In the interest of getting some new content posted here (as opposed to little revision here and there only), it seemed to be in the best interest of the Campaign to post another part to the Commentary series. Considering this Campaign is currently on a Hiatus, I though it might be worth taking a look at putting a Campaign on a break and some of the things you might want to consider when opting to do so. With that said, let me get into the bulk of this posting.
When you decide that you want to run a Campaign you should expect the issue to arise where the cards of life will leave you unable to keep the game running, or you may well find yourself sometimes overwhelmed or out and out bored with the Campaign at different points. If the Campaign has any real hope of surviving it is going to need to get put on hiatus for some period of time. So what, you might be asking yourself, is so scary or difficult about just taking a break for a bit? Simply put the issue is loss of interest or motivation in regards to the Campaign from either the players or yourself as the GM. There is also more to it, but I feel like that is the primary concern that comes up – that and forgetting the details of the Campaign by the time you return to it.
Over the years I have participated in very few Campaigns that actually progressed for too terribly long (typically falling off before even coming to a satisfying resolution), and I have successfully run just about as many. I figure it is only fair to be honest of my credentials on the topic before we dig in, but I do have some experience and years invested into the topic. Either way, just like anything else on this site, take it for what you will if you’re taking the time to read through these Commentary posts.
The first thing I want to tackle out of the potential issues is the problem of forgetting the details of the Campaign by the time you get back to it. From my own experience with trying to run numerous Campaigns over the years this was my primary killer. Even with all that this page has developed into, I have a nasty tendency to get myself quickly unorganized and misplace random odds and ends of notes and the sort. The worst is when a Campaign dies while still being actively run due to this issue – talk about embarrassing. Of course, good management skills can help to alleviate these problems (and I know many GMs where this is simply not an issue for them). If you are at all like me, or if you have players like me, I can easily say that Obsidian Portal has been an outstanding tool for mitigating these problems. Of course this isn’t the only option on the market that can offer the essential features of OP, but the specialized focus on gaming makes it pretty incredible. With a bit of CSS and HTML skills you can make the pages very impressive to look at while keeping all your information in line.
Now, as I said previously there are other options beyond OP for trying to mitigate the forgetting of information. Some people just have a sharp enough memory that this issue never really comes up for them, be they a GM or a Player. If you are one of these people it can be rough still, as it is now essentially up to you and you alone to get the rest of the troupe back on track and ready to get rolling with the game again – and if you are a Player and not the GM of the Campaign it can be an even more difficult task than it sounds on paper (or screen as it were). Additionally, you might be one of those extremely well organized people who takes frequent notes during sessions and keep all your game details in a nice little folder for ease of access. This is great if you are of this type, but it holds the same essential issues as the previous method – it leaves it all up to you and you alone to get everyone else back up to speed (and most of your notes will likely be from a character perspective if you’re a Player and not the GM so you can’t help people remember their own motivations at the time). Regardless of those pitfalls, if you can manage them then having either of these types of people in your troupe can help you get past the issues of forgotten information at least to a point where you are able to keep the game running.
In my own experiences, I have struggled with keeping Campaigns alive for most of my GM career because I primarily relied on the later methods described, but I am not the type of person that can reliably do that. My troupe is mixed in how they approach things, but overall we did frequently run into the issue of losing track of details and thus dropping the Campaign in favor of starting up something fresh. Over the years of doing this, however, I came to find myself and my players getting more and more frustrated with the fact that our grand Campaigns never seemed to be going anywhere. This also started to cause waning interest in the troupe on getting games up and running (more so compounded with some of my more arduous expectations in character generation for games). As a result I have settled myself in here on OP as a way to help mitigate this issue for our trope, and I can say the effort required to get things up to par for the task has been well worth it. My fears of being able to pick the Campaign back up and get running are basically not there at this point, where I would normally be petrified by this facet right now on this particular hiatus.
Now, I also want to touch on the other issue I mentioned at the start – the issue of a loss of interest in the Campaign due to the break in play. This is a very real fear any time a Campaign is placed on hiatus, and one that there are no real good answers for mitigation. If you find that as the GM or your Players have lost interest in the Campaign it is probably just best to go ahead and retire it at that point. This issue is usually systemic of more factors than the hiatus itself, indicating that individuals involved in the game were not getting what they had originally hoped to out of it. Depending on the situation you can try to take steps to address this if you as the GM have not lost interest, and you still have at least some interested Players. Perhaps a retiring of the Character and starting up something new might help to alleviate the problems of the individual who had lost interest. You could also possibly accept that some people walk away from the Campaign while others do not and just roll forward with those who are still interested in the Campaign. While this does not change the fact that some might lost interest, it at least gives you some wiggle room to try and salvage the Campaign, and at some point those Players may get interest to play again or you may pick up some new Players later on (gaming is very adaptable like that).
As I close things up here I though that I might address a little bit about the hiatus that our own Campaign is presently on. Real life is something that always supersedes a game, plain and simple, and there will be times you will be faced with having to place a game on hold for these challenges (be it your Players or you as the GM). In our case it happens to be that I as the GM have found myself in the midst of some personal matters that have made working on and scheduling sessions for the Campaign next to impossible. I don’t want to go into these matters too much, as the details themselves are really not that important to the general topic, but suffice it to say that these issues have persisted longer than had been originally anticipated when we placed the game on a hold. Things are starting to come to a close on these issues (finally), but we are still in a holding pattern for the time being. At present I now have the ability to work on some things with the Campaign (and thus the existence of this posting in the first place), but scheduling is still a bit of a problem. I presently expect this to be resolved within the next couple of weeks, and then we can work on getting ourselves regularly playing once again. So for any of you out there who have been following along and hoping to see more content, I can promise that it is on its way.
Thanks for taking the time to read over my ramblings, and I hope that some of you out there can find this at least marginally useful. Until next time!