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

Zardnaar

Legend
Campaign I pulled plug in lasted around 7 months but I let them restart at level 7 which they reached.

Previous one was 8 months and Covid lockdown got it.
 

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Delazar

Adventurer
I'm thinking 90% or more complete/successful, especially if I DM.

I used to DM two-three years long campaigns, but lately I prefer shorter campaigns

here they are, if you're interested in details
 

John R Davis

Explorer
Just looking at the 5e HBs

HOTDQ. Completed twice
SKT. Completed
COS. Completed
GOS. Completed, and half completed.
DH. Completed but rushed as I really didn't like it
BG:A. Dumped as I really, really didn't like it.
ROTFM. About 8 pages from the end
 

Reynard

Legend
Just looking at the 5e HBs

HOTDQ. Completed twice
SKT. Completed
COS. Completed
GOS. Completed, and half completed.
DH. Completed but rushed as I really didn't like it
BG:A. Dumped as I really, really didn't like it.
ROTFM. About 8 pages from the end
Just out of pure curiosity -- were these all with the same group of players? Were the run in succession or concurrently?
 

nevin

Adventurer
For me campaigns are long drawn out stories. I think ive had groups finish thier stories 3 or 4 times. Usually they becomd NPC's. And next game picks up in the near future. 1 to 15 years usually
 

Emerikol

Adventurer
100%??

I mean we all decide at some point that we are at a good stopping point. I've had groups that had to disband because of external factors I suppose but that is very rare. So my campaigns in the old days ran years. Even now, they'd run a year at least or longer. Maybe I don't understand the question.
 

Reynard

Legend
100%??

I mean we all decide at some point that we are at a good stopping point. I've had groups that had to disband because of external factors I suppose but that is very rare. So my campaigns in the old days ran years. Even now, they'd run a year at least or longer. Maybe I don't understand the question.
Sometimes we plan a campaign -- open ended or with an expresarc or time limit -- but it doesn't go off. The group breaks up, or interest wanes, or their is an unsatisfying TPK, or any number of other things that can kill it before its natural and satisfying conclusion. It isn't a question of "did you have fun" -- you can have an unsuccessful campaign where everyone had fun, and even a successful one that people kind of hate-played.
 

Emerikol

Adventurer
Sometimes we plan a campaign -- open ended or with an expresarc or time limit -- but it doesn't go off. The group breaks up, or interest wanes, or their is an unsatisfying TPK, or any number of other things that can kill it before its natural and satisfying conclusion. It isn't a question of "did you have fun" -- you can have an unsuccessful campaign where everyone had fun, and even a successful one that people kind of hate-played.
I guess I never plan an ending for any of my campaigns. So there is that. I would say my group just tends to decide that it's time to end one and prepare at some point to start another. I'm as likely, more likely actually, to be the one thinking it's time for another campaign. I will add though that a new campaign might just be a new group in the same campaign setting (probably a different sandbox). Sometimes I fast forward time a bit and sometimes I don't. So the old PCs become NPCs in the new campaign.

I usually feel good about most campaigns like they were a "success". I did end the 4e campaign early because I was beginning to hate the system and wanted to play something different.
 


Ath-kethin

Elder Thing
I've been playing and running D&D since 1994; the number of campaign arcs that I've successfully completed is immense. Full campaigns? A much smaller proportion, depending on how you count them.

For example, my weekly game just hit an awesome climax (complete with nail-biting tension featuring a character being savaged by spells at close range while repeatedly missing on attack rolls, only to land a natural 20 just at the crucial moment). If we just ended there, everyone would call that campaign a success, but why stop there? The newly defeated villain has friends' allies, and accomplices, and the players still have their own goals to fulfill.

So is that a campaign completed successfully, a campaign still ongoing, or a campaign that's unsuccessful?

In other games, such as HeroQuest, the "completion" rate has been much higher; we've worked through like 4 or 5 of the Quest Books and are still heading through another. Of course, those are the same characters all along, so maybe that's another "ongoing" or "not completed" example.
 


