When your campaign has jumped the shark

Sometimes I get the feeling that my love for epic stories has got the best of me. And usually when I push my roleplaying campaigns to epic extremes I shortly thereafter notice that my campaign has jumped the shark. Usually jumping the shark denotes the point where an TV shows’ audience starts to lose interest in the show, usually after the plot veers off in absurd storylines. The same can happen with roleplaying campaigns.

In D&D this usually happened to me when I was to generous with the treasure I handed out as a DM. I remember one campaign when I allowed half-celestials and half-dragon player characters, something I usually avoid. Especially when I thought it would be a cool idea to grant the half-celestial paladin a pair of vorpal swords things went downhill. But probably things had been going downhill for quite some while already. The campaign was quite epic but from a certain moment I knew that I lost control of the campaign.  And a few sessions after that we decided to let the campaign end.

In the Ad Astra campaign I started recently my love for epic campaigns led me to introduce an “ancient enemy” (details haven’t been revealed to the players yet) and even an old ally of the Elohim fairly early in the campaign. Now I am struggling from keeping the campaign jumping the shark. When I created the campaign I planned to keep everything about the Elohim and why they disappeared and what caused them to grant some humans psionic abilities a secret. But when I actually started running the campaign I thought it would be cool to make the secrets of an ancient past the theme of the actual campaign. And now I am actually regretting that I didn’t start a bit slower this time. Luckily for me, my players still are enjoying the game…

So, what can you do to save a campaign that has already jumped the shark or is close to doing so. In the second case, you can try to make sure it doesn’t reach that state. In the first case a lot depends on your group. If you believe you’ve broken the campaign but your players are still comfortable with how everything turned out and as long as they are having fun, things are not as bad.

In any other case, you should think about what went wrong. It probably doesn’t hurt to talk with your players and ask them what they think. Sometimes your players have the ideas that will help to get your campaign back on track. And sometimes it’s better to bring the campaign to an end instead of prolonging the life until neither players nor GM enjoy the game anymore.

So, what are your thoughts on that matter? Have you run or played in campaigns that “jumped the shark” and how did you handle the situation?