Living Campaigns

There have been about a jillion. In rough order off the top of my head:
Living City (Ravens Bluff in the Forgotten Realms, late 1e AD&D->3e D&D; there were also some spin-offs (Ruins of Ravens Bluff, some other things))
Virtual Seattle (Shadowrun--I think 2e, but I can't remember)
Living Jungle (Jakandor, in the Realms (i think?); 2e AD&D)
Living Death (Masque of the Red Death AD&D 2e, later D&D 3e variant)
Threads of Legend (Earthdawn 1e)
Brethren of the Coast? (I don't know, Rolemaster or something, a pirate setting)
Living Galaxy (Alternity, I think?)
Aphonion Tales (a very small living style game, Skills and Powers AD&D 2e, in a homebrew campaign)
Living Force (Star Wars (d20), don't recall which era)
Living Greyhawk (3e D&D, Greyhawk)
Living Arcanis (3e D&D, Greyhawk)
Blackmoor MMRPG
Legacy of the Green Regent? (I think this was a Forgotten Realms 3e D&D campaign?)
There was some Living Eberron game, but I don't know basically anything about it.
Living Rokugan (Rokugan; I don't remember if this was D&D 3e OA or L5R rules; actually, there may have been both?)
Shadowrun Missions? (I think this was a later Shadowrun living campaign)
Living Realms
Pathfinder Adventures (or whatever the name is for the Pathfinder living campaign in the default Pathfinder world)
Ashes of Athas (D&D 4e Dark Sun)
Living Divine (D&D 4e, proprietary game world)
Is there a Hackmaster living campaign?

I'm also aware of a handful of very small Living style campaigns--I think there was an Ars Magica one announced, but I never actually saw a con it was running at; there was a Men in Black campaign (Operation: [Redacted], or something like that), but I think that was basically one guy at a handful of cons? Also, I guess you could consider the old Torg Infiniverse as kinda a proto-living campaign.

I'm sure I missed a couple of big ones, and the list is probably out of order, but...
 
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Oh, and it's worth mentioning that both the FLAILSNAILS convention (Playing D&D With Porn Stars: The FLAILSNAILS Conventions) and the Tekumel equivalent have some resemblance to some of the goals of a Living campaign, although those are really more about letting PCs migrate between multiple games with some consistency rather than the living campaign model per se. Also, some individual GMs who run games for large numbers of players have run things on the same scale as the smallest Living campaigns--Gygax's Greyhawk campaign would certainly qualify, but other examples (like the West Marches campaign) would also probably pass the smallest Living campaigns in terms of numbers of distinct PCs, amount of games played, total active players, etc.
 

havard

Explorer
Wow I had no idea there were so many!

Also, wasnt there a Living Kalamar?

Living Jungle (Jakandor, in the Realms (i think?); 2e AD&D)
Living Jungle is Malatra (Realms, yeah). Jakandor is a different setting (Part of the AD&D Odyssey Line), but didnt have Living Campaign AFAIK.

-Havard
 

darjr

I crit!
There was a short run of living traveller. Only four mods and I don't think they are available anymore.
 
Oh, you're right about the Malatra/Jakandor thing--I got the name of the minor setting wrong. I knew more about the campaign than the details of the setting. And you're right about Kalamar--it was Living Kingdoms of Kalamar, then Legends of Kalamar. It may be defunct (website says last updated 2006!), but I'm not sure, and I don't know when it was active.
 

havard

Explorer
Thanks for the input on this guys! I had no idea there were so many Living Campaigns.

-Havard
 

Erik Mona

Visitor
Two early spinoffs of the RPGA's Living City campaign were the Living City of Sarbreenar, a smaller UK-based self-contained campaign set in a small town south of Raven's Bluff. To my knowledge, this campaign petered out about the time Living Greyhawk came out, so it's possible that it never had an official third edition version.

