What is your average campaign length?

I would say that 3 months real time is about average, although I try to envision my campaigns lasting longer.  Reality and obligations always seem to thwart those plans.  On the other hand, before my daughter was born, I ran a campaign that lasted about 15 years (but with frequent bouts of inactivity or other shorter games mixed in).
Most of the campaigns I have been in last 6 to 12 months, with a few exceptions in both directions. In almost all cases, the rest of life gets in the way.

My campaigns last for years.  I am about to end my 4th edition campaign with the PCs (who survive) achieving their epic destinies.  We went from 1st through 30th level.  That campaign lasted almost six years (and started in 3rd edition before being converted to 4th)

Before that I had an Arthurian campaign that lasted about two years and went from 1st to 8th level (3rd edition).
Before that a fantasy campaign that lasted about 3 years (2nd edition)
Before that was my college (and beyond) campaign that went through a bunch of DMs and lasted a good six years and went from 1st level to 11th (1st to 2nd edition).
Before that I was in junior high and high school and we had a lot of pick-up games and games that lasted a few months of intense play.

I don't think we need a default though.
I would say that 3 months real time is about average, although I try to envision my campaigns lasting longer.  Reality and obligations always seem to thwart those plans.  On the other hand, before my daughter was born, I ran a campaign that lasted about 15 years (but with frequent bouts of inactivity or other shorter games mixed in).


Most of the campaigns I have been in last 6 to 12 months, with a few exceptions in both directions. In almost all cases, the rest of life gets in the way.



Yeah RL has a horrible way of smashing into overplots and archetypes! ahh well, such is the life of a gamer. It took me a very long time to accept the fact that the Gygaxian standard of decade long games just wasn't going to work for me. But now that I have accepted that fact it is a lot easier to prepare for and run games and campaigns. And in a way the shorter campaigns are more fun because you can get a little wilder with them.

A freind of mine on youtube and a long time DM suggested that even DM's who have been running large sandboxes or completely open worlds for a long time can really benefit from stepping back to an episode or limited adventure path every so often. Its a different skill set to some degree and a good one to keep practiced.
Even ignoring things intentionally set up as one-shots or short (2-3 session) adventures, the strict average is probably pretty short because it's dragged down by campaigns that don't really get off the ground. For campaigns that do build up a little bit of momentum, 4-6 months feels about average. There's some weirdnesses that make things a little hard to count exactly, like groups of characters getting transplanted into new campaigns or campaigns losing the bulk of the players and getting new ones, but those don't change the average too much.

Unless the number chosen is really extreme, I don't think that deciding on a "default campaign length" really affects design all that much. Like, I don't know what I would do differently in designing a system where I thought people were going to play for three months before restarting vs. a system where I thought they were going to play for a year. The versions of D&D I'm familiar with I believe all have variable experience charts, for anybody who actually still tracks experience in real campaigns. I do think that the system should be set up so that very lengthy campaigns are something that makes sense and are well-supported, because those are the stuff of legends.
Dwarves invented beer so they could toast to their axes. Dwarves invented axes to kill people and take their beer. Swanmay Syndrome: Despite the percentages given in the Monster Manual, in reality 100% of groups of swans contain a Swanmay, because otherwise the DM would not have put any swans in the game.


Unless the number chosen is really extreme, I don't think that deciding on a "default campaign length" really affects design all that much. Like, I don't know what I would do differently in designing a system where I thought people were going to play for three months before restarting vs. a system where I thought they were going to play for a year. The versions of D&D I'm familiar with I believe all have variable experience charts, for anybody who actually still tracks experience in real campaigns. I do think that the system should be set up so that very lengthy campaigns are something that makes sense and are well-supported, because those are the stuff of legends.



+1000 on the bold. Well said.

We were just talking about campaign lethality on the other thread and GilbertMDH brought up the point that shorter campaigns can better handle higher lethality. I was just curious what the average campaign length was. 

Thanks for the input!
All over the map, from a one-month group when I was a counselor at a summer camp, up to the eight-year campaign my brothers and I maintained back in the eighties. Currently close to finishing an eighteen-month campaign spanning ten 'modules' over maybe twenty-five sessions, and I'd say that's about typical in my experience. I wouldn't consider a series which ran fewer than four-months/six-sessions a "campaign."
6 to 12 months typically, but I am a fan of continuing the story through multiple campaigns.

 Any Edition

I tend to run games that span 4 months to 2 years.
The last big one I ran was a Forgotten Realms game that lasted for 2 years, and took 3 attempts to have a player group stay with it.
I have played, in the games my wife ran, what turned into a 3 year campaign over three smaller campaigns.
There is no default range of campaign length. 
Unless it's a game with lots of variety (like TORG, where I was able to run a campaign for almost a decade), I tend to get bored after about 9 months, and that's even as a GM. As a player, I start to get a little blah about my characters, especially in D&D, because 9 times out of 10 its skills/feats/spells/abilities are what is highlighted, and its personality gets ignored (yes, most of the people I've ever met to game with aren't very interested in stories as much as dungeon craws). My excitement about playing a new character dies over a few months of rote monster slashing.

Anyway, I tend to break campaigns down into types, which are based on their planned length. 

Mega-Campaign: Intended to last indefinitely, or years. Players might cycle through characters, but the game world and meta-plot stays consistent.

Campaign: One to two years, where the players stick with the same character (barring character death, etc.).

Mini-Campaign: Three months to a year, with 6 - 9 months being average. Usually involves a very specific goal that is made clear at the beginning ("the orcs are amassing to invade Fredonia!") and doesn't involve a lot of sidetracking.

Micro-Campaign: One to three months. Very tightly focused (Zombie Apocalypse is good here), though characters tend to be cannon-fodder because there's no time to really get into them.

And of course there are One-Shots, which can be one session or up to a month. 
My longest running campaign so far was in the Navy and last about a year, going from Level 1 to about Level 22 (with a total party reboot in the middle due to a Deck of Many Things).  That was in 3rd Edition.

Everything else I've DMed has lasted around 3 to 6 months and usually ends due to DM or player burnout.  :P  I am getting better about the DM burnout aspect, however.  :D

I've never been a player for longer than a couple of months.  I think the highest level I've played to was 5.  :P    

All around helpful simian