"Black Dougal gasps 'Poison!' and falls to the floor. He looks dead."

Thursday, March 19, 2009

You must be below this line to go on this ride

In the comments of my last post about a Holmes only campaign there were two things that really got me thinking - to absolutely no conclusion. Is there a significant portion of players that prefer a grittier, low level campaign versus the super-heroics of high level play? Is there a difference in DM preferences to player preferences - do more DMs prefer a low level campaign? I have no way of answering these questions but there are a few one-off, tangental observations.

As pointed out be Herb, towards the end of the official run for 3.5 there was the emergence of E6 where character advancement was effectively halted at 6th level. I know I have seen discussions about 4E Heroic-tier only campaigns. There is a sword & sorcery supplement for BFRPG that effectively halts advancement at 6th level. The discussions on DF about a Holmes only campaign went on for 10 pages and spawned a number of follow-up threads.

And finally, and the one that matters most to me, my C&C campaign has been going for ~6 months and we have met approximately 8 times. Characters have just made it to 2nd level but even with what some might call slow advancement my players seem to love their characters and appear to be really enjoying the game.

Badmike comments, "good luck finding a handful of players willing to game for 30 or so sessions to get their characters to 3rd level!"

I appreciate the fact that the faster advancement of 3.5 and 4E gives players new doodads for their characters every session or two. As we get older, have kids, jobs, and other responsibilities it gets tougher to get in a weekly game. If you can only get together once a month, it is kind of nice to have your character advance in level every couple of months.

I don't know if I can keep my C&C campaign going for 12 to 16 months so the characters can get up to 4th and 5th level. We'll see. However, given the enjoyment of the campaign and the levels that will be covered (low levels) I don't see many issues with running a low level only - ie a Holmes-only - for a long-ish term campaign.


  1. There is a sword & sorcery supplement for BFRPG that effectively halts advancement at 6th level.

    Link, please?

  2. http://www.retroroleplaying.com/files/BF-Swords-and-Sorcery-Supplement.pdf

    There you go.

  3. I'd volunteer to run a Holmes-style campaign where everyone is capped at 3rd level if only for the opportunity to prove myself right (everyone drops out 10 sessions in with their characters still 1st level)...but that would be a Herculean task of self-flagelation even I wouldn't consider attempting!!!

    For the record, I've never played anything above 2E, so I'm not sure how the increased advancement works in later editions of the game(I've heard it's basically a level a session or thereabouts). My present 2E campaign is looking at Session 18 in exactly two years of gaming...so not quite a session a month, and the party level is in the 5-6 range. I don't think that is too over the top in terms of advancement during that time period, and the fact I typically challenge my players far beyond what would be considered "normal" for their level (the first adventure I ran had them up against a frost giant!). Imagine instead we were running a Holmes-type campaign these last two years, with the suggested advancement of 11 sessions per level, they might just be crawling into 2nd level at this time. I just can't see a lot of veteran gamers being happy with that slow advancement (or advancement at all, seeing as how the average Holmesian campaign might have had each player going through 5+ characters during that time period due to the deadliness of the game).

    I think an equal application of carrot and stick is applicable in most D&D games; the stick being the survivability and dangerousness of each adventure and dungeon that is delved; the carrot the low yet steady advancement of the character in level and the accumulation of abilities, magic items, spells and powers that make the PC "heroic" in stature. It's a balance that I think this idea of the Holmesian campaign is overlooking, because as stated it is 90% stick and 10% carrot (at most). Case in point, I can't imagine a gamer who loves playing mages being happy with Web as the apex of his casting might through two solid years of gaming.....

    I guess in the end I think it's an one of many ideas that looks great on paper but if actually implemented would fail due to lack of player interest.

    I still think it's viable as a "closed world" type of setting you could use in tournaments (the brave 1st level characters take on the evil 3rd level uber-mage that has subjugated the entire country!)

  4. I will run a Holmes-only game at some point.
    It is just on a growing list of RPG-related things I want to do.
    Another thing that is on the list is an OD&D version of Leigh Brackett's solar system.