The campaign is finally under wraps. Our heroes last night led an army into battle, riding on the backs of the Astral Dragons sent on the behalf of their deities to battle their greatest foe, the Daughter of Lies (an Aspect of Tiamat.) The battle was long, the beatings were brutal. I threw everything at them I could; I must have expended just about every Action Point, Chromatic Breath and Fear effect I could at the party. The players were constantly being thrust pass the thresholds of Bloodies and encroaching death; but their tactics and team play paid off.
The game concluded with beast being beaten down, her armies blasted and driven off by their marching forces. The Empire was saved, although their proudest city and symbol was demolished prior. There were a lot of lives lost, and at the end the emotions were high. But it all paid off, and the Heroes (well, Paragons) had not only saved their realms but elevated themselves to positions of authority they would never dream of. The campaign ended with many hugs, fist bumps and lots and lots of chatter late into the night. One of my players is going so far as to framing his character sheet with the portrait my fiancee had made for him! I can’t help but feel so joyous to know our D&D campaign has ended on such a triumphant note.
But there’s another side to that, too. It didn’t hit until everyone started cleaning off their dry erase combat trackers, and handing back their decks of Power Cards I had provided long ago. It’s over, for now at least. I think we
all agreed starting something different was in order; before we made our journey back to these characters. Every game session for the past year has ended with me plotting; there was always a feeling of gears turning and suspense and excitement. I’m so used to sessions ending with the players gathering outside for their last smokes of the evening, talking about what to do next and what direction they wanted to go. Not this time.
The DM in me wanted to keep going, to keep pushing on and scheming up new adventures. The storyteller in me, though, said “Stop it!” The campaign has a beginning, middle, and now it’s finished its end. It was a story of chump mercenaries rising up as bastions of the Empire, being put through the ringer and losing friends and allies to an enemy that threatened all. In the end, they rose up to face this evil, and they conquered using all of the strategy, planning and literal experience they had. I could’ve ran that same fight with the same characters, with totally different players as a one nighter, and I doubt they would have performed as well as my group.
Looking on to the Next Game….
After talking it over with my players, the characters will return at a later date for an Epic-Tier adventure. In the mean time, it looks like we’re going to be starting over from scratch. Instead of my original idea of new characters in the same world afterward, the players elected a whole new campaign. We’ve decided to run something looser, with the details just fleshed out as they came, using the “implied” D&D setting and Cosmology of 4E. No big home made histories or lore, just something straightforward and episodic. This way, we have the leisure to explore the many facets of the 4th edition and D&D “world” without having to constrain with how it fits into my setting. This gives the players a bit more creative control, allowing them to scheme up all sorts of backgrounds and ideas. This also frees up the ability for more jaunts into multi-planar adventures (which also means the freedom to change up the settings as needed.)
Also, on an added note, my friends’ oldest son of seven years has fallen in love with the idea of Dungeons & Dragons. His parents bought him the cartoon on DVD; and now he’s wanting to play with the grown ups so bad! He’s enamored with the dice, and when we tell him stories from our gaming table he jumps with excitement! So, after talking with my friends, I’ve volunteered to run them with their son in his first game! For this adventure, however, I’m seriously considering introducing him with sort of a hybrid of 4E, Basic D&D, and the Savage Worlds experience system (he’s still pretty fresh with Math; but he’s eager to get to the imagination part!)