The most successful (and one of the longest-running Living-style campaigns of all time) was called the Living City of Procampur, later Legends of the Shining Jewel. This started as a campaign arc in Living City meant to be played with "fresh" new characters under the LC rules (and explicitly set in the Vast of the Forgotten Realms geographically near Raven's Bluff), and eventually grew into its own independent campaign. I believe, but do not know for sure, that the folks who continue to run the Shining Jewel campaign have some kind of license or at least gentlemen's agreement to continue to use the Procampur location, even though most (all?) formal ties with Wizards of the Coast ended years ago.

Paradigm Concepts runs another successful long-running campaign, originally titled Living Arcanis. Living Arcanis grew from a time of mutual cooperation between the RPGA network and other game publishers. This spawned Virtual Seattle, the first non-D&D RPGA-sponsored campaign, and continued throughout the second edition AD&D period and through the first few years of third edition. Paradigm had created Arcanis as a setting for adventures and setting material using the third edition rules under the d20 License. (Living Kalamar, from Kenzer and Company, appeared at about this time, during the height of the "d20 Boom").

Living Arcanis is now known as Legends of Arcanis, and it now uses Paradigm's original Arcanis roleplaying game. The campaign is perhaps most notable for its creation of the "Battle Interactive" concept, in which a whole room of tables participates in a large-scale event like a war or siege, all while sitting around tables with their own GMs. So successful has this format become that an earlier poster to this thread essentially described them as a general summary of what an "interactive" is all about.

Prior to Living Arcanis, most (if not all) interactives involved players wandering around a room with several "activity booths," occasional mini-adventures, and other non-adventure opportunities. The idea (though not wholly the practice) was that once you stepped into an interactive, you "were" your character, and in-character chatter was highly encouraged. Many NPCs (volunteer judges in improvisational mode) dressed in character, and a small number of players did, as well. Typical interactive activities might include fortune telling, buying property, enlisting in a knighthood, jousting, a strong-man contest (ability check rolls, essentially, winner gets some kind of unique magic item, etc.)

Many interactive activities were rewarded with a special certificate you kept with your character and referenced when used in a normal game session. If a bad fortune gave you a gypsy curse, for example, you might get a "cert" explaining the effects of the curse on your character. The Living Death campaign was infamous for giving out completely nasty character-risking curses tinged with so much cool roleplaying potential that avid players actually sought them out. Most certs were beneficial, and because they were designed by amateur game designers and edited under breakneck conditions, they were sometimes VERY beneficial. Which is to say "broken".

In the early Living Campaigns, a more or less unique "cert" was the chase-card of the whole experience. All avid players played the same modules (often ALL of the same modules), and the normal equipment sort of had a mundane feel to it. It was the Christmas Tree effect in practice. At one point in the Living City campaign, you could be reasonably certain that all high-level fighters had a +3 longsword, a +3 short sword, an amulet of life protection (the token of any LC addict), a cloak of protection, etc. Anything more powerful than (or at least different than) the standard always raised eyebrows when deployed by a player at the table, and it kept the thing interesting.

So interactives were basically special cert factories, where people stood in line and got some sort of more or less unique certificate in exchange for some bit of roleplaying and greater immersion in the setting. It was all cloaked in the very entertaining allure of an in-character atmosphere, but a huge part of the popularity of the early interactives had to do with certs.

Frankly speaking, a huge part of the popularity of the Living City campaign itself had to do with certs, and this aspect of the campaign eventually became its undoing. Off to the side at many interactives, players traded certs with one another to get equipment more suitable for their character. The ability to interact and trade with with hundreds of different gamers with different needs to optimize their characters (or to simply have fun with some interesting item) was a major draw to the interactives, and one of their major benefits for a lot of players.

This created an economy for the campaign, and for some players that economy almost became the point of the game. This created a huge gulf in the power level between the haves and the have nots, which turned off a lot of new players. The volunteers who wrote the modules and who often organized the events often had the most powerful and most monty haulish characters, so eventually the narrative of the campaign and many of its special features catered to the interests of these players, which was alienating to a lot of beginner players (and killed them with too-challenging encounters).

