My take on “unfinished business”

A.D.D.In his latest post Roberto (aka Sunglar) shared his thoughts about “unfinished business”, campaigns that never came to a proper end. I have to admit I know this all too well. When it comes to finishing campaigns that I’ve started I am terrible. I’ve written about what I call “Game Designer Attention Deficit Disorder” before and as you can imagine I have the same issue when I am running games. Instead of seeing things through to the end I usually switch from game to game, campaign to campaign with random one-shots thrown in.

Luckily my players are very patient with me and haven’t run away yet. Sometimes they share my excitement for the shiny new game I want to try out and so everything is fine, but I often get the nagging feeling that I never actually ran a great campaign. So what do I consider a “great campaign”? It’s the one campaign you remember for many years, that you and your friends always reminisce about when you meet. A friend of mine ran a Rolemaster campaign for us, back when we were still at the university. Even though we met an unfortunate end and the campaign didn’t end as the GM anticipated we had a blast.

So why is it that I can’t seem to see a campaign from start to finish? I think one of the reasons is that while I love to create worlds, characters and rules, my stories are usually not so well thought out. When it comes to adventures I am often sloppy and only my talent at improvising and acting out characters saves the day. The other reason is definitely the aforementioned GM attention deficit disorder that makes me want to run new games every other day.

I recently had some ideas for a fantasy setting I would love to use as a basis for a campaign. One part of me thinks it should go through with it, flesh it out, think about adventure ideas or perhaps turn it into a sandbox game. But another part of me fears that it might be another failure – a game that I start to abandon as soon as the next idea comes along. Of course I could start working on it either way. Even if I never run the game myself, perhaps my notes are useful for someone else.

The end of the year is approaching and this is often a time when people look back on what they did in the year that lies behind them. But you also make plans for the new year. And when it comes to gaming, I am not that happy with how 2011 turned out. I had great plans that fell flat for the most part. That’s why I would love to start something great in 2012. After all if the world is truly ending next year, it’s the last chance I got, isn’t it. 😉

Michael Wolf is a German games designer and enthusiast best known for his English language role-playing games blog, Stargazer's World, and for creating the free rules-light medieval fantasy adventure game Warrior, Rogue & Mage. He has also worked as an English translator on the German-language Dungeonslayers role-playing game and was part of its editorial team. In addition to his work on Warrior, Rogue & Mage and Dungeonslayers, he has created several self-published games and also performed layout services and published other independent role-playing games such as A Wanderer's Romance, Badass, and the Wyrm System derivative Resolute, Adventurer & Genius, all released through his imprint Stargazer Games. Professionally, he works as a video technician and information technologies specialist. Stargazer's World was started by Michael in August 2008.

2 thoughts on “My take on “unfinished business””

  1. I think the key is stringing all the ideas together.

    Look at grayhawk for example. Once they read a cursed scroll and found themselves in a game of metamorphosis alpha with a different DM. Another time the PCs went to Boothill and brought a coyboy PC back with them. They went to Barsoom too.

    You’re doomed to be unhappy with a game you can’t use your ideas on. Maybe try to design islands instead of whole worlds? Or maybe get something like sliders or quantum leap going.

    1. Thanks for the tips, guest. But I doubt that solution will work for me. I want to run a proper campaign and not jump around between worlds with the same characters. That’s not my idea of fun.

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