April 1, 2011

Why I Like Episodic Adventures

Like many other gamers I know, Real Life™ now demands an increasing share of my time.  In the few occasions when I do get the opportunity to game, I want a quality experience – and part of that is wanting closure.  I want to play in, or run, a story that actually ends.  I also appreciate being part of an evolving saga, however, and it’s easier to slip into a famliar character rather than create a new one every time I play.

Thus my preference now for the episodic structure in my games.  Similar to the story structure of many TV series, an episodic adventure is a self-contained story that can be strung together with more such stories using a common cast of characters.  For me, the benefits of running my games in this manner include:

  • Ease in introducing new players – less commitment burden, and they get the satisfaction of having been in a complete story;
  • Freedom to start with a one-shot, and grow it into a series if the players liked it;
  • Freedom to have a revolving cast of characters – you don’t need to have all the player characters from previous sessions, and new ones can come in any time;
  • Freedom to explore many story possibilities, as the player characters aren’t tied down to a strict long-term plot every game session;
  • Players can still enjoy playing the same characters through multiple adventures and seeing them develop.

3 comments:

  1. This is the default mode of play for my group. We've been playing Buffy the Vampire Slayer RPG (http://www.velvet-edge.com/buffy/) for year now and even our Gurps sandbox game has many self-contained episodes.

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  2. I once had a conversation with a friend who'd stopped gaming. Turns out she'd gotten disappointed with playing in so many sessions and several campaigns to date without ever finishing a campaign, and it was enough of a frustration that she quit. A real loss because she was such a good roleplayer. :(

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  3. This is how we play also, though we do more a tabletop adventure game (Fantastic Worlds) than traditional rpg. The game is a retro sci/fi setting based loosely on Flash Gordon/Buck Rogers and our games follow that sort of "TV series" or "cliffhanger" format. If the heroes get captured then next game is the rescue, etc. In wargames we have done similar: the best campaign I ever played in was one where we decided the background and fluff between battles through discussion and story-telling rather than any rules mechanics.

    Howard

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