a very un-fun game. Playing a TRPG requires a lot of attention and focus, and if people just want an excuse to get wasted, you might as well put on a movie instead. It's more of a "people don't want to play the game" problem than a "drugs are ruining the game" problem. Of course, if there is an actual substance problem, that's a real-life problem in need of a real-life solution.

(Though, FWIW, IMXP, players getting stoned is just as bad for the game, if not worse, than players getting drunk. Drunk gamers come up with crazy stuff. Stoned gamers sit there and stare at their dice.)
 

Tectuktitlay

Explorer
I can vouch for this. I've had a D&D group totally messed up by excessive substance use. And I've had another D&D group that was tighter than any I've ever known (meeting almost every week for 2-3 years before I moved away), where everyone had a few (weak) drinks every session. As a very mechanically-minded DM, I find a small amount of alcohol helps me loosen up and get more in tune with the players. Moderation is the key.

Absolutely, moderation is the key. My nitpick was with not putting alcohol in with other drugs. To actually say in the same breath that people on drugs are a deal-breaker, but unlike many other posters drunk people at the table is something tolerated or even enjoyable. When alcohol is not only flat out a drug, but demonstrably, firmly statistically consistent, that of all the drugs out there alcohol is, per capita, one of the more dangerous. One quite specifically leading to more violent and erratic behavior than most other drugs, illicit or legal.

Gaming with people who want to get drunk (or high on whatever substance) leads to a very un-fun game. Playing a TRPG requires a lot of attention and focus, and if people just want an excuse to get wasted, you might as well put on a movie instead. It's more of a "people don't want to play the game" problem than a "drugs are ruining the game" problem. Of course, if there is an actual substance problem, that's a real-life problem in need of a real-life solution.

(Though, FWIW, IMXP, players getting stoned is just as bad for the game, if not worse, than players getting drunk. Drunk gamers come up with crazy stuff. Stoned gamers sit there and stare at their dice.)

And here, too, is where there is moderation. As with levels of alcohol consumption, levels of getting stoned are not all equal. Not by a long shot. I have literally never seen a stoned gamer sit and stare at their dice. On the contrary, they are usually highly engaged in the game. But they also aren't getting so stoned they are stuck to the couch/chair/floor. Moderation applies here, too, and it's not particularly sound to lump all people who are stoned as behaving one way, while saying people with various levels of alcohol are more nuanced in their behavioral pattern spread.

Someone with a good alcoholic buzz on is, in my experience, quite prone to going off on tangents entirely unrelated to the game, and getting progressively louder and more likely to do so the more drinks they get in them. But many people who are high on various non-alcoholic substance can often be hyper-focused. It's one of the reason people can stay so focused on intense video games for long stretches on pot. And why musicians can play intense sessions of wild music in amazing rhythm with one another while high. Because when not taken to excess, it does in fact allow one to stay very focused and in the moment.

So yeah, our experiences differ quite radically, obviously.
 
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Iry

Hero
You can't measure happiness but you can measure lifespan.
I measure happiness. It is not exactly perfect, but at least once every 6-12 months I give my players a survey. It's anonymous and includes a couple of classic 1-5 star things such as Story, Pacing, Rewards, Combat, Politics, Puzzles, Fun, and a section about what they would like to see more of in my campaigns and what they would like to see less of in my campaigns.

You WILL get teased for doing this, but it is incredibly helpful.
 

Iain_Coleman

Explorer
There's always alcohol flowing round our gaming table, and it's the best, most agreeable, most creative group I've ever gamed with. But of course we're all adults who can have a few drinks in an evening without transforming into raging orcs.

If someone is a bawbag when they have a drink in them, then they're a bawbag. Don't game with bawbags.
 

Tectuktitlay

Explorer
There's always alcohol flowing round our gaming table, and it's the best, most agreeable, most creative group I've ever gamed with. But of course we're all adults who can have a few drinks in an evening without transforming into raging orcs.

If someone is a bawbag when they have a drink in them, then they're a bawbag. Don't game with bawbags.

There's a difference between alcohol flowing, and being drunk. It was clearly specified drunk, and that word does in fact have a very specific meaning. ;) Having one drink? A few? Nah. Being drunk? Even just a little drunk? Not the same.

Of course I don't game with bawbags, and I am quite certain I said we usually drink at our games as well. And I love the people I game with, they're amazing.

And, to paraphrase what you said: There's often people on some sort of drugs round our gaming table, and it's one the best, most agreeable, most creative group I've ever gamed with. But of course we're all adults who can take substances responsibly in an evening without transforming into illithid snacks.
 

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