How to Keep Your Campaign FreshI just wrapped up a campaign that had been going on for about six years. In that time we had a few lulls, and a few highlights. The thing is, we kept things changing and getting them to refresh as needed.
This is something many groups fail to do in various roleplaying games like Dungeons & Dragons, World of Darkness, and Pathfinder. Changing the focus, the goals, or the theme to spice things up. The problem is that not every group can do this, and some cannot even recognize when it is happening.
I hope that this little article will help you in both these regards and assist you in steering the proverbial horse away from the cliff. Let’s delve into campaign rebirth
Recognizing stagnation at the gaming table
So you are worried your game is stagnating and in need of campaign rebirth? The first step is recognizing if you need it, because you don’t want to use unnecessary medicine. It’s simple really, a checklist would be the best for this.
- Does your campaign seem to have slowed down from the pace you once set without any clear indication as to why?
- Do the players treat the game with indifference, boredom, or act out in ways that are like cries for attention?
- Has your roleplay taken a back seat to results, the players just blandly stating what they do or say?
- Has the Dungeon Master seemed to have stopped anything beyond the next door planning?
- Have you lost connection to the nonplayer characters that you have met?
If you can say yes to a number of the above than you, my friend, have campaign stagnation. Loyal Nerdarchy reader, you beautiful person you, have already gotten yourself on the right track by recognizing the problem. As Alcoholics Anonymous states, the first step is to recognize there is a problem. But like any quest to save something or someone, this is not easy. For that reason, you will find I have left you with more than one tool in your proverbial campaign box as a player or as a Dungeon Master
Rebirth of the player
This sounds extreme but in most cases it is not that big beyond what we all go through when we decide to work on self improvement. Though this is a little different than putting the Twinkie down, and walking a mile a night.
As a player you are in a unique situation where you have experience in doing what you need to do already. In your life, your real life, you have as little power to change the world as your character does in theirs. Yeah, you don’t have magic powers, but you also don’t have fire breathing dragons or liches. Well… some rock stars may make you doubt the lich part, I’m looking at you Keith Richards.
I digress, you know how to change things in a world you don’t control. Wield that knowledge and tackle the world.
First thing you should look to do is start contributing to the driving force of the campaign. Engage random NPC’s, ask questions about history, keep engaging the Dungeon Master and other players. What you do can change the feel and passion others feel at the gaming table. You ever been to a party and no one is talking? The wallflower effect can spread as a pandemic, killing the fun for all involved. Don’t be silent, make that first move. What works at a party, a business, or anywhere will work here.
Second thing you can do, is what I call the Joker solution. Burn down what is not working and walk away. This does not have to be literally fire, but the effect is as dramatic sometimes. This involves identifying what is the distraction and deterrent to progress and steering the party away from it, or eliminating it. This may not sound fun but sometimes it takes the drastic to allow your character to progress. I personally burned down, in this case literally, a business that had the party completely stalled because the NPC had an endless list of inane quests that were boring us all. Lawful Stupid paladin refused to leave til all was handled, so I burned it down… On the plus side, the atonement quest did get us rolling again.
Third thing you can do is talk to the Dungeon Master about the stagnation and handle it out of game. The Dungeon Master may not be aware that the rebirth is needed, or they may not know that the players are in need of change. Anywhovian, if you work it out the game can start to see the improvements in your campaign. A trickle down effect, except this actually works. Being open and honest will definitely get the ball…errr….dice rolling.
Rebirth of the Dungeon Master
Now you are playing with power… well sorta. To quote Pinkerton, “Authority is given, power is earned.” And it is during the lulls that you earn this power. With your campaign in such dire need of rebirth, you have not just the opportunity but the obligation to make with the fun times. Make with the fun times you will! See, I have a few ways to fix things that have worked for me in the past and I shall now impart them upon you.
Number one thing is what I call the horse water conundrum. You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink without a dominate beast spell. It is the same way with the players. If you have trouble getting the players to do anything, drop a bunch of hints to the main quest line in their path.
Much like how the villagers point out the mountains in The Gamers: Dorkness Rising, you can have the world seem to revolve around the quest line’s next step. Subtlety is not necessary, especially if you can sneak in self-aware humor. Everyone loves a laugh, right? Once they choose to drink the proverbial water, you will have the dice and roleplay flying toward the rebirth of your campaign.
Number two thing is what I call the come to Cthulhu solution. You can always do something similar to the third option from the Rebirth of the player section and sit the group down to explain how you feel about the situation. Let them know how you feel and what your needs are. Propose ideas on what to do, see what floats and what needs to be flushed. I am sure they will not find all your ideas to be stinkers. Nonetheless, if you talk it out you will likely hear stories and ideas that inspire you fired right back at you. Working together will lead to the rebirth of your character.
Number three thing to do for the rebirth of your campaign is to enact what I call the “death of the dinosaurs.” This one is about as subtle as a nuclear enema. Simply put, drop an event that takes all of life and turns it on its head. Not just for comedic reasons like some sitcom, but to drop them into a fight to survive and/or adapt. These times, they are a changin’. Though you may notice the players will initially balk at the change, they will likely begin to find new things to enjoy. Their old characters in new situations is an experience one does not typically have. Now what is this event? It can be a major war, a god coming down, or maybe something political. Whatever it is, you can change the world to light that proverbial fire under their respective posteriors. I am sure you can think of a way to arrange the rebirth of your campaign.
Well those are my thoughts for rebirth of a campaign. I think the biggest thing, and I mention it twice, is communication between members of your gaming table. Anywho, what are some ways you have breathed new life into your campaigns? What are ways you think one can use in the future? I would love to hear all about them in the comments section below. Me? I am going to go prep for another live play video.
Play on PS4 or PS3? Did you know that Nerdarchy has a community that plays together often? Go ahead and search in the community section for Nerdarchy and for the player Nubz_The_Zombie!
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