I’ve been thinking about this lately. This is the sort of thing that if you ask five people, you are going to get eight answers. Of course, I have my own opinion.
Let me start of simply. A one shot. I think we can mostly agree on that. It’s supposed to be one session. But if you are in gaming group then it might take a couple of sessions. I would say that is surrounds one adventure.
What’s a mini-campaign? A mini-campaign (IMHO) is more live a movie, novel, or even mini series. There’s a beginning, middle, and end. A definite story arc is in mind. This might take four to five sessions depending.
Then the long term campaign. This is probably where I deviate from what a lot of folks do. I have a starting point to get the characters together. I might have a rough idea on a key event or villain. But I really don’t have a specific story arc in mind. I just let things play out and see where the characters wander off to and what interesting plot points they inspire or create.
How long does that long term campaign last? I dunno. It all depends. Maybe 25 to 50 sessions? When all the plot lines are resolved? It just depends on the campaign and players. Of course, there are other considerations. GM burnout. Players loose interest. Large player turnover. A shiny new game shows up that everyone wants to play. It’s hard to say but when it’s to give pause or move on, if feel like that if you’re paying attention to the players and yourself then you’ll know when it’s time.
So how do you define a long term campaign? Where’s that line when a campaign goes from mini-campaign to long term? When do you think it’s time to give it a pause and play something else?