Things Change, The Epilogue

Posted on August 13, 2012 by

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What do you do as a player or a Dungeon Master when a long-running game comes to an end?  Not only do we find ourselves turning the last page of one of our favorite stories, but we also need to say our goodbyes to characters that have been a big part of our lives (one night a week) for a long time.  While many of the people in my gaming group are already rolling up their characters for a 4th Edition horror game, D&D Next playtest,  All Flesh Must Be Eaten, or Dust, that is not always the case.  Sometimes a goodbye is just another ending.

For me, the finale of a great D&D campaign is a lot like the ending of a favorite trilogy of novels, or the last season of a really amazing TV show.  The only problem is that while I can always go back to reread a book or rewatch a show, a D&D game happens only once.  It is a singular event, preserved in the experiences of many, but impossible to recreate.

That’s pretty depressing.

So what can we do as Storytellers to say goodbye to a game in a way that makes everybody happy?  I believe that what every game needs is a good epilogue.

This last monday, as the final villain lay slain and the world was saved from the perils of a giant god-monster intent on escaping its eternal prison, the heroes (all but the one who sacrificed his life to keep the monster in check) stood on a cliff and looked out over the battlefield as the sun set in the background.  It was a great ending.

But it wasn’t enough.  These characters that we have spent the last nineteen games with deserve more.  They deserve a chance to end their stories.

I told the players that we were going to take a two-minute break while I poured some wine for my players (The Blood Tree Mimosa: 1 part sparkling red wine, 1 part blood orange juice).  I then sat back down at the table and said: “It has been six weeks since Aziman’s sacrifice…”  The crew returned to the location of their final battle after more than a month apart, dealing with the fallout of this near-cataclysm, and get to reconnect with old friends and allies, and have a memorial servicee for their fallen companion.  There was also a wedding, as two of the characters tied the knot, it was very lovely.

The epilogue is a chance to say goodbye, to see how the world has changed and improved in the wake of a grand undertaking.  How do they cope with life now that a potential crisis is averted?  Are they content to hang up their adventuring pack and settle down, or are they ready for whatever comes next? Either way, if the scope of your game is big enough, then the world that the characters know will never be the same, and your players will want to see that.

And to the crew of the Dawn’s Arrow;

Happy Sailing

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Posted in: Game Talk