How To Run A Horrible Campaign (Successfully)

How To Run A Horrible Campaign (Successfully)
"Shoggoth on a Leash" by Kim Holm used under the Creative Commons Attributor 4.0 Unported License

I’m running a horrible campaign, and my players love it.

Here’s the deal: several years ago, in the before times, I got my hands on a premade adventure. It was billed as a whole experience that would take characters from very low levels to mid-range powerhouses with all the incumbent thrills, chills, and excitement along the way. My husband and I were excited to play through the module with our local friends. We planned to get everyone together for a big session zero right after the holidays. The 2019 holidays.

So yeah, that premade sat unplayed for several years while a lot of life stuff (global, national, and personal) happened to all of us. When we were all finally able to gather again, nothing would stop us from playing through this adventure.

So, I sat down to prepare for our first game. The cover was evocative. The synopsis intriguing. The setting really cool. The story pretty interesting. But the actual adventure?

Not so much.

In fact, there were some pretty significant flaws with the entire adventure design (and we’ll get to those in a moment). But by this point, we were locked in. Anticipation had already been built. Characters had already been concepted. New dice had been bought!

Nothing as simple as a horrible game design would stop us from playing this damn campaign...