So I needed to take a small break from my 2000 word blog posts, so I thought I would write some quick thoughts on campaign endings.
As a GM it’s important that a campaign, or extended adventure series end satisfactorily. From a design standpoint, some of that can be charted through a multiple act structure, but the open ended nature of gaming (and RM dice!) means that things can go astray. It can be frustrating to have the final act end with the players feeling dissatisfied, the conclusion anti-climactic or the challenge easily met.
On the other hand, it would also be too easy to manipulate dice, events and other factors to force a cinematic ending to a long game session or campaign. Acting completely neutral means that hours of hard work managing a well designed narrative could “end with a whimper”. Uhh…”So that’s it?” the players ask. That can feel very deflating for the GM.
I’ve had both in my years of gaming–some incredible finales and some now real duds. Now, spending much of time writing game hooks, modules and adventures I’m exploring the mechanics behind these conclusions. This has become critical in my “Legends of Shadow World” tourney module. At 50th lvl things better be pretty epic!!!!
- If at 50th, death has no real meaning due to lifegiving, is their any tension in combat?
- If a great crit roll can kill the most powerful of entities, then a lengthy combat could last mere seconds, robbing it of impact.
- What reward provides the payoff to players? There are no new spells, probably not any artifacts they haven’t obtained and not much upside to another level up is there a real payoff?
But looking at those above, I can’t help but think they are not unlike the same questions for lower level characters.
- “The end” provides a out of game break that can hand wave away any severe injuries. There are no “next room” or “next level” to survive with wounds. So many lower level final acts lose some of that tension as well.
- Crits are always the wild ace in the RM game.
- What is a commensurate reward for any level?
The mere fact that it’s the “end” creates new problems the GM has to anticipate. What has been your experience? Is just finishing reward enough?