Roleplaying has always been about campaigns to me. One-shot sessions are the nondefault choice, they are played when there is no time for a proper multisession game. D&D, with its level-based character advancement struck its claws in my mind first and I suspect no amount of weird indie games will dislodge that idea.
My first proper campaign that was actually finished was World Sword, a D&D 3.5 game that saw the players’ characters advance to the 20th level. The campaign was born when my friends asked me to make a D&D game where you could overclock everything and make as overpowered characters you want. I, stealing ideas from at least the Sands of Time-series and Chrono Trigger, devised a grand, time-travelling epic. To summarise the plot:
The (original) heroes came to their home continent from a long ocean journey. Their nation was engulfed in war, and they were sent to an oracle to see what was going on. The oracle, an evil vampire, created a vampire out of one of the characters and teleported them to a distant castle. From there, the heroes ran from a Marut, ten levels tougher monster that chased the vampire. They ended up in Underdark and got back out to find themselves in a desert. Helped by a friendly dragon, the heroes learned of an evil cult who were opening a portal to the Negative Energy Plane. The heroes went to stop it, but a great interplanar portal went unstable and exploded. They found themselves hurtled through time by an amulet they found into the distant past, still pursued by the Marut.
In the past, they encountered a wise wizard, who told them grave things: Some mysterious event would divide the Timeline into two parallel lines: Chaotic Evil, from which the heroes hailed, and Lawful Good. Both sides would try to open a permanent portal to Positive and Negative energy plane in the future, and the metamagnetic currents of these events would draw the lines together and annihilate them, bringing with it the destruction of the entire Universe. Only with the tool of Creation, the mythical World Sword, could this division be repaired. But alas, the World Sword was shattered into four aspects coinciding with the four alignment extremes, all in their respective timelines.
The heroes then undertook the quest to find the sword and unite it. Along the way they stopped a demonic invasion in the Ice Ages, seeked out magical outlets strong enought to propel them through time. Every one of the original heroes died, but new ones joined the quest. They even encountered the Lawful Good timeline versions of themselves, bearing an aspect of the World Sword they had found (the parallel one to which the actual heroes found while in their past/future. Confused yet?). Finally, they brought the united sword to the past, faced off the Day of the Dragons, an event where the Dragons came to the world, sent their Warforged companion to the core of the Universe where he witnessed a being who had travelled through the Multiverse to their universe and disrupted it with his presence. The warforged fixed the tear with the sword (?) and saved their universe. In the end, the Oracle whose Chaotic Evil version had started them on their quest, told them that there was nothing more this universe could offer them and offered them a chance to journey to another one, where new challenges might have awaited. The heroes chose to do just so.
That was one of my best roleplaying game campaigns I have ever done. And now, as other aspects in life cut off chances to play such grand games, I miss them. I miss the sagas of epic proportions, which see the character grow from young adventurers to heroes who rival gods. This longing merely intensified as I read another campaign idea from Game Master’s Guide 2. Then a thought entered my head: Is it possible to condense a plot of epic proportions into a few games, or even into one game session?