log in or register to remove this ad

 

Failed Campaigns

Grendel_Khan

Adventurer
Dunno if it counts as a failed campaign, but I was running an adventure in a Basic D&D game wherein the goal was to find an Apparatus of Kwalish. I decided fairly quickly that the module itself was not ideal for accomplishing this goal and just told the group at the start of the next session that they'd searched that temple top to bottom and found only a journal entry that led them to an ancient temple in the middle of nowhere (which conveniently was the site of the adventure I'd decided to run instead).

Then we decided as a group to take a side trek and play a a bit of Dungeon Crawl Classics, and that's been so enjoyable/popular that we've found little enthusiasm for resuming the search for the Apparatus.

Sorry if this is off-topic but I'm curious what's been more appealing to your group about DCC compared to Basic D&D? Is it a system/mechanical thing or something else?
 

log in or register to remove this ad

Ath-kethin

Elder Thing
Sorry if this is off-topic but I'm curious what's been more appealing to your group about DCC compared to Basic D&D? Is it a system/mechanical thing or something else?
Well, DCC is based off the original D&D from 1974, same as Basic is, and it does the whole race-as-class bit as well, so it's very similar in many ways. But there are big differences too - fighters and dwarves, for example, get to try out different actions called Mighty Deeds, with a separate mechanic that encourages out-of-the-box thinking and maneuvers.

The magic system is also different, and each spellcaster casts every spell differently from other casters. Wizards and elves also have the option to have patrons, which provide different spell choices and can even be invoked/summoned in person, though that tends not to be a very good idea.

It manages to retain much of Basic's simplicity, but hybridizes it with aspects of 3e (Fortitude, Reflex, and Will saving throws for example, as well as ascending AC and attack bonuses). It's super flexible and easy to adapt, as well, though of all the systems I've played over the years it's the one I modify the least.

Maybe that's because they just let wizards use freaking swords if they want and I don't have to houserule it.
 

Grendel_Khan

Adventurer
Maybe that's because they just let wizards use freaking swords if they want and I don't have to houserule it.
Every time I watch a LotR movie and Gandalf pulls out his sword a part of me says, Hey D&D, you see what I’m seeing?

Those differences all sound great, especially the magic/patron stuff. The Dying Earth Kickstarter that just wrapped had me thinking I should check out DCC, so I was curious how much it diverged. Appreciate the rundown.
 

Ath-kethin

Elder Thing
Every time I watch a LotR movie and Gandalf pulls out his sword a part of me says, Hey D&D, you see what I’m seeing?

Those differences all sound great, especially the magic/patron stuff. The Dying Earth Kickstarter that just wrapped had me thinking I should check out DCC, so I was curious how much it diverged. Appreciate the rundown.
In the interest of letting this thread get back to its point, we can drop it here. But definitely check out DCC - it's a hoot and an awesome game.

And I'm looking forward to getting my 2 box sets' worth of Dying Earth material next year :).
 
Last edited:

MGibster

Legend
Isn't that more a system failure than a campaign failure? You could run it with another system.

There are a lot of reasons a campaign can fail and a strong dislike for the rules can be one of them. I tried running a game of Rogue Trader, produced by Fantasy Flight Games but based on the Games Workshop Warhammer 40,000 property, and after a few sessions we abandoned it. We liked the setting, the scenarios were were running were fine, but the rules were universally despised and we unanimously decided to play something different. Seriously, we hated those rules.
 


MGibster

Legend
I've been playing for a few decades now and campaigns have failed for several reasons. I'm going to avoid reasons revolving around everyone moving away, work schedules changing, or starting families.

Blue Planet: I tried running a Blue Planet campaign around 2005 or so. The concept was that PCs were members of a University of Texas funded expedition to explore the planet Poseidon, and, if possible, to look into what happened to the previous expedition the university sent out which went missing. I gave everyone a monthly income based on their occupation with STEM PCs (doctors, engineers, etc., etc.) making more than other occupations. One player decided to make a private investigator, which was fine as security was needed and they were looking for missing people. I assigned the PC a monthly income that was at the midpoint for the party as a whole and that's when the problems started.

The player argued that the book says PIs make anywhere between 100-300 credits per day so his pay should be considerably higher. I pointed out that the book notes that PIs don't have steady employment so that 100-300 per day doesn't actually reflect their monthly average. With this job you're in the employ of an organization and are getting a steady paycheck and your character is actually making a pretty good living. He was like a dog with a bone and just wouldn't let it go finally saying, "I don't know why my character would even leave Earth for Poseidon." I told him it was his responsibility to come up with a reason why his character would leave Earth but at the end of the day it soured me to the campaign and I decided not to run it. It's the only campaign I've had that failed after character generation but before game play.
Curse of Strand 5e. The DM tried really hard. He had props and cool models and a perfect Eastern Europe accent. We just didn't buy into it. We stopped after two sessions.
Curse of Strahd: So I had a campaign come to an unceremonious end as well. I'll be as general as possible as not to spoil anything. The PCs were exploring an abandoned area when they figure out they were being spied upon and the PCs first reaction was to set upon this person and kill them. It left a bad tastes in my mouth and I ended the campaign stating that they all became evil and are lost in Ravenloft. I just didn't want to deal with that kind of game play.

