January 14, 2014

Transitions - The Players Have Revolted and Ousted Me!

For a few years now I've been running two campaigns, a 4E hexcrawl sandbox exploration of a new land and the Savage Worlds superhero/supervillain campaign of Necessary Evil. We played each game every two weeks, making for one game a week. Both games were a lot of fun. However, both drew a close recently.

Necessary Evil has a natural and built-in conclusion to the campaign. There is a series of plot points that form the campaign providing a full beginning, middle and end. There are also additional adventures that can be run in between the plot and while I did run a bunch of them, I did not run all of them. I wanted the focus to be on the main plotline and I felt too many "side-adventures" would dilute the feel of the campaign. In the end, the campaign had a good feel to it and ran as long as it needed to without ending too soon or going past its prime into redundancy.

The 4E hexcrawl was fun in the beginning but in the end the weight of the combat system made each night long. Yes, the combats were fun, exciting and tension filled but it all went too slow. Sure, there are ways to speed up 4E's combat, but these require buy-in from the players and my players seemed incapable of going fast; they agonized over doing the "right" thing and spent too long on their decision making. As fun as 4E was, it took too long to get anything done and I was unhappy with its progression. I decided to end it. I closed up a couple of the main plotlines that had developed (a rival adventuring group and a potential war) and called an end to the campaign.

Both campaigns ended within a month of each other. I had a couple of ideas of some new campaigns I wanted to run. One was to run the old Birthright campaign setting with the HARP rules. The second was to run a Savage Worlds setting of my own design. I began to make notes and do some writing for them. And then the revolts began...

The first game that ended was the Necessary Evil campaign. The players knew the end was coming and one of them said he wanted to run a game of his own design; a TORG/time travel/other worlds sort of setting. I said sure as I could tell he really wanted to run this and I figured I still had the other game.

Except, as the 4E game ended another player said he wanted to run a 3E game. This time I was more loath to give up my GM spot. However, I felt it was only fair to let the players decide what to play next. So, once the 4E game officially wrapped up I asked who wanted to run something. I offered up the Birthright campaign; my wife offered up 7th Sea, one player offered up the 3E option and another offered to run something of his own design. We all voted and my wife's 7th Sea game won out. In fact, my Birthright game came in dead last.

I was officially ousted as GM. The funny thing is I had personally formed both gaming groups, recruiting the players and setting up the games initially. I had come to feel as if they were "my groups". Now I was a GM without a game.

However, it's okay. It is good to play for a change. I have even managed to get in one GMing session when I ran a one-shot playtest of the Ashen Stars GUMSHOE system on New Year's Day. And I really like the 7th Sea game and my wife is a superb GM. The other game is still up for debate as to whether or not it will work out (it has many issues thus far).

So far, I'm fine with the revolution.

This is part of the RPG Blog Carnival for January 2014, on the topic of Transitions. It is being hosted by Herericwerks this month. You can check out other articles for this month here.
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