D&D General What's your Campaign Success Rate?

Reynard

Legend
I am curious how often, in a general sense, folks "complete" a campaign they begin (as a player of GM).

I decided NOT to make this a poll because defining "complete" and "campaign" and even "begin" can be a little fuzzy, so I am hoping folks explain their answers a little.

What I mean overall is if you decide to run through Stomr King's Thunder with a particular group, how often do you manage to succeed in doing so (complete the long form adventure, I mean)? Or, if you begin a new homebrew cmapign, how often do you play it for a relatively long time and reach a satisfying conclusion -- as opposed to it petering out early or ending in something less than satisfying.

I don't want to put a number of sessions or length of time on "campaign" but in my mind and purposes for this thread, it is something substantial. Sitting down to play Forge of Fury isn't a campaign, but playing through the entire Starter Set Lost Mines adventure might qualify. Playing through a Pathfinder AP, or Red Hand of Doom, or Curse of Strahd certainly would. Running a 6 month game where you only managed to get together 4 times for 4 hours each time probably doesn't count, but playing weekly for 8 weeks, 8 hours per session would in my opinion. Again, no hard and fast rules.

So, how often do you experience a "complete" campaign compared to those that don't go off so well? I think I probably hit about 50%. Usually the lack of success comes down to brunout more than anything else.

If I include my "convention campaigns" (usually 6 4-hour sessions at a con with a single ongoing story and many of the same players and characters) my success rate goes up substantially but I am not sure they qualify except when I continue them to include 2 conventions each (so 12 4 hour sessions).
 

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prabe

Aspiring Lurker (He/Him)
Supporter
After some time away from gaming as a hobby (as opposed to gaming as a way to socialize with friends) I got into 5E a few years after it launched. I started a campaign shortly thereafter, and I started a second campaign a little more than a year and a half later. Both campaigns are still ongoing, having moved (I hope temporarily) to Discord. Either that makes me not relevant to your question (neither campaign has "completed" yet) or it gives me a success rate of 100% (with a very small sample size).
 

So, how often do you experience a "complete" campaign compared to those that don't go off so well?

I've just been DMing the last few years, plus playing the occasional one-shot or convention game with my buddies. But my "completion rate" is 100%. My regular weekly group has played one homebrew FR Old Gray Box campaign to level 20, Storm King's Thunder with a fair amount of additional sandbox content, Dragon Heist and DotMM (the latter being more than two years, but they're finally on level 23!).
 

Laurefindel

Legend
Typically, if we can make it past the third session, it will make it to a satisfactory conclusion, even if it isn’t a definitive conclusion.

but my binder is full of characters that either never got to be played after session zero, or that never reached game #3, over a dozen different systems and settings.

as a player, my « success rate » must be about 20%, top. As a dm, more like 90%-ish. Overall, I’d say about 50/50.
 

Desdichado

Adventurer
Depends on the group. I used to play with a group where 60-70% of the "players" were would-be GMs, and so it was better for us to have modest campaign goals, because someone else was always itching to run something as soon as we were "done." That's a very different dynamic in lots of ways than what I gather is a more traditional environment, where there's usually only one main GM and maybe, if you're lucky, a backup who can jump in for a while if the main GM burns out or needs a break.
 

robus

Lowcountry Low Roller
Supporter
I’ve been lucky enough to finish all the campaigns I’ve started (so 3 total) though 2 were much shorter, but still tidy.
 

Stalker0

Legend
So the joke is my campaigns follow the reverse Star Trek movie rule.

Generally my odd numbered campaigns have all finished, and finished epically. My even number campaigns pewter out after 5ish sessions. I may have finally broken the stigma in my most recent one, we shall see!
 

Yonner

Explorer
I may be an outlier, but I'm at 100%.

I've started and completed more than a dozen campaigns since the start of 3rd edition. Some of them were short (Lost Mines x2, Dragon Heist x2), some medium (ToA levels 1-10, Curse of Strahd, multiple homebrews), and some were long (homebrew 1-18, Kingmaker 1-20, Age of Worms 1-20, Shackled City 1-20). Most of those were weekly and lasted a year or two, or three.

I've been a player in more than a few that collapsed, and I've DM'ed for a few groups that didn't last, but those were one-shots, or short arcs, and were not campaigns.

I usually run one-shots or short arcs for new groups, and if the group seems to really click, then I'll start a full campaign. That may boost my success rate. If the group doesn't seem compatible or likely to last, I won't start long campaigns with them.

