Good Evening, All:
Tonight, I want to write about the end of a campaign. My current Savage Worlds fantasy campaign has been running for two and a half years now. With the baby coming, I knew I needed to wrap it up and do so on a high note. Although I easily had enough material to cover another year or two of adventuring opportunities, including political intrigue, a demon war, an epic battle with kaiju and a host of other exciting options, I chose to wrap the game up with the main character's ascension to the role of Emperor of the Northern Lands. In order to do so, the player had established that he had to accomplish certain tasks in-game based on background elements that I had unveiled over the course of the campaign. The last one was the slaying of a Blue Dragon Great Wyrm that had taken over a city and declared the land his own. Having removed the false king at the end of last week's campaign, the characters were perfectly set for last night's events.
I started the session by throwing a storm at the party, along with refugees from a great battle against Cornelius, the great dragon to the south. Word came that Cornelius' forces were pushing north towards the township, so they hurried about preparing for the upcoming battle. I whipped out the mass battle rules from the Savage Worlds core rules for the climactic fight, which the players loved, and they made quick waste of the incoming forces. That set up the final conflict between Cornelius and his son against the party itself.
This beast was the worst thing they'd fought the entire campaign. By tooth and claw, wing and tail, the beasts beat upon the party. Magic flew about with intensity. Three of the characters came very close to falling, saved only by the skin of their teeth (and the use of bennies to reroll their Incapacitation checks). I saw cinematic strikes and excellent team work. The players pulled out all the stops, cursing my name all the while for giving them what they thought was too great a challenge. In the end, though, they brought the two dragons low, slaying them completely without a single loss of life. Only one player had one bennie on the entire table, and it sure wasn't me as the GM. It was a glorious game!
When everything was over, I thanked them one and all for playing, and for making this one of the top three campaigns I've ever run. (For the curious, the other two are a 7-year AD&D 2nd Edition campaign and a 3.5-year D&D 3E campaign, with two honorable mentioned being about two years long each, one in Fantasy HERO and the other in Vampire: The Masquerade.) As a GM and Referee, I really feel blessed to have the pleasure of running a game for that crew, and when I can start gaming again, I hope they all decide to come back and play again in the next campaign.
I love campaigns that end on a good note, with a strong sense of closure. While there were other stories that could have been told, and likely will be told in the future, this was a very appropriate place to wrap up the game. The players were happy, the excitement was high, and it felt good. You can't beat that, in terms of personal satisfaction. Okay, at least in terms of personal gaming satisfaction. I've both played in and run games that ended on a sour note, or simply just petered out. I'm pleased to see I avoided that here.
So, what kind of experiences have you had with ending a campaign? Focusing on the good stuff, can you tell me about your favorite experience? I'd definitely love to know, as sharing the Good Things (tm) is one way we can improve as GMs and as gamers.