After several months of chasing, fighting, and seeing one of their own die, our party has completed their first campaign.
It took us a bit to get going, and, at one point, I thought for sure the party was going to return to the safety of their home rather than fight the big boss – the big boss, in this case, is Strahd von Zarovich as we are playing through Curse of Strahd.
I almost panicked as the party debated whether or not they should chase down the vampire or leave and come back another time. A time when they would be more prepared to fight. Truth is, I wasn’t ready for that. I was ready for this campaign to come to an end and move on.
But, thankfully, they decided it was time to take action and kill the vampire.
So, a little context for everyone, our Dungeons and Dragons sessions are four hours long. We start at 2 pm and end at 6 pm. This mid-length session means we usually need to be focused to get things done. This is a trait our group actually exhibits well.
Once it was decided to finish the fight, I was able to set the stage. I guided the adventures through a couple of small skirmishes, a terrifying bridge experience that actually saw one of them falling over, and eventually the boss.
As the players approached the boss, I ran into a pretty significant problem – the players were killing the boss too quickly. I suspected this would be the problem, but I didn’t expect the speed at which it would happen.
As I saw the sheer brutality with which they were destroying the boss, I quickly made some adjustments. I needed Strahd to live longer and to actually do some damage to the party. No, I didn’t want to kill anyone, but it needed to be a challenge.
A few adjustments later, and well-timed escape, and solid use of abilities, Strahd was starting to battle the party more effectively.
In the end, it was the party who emerged triumphantly. Yes, the party was bruised and battered, but no one was killed.
Now, with the campaign over, we were faced with what do we do now.
The timing of defeating Strahd was perfect – it was 2-minutes before six. So, with the session and the campaign over, I decided to ask the party what they would like to do next.
I wanted to know if they wanted to continue to play the characters they have been playing or if they wanted to start over?
It was agreed that we would meet next week and discuss how the players want to move forward. With next Sunday being Super Bowl Sunday (two of our players are Patriots fans and I knew they would be hoping for a game cancellation), so we also decided next Sunday would be a short session.
So I am curious, what do you do when you end a campaign? Do you let your players continue to play their characters? Do you start with new ones? Do you switch off DMs? Let me know in the comments below.
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Patrick Cossel is the Publisher of The Forge Herald. He is a writer, gamer, husband, father, and level 1 Magic Judge. Professionally, he is the Operations Manager of a family-owned newspapers company. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
© 2017, Patrick Cossel. All rights reserved.