Hey all out there in Bloggerland! As you probably know, I've been running a Castles & Crusades campaign since last summer. We've had 18 cool sessions of the campaign, and the group has had a good old time of it.
Over the course of the last few months my regular life duties have been increasing in pressure. My job is demanding more and more from me in terms of time and brain power, and as my kids get older more extra-curricular activities on nights and weekends take up time. The result: I find myself less and less able to devote time to prepping for my C&C games.
C&C is not a complicated system. But it seems like I have trouble keeping the abilities of the races and classes in my head. And as a GM, I like to be able to remember those abilities. C&C has roughly the same classes and races as AD&D. If I had more time and, frankly, was a younger man with less brain degradation, I could probably hold more of the game's rules in my head, which would therefore make me a more confident GM when I run C&C.
Also, I've been running the campaign in the Forgotten Realms, which is a huge place. I've tried to give the players as much of a sandbox as possible. My definition of a pseudo-sandbox is giving the players a lot of rumors and plot threads that they can potentially follow. I've created a bunch of possible scenarios to explore in whatever order they like.
The problem comes with me having to develop a flavor for an area to which they may journey. I don't feel good as a GM if the places they travel to are too generic. Without time to refresh my memory of the particular flavor of a location through reading my published Forgotten Realms materials, I've been feeling like I'm not providing enough of a living, breathing world. Just having the published world materials as a resource is nothing if I don't have time to study them on a regular basis.
So, I talked to my players about an impending end to the campaign, within the next few sessions. I told them that I believe in campaigns having endings, and that they should save their characters for a new C&C Forgotten Realms campaign sometime in the future. This future campaign would be a "sequel" of sorts for the one that is about to end. I think they seemed pretty OK with all of this.
So, what's next? Well, I talked to the group about me running a Labyrinth Lord campaign in an as-yet-undecided world. The Labyrinth Lord system will allow me to wrap my head around a smaller rule set but not compromise playability, fun, etc. I am confident that they players won't balk at the smaller character options selection. I am confident that they "get" the old-school idea that personalization of an old-school roleplaying character doesn't come from a huge bunch of character abilities, but rather from the player's use/portrayal of that character.
So, using Labyrinth Lord, I hope to alleviate my depleted prep time issue. And a new, SMALLER setting* will allow me to give them a sandbox without making my head explode. I'll report in some more in the coming weeks about the end of my current campaign and the genesis of my new one.
*I think am officially calling dibs on Thunder Rift! More details to come on that...