Campaign lengths?Retirement for gamers?does it matter?


Way too young of a game system to be fair but in general has anyone had a campaign running ICRPG into the hundreds of hours of gameplay?

I’m thinking that’s really the domain of the complex rule heavy games. The rule light games are adventure, a few connected adventures length.

I am also realizing I may never play a campaign into the hundreds of hours again while employed.

Retirement for gamer generations will be totally different. As gen Xers start retirement…Table Top gaming at the retirement club house will replace card tables and bingo. Crap now I’m looking longingly at retirement. But at that point 50 hours of gaming a month will seem like a light month.

Drats, my entire vision of what I want for retirement flipped on its head. I’m now wanting to live in a retirement community.

Anyway, real topic. Could it be that complex games like Pathfinder, D&D, ShadowRun…really are mechanics for really long form RPGs, and the rules lite RPGs games are mechanics to enjoy a few adventures and start up some new characters?

Could it be that simple? I know it doesn’t matter, and we never had the gaming possibilities we have now, but as I’ve explored the rules light games, ICRPG is probably the best mechanics to date.
But it’s place may be the 4~80 hours category. With D&D in the 40~200 category.

Kind of like a short story~novel or trilogy vs Chronicles.
Do you want to play a Stephen King game or a Robert Jordon game?

I don’t think it matters except in the mind of the players.

Starting a D&D campaign might be a 4 year commitment for me with these people.

While starting an ICRPG campaign…2 months or so Max.
D&D rewards you from being almost ineffective to being cosmic in power and feeling like you earned it.

ICRPG, rewards you with ease of a fulfilling session after session.

Not needing to go shopping, level up my character, splitting loot, and knowing 50+pages of rules almost by heart.

Anyway, needed to think on it. Do players generally think of the length of what a campaign might be? Is that an attractant or detracts from interest?

Perseverance through Campaigns

I’m not sure how many hours it ran, but Alex ran a huge ICRPG campaign that’s all recorded on Roll For Effort in two playlists. The first half is The Deadlands, the second is Kath. The game ran for a few months and was seriously badass.


Didn’t do the math, but deadlands comes in at under 40 hours, probably around 30. Kath is almost 20.

Critical Role (using cause numbers are easy to get)season one has over 370 hours of gameplay (not adds and breaks)and that does not include Lvs 1~9 that they did not record. They are all overly long winded at times so let’s say 300 hours is typical for 1~20 in D&D and not just min maxing with a GM that is helping you get there as quickly as possible. So if doing efficient 6 hour sessions each week. It’s 50 weeks.


I am not sure I understand the intent of that rambling long post, but I could easily run an ICRPG campaign into the hundreds of hours. Rules lite doesn’t mean content lite.

Conversely, I have been in plenty of D&D games that fizzled after six sessions, as well as in games with seriously complex RPG systems (Eclipse Phase anyone?) that fizzled after two to three sessions.

Whether a campaign lasts a long time or not probably has more to do with the DM, players, and external factors like work and family.


Also, while we are drawing correlations, there is definitely an inverse relationship between the increase in global warming and a decrease in pirates in the world. Or, at least, that’s what this chart is telling me the correlation is.


Your data is wrong on the number of pirates, instances of piracy also questionable.

Do decent popular rpg games with rules requiring 40+ pages of rule mechanics, and slow progression arc, make for the increased desire of playing it through, and getting to the top level?

Do lite rule games those requiring less than 1~20 pages, and moderate to fast progression or no progression lead to enjoying the story arc and easier to move on to a different story since there is no ultimate goal for the players other than have a good time and tell a story?

What I was saying is there is a degree of slowing the game down in D&D, pathfinder, ShadowRun…while I don’t think it is deliberate, it does lend itself for very long character arcs.

How this factors into reality is different than desire. As most games are probably 5 or 6 hours.

Most rule lite games ignore that.

Call of Cathulu is not meant to be a long game, D&D seems to want to be. ICRPG does not care at all.

But can it be that for long character arcs that deliberately slow progression is preferable?


You said you could easily run a multi hundred hour campaign in icrpg, have you run any beyond 80 hours? What is the draw to continue experiencing those characters?
How did the power progression play out?
What percentage of characters had more than 2 hearts?
How many character deaths where there?

D&D 2nd edition, skills and powers. And SR 2nd edition where the 2 longest campaigns I played in. I had the time, I enjoyed the games.

D&D part of it was the want to get to the next level.
SR was to complete my characters story arc. After that was done, I kind of lost as much interest in that Story, since I felt my characters main story was done.

After that I ran games, but enjoyed the shorter stories. 4 to 20 sessions.