I'm currently running two homebrew campaigns for two totally different groups, (one with my peers, one with the players being an all female high-school group). Both these I've already completed multiple campaigns with (the young group having completed just two - Lost Mines and Dragon Heist).
 

jasper

Rotten DM
Due the numbers of years I have played. I would be easier to count the ones I complete with only counting modules with a series greater than 2. 16 this includes books, and full AL seasons too.
Thinking. Thinking. Maybe 25%.
Edit to add.
This due to one or more of following. 7 players 6 DMs so we share sit which makes hard complete a 3 series module in a year. Group falling apart. Moving.
 
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payn

Legend
Using just Paizo PF1 adventure paths, its 50% for me. Most other campaigns I've been in never finish due to player/GM burn out.
 

Musing Mage

Pondering D&D stuff
5e stuff seems to be more of a mini-campaign set up where characters are meant to go from level 1 to 20 in one story, then start a new one. To me, a campaign is generally more long-term and ongoing with characters coming and going, choosing their own path.

I haven't ever done any 5e 'campaigns,' just a series of one-shots before the pandemic. But in my time gaming, I had a RIFTS campaign 25 years ago that lasted 3 years, a 2nd Ed AD&D campaign that went 18 years, and am currently running a 1st ed AD&D Campaign as my main game, which has been going for 8 years now.

So... 3? :unsure:
 

I've published two adventure paths based loosely on campaigns I ran. Both of them have been completed by multiple groups
So I think I have a completion rate of over 100%.

But for my own? Well, I am prone to planning long arcs, but with cutoffs for ending things in a satisfying way before then. Only a handful of groups have had sudden failures or groups falling apart.
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
For D&D 5e, my completion rate is 100%. We finish what we start because I plan on there being an ending (of some kind) and I design campaigns with real time considerations in mind.

I was less concerned with that sort of thing when I was playing past editions, so my completion rate is lower, but it's far enough back where I couldn't accurately give a percentage.
 

Oofta

Legend
The only kind-of-sort-of campaign that ended was when we merged one group into another because it was a "how do you play D&D" type game for people that were curious. There was never really any expectation of it being more than that though, I just volunteered to DM for a people at my wife's work.

Other than that, campaigns have occasionally ended at a logical conclusion point (back when there was no level limit) or because I moved.
 

Weird Dave

Explorer
Publisher
I have been playing and DMing for over 25 years, and my personal record for campaign completion is ... not great. Like, at all. In those 25 years, I have been running games near constantly, usually weekly or bimonthly, though a few periods saw more or less. During that time, I had one straight campaign in AD&D 2E that went to completion (a homebrew personal campaign that was itself a mashup of Dragonlance and a few other elements), from 1st level to about 9th level. Between that my group would play a lot of one-off adventure modules, run by myself or other players, and the characters from those were persistent - though the setting wasn't!

Eventually that "between" campaign morphed into Greyhawk and I pushed it through to complete Return to the Tomb of Horrors. They then progressed into the Bloodstone series since they were all about 15th level, and the completion of those adventures I consider the end to that "campaign." When 3E rolled around I bought a lot of d20 material - like A LOT. Too much to run in all honesty. During this early 2000s period we played a lot of adventures but rarely was the term campaign considered. Eventually I ran several of the D&D "campaign" adventures, from Sunless Citadel up through to Heart of Nightfang Spire - but we didn't finish it.

Towards the end of the 3E era I ran the Age of Worms campaign adventures pretty much from start to finish, probably the longest single string of adventures in a storyline I've every ran. They finished, we dabbled in other game systems for awhile, and then 5E rolled out. My own player group wobbled a bit here and there so I focused mainly on AL stuff, at conventions and then at my local game store (The Source in Minnesota FTW!). I ran Dragon Heist to completion there that transitioned to Dungeon of the Mad Mage for a bit.

About 3 years ago I started up a campaign with my personal group with the intention of running Storm King's Thunder. I started with Legacy of the Crystal Shard and we had a blast, and then it moved into SKT heavily - and then bam, COVID hit and derailed the whole thing just as the party reached Maelstrom. I invested heavily in miniatures so I was loathe to move to online play for this campaign, but I did start up a new online game running a homebrew campaign focused on the planes I hope to polish up and release on the DMsGuild.

We picked up SKT recently and have only one session left (I relented and went online with it) and the planar campaign is at the one session left as well. Assuming both can get pushed past the finish line, my completion rate over 25 years is like ... 5 campaigns? 6 maybe? Doesn't mean I haven't had fun with it, and I'm looking forward to doing even more in the future!
 

