I like short role playing game (RPG) campaigns. That’s not to say I don’t like the occasional long-termer, but mini-campaigns (say, around 3-4 months) are my current preference.
For those not in the know, a campaign is a series of adventures linked by a common thread or goal—a bit like a season of a modern TV or cable show. Some RPG campaigns can last for years, representing long term investment in player character stories and plot development. Some campaigns might last only a few months, representing a tangible milestone completed—for example, a huge Orc Boss whose ongoing machinations to take over the valley the heroes call home is finally brought to his knees. It’s these shorter campaigns I’m talking about.
I enjoy long campaigns, however I don’t like them going any longer than a year. This is due to time restraints, but also because any longer can sometimes lead to burnout—mine, specifically. I found this the case playing Tomb of Annihilation with one of my groups. All up it took about nine months to play, and I was glad when it finished. We stuck to mini-campaigns after that (DM’ing Curse of Strahd was a different matter—that’s one I would have enjoyed even if we played for longer than the seven months it took).
Long campaigns are great because players see their characters, the game world and the story they are contributing to, evolve like a living thing. But mini-campaigns have many attractions, too:
1. Generally less preparation is required
2. The goal is tighter and more specific, so players don’t lose focus on what they’re trying to achieve
3. It’s easier for players and DMs with busy lives to commit to a shorter campaign
4. Mini-campaigns don’t tend to drag because they have a short end date, so there’s less chance of DM and/or player fatigue
5. The goal can easily lead into another mini-campaign—remember that Orc Boss? Turns out he had an even bigger boss manipulating him behind the scenes…
So give some thought to the mini-campaign. You can still have a long endgame goal, but break it into smaller, more manageable chunks. It could save you a few headaches.