log in or register to remove this ad


D&D General How long do you like your campaigns?


When it comes to a D&D campaign -- a series of connected adventures with a consistent cast of player characters -- how long do you prefer it go on for?

A note before the discussion really starts: it doesn't matter to me for the context of this discussion whether you ar eplaying an AP, pre written adventures, totally homebrew content, Westmarches style, an absolute railroad or any of those other details. they may matter to you, of course, so please include them if you desire. I am more interested what folks feel is a good length for a campaign to go on for before moving on to something new.

I have two answers and they are pretty close in my preferences: forever, and brief. To expound:

I have an ongoing campaign that started in AD&D 2E and moved through 3.x, then Mutants and Masterminds and now switching to the Hero System (although we have been stalled out at that last one for a few reasons, not lease coronavirus). Now this campaigns is actually 3 from the perspective of talking about player characters, my my players and I agree that because things are so intimately connected by both PCs (many are descendants of the original PCs) and setting (their actions build the next version of the setting, generationally speaking) it is one long campaign.

Aside from that game, though, I prefer shorter campaigns, ranging from a few months to maybe a year and a half. This is primarily as a GM. I like trying new things and I get GM ADD, etc... If I am running a prewritten adventure (I am currently running Avernus) I definitely want it to be complete in under a year. If I am running a homebrew game or one using smaller prewritten adventures, I have more patience since it is easier to change things up with a singular adventures.

What I don't particularly like is the 5 year campaign that just sort of drags on.

So, what length campaign do you prefer?

log in or register to remove this ad


Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
Personally I like longer campaigns with multiple story arcs. The campaign I'm currently running just passed the 1 year mark and they're going to hit level 8 after next session so I envision at least another year.

If people get tired of a character, I let them swap out. If they want to change the mode a bit we go off on a different tangent. I enjoy playing from levels 1-20 and sometimes we only meet once a month, so it takes a while.

It might be different if it were a weekly game, but I don't have time for that.


I would estimate 300-400 hours. That's a 4-8 hour game every week or two over the course of one to two years. Enough time to thoroughly enjoy the campaign and explore its various facets.

At that point another DM will generally offer to step in and run a new campaign. Which is nice because I'm ready to just play for a while at that point.


Aspiring Lurker (He/Him)
I'm DMing two biweekly campaigns. One just had session #54, the other just had session #22. I like campaigns that resolve multiple arcs that tie in with the characters' backstories and (once things are going pretty well) the characters' actions and decisions. In principle I like to have multiple goals pending so the characters can decide what they want to do next; in practice that kinda depends on the group allowing things to pend.

I like the longer campaigns, running from 1st level all the way to 20th and then finding a nice way to wrap it up at the end. My first successfully completed D&D 3.5 campaign ran for 9 years (but that was with most players having 2 PCs and running only one of them per session, so that dragged things out). Today we're scheduled to finish off the follow-up campaign, which has run for 5 years. The first campaign had 100 adventures (mostly Dungeon adventures at first, then transitioning to homebrew), while the current campaign consisted solely of adventures I wrote, 80 in all. Our next campaign is planned to be 100 adventures long exactly, 5 adventures each for every level from 1-20. (I'm experimenting with ignoring XP.)

But my son also runs a separate, weekly campaign in his own game world, so I get a chance to be a player as well as a DM. Those tend to last about 2 years, due to the advanced playing schedule.



Number of hours is an interesting way to measure it. My Avernus campaign plays mostly weekly for about 3 hours per session (playing by way of Fantasy grounds). It looks like we just finished out 30th session (thank goodness one of my players likes to take session notes for me) so that means we are at hour 90. Based on where I would like to bring the game to a close I am guessing 120 total hours. Now, that might not be it for these PCs, but it will be about my limit running the same adventure/campaign.


Magic Wordsmith
I think it is very useful for the DM to set a limit for the length of the campaign. Not only does it avoid things just sort of petering out in an unsatisfying way, it forces the DM to think about pacing which improves the game experience in my view. Real time is the most valuable resource we have in our finite lives as well and knowing the commitment one is going to get into on the front end is important.


The campaigns that I have been satisfied with and reached an end rather than being cut-off because of schedule changes or not being as exciting to continue as starting up some recently-released game seems tend to fall in the 50-60 sessions of about 4 hours each length of time.

I also like running things which are kind of more like a single long adventure for about 16-20 sessions of about 4 hours each and then storing those characters away to potentially continue the campaign some time later. It's a lot easier to be happy with and "complete" the tale when doing that, and also stops me from getting quality sag as I try to push on with a campaign "because it's not done yet" while my brain is screaming "You want to run [completely different game]!"