Retreater

Legend
It's hard to know based on the obscene number of campaigns I've started over the years, but that should give you an indication. I'd say probably 5-10% have reached a satisfying conclusion. Of the ones that don't conclude well, I'd say about it's 50/50 between ending due to a TPK or lack of interest.

Since I started playing in the late 1980s, I can name the campaigns that ended with a satisfying conclusion.
2e: A homebrew campaign, the first I ran for my group.
3.x/PF: None
4e: None
Call of Cthulhu: Masks of Nyarlahotep
Dungeon World: 2 (admittedly short) homebrew campaigns
5e: Storm King's Thunder (heavily altered), Curse of Strahd, Tomb of Annihilation
 

jgsugden

Legend
As a DM, about 90%. I define completion as running as long (or at least nearly as long) as I indicate to the players when we start. I typically will tell the players whether we're doing a one shot, an adventure (covering 3 to 20 sessions), or a campaign (anything longer). When they fail to complete, it has been because of player loss, as opposed to in game reasons (with one exception). People stop playing due to time commitments, people moving, people ending a relationship with a fellow player and the table 'taking sides', etc.... I've only had one game, that I can recall at least, that ended because the game itself sucked - and that was entirely my fault. I built a game system for that game and the system was too convoluted for those players, and dealt with a theme that I sprung on them as a surprise that did not interest them, at all.

As a player, 20%. Most games fizzle away. 9 of my last 10 campaigns/adventures as a player ended prior to completion. When a game that I'm in as a player reaches a true high level completion, I usually buy the DM a nice gift.
 

Burnside

Space Jam Confirmed
Supporter
When I was playing as a kid 1986-1994, we had one huge homebrew campaign that lasted 5 or 6 years and then petered out with no real ending when we left for college, a couple of others that lasted maybe a year, and a ton of others that lasted like 3 sessions or less.

Cue no D&D for me from 1994-2017.

Since 2017 (all 5E), most campaigns have either been completed or are still in progress:

As a DM:
  • Lost Mine of Phandelver into AL season 4 adventures into Curse of Strahd, ending with the end of CoS. - COMPLETE
  • Waterdeep: Dragon Heist - ended after a few sessions due to schedule issues - INC
  • Dragon of Icespire Peak - COMPLETE, though we had plans to continue into the sequels but haven't as of yet
  • Loose drop-in homebrew campaign that included starting with Sunless Citadel. Petered out after maybe 12 sessions due to scheduling issues - INC
  • Lost Mine into Curse of Strahd (different group) - IN PROGRESS, will be completed. They are level 7 and have done literally everything in CoS except the Werewolf Den and Castle Ravenloft. Playing weekly since August 2019, two hour sessions.
  • Lost Mine (different group, pro DMing) - IN PROGRESS. They're probably 2 sessions away from finishing it, after which we're going to transition into Icewind Dale: Rime of the Frostmaide and I'll need to rebalance everything
  • Waterdeep: Dungeon of the Mad Mage (pro DMing) - IN PROGRESS. We're 11 sessions in and loving it, but tbh it seems hard to believe we'd ever finish it just due to its nature. They're on level 2 of 23 for the dungeon. This feels very much like a Covid-spawned campaign that may or may not outlast Covid.

As a Player:
  • Somebody's dreadful homebrew campaign that lasted probably only like 8 sessions but felt like thousands - COMPLETE
  • Tomb of Annihilation - COMPLETE
  • Baldur's Gate: Descent into Avernus - IN PROGRESS, 8 sessions in. Will likely complete it as it's a podcast.
 

UngainlyTitan

Legend
Supporter
So I have been gaming and DMing for over 40 years but for the most of that time I have lived in an area with very few gamers. So most campaigns I managed locally never got far before people moving away for work or college ended them. This changed about 6 years ago when I persuaded a bunch of old college mates to play online.
Started out with a modified version of the "Palace of the Silver Princess", that started with 2 TPK's but then we got going and after the party moved to Princes of the Apocalypse, They completed that, with a long break when my internet could not cope with hosting a VTT, and they wanted to try High level play so I dropped them in Undermountain. Still there but I just gave them a Deck of Many Things. Now sorting the aftermath of that.
 

One, I think. The only campaign I had that had a defined ending was when I was a teenager and we were all headed off to college. Everything after that in about 25 years of gaming hasn't had a pre-defined ending point.
 

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