Are you playing in a long-running roleplaying campaign?
How long have you been playing in it? Are you proud? Should you be?
If you’ve been able to coordinate the schedules of several busy adults whos company you enjoy for over a year, and as a result created a year’s worth of enjoyable memories, then hot damn you should be proud, and you won’t get any naysaying from me.
On the other hand, if week after week you find yourself stuck in a room with people who barely manage to function in society, who you wouldn’t be caught dead with outside of a gaming situation, then maybe you should reexamine your priorities. But that really isn’t what this update is about.
So let’s suppose you’ve been playing your campaign for over a year. How much longer will you be playing?
If your answer is “forever,” you’re an idiot.
Your will not play your Epic Awesome Campaign every day until you die. The storylines will grow trite, the characters exhausted, and the players bored. Real life will intervene. Interest will be lost. Sessions will be missed, and you won’t be told in advance because of someone’s passive-aggressive complex. The game will end, because people didn’t have the energy or desire to show up. Maybe you will be one of those people. And maybe, you and you’re friends will always say to each other, “gee, remember the Epic Awesome Campaign? We should have another session sometime. We’ve got to finish that.” But you never will.
Build an end into your games. Have a finale. Pull out all the stops, and have a blast. Resolve things. Let them be heroes and victors now. Squeeze the Epic Awesome Campaign into a tightly honed gaming experience.
And what of the morning after? It begins anew, with a different game, maybe different players, and a whole new experience. (And here’s a secret: you can always do a sequel. Double secret: you can always choose not to do a sequel.)
What do you get? Compact excitement, ease of trying new GMs/settings/game systems/modes of play/characters/what have you, general variety, closure, and being honest to oneself.
I think game designers are starting to figure this out. Mountain Witch and Burning Empires have defined arcs of play. (Not to mention the vast array of strictly one-session indie games). The buildup to a climax is built into the game.
(For sake of comparison, Shattered Vistas has an end-game. So does Council of Magisters, but its really more of the Parlor Narration Game school of RPGs, so that’s expected.)
When you plan for the end, you get good endings.