Mannahnin

Adventurer
My first long term campaign, in the very early 90s, when we were teenagers in Seattle my brother and I played in Raven McKracken's Synnibarr game and our characters did make it to godhood and adventured a bit beyond that. By any reasonable standard that game reached a satisfying end, though it was open-ended. Raven did a great job making our godquest dramatic and giving us a fine sendoff before we moved back to the East coast.

After that, in college and beyond I played with a couple of different GMs, playing 2nd Ed AD&D and Vampire mostly, with occasionally GURPS or something mixed in, and our completion rate was quite low. One GM friend had high concept games but not a ton of organizational skill and perhaps got overambitious with how many of the (somewhat flaky) crew of friends we played with that he invited, so we were not able to hold any of his games together very long. Six to ten sessions at most, to my recollection.

The other GM was a fountain of creativity, but not all of his concepts really "took" with the players, and sometimes he'd get bored with an idea after a few sessions and come up with another game concept. I think he did run 2-3 multi-year campaigns to completion in that time, but I only played in one of them. And thinking back on it, I don't know if it really "completed" in the sense of coming to a satisfying narrative end for everyone, but it did come to an end and we did think back on it fondly.

In the same era I think we had one abortive game run by another friend, and two deliberate "mini-series" games of 4-6 sessions run by another, which went off fine but I don't think count for a full campaign. So personally, for myself in the 90s, it was two out of dozens.

I didn't play tabletop RPGs for a few years, then some older wargaming buddies wanted to start a game once 3rd ed came out, and in the 3rd-5th ed era my rates have been substantially better.

I ran a short campaign of my own in 3E, but while it did complete the first planned "arc", I wouldn't say it was a complete campaign. My wargaming buddies were more successful, though. Our first 3E game went from 4th level to 20th, and came to a climactic story end fighting demon foes. Our next two 3E games transitioned to 3.5 and went all the way from 1st to 17th or 18th and came to reasonable ends. We had two or three campaigns go for a bit but lose steam and be abandoned when the DM lost motivation, sometimes because of a clash of expectations with rest of the players. Once 4E came out one of that crew ran a game which made it nearly to epic tier but petered out. I also ran one from 1st up into paragon but the group wound up dissolving. For that group, it was closer to 50%.

I had a second group which overlapped that one; we had another 3.5 game run from 1st to about 17th, and came to a satisfying story end. This group wound up semi-melding with the prior group, and had a great run. Another 3.5 game up into the teens and a satisfying conclusion, a 3.5 game another DM ran which didn't work, and then four different 4E games which ran all the way up to Epic conclusions. One a full 1-30 run where we concluded with my Daggermaster/Epic Trickster Rogue slaying Vecna, wielding the Sword of Kas in the Hand of Vecna! The other three started at 11th, but again went the distance, to big finales at or near 30th level. I think I played in two other games in that period which didn't really work out, so the rate for that group and period was 66%.

Since then we've had a 5E game go from 8th to 20th, with suitable dramatic conclusion, and I've played in a 4th ed game my brother ran from 1-10, which went on planned hiatus at a suitable story conclusion. The plan was for a timeskip and pickup again, but one player had to bow out, and we never wound up recruiting another and picking it up again. I'm still going to count that as completed; it had a good run and told a full story. I ran a 5E game for a year and a half which went up to 8th before going on hiatus at the choice of the players, because the player of one of the central/most active characters was going to grad school. We did complete two solid arcs in that game, but had started a third in earnest and were leading up to a big dragon battle, as the PCs sought a cure for a curse they were under in an ancient shrine the dragon had taken over. I'm not counting that one finished. Since that one I've mostly been playing in open-table OSR stuff online, and running a 5TD/B/X mashup for about a year now. Those I don't think really count for this; they're all mostly episodic dungeon delving. Though my game has largely settled into two small steady groups, and I'm leaning toward more plot and continuity for them, so perhaps those guys will get resolution/endings. One of my players has also just recently starting running Rime of the Frostmaiden online, and that's going well so far. So I guess, of those games which would conceivably count toward the score, this latter period is also about 66%?
 
