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Thread: Ask a GM [12/1/08]: Ending a Campaign

  1. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Etarnon View Post
    Additionally, I'm wondering what book this was, that said that "tragedy is unfit for roleplaying" since I most often run campaigns with tragic / norse heroic elements.
    I wasn't going to name names, as I'm sure that I've seen similar sentiments before, but this one really jumped off the page at me.

    Quote Originally Posted by Fantasy Hero (2003), p22
    In a gaming context, Tragedy works even less well as a campaign theme, since most people want to have fun when playing a game.
    I think I was actually a little bit offended to be told that I wasn't having fun. It does go on to talk about using Disadvantages to represent the tragic flaw. I'm pretty sure that the paragraph is repeated in some of the other genre books for HERO.

    I'm going to have to re-read Pendragon to see what it says about tragedy.

  2. #17
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    I'm sort of surprised.

    I like playing doomed to die characters that struggle on till the bitter end.

    Kind of like daily life.


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    If we are talking about the end of playing a set of characters. Ending their adventuring. then there are several factors to consider. One is that each character usually has something in their background or a question that was raised, and that they worked toward resolving.

    For instance one character who is a wizard: When he was an apprentice had a rivalry with a fellow apprentice. when the master wizard died, they fought to see who would take his place, and the other apprentice (not the character) succeeded. In this case the character left and sought out knowledge and power so that he could take his rightful place as master wizard.

    In this case at the end of the story/campaign he could go back and have an epic battle with said rival in order to prove he should be the master wizard. When he succeeds against the somewhat weaker rival his story would end with something like "You assume the seat of the master wizard on the wizards council and advise rulers and powerful beings. You orchestrate dealings between nations behind their backs, you manipulate society as a whole so that it does not fall into a dark age. In this you are successful!"

    That is really a shortened version of it, but the idea is there. have the characters have a long term goal, and have them solve it later on. Summarize it with a speech on how well their character does, and leave it hanging a little (don't kill the characters off) in case at some point you want to pick it up again.

  4. #19
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    I'm about to wrap up a story arc for my players, but I'm planning on leaving a bit of a cliff-hanger to keep them thinking while we take a break for about a month (which I hate doing, but moving and holidays are the motivating factors). I've got four players and have been trying to build everyone to a point where they want to see what happens next after we get back from the break. The main theme of the story arc will be resolved, but the characters will continue on (hopefully) together.
    Games: Exalted 2e pre-errata (hiatus), Recruiting for a Sci-Fi/Fantasy game (System TBD) in SF south bay area
    The Dolling Blogs (1, 2, 3 & 4)

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    For me 80% of all my games ended with all of the pc dying. 15% the pc are bored,and 5% they make epic pc and retire. for me epic games are what i like to run.
    "So many stories in one mind all aching to be told."

  6. #21
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    How do I end a campaign?

    Well, as my signature line says:

    "And then you wake up."
    "And then you wake up."

  7. #22
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    I never liked that it was all a dream ending. It doesn't work for me in fiction, and really doesn't work for me in RPGs.

    It essentially means the time spent in reading or playing was wasted.

    Like seeing Saving Private ryan, and at the last scene, he's looking at the graves and asking "Do I earn it?" and we pull way back and there are cameras and crew and All the dead guys drinking coffee.

    Yeah, I know it's a movie, but I got to be able to suspend disbelief.

    Similarly, this is why I don't like raise dead or resurrection in games.

    Funny though, I can deal with Dragons, but okay I got my hot buttons.

    Ending a Series though, It would depend on the specific setup.

    The most practice I Have with such things is in playing Star Trek, since there is real good advice in the Last Unicorn and Decipher books on how to run an episodic campaign, and story arcs and such. Good stuff inside the buffy game, too, though I don't like the original show, nonetheless the techniques there are good for that TV show flavor.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Moritz View Post
    How do I end a campaign?

    Well, as my signature line says:

    "And then you wake up."
    You know, in the Toon Ace Catalog, under the "25 Annoying things an Animator Can do" Table one of things is to end every scene with "And then you wake up."
    There's nothing to fear except fear itself and, of course, the boogeyman.

    Co-Organizer of NEPA D&D and Stroudsburg Geeks. Member of Stroudsburg Area Gaming Association.

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    I am currently in a campaign where I am pretty positive that the DM is out to kill us off. The currently EL is estimated to be well above double our level.

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    Well considering the only campaign I ran to the end resulted in a TPK, I am going to say I may not be the best judge on this one!

    Regardless, I think the end of a campaign should wrap up most if not all of the storylines, side plots and character goals. I also think that he end of a campaign shouldn't really be noticable. The players shouldn't know, ok this is it, it should all flow together.

    As far as character death I look at it like this, being a hero in an RPG involves risking your life to some extent. That means your character could die at any moment not just at the end of a campaign.
    "I'm afraid it is you who are mistaken. About a great, many things."

    "It is not the rules that make or break a game, it's the GM and the players."


