Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Rank Your Top 10 Campaigns

A couple months back Martin over at Treasure Tables passed along this nifty idea from Don Mappin, the Abulia Savant. Don proposes ranking the top ten campaigns you've played as a tool for self-analysis. After compiling and ordering your lists, do you see any trends? Below are my top ten. I omitted World of Alidor from consideration. I'm having a helluva good time, but I don't feel I've played enough of it yet to be able to meaningfully compare it to my other gaming.

1. Bandit Kingdoms - mid 90's D&D 1st/2nd edition hybrid, rotating DMs (player & DM)
2. Wild Times - my ongoing D&D 3.5 game (DM)
3. Dave's Krynn Campaign - 2nd edition AD&D, ~'89-'91 (player)
4. Known World Campaign(s) - Mentzer Basic/Expert D&D, on and off from ~'83 to ~'91 (DM)
5. Unnamed Call of Cthulhu campaign - 1989 or so (Keeper)
6. Sue's Pickup Game - D&D 3.0, 2005, ongoing? (player)
7. Home Team - originally Heroes Unlimited, later Mutants & Masterminds 1st edition, '03-'05, ongoing? (GM)
8. Ultra Force Omega - d20 Modern, 2005 (GM)
9. Retro D&D Campaign - AD&D 1st edition, '02 or '03 (DM)
10. Mekton series - Mekton Zeta Plus, ~1997, rotating GMs (player & GM)

So what trends do I see? It's no shocker that D&D dominates the list. As much as I like a whole bunch of other genres and systems, I'm a D&D man first and foremost. I'm surprised that pretty much all my recent campaigns made the list, except for my Traveller fiasco. As much as I pine for the gold ol' days of Basic D&D, my games seem to be getting better, not worse. That's good. I GM or share GMing duties on 8 of the 10 campaigns that made the top ten. I tend to be a DM first, player second. Conspicuous by their absence are all the various HERO System campaigns that occupied much of my gaming for the first half of the 90's. That could very well be 'anti-nostalgia' at work, because I've soured considerably on the system and at least some of those campaigns involved my one rather buffoonish attempt at courting a gamer chick. Pendragon was the other big game of this period. Unlike HERO, I could see myself taking another stab at that, if I didn't have 5 D&D ideas and Traveller already on my campaign to-do list.

I'm also pleasantly surprised that 3 of the four OGL-era campaigns I've been involved with made the list. Some days this new stuff feels like hard work, but I'm slowly starting to see the dividends of chugging along. Heck, just this week for the first time I made some high-level 3.5 NPCs from scratch, with no computer assistance. A year ago I wouldn't have even tried.

And my one Mekton campaign just barely slipped onto my top ten. I'm not sure what that means, but it sure has me thinking.


  1. Dude! Where's the Savage Gangbusters? I know it was a very limited thing, but I know *I* had a blast with it.

    peace... Dave

  2. Oh, believe me, I rate that game highly. The original article had specifically been about lengthy campaigns, and explicitly excluded short-term stuff like that.

    If I were to add that game to consideration, it would rate no lower than number 4 or 5 on my list, bumping Mekton complete out of the running.

  3. Anonymous6:38 PM

    I love reading other people's top 10 lists, and I'm glad Don got this meme rolling. Thanks for sharing yours, Jeff!

  4. Well. I'm happy to see Mekton make it in, and especially happy about the Bandit Kingdoms making it to the top.

    In retrospect, I find myself more comfortable in the position of player than GM. As Dr. Phostarius, I felt my best trying to stretch the game-world to breaking. As Suave Oddfellow, it was pulling the Max Sterling/Char Aznable flying unscathed through the firefight (and as Jason, the perverse joy of playing my own wingman. and space-chainsaws. sweet space chainsaws).As Bob the Fighter, the sheer bloodbath.

    That doesn't mean I didn't enjoy hitting you with
    60 meter Nazi Robots and Air Squids.

  5. "That doesn't mean I didn't enjoy hitting you with 60 meter Nazi Robots and Air Squids."

    Agreed. But I think one of the lessons to be learned here is that I should stop pressuring you into GMing things. I'm happier as a GM and your happier as a player.

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