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 🙂 )