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For 5e: I've successfully started two groups in 5e myself, by running one-shots until a stable group forms and then beginning long-term campaigns. One such group has completed 3 campaigns in 6 or 7 years, the other is almost ready to finish the first campaign after 5 years. I'm also in two other campaigns that I didn't start - one for a few months but looks like it'll stick around, one for 4 or five years thus far. The later was an in-person game that switched to online. I've been in about 3 that I didn't stick with, although I only know one of them fell apart after.

For 4e: I was in one game, which went from 1-30 over a couple years. For 3e, I'm still with a group I joined about 15 years ago, that had been running for at least 15 years before that. We closed it out as a PF game about 3 years ago, tried to restart as PF but that got killed by Covid, and they're playing online PF2 now although I'm rarely able to make it anymore (it's a weekend game which I often have other commitments).

I can only vaguely recall any games before that - certainly not enough to guess at how many stalled out compared to ones that went all the way to an ending.
 

Campaigns that I have run recently have tended to be cursed. Our game group rotates DMs, so you only run a game roughly every third or fourth year. So, this here covers since about the release of 3.5e:
  • I had a campaign that made it about 4 sessions before I had to stop and leave town because of school.
  • I had a campaign that got about 12 sessions deep, and then took an opportunity that moved me across country for two years (this is also when WoW released so I didn't play D&D those two years at all).
  • I had a campaign which got about 5 sessions deep before I was forced to pause that campaign due to life complications for about a year, and we never got back to it.
  • And most recently we were about 10 sessions in when COVID shut down my current campaign (soon to restart by June or so).
But I have run campaigns to completion before in AD&D and WEG Star Wars, and I've played many campaigns from others in my group to the end. I also run one-shots from time to time. Overall I think we have a decent enough completion rate, usually ending because the last planned adventure was complete or the DM was beginning to burn out.
 

GnomeWorks

Adventurer
My completion rate for PbP games, DM or player, is 0%. I'm not sure if that says something about me or the medium.

In-person or VTT games: 50%, for games I've run (5/10). Games in which I played and was present from start to finish (whether natural or game death): 33% (2/6), so far as I can recall.

Thinking about it like that, I apparently have a terrible track record.
 

Gorg

Explorer
So far, My success rate, since the late 90's has been 0%. Either my friends move away, my work makes me the player from hell (showing up on game day-wise); or stuff just happens, in the case of all the bulletin board groups I got in on.

Last campaigns with my regular group- he DM'd a homebrew game, I DM'd Sunless Citadel, Forge of Fury, and part of the next one- ended abruptly when he and his wife and kids moved back down to Florida...

My other weekly game, I had to bow out of when I went back out on the road. No idea how the campaign went after that.

That was back in early 3.5E days. We haven't begun our 5E campaign yet. He's going to run the Essentials module, and I'm going to run Lost Mine of Phandelver. After that? Who knows. Possibly Storm Giants or Saltmarsh for me. He likes to run his own adventures.
 

If we go from the very beginning, back in the 80s

Completed campaigns - 14 (and we will probably finish another by summer this year)
Abandoned campaigns - 4 (this excludes the games that only made it a few sessions)

As a player:

Completed campaigns - 0
Abandoned - 4 (one of which I left because the table had gotten too big and the DM needed someone else to split the table with, and I volunteered to DM; the rest, the DMs just ghosted)

And this is why I mostly stick to DMing. If a DM misjudges the effort of running a campaign, that's fine, but when they just go silent and leave the table hanging, that's such a bummer. Getting all excited to finally play and develop a character and then being left hanging isn't a good feeling.
 
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overgeeked

B/X Known World
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).
Due to varying schedules and player attendance rates, our main D&D group has basically done sandbox style games since around 1986 or so. Think episodic rather than serial fiction. To us, a campaign is us playing D&D together, not a set story with certain characters going from 1st to 36th 20th 30th 20th level. Likewise, to us, the notion of a complete campaign doesn't work. A campaign is completed when we switch DMs or all collectively decide to toss the old characters and start new ones.
 

Personally, no. I've run three campaigns that made it well into the teens. It's not my favorite thing, and my sweet spot for ending, I've realized, is about 10th level. Though, part of me wants to try the old-school domain game, seeing if switching it up changes my feeling on higher levels.

So looks like people don't generally okay high levels.
 

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