The biggest cert-related problem for Living City came with the advent of Third Edition D&D. This forced an existential crisis for the campaign, which had to decide to essentially "start over" with the new rules, or convert everyone's wealth and special certificates from second edition to third. This involved a titanic mail-in database effort that involved cataloging thousands and thousands of magic items and converting them to third edition. This was EARLY in the edition, and all of the conversions were done by volunteers still getting their heads around the new edition themselves. Others will have to chime in with their own impressions, but mine was that the conversion effort, though impressive in that it actually happened at all (and that it happened as a result of a fan vote that decided what to do), added to the sense of bloat and general out of control nature of the campaign (which was a little older than a decade at this point).

In any event, the campaign's successor, Living Greyhawk, started with the Living City "cert" structure, but almost immediately transitioned to an "adventure record" style format that has become more standard (and which allows less or no trading between characters, thus eliminating the shadow economy that was the double-bladed Stormbringer sword of Living City).

By the time Living Greyhawk was in full swing, Wizards of the Coast had licensed the Living City campaign to Ryan Dancey's startup, Organized Play. The campaign limped along for a while, but ultimately collapsed under its own weight shortly thereafter (taking Organized Play with it).

And that's enough for tonight's episode of Off the Top of My Head Theater.
 

pgmason

Visitor
Sarbreenar certainly didn't stop when 3e came out. It ran right up to the release of 4e, and they still have occasional events.
 

Alphastream

Adventurer
Living Force (Star Wars (d20), don't recall which era)

Living Arcanis (3e D&D, Greyhawk)

Legacy of the Green Regent? (I think this was a Forgotten Realms 3e D&D campaign?)

There was some Living Eberron game, but I don't know basically anything about it.

Living Rokugan (Rokugan; I don't remember if this was D&D 3e OA or L5R rules; actually, there may have been both?)

Shadowrun Missions? (I think this was a later Shadowrun living campaign)

Living Realms
Good list! And thanks to those mentioning Ashes and the page I'm maintaining on D&D organized play. I'll try to add/clarify a few:

Living Force was d20 in the 00's, but there was a semi-organized play campaign called Dawn of Defiance using the SAGA rules. It was not very well supported (but did have 9 or so very large adventures) but did run at conventions.

Living Arcanis recently started back up, using its own rules. It seems to be gathering a small following (especially the old Arcanis fans).

Correct on Green Regent.

The Eberron campaigns include Mark of Heroes and Xendrik Expeditions, both using 3E.

Living Rokugan should be Heroes of Rokugan and began with the d20 version during those days and then moved to a second campaign with 3rd edition (d10 as in the original rules) and 3rd edition Revised, and then has now a current third campaign using 4th edition (also d10).

Shadowrun Missions is current and has had several campaign arcs based around cities (Denver, New York, etc.). The latest 4th edition is supported.

Living Realms is actually Living Forgotten Realms and is 4E, being WotC's main living campaign since the launch of 4E (though now managed separately rather than directly by WotC).

Legends of the Shining Jewel is d20 Pathfinder compatible.

Pathfinder is called Pathfinder Society.

Living Spycraft (d20 1st ed Spycraft) later became Spymaster (2E Spycraft) but has seen little progress since LSpy was first canceled. However, many adventures were converted and are available free).

Wyrmstone is the campaign for FantasyCraft, but also is very quiet.

Living Planar was a short-lived 3E campaign that ran into legal issues.

Witch Hunter: Dark Providence was a Witch Hunter campaign in the late? 00s.
 

Alphastream

Adventurer
My browser had this page cached, so I didn't see your excellent post until I posted. Thanks for sharing all of that! We need a better cataloging of the history of organized play. More!

Living Arcanis is now known as Legends of Arcanis, and it now uses Paradigm's original Arcanis roleplaying game. The campaign is perhaps most notable for its creation of the "Battle Interactive" concept, in which a whole room of tables participates in a large-scale event like a war or siege, all while sitting around tables with their own GMs. So successful has this format become that an earlier poster to this thread essentially described them as a general summary of what an "interactive" is all about.
My recollection is that Arcanis started later than 2002, by which time various regions of Living Greyhawk had already experimented with battle interactives (I recall one in Veluna, for example). Am I recalling incorrectly? I think of Arcanis as having, for many gamers, perfected the idea of a mass scale battle but that no particular component was especially unique as compared to LG (or at least, no more unique than the BIs across LG regions). Sean Molley would know, I guess, so maybe I'll ask him. A great question would be which region had the first BI for LG and how that came about.

