Many Beginnings – No End in Sight

So, I have a habit that annoys the hell out of my friends.  Now, bear with me, because this is a video game reference (specifically, RPG’s with Oblivion and Dragon Age being the biggest offenders), but I promise, I will related it to table-top gaming.  But my problem is that I am a serial character-starter.  What I mean by that is I love to create new characters – I like to try out different races and classes.  I love thinking about the backgrounds of my character and changing the way I interact with the game based upon my character’s personality.  Also, I’m strange in that I like the lower levels of a game.  I like the fact that I can’t do something or that a place could be slightly out of my reach until I gain a couple of more levels.

Now, for the annoying part of my habit: I like the beginning of the game so much that I very rarely finish a game.  I played a couple of games from start to finish, but mostly, I get about half-way through a game, either put it down or forget about it for a while, and then when I do pick it back up, start a new character – rather than just pick up from where my save left off.  I have 4 in-progress characters in Dragon Age, but if I went back to play it, I would probably start a new one.  I have a half-dozen JRPG’s in various states of completion that I will never probably finish, because I honestly would rather start over than finish them.  And don’t get me started on Oblivion – I could populate a fantasy world on my own with the number of characters I have created in that game (Side Note: Although the Oblivion world isn’t particularly special, the leveling in the game is my favorite leveling system in any game I have ever played.  I am very disappointed that I haven’t been able to find a comparable table-top version of the leveling system.)

So, how does my habit affect my table-top gaming?  As a player, I am much more likely to play in a game where we start at lower levels.  I will probably ‘try-on’ a couple of characters before deciding on which one I’m actually going to play – although, I refrain from doing that if the group is creating characters together.  I have been in any games that have lasted longer than a few months, but I could definitely see my interest waning if I had to play the same character for a very long time (like a 2 or more year game).

I’m actually more concerned with how my character-ADD will affect my game mastering.  As I have mentioned before, I chose to use a prepublished adventure for running my first game.  I did that because I was intimidated with the idea of making an epic story that would be interesting to everyone.  And I think my issue with finishing games is part of the problem – I rarely play through the entirety of an ‘epic’ story.  I am intimidated with creating a cohesive over arching meta-plot that I can fit adventures into without creating plot holes.  But, I also don’t think I could create a series of random adventures that I could pull together to make an epic plot.  I also can see myself getting bored part-way through an adventure and wanting to switch it up just because.

The game failed for many reasons, but had it lasted, I’m not sure I could have continued the story after the adventure had completed.  I had toyed with the idea of extending it into an on-going campaign, but now that I think about it – I’m not sure I would want to.  Personally, after the adventure was done, I would rather have everyone re-roll characters and try something totally new.

However, I know that there are players who are obsessed with the end-game as much as I love the start of games.  I mean, there wouldn’t be as many Level-80 characters on WoW or so many people playing epic-level characters in D&D if that wasn’t the case.  Also, I know that there are people who like the middle part the best – they are not so interested in the conclusion and are just happy to continue in a series of never-ending with no end in sight.

So, I guess the above was a rambling way to ask some questions of people who are more experienced than me: First, what is your play style?  I can’t imagine that I’m the only one who is guilty of starting multiple characters and not really finishing.  How do you play with others (or GM for others) that have a different play style than you?

The other question is directed at those who have been able to run longer campaigns: How do you do it?  How can you create a story that lasts as long as your campaign?  Do you have an over-arching meta-plot, or do you do a series of adventures strung together?  How do you keep everyone interested?

For me, I’ve decided to embrace my shortcoming: As I’ve mentioned before, I’m currently obsessed with the Savage World system.  I’m especially found of the Pulp setting for the game – which is perfect for my short attention span.  The serial nature of the fluff especially speaks to me.  I’m going to run short adventures – not quite one-shots, but not a long campaign.  Then, when that adventure is done, I’ll start up a new one.  One that is totally unrelated to the previous adventures.

Don’t know if will work – I know at least one of the people I play with who adores long campaigns.  But, I figure, I should play the way I like, or it won’t be fun for anyone (as many of you have pointed out to me in the past 🙂 )

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4 responses

  1. I think it will be a boon. You will have a world populated with well fleshed out NPCs. Good post. Nice site also.

  2. My play style is quite different. I like to start characters at mid to high level, because I usually want them to fit a background that calls for them to be capable of doing more than graduating from wizard college last Tuesday. I also really like building characters, and higher level characters give me more material to build from. I’m also perfectly content to play the same character for long periods of time, but I’ve also never been in a game that went for more than a year, so maybe at 1.1 years I get sick of it.

    You will probably benefit from wanting to start tons of new characters as a DM, as long as it manifests as “building tons of interesting NPCs” and not “switching game systems every month.” You can even mold this into a replacement for an “overarching plot.” Just keep making NPCs with well-defined motivations and goals, and let the PCs interact with them as they wish. Blam! Insta-plot, just add PCs. That’s how the “plot” goes in my games, and they seem to run well enough.

  3. Thanks you two! I guess I was focusing on the issue more from me as a player perspective than me as a GM. I guess I can have as many characters as I want in my world, even if no player character ever encounters them.

    And Paul – yeah, I can see how players would probably prefer extending the adventure through encountering new NPCs than starting new games. I guess I’m worried that some players would expect an overarching plot, and would get bored if not offered one.

    Thanks for the comments! I appreciate hearing from others who have more experience on the GM side than I do.

  4. It is almost always more fun to start a game than to shepherd one through the middle stages… but endings rock!

    I like seeing how many layers I can realistically add to an existing setting, how many believable twists I can give to player perspectives, and how deeply I can interest players to ‘really get to the bottom of things.’ In a real sense, this is recreating the setting and drive of the game – playing a whole new game, while allowing the players to have the satisfaction of building and expanding their characters, enhancing their own knowledge of how the game is working, and being rewarded with discovery and resolution over time.

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