7 Reasons Why Your Campaign Failed

Every Game Master has that campaign (or Two) that didn't work out. Maybe it was because the story never unfolded, the plot felt incomplete, the characters where lethargic or worse, players were constantly bickering. It is a terrible feeling to watch something you've created fail, but at the same time it is a great learning experience.

Here are seven reasons why JADE members have seen campaigns fail.

1.Plot Issues

This is perhaps the most obvious, but many campaigns fail to get off the ground because there is a fundamental flaw in the plot.

This can take many forms, and we could go on for ages about them, but these are a few common problems we've encountered.

1.The campaign story has holes.

2.The plot hooks are poorly executed.

3.The players have no reason to follow the story

If the only way you can explain part of your campaign story is by saying "a miracle occurs" or "just because", then you need to develop your plot (unless of course it is an act of god.... cause hey it's an RPG right?). This information doesn't ever need to be told to the players, but your world will benefit from the stability of having a well developed back story, and an answer to every question. Your players will notice the difference as well.

Of course when writing your plot, it's important to include the "call to adventure" or the sequence of events that introduces your players to the stories in your campaign. If these are setup without forethought to how the player party will encounter and pursue them, then the plot will never get off the ground and the party will get frustrated and ignore your story. Make sure that your "calls to adventure" are obvious and give the players just enough information that they can piece together what to do next.

Even if your back story is well defined, and your plot hooks are intriguing, you can still have plot issues arising from your player characters themselves. Sometimes, the group will create characters that simply do not work in the campaign you have created. This can cause in-fighting, tension, lack of focus and general incompatibility. As a game master it's up to you to make sure that your player's back stories work with your campaign idea. If you have something specific in mind for your story then give them some guidelines. If your world is more free play, be more lenient and allow for more player creativity.

2.Too Many Plots

Another plot related issue is the common problem of over-complex story lines.

If you throw too many plot hooks at the party they will be unable to sort out what to do next. Table Top RPG players do not have the benefit of a "quest log" like in a video game RPG, and if there are too many plots going at once, they will feel overwhelmed and confused. This can lead to frustration, and eventually they might lose interest.

Keep it to a few plots at a time, save the rest for later, or another campaign.

3.Controlling GMs

Scripting a scene, as I like to call it, is when a game master writes their story like they are writing a book or a movie. The events will inevitably work out regardless of players' actions, because the game master has decided how the story will unfold. This is being a controlling game master.

The reality is that your campaign is for your players to interact with, and if you are constantly holding their hand, and guiding them through the events of your story, they will feel like they are not in control of their own fate and will lose interest.

The easiest way to avoid this is to make sure that your plot hooks ask a player to do something, rather than telling them how to do. For example: the elf in the tavern may need me to go rob a tomb, and they may know some very useful information about the area, but the elf shouldn't tell me how to rob the grave. I am the adventurer, I will sort it out.

4.Tight-Lipped GMs

Too often do game masters sit behind their screens, smirking as the players struggle to solve the riddle of their campaign. While a certain level of intrigue is important in a table top RPG, nothing is more frustrating for the players than when there is no information available.

Having the big reveal that ties everything together at the end of the story is an exciting prospect for a game master. However, if you don't give the players anything to go on, how can they follow your story?

Open up a little bit to your players. Talk to them before hand about the general goals of your campaign, and make sure that your NPCs and other information engines give the players what they need to continue, and stay focused and interested in your campaign.

5.Power Tripping GMs

The temptation to include ridiculously powerful monsters in your dungeon, or throw wave after wave of attacks at the players is pretty strong for the game master. It's your world, and sometimes it can be fun to really have a go at the player party. But if you are constantly doing this, your players will stop enjoying themselves. The game will seem hopeless to them, and they won't have much of a reason to go on.

Scale your monsters to your player party's level and power, and give them a time to rest between major encounters. This will give them a chance to heal up (if only a little) and to do some character building as they interact with the other players during a point of relaxation.  If, on the other hand, the stress of constant combat is the driving force of the campaign, then let your players know what to expect before hand, so they can design their battle hardened characters before hand.

6.Invincible Player Characters

On the opposite side of the spectrum are game masters who are afraid to let their players fail. Perhaps their story is too important to them and they don't won't to lose momentum or maybe they're afraid to hurt a player's feeling by killing their characters. Either way, this can derail a campaign.

If there is no chance of failure, then your players will lose their immersion. The encounters will seem artificial and the victories that they achieve will be bitter sweet at best.

Either the player's health or well being should be on the line, and don't be afraid to to seriously threaten it, or take it from them. It may suck to lose a character, but your player will make another one, and learn from their mistakes.

7.Uncooperative Players

Sometimes the problem isn't the campaign or the game master; it's the players. As much as the game master needs to make sure the plot is interesting for players, the players have a responsibility to "play ball" with the party and the game master, to help the campaign move along.

Unfortunately, you'll sometimes get players who will not get with the program. Whether they are being argumentative, disruptive,  or ridiculous the uncooperative player is holding back the progression of the campaign.

I'm a firm believer that talking to your players before hand and working with them to create a character that works in your campaign is the best way to preemptively deal with this sort of issue. If you're still having problems make sure that they're playing to their character's alignment, and personality. If they're not then give penalties to their XP for "Not Role Playing", and make sure that their undesirable actions are not without consequences (in game of course).

7 Reasons Why Your Campaign Failed 7 Reasons Why Your Campaign Failed Reviewed by JADE Gaming on 7/12/2014 01:59:00 pm Rating: 5

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