Any beyond 80 hours? Hrrrmm. I had a six month campaign with my live group. That was probably close to 80 or just over. But just because I haven’t run one significantly over 80 hours doesn’t mean I can’t. Indeed, I can’t think of any game I have run as an adult that has lasted over 80 hours. Lol. People are busy.

As for mechanics, I could scrap nearly all the mechanics and run social RP for weeks and weeks and make that stretch forever, but that’s not my preferred style of play. I mention that point because doing that doesn’t require a particular system, as one could have almost no rules and run a game lasting years. For example, see that guy who claims to have the longest running rpg game (30+ years?) but who never rolls any dice. I dispute that what he is doing is actually a game because there is no random chance, so much as its just a shared story improv session, but he is proof you can have almost no mechanics and run a “game” forever. So, mechanics (or having thicker books) have nothing to do with campaign length.

If I am currently running shorter campaigns, it’s largely the function of being a busy husband, father and professional more than the system. I ended the RFE game earlier than I might have, only because it was time to give someone else a chance to DM, and Dave was losing the ability to play as frequently due to life issues (note that he is not in the current campaign). So, I pressed that one to a resolution, but I didn’t have to do so. The other piece is that the hours on YouTube also do not account for the hours of RP that took place in the chat, so I humbly submit that the campaign was more time consuming than record time of 60 hours or so. But I digress.

I think you hit the nail on the head with regard to progression. D&D has a system of levels from 1 to 20. ICRPG doesn’t. But I can run an ICRPG campaign as long as any D&D campaign from level 1 to 20, and I can give players that same sense of belonging, purpose, advancement, gear progression, stat progression, and character growth that gamers seek week to week.

There are a million ways to give people a dopamine fix every week with gaming and keep them coming back for the long haul. And that has nothing to do with the game system. So, there is a ton of “draw” to be had.


Also, your theory that D&D is inherently more complex and therefore has longer campaigns is a poor argument, as the system has the exact same core mechanic as ICRPG. The books are longer because they are bloated cash grabs that are poorly written and organized, but the base mechanic is still roll a D20 using the appropriate stat modifier and beat a target. Lol.


I would consider myself a “green” GM (since 2016) while approaching with an Engineer/tech writer/teacher perspective. I enjoy the design and brevity of ICRPG both in consumption and gameplay because I have never had the time nor consistent player base for overly extended games/sessions. I tend to agree with most everything @Alex has to say on these subjects. So take this with a grain of salt.

My question, @Paxx, is what is the difference between a 200+hr campaign in 5e vs an 80+ hr campaign in ICRPG when they both seem to have the same amount of story and character progression/growth? Our little (albeit rapidly growing) hobby/community rarely has time to commit to such a long campaign due to careers/family/moving/life, even in the online world of gaming we are blessed with these days. I think this system and other rules lite games are the way of the future precisely because of the shorter time for more content opportunities they present.

The first “campaign” I ran was with Basic Fantasy RPG. We spent nearly 60 hours getting through the same amount of content and story that I can now do with 20-30. We moved, which ended the game. I think that’s awesome! My players enjoy it too. Gives more time for the social gathering in a given night, or gives players a more relaxed feel when they only need to block out 2-3 hours of a week instead of an entire 6+ hour session.

A 200 hour campaign with ICRPG would be an amazing ride and an epic tale, indeed. I see no reason why ICRPG couldn’t handle it as a system.


This is an interesting question, let me do some quick math. I ran an ICRPG spelljammer themed game for just over a year, let’s round it down to one year which is 52 weeks. We played every other week, so drop that to 26 sessions give or take… our average session was somewhere between 3 and 4 hours. So 26 X 3 to low ball it, would be about 78 hours, on the high end (4 hours) it tops out at about 104 hours at the table. So, I suppose long term campaigns are definitely sustainable, my group would have gone longer on that campaign too (I felt like there was more story to tell and other sectors of the galaxy to explore), but life gets in the way and people move/ schedules don’t match up, you know how it goes. That being said, with the surviving members of that group we have played many one shots and smaller scale campaigns since. I don’t think the players really care about the length of the campaign, they mostly just want to feel as though the goal was accomplished, or the story was told in its entirety/ came to a natural stopping point. The dice will decide whether that was pleasantly (overcoming the main obstacle/ adversary) or not so pleasantly (tpk / bad guy’s scheme is successful).


I’m don’t disagree with anything said really, other than number of pirates and D&D complexity…D&D 5E has simple game mechanic (that I love) with what might be thousands of exceptions. Most of those as cannon. every power, magic, feat are exceptions.
ICRPG is also an exception system, but deals with it in more easily digested chunks.

I am not saying you can’t play a game of monopoly for 32 years.
I think that part of the attraction many have to these long form RPGs is the long form advancement, as opposed to ICRPG, Apocalypse engine, Over the Edge, QAGs, and many others…are all light and flexible. They are typically a riot to play. Why are they not played more often by the masses??? Marketing? Then all the Starwars and Marvel games would be the most popular everything.

