Living Campaigns are part marketing tool, part volunteer campaign settings, which allow people all over the world to play role-playing games in a shared universe. While the earliest living campaigns were run by the RPGA (Role Playing Gamer's Association), a division of Wizards of the Coast, many groups around the world run active living campaigns.
Living campaigns are a shared campaign setting with a codified set of rules for the campaign that govern how to build and advance characters as well as how the campaign will handle rules elements of the setting. Campaign staff create, distribute, and manage new adventures in that campaign setting, and quite often administer a player database and promote various products. A living campaign lets players build and advance characters, develop their personalities, and forge relationships. Living campaign games are run at conventions, game days and other gatherings. The rules for character tracking allow a player to take their PC they created for the campaign to any of these gatherings and play it in the adventures offered. It is still common for adventures to be offered at conventions with premade characters that fit to the story, but Living campaigns allow for additional options.
Some people have expressed displeasure that Living campaigns are rigid in their administration and do not allow for much gamemaster choice on rules or setting; Gamemasters are not at liberty to change and/or ignore rules that they do not like or agree with. They are not allowed to go "off script" in adventures or allow items in the campaign that aren't approved by the campaign staff. For some people, not having the ultimate control of a home campaign is a significant draw-back. Some living campaigns, such as Living Planar are an exceptions to this rule, allowing dungeon masters a great deal of flexibility in running their games, giving it a feel somewhere between a normal living campaign and a home campaign. (It is possible that continued stretching of this flexibility could bring the definition of "living campaign" to include such organizations as White Wolf's Camarilla fan club.)
The original Living campaign was the Living City, set in the Forgotten Realms city of Ravens Bluff. The campaign ran in its original form in Polyhedron magazine starting in the mid-1980s, and continued until shortly after the advent of 3rd Edition Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) in 2000. It then restarted under the auspices of the company Organized Play, but lasted only two years under that license and then reverted in 2003 to Wizards of the Coast.
What is a Campaign-Style Game? Edit
WOTC began, with Legacy of the Green Regent, to offer a living style campaign that was a slightly different play experience. An campaign-style game follows many of the same conventions as other Living campaigns such as Living Greyhawk, but differs in a couple areas:
- All accounting/book keeping is done on the RPGA website.
- The campaign provides periodic level bumps so everyone in the campaign is the same level
- In traditional Living campaigns, you cannot level without gaining experience from playing in adventures
- Your character in the campaign isn't as static, meaning you can change a lot of details in between play opportunities.
Providing adventures to retail locations through their retail support packs and providing fast play characters on the campaign's official website, even if you never played in the campaign before you can pick up a character and play in the adventure right away without having to deal with sometimes cryptic and/or complicated character creation rules.
There is much debate amongst players over whether campaign-style games should truly be called Living campaigns or not. They are generally lumped into the same category, although WOTC/RPGA very obviously left the term Living out of the campaign titles.
RPGA Living Campaigns Edit
WOTC/RPGA-sponsored Living campaigns:
- Living Forgotten Realms: Announced at Gen Con 2007, this campaign was launched at GenCon 2008. LFR uses D&D 4th edition rules and is set in the Forgotten Realms campaign setting.
Non-RPGA Campaigns Edit
There are many campaigns that are run either by the members or by non-WOTC companies responsible for the game world. Some of them were at one time part of the RPGA.
- Dave Arneson's Blackmoor: Campaign set in the "original D&D setting" updated to 3.5 edition.
- Fellowship of the White Star: A semi-historic horror campaign set in the Edwardian era from 1905-1914. Focuses on investigation and role-play rather than combat. Run by Thenodrin Presents, LLC. Premiered at Origins 2007.
- Living Arcanis: A d20 System campaign set in the world of Onara. No longer part of the RPGA as of 2007.
- Living Kingdom of Kalamar: A medieval fantasy setting set in Kenzer & Company's Kingdoms of Kalamar.
- Legends of the Shining Jewel: A D&D 3.5 edition campaign set in its own high fantasy campaign world. Its originally was an expansion of the Living City campaign known as Living Procampur, but was redesigned into a custom setting when RPGA withdrew support of the campaign after the end of Living City.
- Heroes of Rokugan/Champions of the Emerald Empire: Uses the Legend of the Five Rings Roleplaying Game
- Living Planar: Mixes all types of settings using D&D 3.5 edition rules into a dark planar setting. Character creation generally begins at 14th level.
- Iron Kingdoms: Chronicles of Immoren: A new campaign in the planning stages using the setting published by Privateer Press
- NeoExodus: A House Divided: A new campaign in the planning stages using the setting published by Louis Porter Jr. Design
- Shadowrun Missions: Uses the Shadowrun 4.0 Roleplaying Game.
- Thardferr: One of the first Dungeons and Dragons Online Living Campaigns, set in a unique and detailed fantasy world.
- The 13 Kingdoms: D&D 3.5 created and run by ex-players from both Thardferr, Living Web, and other online campaigns.
