Styles Of Play

by Wimwick (Neil Ellis) on September 22, 2009

The traditional style of play for most RPGs focuses on the long-term campaign. A compelling storyline that both players and DMs invest in. It’s a shared experience that develops over the course of months and in some cases years. Typical campaigns require a level of commitment from all involved to attend regular gaming sessions.

With 4e and the introduction of Dungeon Delves, the traditional view of what it means to play Dungeons & Dragons has changed. While long-term campaigns with engaging storylines are still the norm, short one night adventures have a great deal of appeal.

There are currently 18 core character classes in 4e D&D, with 8 more coming next summer when the PHB 3 is released. Add in Paragon Paths and Epic Destinies and there are a lot of choices available for players to use when creating characters.

In my mind this increases the appeal of short one or two night adventures. It allows me to try the various character options at various levels. It provides the best of both worlds. The short adventure will have a plot device that I can buy into and I’m still able to create a character with a vivid background.

I’m still a fan of long term campaigns. I enjoy the level of commitment they require, the work that the DM puts in to create an engaging long-term story, the effort players take to enjoy that work. Undoubtedly, the most memorable characters I’ve played have come out of long-term campaigns. However, every time I’m in a long-term campaign I’ll come across an interesting character concept and I’ll have the desire to try it out. Unfortunately, I’m not willing to retire the existing character in the campaign. After all, I’ve put a lot of work into them.

Right now my gaming group is on a break between two campaigns. We’ve opted for a few delves, followed by a short mini-campaign before we launch into something long-term again. This provides a nice balance, though I think I’d like an extra week or two of delves. I have more characters I’d like to try out.

What’s your preference? Do you enjoy long-term campaigns or shorter dungeon crawls? Vote in our poll below and let us know the style of play you enjoy most.

Which would you rather play?

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1 Wyatt September 22, 2009 at 2:08 pm

I still prefer a long-term campaign mostly because I think of my campaigns as long stories I think would be fun to diddle around in. I know this is gasphorrible and leads to railroading and badness and all that, and that I shouldn’t have a story in mind or Dick Cheney will become president, but that’s just how I think of games I run. It’s what makes it fun to me.

It’s much less satisfying to me to play a bunch of one shots fighting monsters, rather than playing a long game fighting monsters for different reasons in different locales with different consequences and lead-ups. This is why the RPGA and similar con game things don’t appeal to me. I play one-shots all the time – I have to test things out for Eden and nobody’ll do it for me so I have to mess around with it. The “typical 4e one-shot” as inspired by Dungeon Delve, bores me to death.

Now, I’ve played one-shots I’ve liked, but these have been fairly long (5-6 hour games) and with some semblance of storyline to keep me at a grip of my mind. And more a semblance of story than most delves bother with.
.-= Wyatt´s last blog ..10 Things You Must Know About The Spirits of Eden =-.

2 kij September 22, 2009 at 10:34 pm

I kind of look as the one-shot events as more… training, getting to hang around a bunch of much more experienced DMs than me. Our typical session is only 2 hours long, so running a one-shot in that time period without hacking it to pieces is nearly impossible.

But also, whenever I do play a one-shot, I find myself being more of a meta-gamer than in a long campaign.

3 Wimwick September 22, 2009 at 10:53 pm

@ Wyatt
I’m a fan of the long term campaign as well. I enjoy developing a characters past and working with the DM and other players to develop a joint story. Our gaming groups one shot games are normally four hours, which lets us get through a Delve or LFR module.

@ Kij
I agree 100% one shots (regardless of source) are training. Training for DMs to hone technique and for players to experience different classes at various levels.

4 RPG Ike September 23, 2009 at 1:39 am

I want to play in and run an absolute longterm epic that causes real tears to be shed at my gaming table, and one-shots won’t really let me do that (neither do my long-term campaigns, but that’s a personal problem that I’m working on).

One-shots can certainly be fun, though—I’ve run nothing but one-shots in my quest to experience 4E, and I’ve had a lot of fun with the system even though I wouldn’t want to play in it long-term. It’s great for conventions, too.

There’s a table for every gamer somewhere…

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