Carpe Blogiem: The Middle Kingdom, Post-Mortem

Let me start this post with explaining how agitated I am. The Middle Kingdom ran for exactly four sessions and then it died. I had two players withdraw from an already light group and it collapsed. I’m so angry that I didn’t see the reasons for the withdraw as clearly as I could have. I’m not mad at anyone. This was my fault and my fault alone. All that work down the drain. Worse, I lost one of my core players from my group. As of right now, B-Team is disbanded. Now I’m down to two teams: C-Team (online) and A-Team (face to face). B-Team was the heart of my gaming for four years. I intend to recruit for the team again, but I lost so many good players I’m afraid I won’t be able to find I won’t be able to find their caliber again. C’est la vie.

The game itself. Let’s start off with the bad stuff. I did not know the chambara rules and to a degree the normal rules for combat as well as I would have liked. There is a rhythm to GURPS combat that takes a bit to find and I didn’t have enough time to find it. I think I also got some character motivations confusions and buried others. It didn’t help.

The good stuff: Using the mook rules was great. At one point I had 100 actors on the field and it didn’t slow combat down by much. The magic and chi systems I created worked decently enough – there are things I would have down differently, but overall they worked. I enjoyed the premise of the campaign itself and that’s a must have as a GM.

The ugly stuff: I felt the group started out working well as a team, but that didn’t last. I wish I had done a few things different to fully engage everyone. Maybe the campaign and the team would have lasted longer. C-Team didn’t even get to play. At first that was due to unavoidable delays, but after B-Team collapsed I just didn’t have the energy to go on with B-Team.

Picking Over the Bones

Overall, this was a failure. With all the work I did on the campaign and the work the players put in it should have been a win…but it wasn’t. The sheer frustration I feel at the loss of the campaign and players was enough that I took a week off from writing. I didn’t want to point fingers or be angry at anyone. I understand why folks left and I understand why the campaign died, but that doesn’t make it any more palatable. So, because of this I decided to go back to my Chronicles of Ceteri. It’s my most worked out campaign with my most stable plots and player characters. I tend to retreat back to it when I need to and right now. I need to.

Posted in Carpe Blogiem and tagged , , .


  1. Sometimes campaigns that you have spent a bucket load of time creating just fail. Are there any lessons that the rest of us out in the wide world can take on board? Apart, perhaps, from don’t invest too much up front in nailing down every aspect of the design until you know if it will fly. But then GURPS GMs are people who, almost by definition, like investing a lot in the design.

    • I’m not sure. Maybe. I’m thinking about it. One take away is pay attention to your players – even if you know them long term. PAY. ATTENTION. TO. YOUR. PLAYERS. I tend to write a lot and reuse later on in my publications so it’s not wasted time for me. Still, I wish it had lasted longer.

  2. Sorry that happened with your campaign; all that work and over in four sessions. That sucks.

    Hopefully you’ll be able to reuse it for a revised campaign or some of your writing. Good luck!

Leave a Reply