For me it depends less on IRL time than it does the story of the campaign. A campaign can have a single story, or multiple story arcs that may or may not connect. Something I hate is when a campaign reaches the conclusion its story, but then continues on aimlessly. An episodic campaign can be fun for a while, but probably not more than a dozen adventures or so.


Typically our campaigns have last about 18 month - after that, they were either finished or people lost interest. Strangely, this seems to apply no matter how often we play (university: once a week; now: more like once a month). So I try to keep campaigns between 12 and 18 month, and occasionally also throw in one or few shots.

I prefer campaigns to be relatively shorter rather than years long. I dont run adventures anymore and we've had alot of player turnover over the years for various reasons. So we tend to set a goal with the group of PCs and play until that goal is reached or they die, the campaigns usually dont last past year. Once one campaign is over we start another and dont continue the last though I may throw in a few Easter eggs in from campaigns passed.

Theo R Cwithin

I cast "Baconstorm!"
Shorter rather than longer campaigns for me. Life makes stable groups hard to come by, so I won't assume a game can go on longer than a year, if not less. I also like to see story arcs resolve rather than dissolve. The only practical way to address both those is to aim for short campaigns.
Bonus: Short campaigns allow for experimenting with more campaign concepts, different story arcs, other rules systems, and so forth.


41st lv DM
As a player? As long as it's interesting.
If it's going to be a long lv.1 - lv.15+ game I'd prefer it if it weren't all one long plot beginning to end. Such as found in a PF AP. Or one of the 5e adventures. It's not that I don't enjoy larger adventures, but it's not the ONLY thing I want to do with a character.

As a DM? As above, I like to provide a variety & stuff tailored to PC interests/actions. But time wise, after around 18 months or so, wether this campaign will be continuing or not, I need a break. So someone better have something on tap & plan for about 6 months.

the Jester

I prefer forever, with multiple groups of pcs whose actions influence each other and determine the world's direction and character over time.

EDIT: Just to be clear, my own campaign has been running since the mid-90s and is a sort of successor game to my earlier campaign, which began in the early 80s and ended when the pcs failed to stop Tharizdun from waking up and eating Nature.

Viking Bastard

I'm struggling with this question these days, actually. And I don't really know what I want.

Back in the olden days we'd have long and intricate campaigns, made up of multiple shorter adventures, that would run its course in less than a year. But we were young and carefree and game-obsessed. We would sometimes game for days at a time.

Today, noone has that kinda time, and if I had it, that's not how I would choose to spend it. But a part of me longs for those epic, convoluted messes of campaigns from back when. Last year we finished a just-short-of 5 year long campaign, but with one 4 hour session every two weeks (and it's share of cancelled sessions) and while that was a fun campaign, where I was in part able to recapture some of that "long epic run" of yesteryear, in RL time 5 years was too damn long. It hit a couple of lulls over its run, which hit much harder in the slower, more intermitten, style of play.

We took a hiatus after that as I started working on a follow-up, but I realized I was creating a way too overloaded mess of a thing, crammed to the brim with all the ideas and concepts that I wanted to play with that didn't fit into my last campaign, and it would immediately crash under its own weight.

So I scrapped it and went back to basics. Strong opening adventure (I hope), with a few different options for follow-ups and just see where it goes. Maybe it will be long campaign, maybe it will be a series of one-shots. We'll see. That campaign was supposed to start earlier this year, but alas, the world decided to go down in flames instead.

So yeah. I'm trying to find some middle ground here, I want to run a campaign that's satisfying for me and long enough for everyone to develop their characters, but not something that's half a decade long.


Victoria Rules
Ideally, open-ended and slow-advancing enough to, if interest holds and the rules system doesn't collapse, last for the rest of my life.

In practice the good ones always make it past ten years. This of course means loads of character turnover and also less-frequent but still significant player turnover as time goes by. Interweaving parties and stories and dramas - think Game of Thrones style - where each "chapter" (adventure or adventure-series) might focus on a different party than the one before.

My current campaign is approaching 11.5 years. There's been a total of 12 players, not including the person who lasted for exactly one session, of which two have been in all the way through from start to now. Something like 200+ PCs have seen action, quite a few of which died quickly, a number more of which "sailed into the sunset" when their players left the game, and about 30-ish of which are still out there either currently* active or available to become so.

* - or would be were it not for disease-caused hiatus.