Why do players who played any of the many games are more fun to play than D&D above 7th level, go back to D&D or Pathfinder or pathfinder in space?
Invested and learned the system? Why do they often slog through a crappy game? With a complex system? They want to level, and the game might be better next adventure.

I don’t think you will have many 200 hour ICRPG games because the story will be told, and you will move on to other stories, because you are not in the just two more levels and my character will be cool cycle. Why are we now in the Land of Samurai??? we where just in the cold frosts covered lands of the north-lands…now we are in a jungle adventure?

Also this is a terrible pool to sample from because everyone here is pretty much sick of playing D&D. Might be a reddit question.


So I’m interested if you kept a progression of power system going, or simply added resources, or stopped bothering with that and loot was loot and milestones was more particular loot?

Near the end of the campaign where room targets always 16+
Percentage of PCs over 2 hearts?
Other oddities that showed up mechanically?

On many non-level systems after a point, progression is typically tiny, and about flexibility. Was it the same for your players?


after a while personal character progression didn’t matter. they got bits and baubles and stat bumps… which were cool, but they were more focused on story progression and exploration. many of my rooms were still around 14 or 15, but that is because they sometimes lost or sacrificed loot either to a terrible fumble, or as a way to achieve an end to their means. the spelljammers ran off of magic and bad rolls or too much damage might destroy the pilots gear. This was all before the MAGIC book came out so there was no cost for spells, but spellburn became a big tool in my arsenal though not all the players were casters. most of the PCs had 2 or 3 hearts, but getting pegged by the opposing ships cannon or some sort of ballista might do double ultimate damage and pin them to the side of the ship/ send them flying into the vacuum of space. level progression kind of varied depending on loot rolls, but i always like letting the players feel pretty powerful… at least until the bbeg fight lol. at the point we stopped at the group had sided with a former mobster who went rogue on their organization “The House” a flying casino in space. they were planning a heist (oceans 11 style) to bust into the casino vaults and steal as much loot as they could get their hands on… alas, at the penultimate point of teleporting into the casino, my friend moved out of state, and then a bunch of stuff happened with everyone’s schedules, so we never got to finish the heist :frowning:


Thanks for that, that was really informative. Sound like it was a blast.


So your question is really…
How long can the players progress their characters without getting bored?

No I don’t really think that is the question but a big part of it.


I didn’t finish writing logs, but in my first year I ran an Eternal Champions campaign (a la Moorcock). So even switching characters across worlds, each character still had a connection however subtle to the other PCs played by that character in other World Chapters. 22 sessions, 9 players, and a lot of PCs. Each session was average 4 hours.

I’ve been running a new crop of heroes in a “rebooted” Alfheim since February and have decided I’m ready for new stuff (Vigilante City, with lots of one shots). We could play forever on in this storyline with these rules, but choose not to.

I think Alex is a hundred percent right, though. Rules-lite does not imply content-lite. The length of campaigns for me is pretty much dependent on my own need to do new things and have a sense of story structure, which implies endings.

I tend to run a single “world story” for a run of 6-9 sessions not because of the rules system, but because of the need to feel a sense of closure before jumping into new story/world. Honestly, for me, a more complicated system would be the reason I stopped sooner. ICRPG as the framework on which we hang all the different games and genres has been more than ideal.


The real question that was working through my head is if your group normally plays D&D or Pathfinder, gets exposed to an adventure of ICRPG, say 3 sessions. All love ICRPG. Why would they then go back to D&D or Pathfinder? But incorporate a couple of things from ICRPG like timers and room targets but for non-lieutenant or boss mobs.
What is the player feel they loose with ICRPG, do they feel they loose resolution, or detail? The huge community they currently have? Are they betraying their hobby? Or is it, I want a character to get to level 20?

I am thinking it’s I want to get to level 20.

I also don’t know how to think about it since it was 20 years ago that I first said,
“I don’t play D&D anymore.”
And I always went back cause that’s where the players are. But I personally really dislike level progression, it really takes away from my suspension of disbelief.


Currently in my head I am preparing something similar to eternal champions, but for it to revolve around a city. So like Warpshell but through time and different bodies instead of through time and space.
So I guess the feeling of character progression sits in my head as a weakness, cause I don’t know how I will replicate it yet.


Dat Loot hoard will be their character progression if you run RAW ICRPG.
Personally I run a campaign where I’ve done my own Final Fantasy world with Bioforms and Jobs(Classes) . The PCs start out quit competent but the main progression is their ability to choose and/or create Tags for their character that work like traits/abilities/Feats. It’s working great and they can’t lose their Tags (only Gear) unless something really dramatic happens.