This past weekend, my monthly gaming group decided to pause our campaign in The One Ring, which, if you can’t guess from the name, is set in Middle Earth. The setting begins a few years after the end of the Battle of the Five Armies, though our campaign has progressed a further decade or so. This is actually our second campaign in this setting and I really like my current character — so much so that in our last session she turned down a job offer from her king (and lost standing as a result) to avoid retiring her early. As a result, I am a little annoyed that we are pausing our campaign because I might have played her differently if I had known, but I also agree with the reasons for our decision.
Our party consisted of three humans, two dwarves, and an elf. Two of the characters had the ‘Warden’ calling, meaning that their motivation for adventuring is to strive against the growing shadow spreading across Middle Earth: these were the elf and the Dúnedan (Ranger). Two others had the calling ‘Treasure Hunters’: the dwarves. Because we played our characters, their callings and racial prejudices, our party was often at odds whenever we encountered a crossroads and made it difficult to maintain a narrative arc as we did in the last campaign.
So the session after our characters reunited after splitting the party (never split the party, especially in a setting where it is near impossible to send messages to anyone with any speed, and especially when no one is where they told the others they would be…if they told the others at all), our group ordered pizza and discussed over the next several hours what to do next.
Our fortnightly gaming group plays RPG campaigns in ‘seasons’ to avoid GM burnout. Our current campaign, as I mentioned in a previous post, is in the Pathfinder setting Golarion. We are a few sessions away from reaching the end of a ‘chapter’ in our story, so to speak, and will pick up our campaign in Savage Worlds: The Last Parsec, GM’d by someone else in our group. This way the GMs both get to play in turns, we avoid the risk of getting tired of our characters or setting, and we all get to experience a variety of settings and systems.
We decided to do the same with our monthly group. Another of our group will GM, which will be new for several of us, and we’ve chosen the D&D5e system and the Eberron setting. Per the new GM’s rules, we immediately began building our party. To avoid a similar discord as our last The One Ring campaign, we are being more deliberate in how our characters’ backstories brought them together. As one of our party said: ‘We all chose to work together and we all like each other.‘
Thus, instead of a profile on Myfanwy Linalwen, my character in The One Ring, you get some insight into how our group handles party dynamics and avoids both GM and setting fatigue.