How Do You Maintain Campaign Interest During Long Breaks?


About ten years ago I made a decision that I'm only going to game with friends or people I know well. Scheduling seems to be the number 1 thing that kills a group, so when you play with friends pushing the game a week or two ahead than planned isn't that big of a deal. With people you're not too familiar with, not so much. Our group is 4 people strong...LOL...but we all hang out outside of gaming so we're always talking about it in passing, which is enough to keep the momentum of our game alive.

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This is a tough one. Even with the most regular group of friends that have plenty of time, life happens. Especially at the holidays. My group is a bit on the older side, so we have regular interruptions. Kids, holidays, vacations and so on. I'm also not sure how many people you're comfortable running a game with, if someone is absent. We usually had a recap email for anyone who missed a game, so they could jump in and play without spending time at the table.

Something our group is trying is treating a game like a tv show season. We have a smaller contained arc that we can finish up in several sessions that has some kind of conclusion. Now, that smaller arc can be part of a big arc that encompasses the campaign. Is the land ruled by an evil wizard and the PCs have to save their nation? Cool, that's a big arc. Then break it into mini arcs to reach that goal. Take back a town. Rescue an important person. Take out a big target. All stuff to work towards that goal. Plan it to break around when things get busy, like the holidays. If it turns out everyone is available to play, then kick off a new season. You can pick up with your characters and a kind of fresh start. Did someone die last season? Turns out a new season is a good way to introduce new characters. Plan for some breaks that make the game easier to digest and keep track of.

Then, if you make it to the big goal you've had your long campaign. If you don't make it, for some reason, everyone who played had some kind of satisfying resolution to a story. You could even keep the big campaign idea, completely redo the cast, and shift to a different area of your world, if you want to.

During the holidays, my group typically does one shots. Try out those games you've been meaning to try with whoever is around. See what your next game could be if you find something you like.

Still, the best way to save recap time at the table for my group has been a quick email during the week before we play. Let people ask questions and chime in on what happened. If you can get some discussions going outside the game with some email, it helps the momentum. Though ultimately, my group decided that long campaigns don't work for us. So I don't have much more to offer. I haven't done a longer game in quite some time.

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