Content of the article: "The blessing and curse of perpetual filler campaigns."
As both a DM and a player I've observed an interesting phenomenon in long term games. The perpetual filler campaign. As a DM I love it, as a player it's where a lot of the fun comes from and as a writer it is the worst thing I can imagine, and maybe that's why it works.
It's a commonjoke/problem that a lot of DMs just want to write a book. Hell, a lot of campaigns start out as a trial run of one story or another, but as we all know players are agents of chaos and trying to keep them engaged in the story you want to tell kills campaigns dead. The best laid plans fall apart the moment the party sees a turtle and decides to keep it. Through good DMing you can build some motivations, plot hooks, a big bad, but over time your sessions just sort of meander, but it's also kind of a good thing.
The big bad matters less and less, acting more as a framing device as your campaign delegates to a series of vignettes. The players main motivation is something you never would have actually created, and almost paradoxically you have a way to integrate it into the final end game that the player never seems to push towards (it's almost like they don't want to finish a quest).
Your sessions are perpetual filler and that's okay.
I think this is what kills campaigns for most groups. One day you realize you've been playing the same campaign for almost a year now and there's both no end in sight and the purpose behind it fades away. That said, this is what builds the wacky moments that make people want to take up the hobby. As a DM you're in a catch 22 because your players are having a blast and you cultivated it, but it becomes a part time job as you write a fresh filler episode for every session, never really getting back on coarse because the natural flailing of players and their consequences brings the fun, but now fun is more a chore than a form of expression, and if you stop it, it's not like anything was lost: it was all filler.
So yeah, anybody else ever experienced this? Most of my campaigns, again as player and DM, seem to end in this state and I honestly think it's the desired play flow for D&D. A collaborative series of odds and ends that turns the game into a unique experience that everybody builds, but ultimately becomes fluff. Too much DM direction takes away player incentive to act independently and too little yields murder hobos looking for a purpose. The sweeetspot very well might be perpetual trekking.
- Know what kind of campaign you’re running, and know your players.
- Is it ok to make a battle that my players have to lose?
- Hard lessons from DMing my first two campaigns
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