This might be weird to say on the Gauntlet, given the nature of the business, but I think there are people drawn here for reasons other than the hangouts, and regardless, I think it’s interesting to discuss perhaps the different gaming experience provided by one-shorts vs more campaign oriented games. In particular, I’m curious if anyone else believes that the popularity of one-shots has skewed in anyway the direction that new games in the PbtA-verse are taking.
I’ve played a number of one-shots in various systems, and I mean, it’s not bad! But I find that knowing things will end produces a very different type of gaming experience. It’s not bad per se, just different…people can really lean into the drama, make destructive decisions (not trolling, just you know, dramatic), can really just push hard on the system. The downside is, well, that in my experience sometimes that can get out of hand, or just sort of get a bit ham-fisted in a way that I personally don’t enjoy. With more campaign oriented play people are encouraged to get more invested in the longer-term arc of their character, which I personally enjoy quite a bit.
Obviously logistically, one-shots are great. They’re great for people who struggle to play regularly, and they’re great for game designers, since it’s much easier to test in a bunch of one shots than in a bunch of campaigns. Take Hearts of Wulin, for example. I’m really excited about seeing the full rule book whenever it drops, but I can’t help but be worried that it’s optimized for a 1-3 session experience because that’s where the bulk of the playtesting was. I’m curious if anyone else has any thoughts on how the feedback loop might influence designs. For example, in the “crunchy systems” thread, people discussed character advancement a little bit. One complaint I’ve seen levied against PbtA games in general on other forums is that advancement isn’t that excited…this could be an outgrowth of one-shot culture, because in that case, advancement isn’t super common like it is vs in a game specifically oriented around campaigns.
And of course, the discussion about one-shots goes way beyond PbtA of course, those games just happen to be popular and pretty fleshed out. A lot of the game design that happens at least that I see on Twitter etc is for very short games…200 word games, 1 page games, and so on. I personally find these games clever as an intellectual endeavor, but hard to get invested in.
I just want to caveat:
- I’m not saying pbta is bad
- I’m not saying you can’t play a campaigns in pbta
- I’m not saying nobody plays campaigns
- I’m not saying character advancement is non-existent in pbta
- I’m not saying game creators don’t consider campaigns at all (though for 200 word games etc I think many do not)
I’m just discussing where people might fall on the one-shot/campaign spectrum, and discussing whether or not these preferences have influenced game design in our milieu.