I never plan out a campaign, I just start with a concept.
Savage Worlds: While I don't meticulously plan out campaigns, I do know what the bad guys are going to do unless the PCs interfere with their plans in some way. I do have a particular concept in mind though. I was using Savage Worlds to run a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles game set about 50 years in the future. The PCs were mutants and their master was Raphael (Leonardo and Michelangelo were dead and Donatello was in another dimension). I was basing the game more off the comic book so I expected it to be somewhat violent but one of the basic goals of the PCs was to advance mutant rights. On the second or third session the PCs were participating in an illegal mutant fighting ring when the police show up to put a stop to it. The PCs proceeded to kill several police officers. Since this was all caught on camera, news outlets internationally had footage of the PCs killing police officers and any hope of them helping to advance mutant rights was right out the window. Within two sessions I had them escaping to another dimension and we went on to play something else. We weren't all on the same page so far as the campaign concept went.
 

R_J_K75

Hero
I had them escaping to another dimension and we went on to play something else. We weren't all on the same page so far as the campaign concept went.
Ive never scrapped a campaign because the players made some "poor" decisions that I remember. I just rolled with it and came up with another story line, goal, antagonist. Sometimes its organic and happens on the spot or I'll end the current session and give it thought until the next game. If anything sometimes Im more culpible as the DM of derailing things by setting hopping mid campaign. I remember one player always used to say, "Looks like Rob got a new book"! Usually works out with a decent group of players because I run ny session zeros pretty loose and vague so we arent tied to any single facet of what we agreed on.

We have 3 DMs in a group of 5 now so were switching off every 2-4 sessions in a 5E Ravenloft game. This way no one person has to shoulder the DM burnden full time. Working out good, fun and no one really knows whats coming next. I think this is helping to keep the campaign fresh and from ending unexpededly. Im playing a cleric of Thor; I always use my bonus action in combet to drink my flagon.
 

MGibster

Legend
Ive never scrapped a campaign because the players made some "poor" decisions that I remember. I just rolled with it and came up with another story line, goal, antagonist.
Murdering the police officers fundamentally changed the nature of the campaign and I just didn't know what I could do to get it back on track short of just ignoring their actions. I'm not going to argue that they did something wrong, just that they moved the game in a direction I didn't want to follow.
 

dragoner

Dying in Chargen
What is your "favorite" premature campaign death?
Not sure about favorite, though I had a Traveller campaign where the players were doing some shady stuff, and when the people came around to investigate, they ambushed and killed them in their ship parked on the tarmac with an Imperial Naval Base next door. I was like uh ... so the Marines arrive?
 

R_J_K75

Hero
Murdering the police officers fundamentally changed the nature of the campaign and I just didn't know what I could do to get it back on track short of just ignoring their actions. I'm not going to argue that they did something wrong, just that they moved the game in a direction I didn't want to follow.
Understandable. If its not fun for you or doesnt make sense then I think you guys did the right thing.

I pulled a street thief that was part of an ambush into an alley and intergoated him during a combat encounter. When he didnt tell me what I wanted to know I caved his face in with my war hammer and threw him out into the middle of the street as an example to his buddies. I know the DM wasnt expecting that so who knows we may be rolling up new characters before I know it. Campaign needs food badly, warrior is about to DIE!
 

J.Quondam

90% grunts. 10% thews.
I'm not going to argue that they did something wrong, just that they moved the game in a direction I didn't want to follow.
Wise move to abandon that campaign.
Sometimes people forget that the DM is a player, too. But in fact, the DM's fun & buy-in needs to be recognized as a legit measuring stick for a campaign just as surely as the rest of the players'.
 

Grendel_Khan

Adventurer
The player argued that the book says PIs make anywhere between 100-300 credits per day so his pay should be considerably higher. I pointed out that the book notes that PIs don't have steady employment so that 100-300 per day doesn't actually reflect their monthly average. With this job you're in the employ of an organization and are getting a steady paycheck and your character is actually making a pretty good living. He was like a dog with a bone and just wouldn't let it go finally saying, "I don't know why my character would even leave Earth for Poseidon." I told him it was his responsibility to come up with a reason why his character would leave Earth but at the end of the day it soured me to the campaign and I decided not to run it. It's the only campaign I've had that failed after character generation but before game play.

No offense, truly, if this player was a friend, but this seems like an absolutely brutal, small-minded jerk move on their part. I don't know if I'd be able to play anything with that person after that. Did they really think their PC's daily rate was the point of the game? Yeesh.

But I feel like all of the stuff you're describing is in a similar vein, which I fully understand--the players just not buying in. I've noticed that in some newer games the designers explicitly recommend sitting down with players during session zero, or before, and discussing the tone, the concept, maybe the themes. I'm such a trad gamer that I never even considered doing that--I've barely even done session zeros of any kind. But thinking back to most of the campaigns of mine that failed for reasons similar to what you've described, I'm starting to think these whipper-snappers are onto something. It's a little corny, maybe, or a little awkward, but that initial communication could be a life-saver down the line.
 

