My group of by now no longer quite so new newbie players was finally approaching the end of their campaign.

My group of by now no longer quite so new newbie players was finally approaching the end of their campaign.

My group of by now no longer quite so new newbie players was finally approaching the end of their campaign. However, our session earlier this week didn’t — of course — go quite as I had hoped.

Basically they decided to simply charge in on the priests doing the preparations for a let’s-materialise-the-blood-god ritual, and because they are five players, and they rolled well, they pretty much succeeded in preemptively foiling the ritual in all aspects that had been established in the fiction over the past year: they killed most lizard priests, freed the kidnapped girl who was supposed to become the avatar of the blood god, and stole the biomagical doohickey that they knew was powering the ritual. The Lizard Abbott only managed to get away by the skin of his teeth.

Now don’t get me wrong: a good time was had by all, but this session did not, at all, have an ‘end-game’ feel to it, and my problem is: how do I now, in the DW spirit, without too much (or any) railroading, give them such an endgame? I can’t just decide to materialise the blood god after all — that would be a cop out, and to be honest this was already the second time they prevented this ritual. Setting up yet another ritual would be boring. I suppose there’s nothing for it but to just forget about the blood god.

I am so conflicted about this. By all rights, having the heroes foil the bad guys’ plans should be a great ending to the campaign — but it was such an anticlimax — they were just so fast, and it was so easy, that it was no different from any normal encounter. It doesn’t feel right to end it here and just send them off to new adventures.

Upon reflection I suppose I should have made more effort to introduce multiple fronts/dangers. We started to focus too much on one story line, and so now there is nowhere else left to go.

Damn, this GM’ing stuff is hard…

8 thoughts on “My group of by now no longer quite so new newbie players was finally approaching the end of their campaign.”

  1. Talk to your players. What are their expectations, tell them yours. They might think that was the ultimate show down and this time the good guys really, really won! Or, they might feel like you and want just a tad more. …

  2. You said the Abbot escaped?

    Have Abbot complete the ritual, but in an imperfect (more dangerous) way in secret and have it awaken lesser servitors of the blood god within him while appearing to him like it didn’t work at all. Have him feel like even this second (third?) try doesn’t work and be compelled to confront the heroes as they are cavorting and celebrating their victory. He can burst in, being driven crazy from frustration and what is manifesting within him from the ritual and before the PCs can react, his very body becomes the portal through which the blood god’s five servitors erupt. Make them very nimble and hard to attack. Then, to foreshadow future badness, have two of them combine into one and let the players know, spout lore maybe, that this is another way that the blood god can manifest.

    Make some custom moves to keep them at bay, put bystanders in jeopardy, run the gamut.

    Hopefully it will feel like one of those horror films where the heroes think they have destroyed the ancient evil, but it makes one last desperate stand. That should feel like an ending.

  3. I agree with Storn Cook about talking with your players – if they don’t feel it was anti-climactic, then you’re golden.

    If they do feel that it didn’t feel like the climax, it sounds like there are a few threads left to pursue. As Jim Jones points out, the escaping Abbot makes a good way back into the plot. The party also has the biomagical doohicky – I don’t know what’s been established in the fiction about it, but if it needs to be destroyed in order to end the threat of the Blood God once and for all, perhaps they need to go somewhere specific to do so, One Ring to Mount Doom style.

    And there’s always the “that was just a smoke screen” approach – the cult summoning of the Blood God was actually orchestrated by some other force in the world. It may have now lost a catspaw, but it’s still out there, and knows that the players interfered with its plans. This works best if the mastermind is someone the players have already met or heard about, although sometimes it can stretch credulity.

  4. Make them want to summon blood god. Maybe they find a scroll in the doohicky that says if they kill the blood god they will gain immense powers and treasure. Maybe evil is leaking into the world and the only way to stop it is to cut the head off the blood god. That would be fun to me

  5. You could decide that the ritual had actually reached a critical point-of-no-return and the blood god was summoned, just not brought forth? The young girl could return home, your players treated like heroes and a night of amusing revellry had by all.

    But the next day the girl feels sick and weak. Either the god could manifest more slowly, almost like a possession, or the players might work it out and need to take themselves off on a quest to prevent the inevitable?

  6. Robert Bullen Good plan, but kinda clashes with the very explicitly established fiction that the ritual really had not started at all yet. (The timing also does not allow stuff to have taken place the night before, or anything like that.)

    atom weis Your idea I also really like. Made more difficult by the fact that all my players are resolutely non-evil, so powers and treasure will not really tempt them. But possibly I can work this angle some other way.

    Jim Jones This was already supposed to be the less-perfect, give-it-another-try second attempt at the ritual, but yeah, I think that the escaped Abbott is the key into somehow turning this mess around.

    Perhaps I could combine all three ideas: the Abbott, by now completely insane with frustration and lust for power (one of my Front ideas from the beginning had always been that the Abbott wanted to control rather than serve the blood god), does a botched version of the ritual that will point-of-no-return cause something so horrible to happen that somehow the players will have no choice but to summon the blood god themselves to counter that.

    Hmm, I think that might work. Unless, of course, my players take a left turn five minutes into the session and decide to blow up the abbey themselves or whatever. We’ll see.

    Thanks to everyone who responded for the feedback — this has been really helpful!

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