I had something interesting to post today, but then realized I haven’t posted anything in weeks and perhaps that warranted some explanation. I am moving, or will be soon. Much of my free time is taken up with all the efforts involved in buying and selling a house. I won’t bore you with the details, suffice it to say that my posting is going to be pretty spotty for the next couple of months. I expect by the time GenCon rolls around though you’ll see me regularly posting again.
Good news though, my home campaign has started up again. I call it my home campaign, though it’s no longer held at home. As the group consists now entirely of co-workers, we play right here in the office. It’s really an excellent place for it. Actually, in general I’d say your average office is an excellent place for gaming, as they’re usually equipped with meeting rooms containing long tables, plenty of chairs, and a white board if you’re lucky. Our office is particularly well suited though. Not only has Curt bought us some lovely dwarven forge to play with, but recently his latest gift to the gamers in the company arrived — an Emissary table from Geek Chic. I’m not yet allowed to post pictures of the interior of the office, but you can bet that when we are you will see some shots of the really sweetset-up they’ve made for us here.
Back to the campaign though. As the company moved down to Providence so too did several of my players. We became so spread out that several people had to drop out. We were down to just three players left. Fortunately, working for a large company creating a fantasy based MMO means access to lots of gamers. I never even had to go so far as to put out a general call, I simply started emailing coworkers I knew might be interested and slowly got the group back up to 6 players. As the group is now 50% new players and the last session had ended right in the middle of things, we decided to start fresh. New characters have been rolled up and we’ve picked a new spot on the map far away from where the old group was to start playing.
In reading the old writings of Mr. Gygax, I’ve started to suspect that back in the day the term “campaign” referred not to a specific group of players meeting regularly, but merely a consistent GM and setting. I suspect Gygax’s own campaign ran more like the West Marches than what we’re used to these days. Quotes like the following from the DMG seem to support this:
You pack it in for the night. Four actual days later (and it is best to use 1 actual day = 1 game day when no play is happening), on Day 55, player characters B, C, and D enter the dungeon and find that the area they selected has already been cleaned out by player characters E and F. Had they come the day after the previous game session, game Day 52, and done the same thing, they would have found the monster and possibly gotten the goodies! What to do about that? and what about old A and his pointy-eared chum off to see the oracle? … Being aware of time differences between groups of player characters will enable you to prevent the BIG problems.
Dungeon Master’s Guide, p. 37
This may be indicative of old school play, where character death is more frequent and the persistence of the campaign lies more in the world than any one character or group of characters. However, I think it also has the side benefit of being more conducive to a shifting player base. I’ve had some players drop out and replaced them with other players over the past year. I also experimented a bit with running an odd one-shot adventure for a totally different group in the same campaign setting, and allowing their actions to be reflected in the world as experienced by the regular group. At least one of those one-shots had one of my regular players in it, and I think he can attest to the fact that it was a pretty satisfying experience on both ends.
However, this is my first real attempt at keeping the campaign world consistent for an entirely new group. I am very curious to see how it goes, especially for the players that have remained consistent and will remember details about the world that are unknown to the newer players. I actually would love to see that played out in character, with the three old players perhaps playing more well traveled characters who know a bit about the world, and the new guys playing young fresh-faced characters, or foreigners to whom everything in the local region is strange and new.
And of course my long term dream is that many years down the road, perhaps with an entirely new group of players, my world will be detailed and full of interesting and unusual features, each molded by actual play rather than preconceived and plotted out specifically for their enjoyment. I’m excited to see that world, I just hope I have the staying power to create it for my future self.