Prior to Living Arcanis, most (if not all) interactives involved players wandering around a room with several "activity booths," occasional mini-adventures, and other non-adventure opportunities. The idea (though not wholly the practice) was that once you stepped into an interactive, you "were" your character, and in-character chatter was highly encouraged. Many NPCs (volunteer judges in improvisational mode) dressed in character, and a small number of players did, as well. Typical interactive activities might include fortune telling, buying property, enlisting in a knighthood, jousting, a strong-man contest (ability check rolls, essentially, winner gets some kind of unique magic item, etc.)
This was deliberately removed from 4E play. I believe Chris Tulach (but perhaps an LFR campaign admin) stated that Wizards made the decision to remove any emphasis on LARP-style play as they believed it to be bad marketing/press. No silly people running around in costumes. A real shame, if you ask me, and I think it really removed an important player demographic (and source of creativity) from D&D organized play.

We can still see this in some organized play, notably Heroes of Rokugan (at Gen Con there is often a separate diplomatic and battle interactive where a player cannot play both); that both are relatively equally attended proves the strength of the appeal of each and the existence of the demographic that likes these LARP elements in interactives. Even in the battle interactive it is common to have 1-3 players at your table in elaborate costume. Other organized play has typically done without this LARP angle, even when campaigns might have separate LARP activities (Living Spycraft had a LARP event at Gen Con, but it wasn't part of the living campaign and you practically never saw an LSpy player dressed up).

In the early Living Campaigns, a more or less unique "cert" was the chase-card of the whole experience.
Certificate trading was a major part for the "living" tag, and I enjoyed reading your account. I'm curious how you feel about certs today. Can they be used to good effect in campaigns? Pathfinder Society seems to use various aspects of this (such as race unlocks). Have we learned enough to identify some right ways to use certs?
 
Sarbreenar certainly didn't stop when 3e came out. It ran right up to the release of 4e, and they still have occasional events.

I belive they were sent a ceast and desist for not being authorised to use the FR setting by WoTC.. after 10 odd years of using it..

I collect the various games in these "living" settings.. some of my notes with links bit out of date.. Lining Traveller, Living Glorantha.. also appreaded for a short while,, Living Devine is actve at the moment.. think missed one.. Living Dark sun?..

