member, 1164 posts
Tue 25 Jul 2017
at 06:31
What is appealing about living campaigns like PFS?
There are a lot of players who play large scale multi-group multi-gm rpg campaigns.

I'm curious to know what appeals to various players and/or gms to participate in such campaigns.

Is it the idea of affecting the course of the campaign's history? The drop-in/drop-out sessions? Pre-made campaign material? Proffessional art, handouts, etc?
 member, 157 posts
Tue 25 Jul 2017
at 06:57
What is appealing about living campaigns like PFS?
In reply to DarkLightHitomi (msg # 1):

Yes. All of the above, really. Additionally, there are a few special benefits on both sides of the table, depending on the particular living campaign, including the following:

Some have some sort of prize support, where participating in events gives you points you can spend on anything from t-shirts to sourcebooks.

Players who don't have regular groups have the benefit of knowing the GM is constrained by the rules of the particular living setting, so they don't have to worry (as much) about adversarial or otherwise poor-quality GMs.

GMs have the benefit of ready-made campaign material and a built-in tracking system for keeping track of a character's advancement, as well as carefully curated treasure that (usually) makes sure that an individual character doesn't get too out-of-hand.

Everyone in a given living setting benefits from a shared, official concept of what the game is, so everyone knows what to expect.
 member, 1411 posts
Tue 25 Jul 2017
at 13:51
What is appealing about living campaigns like PFS?
I won't say that organized play and more typical home-games are like apples and oranges, because they're not quite that different.  Instead... let's go with apple juice and apple pie.  They both come from roughly the same source, but some people love both, some only like one, and some don't like either.  And that's fine.  The important part is that they're distinct things and serve distinct roles.  If you want a drink, you don't lament that the juice isn't pie.  If you want a snack, you don't lament that the pie isn't juice.

I make this point because I commonly see people complain that they don't like PFS because they like xyz in their home game better.  That's ignoring that they're very different things on the level of fundamental structure and have different purposes.  If you want a long-term immersive RP experience, you don't go to a public PFS game (for the sake of argument, I'm ignoring those home groups that chain-run PFS content with the same players and characters to make it into a pseudo-campaign as those are, if not rare, at least not typical).

PFS games definitely don't offer quite the same things as home games.  They aren't meant to.  You have the much-loved/much-hated magic-item-supermarket.  You have the inconsistent cast.  You have standalone episode stories that only rarely connect with sequels.  You can also have issues related to the other players you wouldn't have in a home game (not after you boot them, at least).

What does it offer instead, though?  Well, let me take my local PFS for an example.  There are 2-3 games happening 5 days a week at a variety of locations around town.  If I want to run a game one week, it's pretty simple for me to to do so.  If I want to play two weeks after, I can also pull that off.  If I want to take a month off?  Also easy.  The schedule fits with inconsistent life schedules, which a lot of people have.  If all of that fails, i can probably get together an online group any given night of the week and have at it for a session or two.  Contrast that with a typical "every Tuesday night" home game.

The materials also tend to be of pretty good quality.  I ran PFS #7-10 a couple of weekends ago, and it's a very well put together scenario that isn't linear and allows for the kind of heist-planning RP that you don't often get in Pathfinder in general.  Later season scenarios tend to be well written and offer multiple alternatives to problems, from diplomacy to skill checks to just outside-the-box thinking.  Earlier seasons had more issues, and there are a few scenarios where the author needs a swift kick in the shins - but most are better than that.

The drop-in nature of the game also lets you do a lot of mechanical stuff in the game you might otherwise not get to do.  Want to try out a new class?  There are lots of ways to do that and not have to develop a big backstory and be committed to playing that character for months and months, even if you decide you don't like it.  It's not uncommon to meet folks with 10+ PFS characters who have tried a whole lot of stuff.

In addition to the lack of long-term commitment, your achievements are also portable.  You managed to defeat that dragon and took its hoard?  That's on a sheet that you can take to another game and it will have happened for your player.  Try moving the same PC between two or three home games and see how easy that is for comparison.

While characters change a lot, local groups tend to have a lot of core people that stick around.  It makes it a bit of a social club where you can go in, meet a few new people, and reconnect with old acquaintances.  As a warning, there are some areas where the local scene (either as a whole or particular pieces of it) is toxic and worth avoiding.  It's unfortunate, though I've not had much of that issue in my area.

My personal experience these days is with PFS, but the 5e thing must be pretty good, too, since they always seem to have 2-3x as many tables as PFS at local events.  Some of that might be that the local organizers are good people, but I haven't played any scenarios so I don't know what it's really like.  I assume it's much the same, though.
 member, 2129 posts
Wed 26 Jul 2017
at 21:05
What is appealing about living campaigns like PFS?
RPGA's 2E Living City was awesome.  Sure some people hoarded treasure, cheated in various minor to major ways etc. but it was like an ongoing campaign where your character (at least in the circles I played in, and even at GenCon) met old friends and made new ones, and you, the player, tended to do the same.  I had several characters over the years, two especially I remember with nostalgic fondness.

I didn't get to play enough of Living Death; it was also awesome, in some of the same ways as LC, and also in ways particular to LD.  It was more controlled than LC, being run by a tighter group, mostly notably one person, with a storyline paralleling history and often incorporating real historical figures as parts of the narrative, and planned from the beginning to be a ten year campaign, each calendar year covering an historical year.  I had three characters in that.  *sigh*  Darn I miss those days!

For me, living campaigns were many of the things already mentioned.  I liked the continuity of playing a character I created and came to know, who developed a personality and a history.  For regular tournament play, you got the character the DM gave you, most of which were one shot, played for 3 1/2 hours of a session and then never seen again, fun but here now, gone later.  For those who had access to a local FTF group, perhaps that appeal wouldn't be so strong, but I didn't have that.
 member, 1167 posts
Thu 27 Jul 2017
at 08:44
What is appealing about living campaigns like PFS?
Do you think that such a game started by me, sadly without pro art, or physical prizes (in game boons would be possible though) would have any potential as viable? In particular where you don't have the same scenerios run by every player, but rather each character affects the world as themselves and potentially affects other groups (imagine group A taking out the boss of the Team Rocket style bad guys, and thus their operations get chaotic as the group splinters into factions which affects the mission group B is on).

Any chance of a privately run living campaign (running purely on donations, if any) appealing to anyone? If so, what do you think would give it the best chance of success?

I ask, because I have developed a setting for my homebrew system and I am hoping to lure some folks into trying out my system, exploring my world, as well as that I always wanted to play a living campaign where my character individually had a chance of becoming part of the shared world's history, and not simply shape the story through the collective of "most players picked A so we'll go with that as cannon."
 member, 1412 posts
Thu 27 Jul 2017
at 14:25
Re: What is appealing about living campaigns like PFS?
Any chance of a privately run living campaign (running purely on donations, if any) appealing to anyone?

These can and do happen.  Individual or small groups of GMs have been running mini-living campaigns at various cons for years and years.  I still have some record sheets from an excellent Earthdawn "living" game that I played at Gencon in 2000 or so.  With a smaller scale campaign, you can structure things in a more "home" game fashion and step away from some of the drawbacks of the huge campaigns.

Before you go down this path, you need to figure out how you're going to run it.  I've heard of long-running groups that do this in a single town and run weekly games or that do this at the same set of conventions every year.  You typically want multiple GMs involved, but you can manage something interesting without them.