Today’s theme is “End.”
How do you end a campaign?
I think we’re all familiar with how a campaign “normally” ends. Someone finds something else to do with their Thursday night and eventually everyone else follows suit. How long this takes can depend on where in the chain the Game Master is.
There was a period where my gaming career consisted of “mini-campaigns,” 3-4 months of roughly weekly sessions using a single system and a single setting to tell a single story arc before jumping on to the next system and setting for a new story arc. Each of those story arcs had their own conclusions (and if I had tried, I would have had the devil’s own time trying to push past what that ending was), so I actually had a number of campaigns that did have a proper ending. The closest I had to a continuing campaign in this period were the “sequel campaigns” I ran in the “Mars invades Atlantis” setting I had devised, each using a different generic system.
My Adventures in Oz playtest, which occurred during this period, was an example of something that was mostly intended as an open-ended campaign that found itself a conclusion. I was trying to keep things going, but I was having a hard time giving them plot threads to follow. This would have been a sign for me to wrap things up, but my players, especially Kris, beat me to it. He declared the mission to go to Utensia (since that would unleash my worst pun impulses, the group had resolved to never go there), and he also devised the scheme to thwart the Nome invasion that I had put in front of them along the way.
My “ultimate sandbox” campaign is intended to be never-ending. One way of looking at the old school playstyle is that players would bring their characters, Dungeon Masters would provide the setting and play would happen when both of those things came together. So as long as I keep my notes for the sandbox together and in playable form, I can use them for whatever group I organize at any point in time.