WOTC/RPGA-sponsored Living campaigns:
  • Living Forgotten Realms: Announced at Gen Con 2007, this campaign was launched at GenCon 2008. LFR uses D&D 4th edition rules and is set in the Forgotten Realms campaign setting.
Non-RPGA Campaigns
There are many campaigns that are run either by the members or by non-WOTC companies responsible for the game world. Some of them were at one time part of the RPGA.
  • Dave Arneson's Blackmoor: Campaign set in the "original D&D setting" updated to 3.5 edition. http://www.dablackmoor.com/
  • Fellowship of the White Star: A semi-historic horror campaign set in the Edwardian era from 1905-1914. Focuses on investigation and role-play rather than combat. Run by Thenodrin Presents, LLC. Premiered at Origins 2007.
  • Living Arcanis: A d20 System campaign set in the world of Onara. No longer part of the RPGA as of 2007. http://www.livingarcanis.com/ & http://www.onaraonline.org/
  • Living Kingdom of Kalamar: A medieval fantasy setting set in Kenzer & Company's Kingdoms of Kalamar.
  • Legends of the Shining Jewel: A D&D 3.5 edition campaign set in its own high fantasy campaign world. Its originally was an expansion of the Living City campaign known as Living Procampur, but was redesigned into a custom setting when RPGA withdrew support of the campaign after the end of Living City. http://www.theshiningjewel.com/lsj/index.htm
  • Fellowship of the White Star: A semi-historic horror campaign set in the Edwardian era from 1905-1914. Focuses on investigation and role-play rather than combat. Run by Thenodrin Presents, LLC. Premiered at Origins 2007.
  • Heroes of Rokugan/Champions of the Emerald Empire: Uses the Legend of the Five Rings Roleplaying Game. http://livingmercenaries.net/phpbb2/viewtopic.php?t=1038
  • Living Planar: Mixes all types of settings using D&D 3.5 edition rules into a dark planar setting. Character creation generally begins at 14th level. http://games.groups.yahoo.com/group/LP-Talk/
  • Iron Kingdoms: Chronicles of Immoren: A new campaign in the planning stages using the setting published by Privateer Press A new campaign in the planning stages using the setting published by Louis Porter Jr. Design
  • Shadowrun Missions: Uses the Shadowrun 4.0 Roleplaying Game. http://www.shadowrun4.com/missions/
  • Thardferr: One of the first Dungeons and Dragons Online Living Campaigns, set in a unique and detailed fantasy world.
  • The 13 Kingdoms: D&D 3.5 created and run by ex-players from both Thardferr, Living Web, and other online campaigns.
  • Gathis: A multi edition Dungeons and Dragons campaign set in a unique world. http://www.gathis.com/PHP-Nuke-7.5/html/index.php
  • Witch Hunter : Dark Providence: Uses the Witch Hunter rules and setting, also from Paradigm Concepts. http://darkprovidence.net/
  • Dragonmouth: A campaign started by the people behind Sarbreenar after that campaign was forcibly ceased by Wizards of the Coast. Uses the Iron Heroes rules. HugeDomains.com - DragonMouth.com is for Sale (Dragon Mouth)
  • Lihr: A small, UK only, campaign using the Sword & Sorcery Scared Lands campaign setting. http://www.lihr.org.uk/
  • For Queen & Country: A UK only campaign started after Crafty Games announced that Living Spycraft was ceasing. Uses the Spycraft v1 rules. http://www.fqc.co.uk/
  • Living Mercenaries: Campaign for the Megaversal system, and Rifts in particular. http://livingmercenaries.net/phpbb2/viewtopic.php?t=1038
  • Wyrmstone: High adventure, ships sailing in clouds, multiple worlds to explore and deep player involvement. Wyrmstone is the organized play campaign for Fantasycraft. http://wyrmstone.org/x/page/
  • Spymaster: The Spymaster campaign is community run and independent of Crafty Games but still uses the most recent Spycraft rules. Living Spycraft characters can be directly converted for play in Spymaster. http://spymaster.org/x/page/
  • Living Blakfyre http://blakfyre.com/?q=node/4250
Extinct Campaigns
The following campaigns are no longer in existence or have ended but still have adventures available:
  • Living Death: A second edition AD&D (later converted to d20 System) campaign set in the Victorian era, based on the Ravenloft expansion called Masque of the Red Death. Its finale premiered in February 2007. http://livingdeath.org/ & http://www.kargatane.com/
  • Living Force: A d20 Star Wars RPG campaign. This campaign was designed to have a 5-year run, starting in January 2001, its finale premiered in January 2006. It was originally set in the time period just after ' and moved forward late in Year 2 of the Campaign to just after '.
  • Living City: Set in the Forgotten Realms campaign setting
  • Living Jungle: Set in the Forgotten Realms campaign setting
  • Virtual Seattle: Used the Shadowrun rules and setting by FASA
  • Living Spycraft: A world of espionage using the Spycraft d20 System rules, managed by Crafty Games.
  • Living Verge: Used the Alternity rules system and Star*Drive setting by TSR
  • Living Rokugan: Used the Legend of the Five Rings Roleplaying Game. It has since become an independent campaign known as Heroes of Rokugan
  • Legacy of the Green Regent: A D&D campaign set in the Forgotten Realms. Its finale premiered in January 2005.
  • Living Greyhawk: A D&D campaign set in the world of Greyhawk.
  • Xen'drik Campaigns: A campaign-style game set in the Eberron setting, first appearing at Origins 2006 and officially launched at Gen Con 2006.
  • Mark of Heroes: A D&D campaign set in Eberron. Its finale premiered in February 2007.
  • Sarbreenar: A UK "spin-off" from the US-based Living City campaign, set in the Forgotten Realms campaign setting. Ran for over 10 years before being told to cease by Wizards of the Coast so that they could launch their own, world-wide, Forgotten Realms campaign setting
 

PCIHenry

Visitor
Hello,

My recollection is that Arcanis started later than 2002, by which time various regions of Living Greyhawk had already experimented with battle interactives (I recall one in Veluna, for example). Am I recalling incorrectly?
Living Arcanis launched in March of 2001 (or so) and we had out first Battle Interactive, The Battle of Semar, was held at Winter Fantasy 2003.

