Emergency Repair Work And You: How To Salvage Your Wrecked RPG Campaign
Step three: kill your darlings. One of the banes of bad roleplaying campaigns is trying to overcomplicate things. Elaborate plotlines and schemes are very nice to read out or watch… but they typically work best when you have an actual script. In games -- for that matter, in real life -- baroque machinations are notoriously unstable. I mention this largely because there’s always a strong impulse to try to make a breaking campaign conform to the really good scenes or monologue opportunities that you really, really wanted to include. Unfortunately, that’s a bad impulse. A good impulse is to rip out the unnecessary stuff and concentrate on just getting the campaign back to the basic story that you wanted to tell in the first place. Trust your good impulses.
And step four? Know when to pull the plug. Some stories you can’t tell in a RPG format. Maybe your campaign was one of them, and you just didn’t realize it at the time. There’s no shame in that. I know that it’s embarrassing when something you do doesn’t work out properly, but you’re playing with friends, right? They should be cool about it. In fact, you have the right to expect that they be cool about it.
One last note: obviously, this article has been assuming throughout that a disastrous RPG campaign is primarily the fault of the GM. But that’s not always true, is it? Players have obligations as well, like respecting the GM’s authority when it comes to the basic kind of campaign being run, showing up on time, not being generally obnoxious… you know, your basic mature, socialized-adult behavior. Put another way: if you’re part of a group that habitually wrecks your (volunteer) GM’s carefully-constructed campaigns simply because you enjoy watching him get frustrated when he can never tell a story… well. I have ten words for you: and you may want to get a pad and a pencil for this one.
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