The game has gone very well and I am very happy with the system. I think for a campaign with a definite starting and ending point that it works extremely well. For a more open ended, let's just start some characters and play type of campaign ala most of our old D&D games it might not work as well but even there I can see some strengths. I can say that 4 sessions in (one character building and 3 play sessions) that I have no issues with the rules and no plans to house rule anything. The players seem happy with it too, no complaints so far. Not having to track hit points for multiple bad guys is just a revelation, it dramatically decreases the overhead for the DM.
So long term, there are 10 encounters that form the spine of the campaign but there are numerous other adventures that can be done along the way and there are tables for random mission and opponent generation included as well. Assuming we meet twice a month and get 1 encounter done per session, I could easily run this through the end of next year.
But I won't.
Here's why: I've noticed over the last decade or so of playing D&D3 that there is some real-world time fatigue that sets in with most campaigns. Even when I have planned out a set timeline for the game, or even a set deadline as in "I'm going to run this through December and we get where we get" that sometimes we don't get that far. People may be really excited when the game kicks off with shiny new characters and a clean slate, but schedules change, players miss or drop, new players come in halfway through, if there's not enough scenery changing it becomes a grind (this happened with Return to the Temple of Elemental Evil and even with Tomb of Abysthor) but with too much scenery change it starts to feel like disconnected parts and not a continuous campaign (this happened when I mixed the Savage Tide Adventure Path with the Freeport Trilogy). I am guilty of this as well - I may be all fired up to start a new game but when I am reading the same set of adventures a year later, my enthusiasm may have dropped quite a bit. Some of this is having too many games and not enough time, and some of it is falling in love with adventure paths so that everything is pretty much planned out in advance, a bit of a downside when you realize it's going to take 2 years of biweekly play to get through the whole thing.
Anyway, back to Necessary Evil - I like this book too much to kill it with apathy. So I'm figuring twice a month for 8 months left in 2010 - that's 16 sessions. The players have gone though one spine episode and one side episode at this point. That leaves 9 sessions to cover the required episodes and 7 for side adventures, spill-overs, and missed sessions and we wrap it up at the end of the year. Sounds good to me - we will hit the highest points in the adventure, have a lot of fun, and have some good stories to tell when we're finished, and it will leave some of the material unexplored for the next time I run it, maybe with the apprentices in a year or so. I might reskin it to make it Marvel or DC or use City of Heroes as the background next time - COH is our only MMO in this house - shout out to Aluminum Man!
That's the plan for now. It could change drastically if schedules suddenly changed or if the player's took a dislike to the game - I don't see that happening but you never know. I f I can have this and a game or two of D&D going at the same time I will be a happy gamer.