I love being a part of long terms campaigns. Our last campaign was a three year epic, surrounding our characters. Our player characters were people who’s strings of fate had been cut by the gods and allowed to make decisions completely free of their interference. We had to tackle personal quests, interfered in a nefarious plans, and faced off against gods but we also faced the issues of player burnout, character boredom, and a craving for new adventures.
Pro: Not to say that our campaign was boring by any means. We had epic fights, cool adventures, and hilarious moments of levity. Our campaign was also pretty dramatic with fights between characters, love interests developing and generally hiding things from each other. The great thing about long term campaigns is that you can really build an epic, dynamic story where past decisions matter in future interactions.
Con: The first thing we noticed was the player and DM burnout that can happen. It doesn’t mean the story is bad it’s just that the players and DM might need a break. After spending months in the gloom of Barovia, we were frantic to escape. Instead of succumbing to the desperation, we used our aversion to the land as a motivator to get out. We began forming plans and setting them in motion. We persevered and escaped. Then we got to explore the island of Novos, where we landed after being tossed out of Barovia.
Pro: During our three year campaign, we had enough time to really make sure our characters had the lives we wanted them to have. We overcame personal quests and grew as people. Romantic interest was able to be fleshed out and turn into a full and happy love. Regrets were redeemed or mended as best as possible. Our characters had full lives that were marked by great adventure and I will always hold my character, Aleera, close to my heart.
Con: Character boredom can become a problem in long term campaigns. Just think of how many jokes you might have heard about someone killing off a character so they could roll a new one. It isn’t that they don’t love their current character but like anyone, they sometimes want to experience something new. Even I got to a point where I wanted Aleera’s story to conclude and start a new character.
Pro: The epic level 20 adventure is a fully fleshed out story complete with intricate nuances that make it real to the players and DM. We spent time in Barovia, Novos on the material plane, Waterdeep, Chult, the Shadowfell, the Negative plane, and the Feywild. There was a boat load of adventure, laughter and anguish. Like a good book it had a beginning, middle and amazing ending. I recommend it if you love long epic book series’ that have many installments.
Cons: Players can eventually start craving a different sort of adventure. When you let the other cons pile up and the player’s or DM start to lose interest, the long story can become something that feels like a trap. Sometimes it is time to begin anew. They way my table avoided this was to have other members besides my husband run some one shots to give him and us a break from the main story. This isn’t a permanent fix however. Eventually, the epic adventure must end and a new one can take its place.
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