But any keen DM will get a read from his table, and will know regardless of how much effort he puts into his world, that the players at the table just aren't...feeling it.
That's what's been happening at my table. I've noted it has been growing but it's uneven, the same players who I can tell didn't feel a particular day were very engaged the next, but a different player seemed bothered for his efforts instead. It was maddening since I didn't know who I had to watch out for on my side of the screen on a week by week basis.
Plus, I have two new people at the table - not new players, just people who haven't played in years and are now back to sit and roll d20's. So they aren't invested in the campaign although they do fit in the group.
And finally of the original party, I only have 2 members of the original group (Flimflam and Marcus) who have their own roots and long story arcs in the campaign to day (one is the leader of the adventuring group, knighted and soon to be member of the Baron's council; the other has his own tower and achieved the title of Wizard-Lord and truthfully, has other things he needs to devote his time to besides running around the countryside punching goblins in the face). So the new characters by the other people at the table just feel superfluous and maybe marginalized.
So, I am NOT a fan of abandoning a horse in midstream (I am an unabashed completist and loyalist and make no secret about it) but I sat with the group and flat out asked them...with all that I've seen, is there any chance that we might want to shelve this campaign and reroll at 1st?
It's been going on for 4 1/2 years (with a 22 week break for the house repair and a 13 week break for the birth of my son) with this campaign (9 years with this group or at least the core of it) and asking the group to restart was going to generate some lively discussion - how about 2 weeks worth and 3 hours in person? We talked and discussed with the end result being 4 to 2 (my vote doesn't count) to shelving this campaign and starting over...with the two being the players of Flimflam and Marcus.
But everyone was willing to defer to those two and they had the grace to talk about it and we all mutually decided to shelf the game for now and start over.
So that's what we've been doing, rolling up characters. I am making everyone roll up TWO characters: 1 of them 4d6 drop the lowest but the stats are rolled in order, the 2nd one 3d6 but assign the stats where you like. Then it's fleshing both of them out and the idea is that we are mercenaries, not an adventuring group (at least to start) and there will be many opportunities during the meetings to swap characters out and try out the "B" team guy and see which one you like.
So there you go, 2nd campaign has been shelved and we are rolling and finishing up the next party. I will post the background for that party in a few days and our first meeting is this Saturday.