This is Our Game: How do you run multiple games?

Every month our group of contributors circulates a point about running a D&D game, or some other RPG-centric problem to address. We all stew and think about it for a while, then write up a response. At the end of the month we compile our responses for your reading pleasure.

This month’s question is: Do you run multiple games or campaigns simultaneously and how?

Arcane Springboard – I’ve never run multiple games myself, although I am considering it with the new Virtual Table Top coming out.

Geek Ken – I typically stick to one main game at a time. However, I’ve found that most people do get burned out at 5+ months in a given campaign. So mixing it up is good. At those times I find it good to take a break and run a different game, or have the characters jump into a different campaign setting.

First, I usually try to wrap things up in one campaign and find a good stopping point. Maybe it is the beginning of a long journey, or they just finished exploring some ruins and are returning to town. Jumping off in the middle of a dungeon crawl is not the most ideal stopping point. I like to give the players some closure, and if too many dangling plot threads are around, you’ll find that either your PCs, or you as the DM, will forget about them once you return. So I like to wrap things up as much as I can.

I suggest playing a different game. Take a break from D&D completely and jump into something else. If you are sticking with the same game I very much suggest jumping into a completely different campaign setting. Consider also trying a different level too. Maybe your players would love to return to the heroic tier and whack at goblins after spending several months exploring the planes at paragon level.

Another big advantage of this is the lack of needing to keep any continuity up. The second campaign should be ideal for some simple delve runs, or a very episodic campaign. I really think trying running two simultaneous campaigns with convoluted, intricate storylines ends up with players that are either clueless to what is going on, or just simply don’t care. Make the alternate campaign something fun and stress free. I would dump the idea of having another epic storyline.

If you really want to keep with the same campaign setting, I really recommend not having much crossover into the other campaign. It can become a big headache to keep straight every interaction with villains and NPCs, for both you and your players. Setting it on completely different timelines, or other areas of the continents seem to work best. Maybe the 2nd campaign can be set generations in the future from your current setting, or that across the content on some other shore where the players are fighting some other looming threat to the world.

So don’t freak out that your group wants to take a break and try some other game. Likely they just need a breather from the current one. Having a few sessions wearing another character skin allows the PCs to recharge their batteries. Just remember that if your players are grumbling about trying something different, give them the opportunity to do so. Otherwise you end up with the utter disaster of having players loosing interest in the game completely.

DreadGazebo – Brace yourselves for obviousness: I use Obsidian Portal. I know, you just rolled your eyes at me – but hear me out. For me it’s pretty hard to run multiple games, especially if they are all within the same game system(4e), and pertain to similar fantasy worlds(4e). Running a Dragon Age game alongside a 4e game is slightly less daunting, as would be running a Shadowrun game along side a 4e game. Systems and similarities aside, running multiple games gets taxing and sometimes downright confusing, especially if your pool of players remains majorily the same from game to game.

Using online tools for your DM bookkeeping makes things so much easier, and I’m not saying you have to use tools like OP, I just think they’re the best. Hell use google docs or separate dropbox folders if that’s all you think you need, but do whatever you can to mentally separate those games – write your DM notes in a different style (bulleted as opposed to in paragraph format, different colored pen, etc) or use different colored index cards and other misc supplies, even sitting at a different seat at the table can help too. I think it can be a pretty daunting task and the rewards vary from group to group, just be sure not to burn yourself out in the process.

The best success I ever did have in doing this was 2 groups set in the same campaign world, one set of players played Chaotic Good PC’s on Sunday nights, while my other group were a roving band of nihilists that played on Wednesday nights, it made for a pretty cool dynamic in that each group felt that the “other” group might run around complicating their efforts.

Thadeous: I really can’t run more than one solid game at a time. I really enjoy running a regular group with a long term story line, but I also really enjoy trying out different games and different systems. So I run one shots as my second game. It’s hard at times to find people who have the same schedule or free time to run random games on short notice so I have been going to the web a lot. With all the virtual table top programs out there and a huge community on twitter and RPG websites it’s easy to find a few players who are willing and excited to play a game on really short notice. I envy the guys who have more than one solid group of player and enough time to write/run multiple games. I’m more than happy though with the one I have and the one shots I get from time to time.

Part idiot. Part old man. All geek. Geek Ken likes games. Sometimes he likes to blog about them too.

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About Geek Ken

Geek Ken likes games. Sometimes he likes to blog about them too.
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