Sunday, February 23, 2014

Starting a New Campaign Syndrome (SNCS)

Do you or your group suffer from Starting a New Campaign Syndrome (SNCS)? 

Symptoms include: 
--Somebody announcing a new campaign almost every time you play.
--Playing only 2-3 sessions before the DM quits.
--Constant arguments over why certain rules are broken and how you'd run the game.
--Purchasing a bunch of rule books in a given system, playing only 2-3 sessions, and then dropping the system, only to start the cycle over with another system.
--Spotty attendance because multiple DMs are inadvertently competing for a limiting player base.

Snark aside, I've notice in my neck of the woods that somebody is always starting a new campaign, and its roughly within a "pool" of the same nebulous group of gamers. 

They'll have a session where they roll up characters. They'll play 1-3 sessions. And then the old campaign dies as somebody announces a new game. The cycle repeats. Multiple campaigns run simultaneously but they rarely make it past the third session. Gamers both young and old are involved.

In the midst of it all, they'll argue about the rules, why some aren't logical, why some character classes are broken, etc. One DM wanted to revamp the entire Pathfinder magic system. He did. Ran two sessions, and then gave up.

I've seen this behavior elsewhere over the years. I once new a close-knit group of 4 players that had been playing together since the late 1970s. But I knew them since the early 2000s. Every month it seemed they would start a GURPS campaign, frustrated that the last one didn't "work." They eventually switched to 3.5e, decided they didn't like that. Then they bought a bunch of 4e books, and then ditched 4e.

I just don't get it. It's not like they're rotating DMs. It's like just they can't focus enough to complete a campaign.

Do you, or anybody you know, suffer from or are recoverng from SNCS? Then please share your story. 

Because I really want to understand the psychology of this phenomenon, even though I'm keeping my distance...


  1. I was the worst offender in our group which I'm now serving a self-imposed ban from GMing and letting other people run games ;-)

    Which isn't to say I'm not working on a new campaign, but I'm taking my time, thinking things over, rather than rushing in with a bucketload of enthusiasm - only to freeze up two or three sessions into the campaign when I realise my enthusiasm has outstripped my ability!

  2. We don't usually have this problem in our group. We have run a lot of short trial runs to check out new rules together and once or twice things have fallen apart. Now, we do have lots of ideas we talk about but we're careful about making sure everyone's on board to actually start a new campaign.

  3. My group suffers from this from time to time, but it's usually because we play so rarely that we lose interest in one campaign (or get excited about a new idea) in the month(s) between sessions.

  4. Oh lord, this was my high school/college group from top to bottom. Drove me nuts, but I was every bit as culpable. Initially, I think it was just adolescent "ooh, shiny!" stuff going on, causing TPKs so we could end the campaign and move on to the next cool thing. And yes, if we had a bad session with a new system, that system would get tossed aside as "broken." (Couldn't possibly have been that we were new to the system and maybe not running it correctly--oh no!)

    As we got older, I think it was more just a bad habit that we kept indulging in. It's what felt normal to us, even though we knew it wasn't. Eventually, we had to take some time off from gaming as a group (as in, a couple years), and when we got back together, we were able to start fresh and build some better habits. That was over 10 years ago, and yet we still have times where we start to slip back into the old habits, but we've developed the ability to identify when that's starting up again.

    I've never had this issue with any other group I've gamed with (including my other current group), just with these guys, so I think it's definitely an issue of learned behavior and deeply-ingrained patterns.

  5. My groups have suffered this variously over the years. My very first group played the same campaign for some unknown number of months before I joined, and I came in at the end of an adventure from Shackled City.

    After that wrapped up, I took over as GM for the next 15 or so months, before I burned out. Playing weekly, most of the campaigns that followed actually lasted 8-10 sessions but after years-long campaigns the effect felt was the same...

    It wasn't until after I moved to SLC that I first encounter the "new game every 2-3 weeks" problem, and it took me almost three years to find a group with any solidarity. THEY suffered from being terminally "safe" and "boring," until I finally managed to form a group of new players that I've trained to expect long campaigns.

    We occasionally have one-shot adventures, and those are totally planned out and ALWAYS a blast.

    My comment? There is no cure but to keep trying.



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