Before you start a campaign, consideration needs to be given to how long you want to go. Your players count on you to deliver the game, so you should be honest with them when advertising about the length of the campaign. If it is a closed campaign, know what the ultimate goal is, make applicants aware that there is such a goal; once the goal is apparent in the game context, make sure the players are aware that the game ends after the goal has been achieved. If it is an open-ended campaign, think about what would make you want to end the game, be honest about your interest, and collaborate with the players as the game unfolds to make sure everyone is having fun; when DMing and playing become a chore, maybe it's time to look for a logical conclusion.
Likewise, the continued interest of your players is important to sustaining a long-term campaign. While your players will be gung-ho right after the action starts, attention spans can wane as the weeks progress. This is particularly true when the game slows down, either because a few characters are the focus of the sequence or one or more participants are idle due to real life obligations. The admins can give exact statistics, but almost all games have lost one or more players. To some extent, this can be mitigated using the same techniques as described elsewhere in this Workshop: keep the action moving, set and enforce expectations for player posting, craft interesting worlds/adventures/encounters/NPCs, etc. For a campaign, though, you should be prepared to work characters in and out of the game. There are a few options:
- Immediate disappearance as though the character ceased to exist, which is quick but can be messy on the story.
- Ask the player to continue to a logical break, which keeps a clean storyline but may not be effective if the player has already lost interest.
- NPC the character to a logical break, which tries to strike a balance between the presence of a deadweight character and the continued pace.
- Invite a new player to assume the old character, which is a tricky process but may be the only choice if the character is a key part of the campaign.
(to be continued...)