I’ve mentioned it before on this blog that I find that the average shelf life of a regular campaign tends to run about 18 months. After a year and a half of playing the same character in the same setting using the same rules, a lot of players start getting a little punchy and begin fidgeting in their chairs. That’s a good time to take a break.
If this rule of thumb applies to W&T (and I’m not certain it will yet, as the majority of the players are still finding their feet with their PCs after so many early characters perished), this means we’re a third of the way through the campaign’s lifespan. Looking at where the PCs are, this sounds about right. In another twelve months, the longest surviving PCs will be fast approaching “name level” and the focus of the campaign should be shifting towards establishing strongholds in the wilderness (I readily admit that this is pure presumption on my part and the actual in-game results might vary greatly).
So what then to do when the end of next summer rolls around?
On an earlier, now-defunct blog, I once ruminated on what games I have left in me. By this I mean, what RPG titles am I willing to run as extended campaigns rather than one-shots or weekend long crazy-go-bananas marathons? That list turned out to be incredibly short. When the dust cleared, I found myself looking at D&D (in whatever flavor), Call of Cthulhu, Wraith: The Oblivion, my “Weird Game” (a modern supernatural heart breaker), and, of course, the radioactive goodness of Gamma World.
Now that I’ve gotten to know the guys I play with fairly well, it seems that the only correct answer to the above question is Gamma World. Hard core role-players this group is not, so that takes Wraith and the Weird Game out of the picture, and I’m pretty certain the guys have had enough of dying under my cruel ministrations, which means CoC is probably not the best material to shift gears with. Plus, Gamma World has been mentioned once or twice in casual conversation as a “game I’d love to play again.” There’s a lot of assumption in making this decision (Will the same group still be together in a year? Will they be willing to trade in elves, dwarves, and barbarians for blaster-toting gorillas and vampiric humanoids? Maybe I should ask everybody before I start making judgment calls like this?), but a guy’s got to have goals in life, right?
A year gives me plenty of lead-in time to get the game world in order before the first eight-toed foot touches down on it. After my efforts to whip up a pulp sword & sorcery game world in short order for W&T didn’t turn out to be what I hoped it would, I’m a little gun shy about trying to build anything sandbox-like in too little time. And it has been a while since I really dabbled in the Apocalypse so the more time I have to fine tune the setting the better.
I figure with a year to work on things, plus Rob Conley’s helpful blueprint for building a sandbox setting, I could have a pretty damn exciting post-apocalyptic campaign world for the players to run amuck in—even if I put no more than two hours into it each week. One hundred and four hours of design time is a pretty solid amount of world building.
So that’s my plan then, provided the guys don’t shoot me down outright. The fall of 2011 will be Armageddon around these parts. Looks like it’s time to start preparing for fallout.