Sunday, February 10, 2019

The Sushi Bar and The Lost Art Of Campaign Gaming - The Weekly Update - Sunday, February 10th, 2019

It's quiet. Too quiet.

Today's battle between the Haida Pakallan fleet and the Akho has had to be delayed for a month; the "light snow flurries in the evening" was actually four to six inches of snow starting in the morning and continuing all day. The players and I agreed to hold off until nest time, which will give me more time to get things ready for this maritime mayhem. Better clouds - to indicate wind direction - and a compass rose are in order. Pirate hats, bandannas, and eyepatches are all to hand, as are squid hats.

There are yet more shelves up in the miniatures room, and the Dave Maggi posters will go into storage until I work out a way to display them. The rooms are a work-in-progress, and I am progressing.

The genesis of this battle was a comment made in the last game session by one of this group, on the order of "Since we're controlling the Akho, maybe we should fight the pirates?" Well, why not, I say - this hearkens back to the dawn of time, where we did a lot of 'campaign gaming' and the players would throw these curve balls at the referee / GM who would then have to Come Up With Something For the Next Game Session.

What I've found interesting in my contacts with local gamers is that this sort of 'campaign gaming' is almost totally unknown. "Tony Bath, who?" is an example. Back in the day, we more-or-less expected that long-term campaigning - both for 'RPG' and 'miniatures' gaming - was the usual format. See also the Hyborian campaign, which started out as a way to generate battles and like this campaign -

- kept morphing into what could be termed 'RPGs'. There's been a lot of on-line discussion based on Rob Kuntz and his book on Dave Arneson - see also:

And I have yet to see any mention of the kind of 'campaign gaming' that we used to do back in those pre-historic days.

Maybe I need to do an essay or three on this... ?


As part of the run-down and closure of Google+, most of your comments here have been removed by Google; I have no recourse, they tell me. Som if you want to, please e-mail me your thoughts and comments and I'll post them here for you. Thanks!


  1. Hi Chirine! So are you using the same rules for this sea battle that you used for the Longest Day scenario you ran last time, or do you switch rules to better suit the narrative (i.e. zoom in to individual characters or zoom out to a larger battle as needed)?

    (I wasn't on Google+, so I couldn't post here once you started using that on your blog. Now I can at least leave a comment again!)

  2. Tony Bath's campaign book has been a mainstay of my gaming for as long as I've been playing D&D (I came to the hobby via wargaming anyway).

    Before I was reading Dragon magazine, I was reading a British wargaming publication that serialised accounts of the progress of Tony Bath's legendary Hyborian campaign.

    These piqued my interest to the extent that many years later a friend and I ran a similar campaign - by post - for a while.

    And even today, when crafting an RPG game world, I try to always refer back to Tony Bath for inspiration on establishing ruling families, their conflicts etc

  3. Was that "British wargaming publication" Battle/Military Modelling? Bath had a long series there called "Hyboria: the Campaign that Grew." I remember following that. It seems to me British wargaming even early on was moving toward more personality-driven campaigns that didn't end up developing into rpgs as such, but moved in the same direction, likely for the same reasons

    1. Yes, thank you, that sounds right. My copies of the articles are all in a folder packed away in a cupboard somewhere ;)

  4. I also came to D&D from wargaming, so Tony Bath's book was a staple for me (I was especially intrigued by his description of the Hyborean campaign). It is indeed a shame how few newer gamers are aware of the hobby's roots.