Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Choose Your Game

My plan for today was to discuss when how and why to continue a game.  The problem is, when I sat down to write I realized that depending on the type of game you're playing the different options have different merits.  With that I figured I'd start off with a break down of what may gamers see as the two main types of games: The One Shot & The Campaign

The One Shot:
To start things off I'll look at the shortest, simplest, and possibly most known type of game.  Even if you never heard the term one shots to me are any game where there is a single story with a set end and that's it.  Yes this means that a three to five session mini campaign and a one time only con game both count as "one shots" to me.  That's because the only thing that changes between the two is length.

Characters: Characters in one shot games can be either ready made or character built, but honestly it the GM has that specific of a story in mind I would advise the ready made characters.  Yes this means players aren't making their custom hero, but this is a game about a single story and not the long road of character development (that's not to say non of it can happen, just that it isn't the focus).

Setting: Depending on the length of the game there might be a wide range of settings, but more often than not these games have a vary specific location (or locations) that the story takes place.

Pros: The best part about a one shot game is that it takes the least amount of commitment from everyone involved.  A game with a set running time means that players only need to clear those sessions on their calendar and nothing else while still getting the entire story.  This also helps in bringing in new players that might not know if they want to commit to something long term.

Cons: As I said above, one shots are more about the story than the characters.  Yes that story can be about the characters, but it's more like looking in on their lives than living it.  With everyone at the table knowing that in only a few weeks those characters will be done and their story told many players have issues forming a personal level of interest in the game.

The Standard Campaign:
This is the game many people think of when they think of games such as D&D.  The long epic stories that can take months or even years to reach an end if there even is an end.  There's still stories like a one shot game, but usually there's a single grand story that is broken up by smaller side stories or adventures. This is the type of game that for many gamers tend to run for what seems like forever only to eventually fizzle out and die.

Characters: Campaigns are all about the long haul and with that characters are expected to grow, change, and evolve.  While a GM could choose to have pre-made characters for a campaign I would strongly advise the players make their own.  IF the campaign hinges on a certain type of hero that's fine.  Just make those requirements part of the limits players face in making their characters, but still let them add their personal flair to the characters.

Setting:While a long campaign can take place in a single central location most don't.  This is a game about the journey and that usually involves traveling.  Varying locations also help change things up if your game starts to feel stale.

Pros: Campaigns offer a lot, but the biggest asset only a long form game can bring is the time to let characters grow.  Players can start out fresh and young and play till they are seasoned and haggard ready to retire.

Cons: As I said above these are the most common games to fizzle out and die.  It takes a lot of work and dedication to keep a game running and interesting all the way to a heroes retirement.  Sadly many games don't reach that, weather it be from changing schedules, people moving, or even just too long of a lull without playing to get momentum again most of these games die on the vine and never see a satisfying ending.

Both of these types of games are equally valid and worth your time for one reason or another, but they have their problems.  What do you do to keep a campaign from fizzling out or a one shot from feeling like just a place holder till you start up a longer game?  That's for next week where I'll talk about Sequels, Spinn-Offs, & Continuation games.

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