It’s been a while since my last post, I’ve been busy. So while I’m talking about being busy how about a post about campaign length? Most people pick up a game of Dungeons and Dragons and putter out after a few levels. The truth of the matter is that it’s not just the DM that keeps the campaigns interesting, it’s the players.
The biggest step to keeping a campaign going is interest. If the players aren’t interested the DM will not be interested either and the game will fall apart. All parties have to be invested in the story in order to have any sort of longevity. Each and every player must be given their time to shine, the spotlight if you will. Some players are instantly in the spotlight they put themselves there without prompting, those are the players you don’t have to focus on much. The players that need the attention most are the ones that don’t say much during the games. Some of them are just too shy to speak up, others are more interested in hearing the story and listening to the goings on but even those players have to have their moment. You can give your players an impossible scenario that only one player can solve or work their way through, you can give that one player a push in the right direction with an NPC. Whatever you do you must make sure that every character hits that apex. That one spell that only they can cast, the one skill only they are trained in, the one mentor that will only speak to one of their own kind (race, class, order, etc).
Once you have the interest you have to make sure that your story and your world are engaging. You, as the DM are not telling the story, at least not alone. You set the frame work, you lay the scenario out and you step back and let the players run the show. One of my biggest turn-offs is when a DM constantly has the campaign on rails. Let me be clear, there is a big difference between keeping the game on track and forcing your players to always do what you want (not fun!). Your game must be their game, your world must be their world. Let your players create something in the world and they will feel as if they are truly a part of it. If one of your players throws a detail at you, implement it. Maybe the grizzled captain of the guard has a soft spot for children, maybe the NPC they are suspecting is against them really is (even though you never planned it that way). Let your players’ drawn conclusions roll downhill and see what they hit.
Another important part of keeping a game going is to let the characters be themselves. If you have a character that is consistently one of ‘those’ characters that is completely off their rocker, let them be. But don’t hold back on the consequences. If they like to walk in and pick fights in bars for no reason eventually they will start a fight they can’t win. They’ll end up in jail for the night, maybe getting out is a quest in itself? The flip side of that is to never let characters outshine or interfere with other characters. Sure your rogue can steal from the party treasure but when the party turns on you don’t expect me (the DM) to save you. I’ve never been one to direct who or what you should play. In my games I always tell the players to play what they want. It doesn’t matter as I should be able to compensate in the challenges to make up for a party of four wizards. Let me tell you it’s not easy to do so, I have. Anyway, those are just a few hints to running a good game.