While I can't speak as to when LG had their first Battle Interactive, we were told by many people in the RPGA that they hadn't seen anything like it.

As for the Arcanis Campaign, it has never stopped and only shifted gears from the d20 rules to our current rule set. We've held one or two BI's and LARPS every year since its inception, due to their popularity, with two BIs scheduled this year at Origins and another at Gen Con 2012.

One of the reasons for the Campaign's popularity is that the player's actions have a direct effect on the campaign world and events. This has been our policy since day one and continues to this day.

As mentioned in another post, we also run a Living style campaign for our Witch Hunter: The Invisible World, swashbuckling-horror game.

As for Arcanis having a "small" following, we have a couple of thousand registered players across the world, so we're doing alright, IMO. :)

Thanks to Erik Mona for his kind words above. I missed this thread the first go around.

Best,
 

Alphastream

Adventurer
think missed one.. Living Dark sun?..
There is no "Living Dark Sun", though there was a group that tried to start something under that name. The campaign is Ashes of Athas, and is run by Baldman Games with help from Wizards of the Coast.

Several on your list aren't really active. I'm not sure at which point we call something extinct. For example, SpyMaster is ostensibly active, but I don't know of any games being run for it in years. Living Planar did not run for very long, especially since it ran into legal issues. Are people really playing Kalamar in any real numbers? Blackmoor? A possible measure would be whether there is an active administration for the campaign, as it is always possible to dig up a few individuals that might be running a game; having active admins is an entirely different thing. Also, I would tend to think that a campaign needs to be fully legal. Living Greyhawk has some people running games and even editing/writing stuff, but I would not call that an active campaign. (No offense meant to anyone, just trying to propose some way to measure an active campaign)
 
Just as a bit of history trivia, there was a battle interactive in the Keoland region of Living Greyhawk at a convention in the fall of 2000. I don't remember the convention's name--it was in Cherry Hill, N.J. I remember because I wrote the module that the battle interactive was essentially a sequel to. There were also I think a very small number of pitched battle wargames in Living City that might have been sorta like a battle interactive; I phrase it that way because I didn't play in or see any of them, so I don't know. But I think LG had the first battle interactives at a regional level, but my impression is that Living Arcanis popularized the concept. Really, it's unsurprising that in a period of Living innovation, people came up with similar concepts.
 

Alphastream

Adventurer
Living Arcanis launched in March of 2001 (or so) and we had out first Battle Interactive, The Battle of Semar, was held at Winter Fantasy 2003.

While I can't speak as to when LG had their first Battle Interactive, we were told by many people in the RPGA that they hadn't seen anything like it.
Hi Henry! Certainly well before 2003. There were LG Interactives in 2000 - in fact, the very first LG event, Legacy of Valor, was actually a pre-LG event to kick off the campaign. It took place in Geoff and was an incredible battle interactive (including an incredible exodus from the capital of Gorna and determined the fate of many NPCs and factions and gave birth to Legacy descendents that were amongst the most active players for years). The first LG interactive I attended was in 2001, though I missed several that had taken place before I became an addict!

That doesn't mean everyone was aware of interactives. Some gamers never go to cons. And, for sure, Arcanis was very influential in certain styles of battle interactives. The idea of PCs nominating themselves for suicide missions was likely first seen with Arcanis! And I think the scale of some BIs seen at Origins or Gen Con was very influential - particularly because some LG admins played Arcanis (they couldn't play LG while being an admin).

As for Arcanis having a "small" following, we have a couple of thousand registered players across the world, so we're doing alright, IMO. :)
No slight meant! Arcanis is clearly doing things well, since several of my DC-area friends are playing again. I'll be playing as soon as I get a chance!
 

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