- Gathis: A multi edition Dungeons and Dragons campaign set in a unique world
- Witch Hunter : Dark Providence: Uses the Witch Hunter rules and setting, also from Paradigm Concepts.
- Dragonmouth: A campaign started by the people behind Sarbreenar after that campaign was forcibly ceased by Wizards of the Coast. Uses the Iron Heroes rules.
- Lihr: A small, UK only, campaign using the Sword & Sorcery Scared Lands campaign setting.
- For Queen & Country: A UK only campaign started after Crafty Games announced that Living Spycraft was ceasing. Uses the Spycraft v1 rules.
- Spymaster: The Spymaster campaign is community run and independent of Crafty Games but still uses the most recent Spycraft rules. Living Spycraft characters can be directly converted for play in Spymaster.
Extinct Campaigns Edit
The following campaigns are no longer in existence or have ended but still have adventures available:
- Living Death: A second edition AD&D (later converted to d20 System) campaign set in the Victorian era, based on the Ravenloft expansion called Masque of the Red Death. Its finale premiered in February 2007.
- Living Force: A d20 Star Wars RPG campaign. This campaign was designed to have a 5-year run, starting in January 2001, its finale premiered in January 2006. It was originally set in the time period just after The Phantom Menace and moved forward late in Year 2 of the Campaign to just after Attack of the Clones.
- Living City: Set in the Forgotten Realms campaign setting
- Living Jungle: Set in the Forgotten Realms campaign setting
- Virtual Seattle: Used the Shadowrun rules and setting by FASA
- Living Spycraft: A world of espionage using the Spycraft d20 System rules, managed by Crafty Games.
- Living Verge: Used the Alternity rules system and Star*Drive setting by TSR
- Living Rokugan: Used the Legend of the Five Rings Roleplaying Game. It has since become an independent campaign known as Heroes of Rokugan
- Legacy of the Green Regent: A D&D campaign set in the Forgotten Realms. Its finale premiered in January 2005.
- Living Greyhawk: A D&D campaign set in the world of Greyhawk.
- Xen'drik Campaigns: A campaign-style game set in the Eberron setting, first appearing at Origins 2006 and officially launched at Gen Con 2006.
- Mark of Heroes: A D&D campaign set in Eberron. Its finale premiered in February 2007.
- Sarbreenar: A UK "spin-off" from the US-based Living City campaign, set in the Forgotten Realms campaign setting. Ran for over 10 years before being told to cease by Wizards of the Coast so that they could launch their own, world-wide, Forgotten Realms campaign setting, Living Realms.
Where to Play? Edit
Living and Living style camapigns are played all over the world. Campaign adventures are offered at conventions (such as Origins, Dragon Con and Gen Con), at retail locations, and also for home play. A current popular trend is to play them online using a variety of software that range from simple chat programs, to open source projects such as OpenRPG, to full scale retail applications that provide a reasonable simulation of a tabletop to game at, including mapping features, miniatures, and in some cases, dice you can roll.
Part of the lure of Living campaigns is the ability to take your character to any of these places and play it in the adventures offered and continue to advance that character.
- Legends of the Shining Jewel Official Website
- Heroes of Rokugan Official Website
- Living Planar Yahoo group for the campaign
- Iron Kingdoms: Chronicles of Immoren Yahoo group for the campaign
- Living Greyhawk Official website
- Mark of Heroes Official website
- Onara Online The official unofficial website for Living Arcanis
- Living Arcanis Paradigm Concepts run website for Living Arcanis
- RPGA Living Death The official website for Living Death
- Dave Arneson's Blackmoor Official website
- Fellowship of the White Star Official website
- ShadowRun Missions Official website
- Thardferr Official website
- Gathis Official website
- WH: Dark Providence Official website
- Dragonmouth official website
- Lihr official website
- For Queen & Country official website
- Series of articles on the history of role-playing games
- Parenting forum article to inform mothers about PGs
- History of roleplaying
- Article on RPGs as therapy
- List of Shared World campaigns and links
- Fannon, Sean Patrick. The Fantasy Role-Playing Gamer's Bible, 2nd Edition. Obsidian Studios, 2000.
- Gygax, Gary. Roleplaying Mastery. New York, NY: Perigee, 1987.
- Gygax, Gary. Master of the Game. New York, NY: Perigee, 1989.
- Gygax, Gary. "Editorial." Dragon Magazine 95: 12. (on influence from Tolkien)
- Jaffe, Rona. Mazes and Monsters. New York, NY: Delacorte Press, 1981.
- Schick, Lawrence. Heroic Worlds: A History and Guide to Roleplaying Games. Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books, 1991.
- BBC article on the history of Dungeons & Dragons
- Gamespy's 30th Anniversary of Dungeons & Dragons special
- The Acaeum – detailed information on pre-AD&D2 editions of the game
- Adventure Game Industry Market Research Summary V1.0
- Opening the Dungeon – an article about the conflict over the proprietary or open-source nature of Dungeons & Dragons
- Classic Gaming Feature on SSI