MGibster

Legend
No offense, truly, if this player was a friend, but this seems like an absolutely brutal, small-minded jerk move on their part. I don't know if I'd be able to play anything with that person after that. Did they really think their PC's daily rate was the point of the game? Yeesh.
Eh, not really a friend so much as an acquaintance I gamed with on occasion. It wasn't long before he moved and I haven't hard from him in 15-16 years at this point.

But I feel like all of the stuff you're describing is in a similar vein, which I fully understand--the players just not buying in. I've noticed that in some newer games the designers explicitly recommend sitting down with players during session zero, or before, and discussing the tone, the concept, maybe the themes. I'm such a trad gamer that I never even considered doing that--I've barely even done session zeros of any kind.
I started doing session zeroes a few years ago specifically to make sure we were all aboard in terms of what we expected from the campaign. I've had a few campaigns spoiled because we weren't all on the same page so far as tone and what type of characters were appropriate. Case in point...

GURPS: I used GURPS to run a game of Delta Green. In DG, players are government agents involved in an illegal conspiracy to cover up supernatural/mythos events. I explained to the players that the game was "realistic" in that their characters were normal humans. Their characters were built with more points than your average person, but even an average beat cop could put a bullet in their asses killing them. GURPS is a point buy system and being generic it allows for a lot of oddities. I don't remember all the baloney one player tried to pull, but I do remember he tried buying the Strength in his arms to 16 because it saved points and allowed him to do good melee damage. I told him he couldn't do that or purchase any of the psychic powers he wanted.

In one scene, the PCs were exploring the house of a suspect when they decided to head into the basement. One player character pulled out his pistol and the other, Mr. Arm Guy, who was an FBI agent, pulled out his bolas.

Me: Bolas?
Player: Yeah.
Me: Bwa ha ha ha ha ha ha.
Player: What?
Me: You're serious?
Player: Yeah.
Me: Why would a special agent of the FBI be armed with bolas? You've got access to pretty much any weapons that might theoretically be confiscated by federal officers. Why bolas?
Player: I just thought it'd be fun and unique.
Me: How do you plan on swinging that thing in a basement? How do you even walk around with it concealed?
Player: Why don't you just play my character?

That campaign even came to an end because we lost our venue.
 

Dannyalcatraz

Schmoderator
Staff member
The oddest campaign failures I can remember were due to an unsatisfied GM.

In our group, in order to minimize the number of game nights lost to unexpected events, we made a rule: every person in the group was responsible for running a campaign- in systems of their choice- and every player had a PC for everyone else’s csmpaigns. And each week, we had a primary and a backup GM- each prepped to run their own stuff- so each person brought 2 PCs.

Well, one guy was a HUGE fan of anime. So he decided to run a campaign centered around a group of Mecha pilots which he ran when his turn in the rotation came up. We had fun for a few sessions, then it was someone else’s turn.

As the anime fan’s next turn to GM approached, he announced he was scrapping his campaign and starting a new one using a different system. So we all made new PCs, and had fun when he ran it.

…and weeks later, he announced he was scrapping his campaign and starting a new one using yet another different system. So we all made new PCs, and had fun when he ran it.

I have no recollection how many times this pattern repeated itself. For me, it was bittersweet: I enjoyed playing in his games. He was a pretty good GM. But of course, there was no grand story arc.

It was kind of like watching drag racing when you expected an endurance rally.
 

bondoid

Villager
Every time I watch a LotR movie and Gandalf pulls out his sword a part of me says, Hey D&D, you see what I’m seeing?

Those differences all sound great, especially the magic/patron stuff. The Dying Earth Kickstarter that just wrapped had me thinking I should check out DCC, so I was curious how much it diverged. Appreciate the rundown.
Gandalf,
Is super knowledgeable
Uses magic that is not flashy and is based on song
Has inspiring presence and personality
Can fight with a sword.

Gandalf is a Bard
 

R_J_K75

Hero
The oddest campaign failures I can remember were due to an unsatisfied GM.
I cant even wrap my head around this, Seems like a bit of mental instability here, but Im just speculating. Sounds like they were just buying new game systems every few months and decided the next was the best. Id hate to see him try and buy a car, yeah I like this one but can I test drive yet another?
 


Dannyalcatraz

Schmoderator
Staff member
I cant even wrap my head around this, Seems like a bit of mental instability here, but Im just speculating. Sounds like they were just buying new game systems every few months and decided the next was the best. Id hate to see him try and buy a car, yeah I like this one but can I test drive yet another?
I don’t know how many systems he had on hand and how many he bought over that time, so I can’t speak to that. But like I said, he understood each system very well- mechanically- and ran good games.

He definitely had his quirks, though, no question. But the only thing I would say was an actual issue was his temper. Certain things set him off- usually social etiquette breaches- and he would go off. Most things, though, he was super chill about.

In a way, he was like Ms. Manners combined with Granny Goodness…

Hmmmmm…maybe the problem was US. Perhaps we were a little too much like a herd of cats, and we kept unintentionally messing up his campaigns. Metaphorically pushing cups off of tables,,,
 


An Advertisement

Advertisement4

Top