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    i loved your term "MacGuffin", so i am going to use that for the rest of this post lol.

    whilst ending a campaign is often difficult, especially if you have the MacGuffin - it's too predicatable for the PC to kill the dragon, and put the MacGuffin away in a display cabinate somewhere, and go back to his old, peaceful life.

    a good idea is to make the MacGuffin not work. your characters have a supposedly fool proof way to kill mr-big-boss-man, so make mr-big-boss-man find a way around it. make them improvise. maybe the MacGuffin only weakens the big dragon, and the players have to think on their feet and collapse the cave around him, crushing him and themselves for all eternity under a few thousand tonnes of rock. forcing your entire party to comitt suicide brings the campaign to a close very quickly.

    one i used was to let them think they were going to track down mr-big-boss-man and slay him with the MacGuffin, and then, nearing their goal, a new enemy attacks them. I had a very radical main character, and made him meet a very puritan character with significantly more firepower than him. the puritan character thinks the PC is planning to join the bad guys, and kills him. I wrote about 200 words for each of my characters, which involved their last moments. one got killed 3 times by a space marine (he was like jack harkness of torchwood, but by the end, the marine just vapourised him with a lascannon), one tried to fight the space marine who came after him, and instead had his head crushed by the marine's fist, one had a psyker take control of his mind and make him jump from a balcony, breaking his neck. however, as simply killing my party would have been a bit unfair, i rewarded the one character who i thought had played best that campaign - he had remained in character, he had schemed and connived so epically that tzeentch himself would be proud, and he had not been afraid to take risks to secure the objectives of each mission. so, as his reward, i had his final scene involving him finally getting the immense technology he had been scheming for all the way through (which he had betrayed and killed a member of his own party to get), and single handedly killing 3 space marines, then escaping, allowing him to be used in future campaigns.

    so in all, my view is that whilst killing the party often makes for a dramatic and epic ending, be wary of killing off your best player. if one person does exactly what you think they should have done throughout the campaign, let them live, maybe let them reccur in a future campaign, or at least in stand alone games.

  12. #27
    Arch Lich Thoth-Amon is offline Cursed by the Gods
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    Talking

    I dont hold back. Depending on your gaming prowess and a bit of luck(chance does play a roll, especially with crit hits & failures to contend with), a player character should make it to double digits in levels before retiring, death, or something worse/better(vampire/lycon/undead, be a few possiblities), depending on the players perspective. If i were to figure a percentage of death in my campaigns(all things considered), i would say that you have a 5% of death per level, or rather, you have a 5% chance to die-or worse(see above) at each level of play.

    I've had retired players:
    1) Command a small keep
    2) Own taverns
    3) Go into politics
    4) ...etc

    I've also had bad things happen to players:
    1) Turned undead
    2) Vampire
    3) Lycon
    4) Lich
    5) ...etc

    Others:
    1) captured and tortured, dead
    2) captured and sacrificed, dead
    3) captured a became a slave to Drow, dead
    4) Mind Flayer brain snacks
    5) ...etc

    With over 30 years of gaming, i can never hope to remember them all.
    Last edited by Arch Lich Thoth-Amon; 03-29-2009 at 10:41 AM.
    Thoth-Amon, Lord of the Underworld and the Undead
    Once you know what the magician knows, it's not magick. It's a 'tool of Creation'. -Archmagus H.H.
    The first step to expanding your reality is to discard the tendency to exclude things from possibility. - Meridjet

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    Quote Originally Posted by Thoth-Amon View Post
    I've had retired players:
    1) Command a small keep
    2) Own taverns
    3) Go into politics
    4) ...etc
    I've also had bad things happen to players:
    1) Turned undead
    2) Vampire
    3) Lycon
    4) Lich
    5) ...etc
    Others:
    1) captured and tortured, dead
    2) captured and sacrificed, dead
    3) captured a became a slave to Drow, dead
    4) Mind Flayer brain snacks
    5) ...etc
    MMMMmmmm...brain suckers!

  14. #29
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    i'm with thoth-amon with the number of years gaming experience i have i cant remember all the ways i've had campaigns end. or characters end their adventuring but two come to mind. one is an adventurer bought or cleared land and built a keep for himself and wife to become lord of that land and the other well lets just say "rend" done by a hook horror left him in pieces.(as recently 1 month ago). most of my campaigns end when the players feel they have accomplished enough in that world. my current campaign is one where they have been transported via a whirlpool and magical underground river to a new world where it is always noon. and they are supposed to find a way back so they can get to the gladiatorial games that one of the characters is entered in. in first town come across find out their cleric might be able to help after they overcome language issue but he is missing (last see arguing with hermit in caves near by and local merchant that has left 2 days prior to go upriver. what to do?

  15. #30
    Arch Lich Thoth-Amon is offline Cursed by the Gods
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    Other ways characters have been retired in my campaigns are:
    1) Became a professor at a magickal school
    2) Became an professor at a martial school
    3) Became a Sage(lone or library)
    4) Became someone important in a local village
    5) Became a diplomat
    It's coming back to me, i'll think of more...
    Thoth-Amon, Lord of the Underworld and the Undead
    Once you know what the magician knows, it's not magick. It's a 'tool of Creation'. -Archmagus H.H.
    The first step to expanding your reality is to discard the tendency to exclude things from possibility. - Meridjet

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