E3 is officially retired.
The threat posed by the Giants in the Earth is abated. Feldspar divides his time between wandering the multiverse, seeking more Trees of Power to link to the Quan, and his Primal Forest home. Surana has completed the restoration of Castle Timeless and defeated Linden; she now rules as the Chronarch of the Castle. Belvar has transformed the Black Manor in Quan from a staging area for monsters seeking the destruction of all hominid species to an interdimensional trade moot. Ghul has returned to the Nine Hells to continue his rise to power in the Infernal Hierarchy. Aktara,once the Far Realm Breach was closed, found that her patron, Ulban, had stripped her of her Star Pact powers. Undaunted, Aktara retires to Arkosia to allow the ancient dragon soul within her to manifest.
These are the final fates of the Members of E3, but it was not the end of the Giants in the Earth campaign.
The last game began with a bang. We started the game in the middle of a fight. I told the players to drop half their hit points, half of their healing surges, and half of their encounter powers. My brother-in-law and nephew could not make it, but Hil and my daughter Nicki could; so Blackwood (my nephew’s PC) accepted help from the Book of Vile Darkness and he and Vondal were sucked up a vortex that spit out Ghul (Hil’s PC) and Aktara (Nicki’s PC). They defeat the yochlol and headed on toward the first of “giants” Titan.
It was nice to have Ghul and Aktara back in the party, since they filled out the roster of the original members of E3. The party made it through three difficult fights and one not as difficult skill challenge and won the day. We epilogued the big threads still unresolved (Belvar was freed of the Verdis implant and not consumed by his ring Al-Bari. Surana defeated Linden and merged the Centre of Time and Castle Timeless. Feldspar traveled to Divlos and Thegnland and connected the trees of the Land beyond the Wind and Azenwrath to the Quan. E3 Trading Company continued to turn a profit and Spellguard grew into a prosperous city-state.) and ended the campaign. It was a fun night.
Christina and I got to talking about the campaign and we believe that the campaign may have begun in March or at the latest April of 2009. It started as a game for Surana, Beryl (my daughter Lisa’s PC), and Aktara in the city of Refuge. They played three or four sessions before the others arrived. Lisa dropped out of the game before the rest of the crew that would become infamous as the E3 Trading Company appeared on the scene. So, I ran this campaign for five years. It was Christina’s first full campaign. She had never played a character from newbie adventurer to legendary hero. Ending the game carried a special weight for her. I have found a similar weight in my soul.
I write out secrets on index cards for things in my world. I got this idea from Ray Winnigar’s “Dungeoncraft” articles. Everything that I create gets a secret that the PCs may or may not find out. Each time the party finds out a secret, I give them the index card. After the game, we compared their stack against all undiscovered secrets from previous campaigns, the Tasque Elzeny campaign, and the ones they never learned in this campaign. Their stack was bigger. They encountered and learned more about Rilmorin than I have left to reveal at this time. Wow.
I’ve got more ideas and campaign plans, but building a new campaign seems more daunting in some undefinable way, than it did before and I do not know why. This is not my first rodeo. I ran the “War of the Dragons;” I set up and set down the final battles with the Overlord and Babylon. “Berbalang, Tabok, and the Fairies” ran for a number of years and ended epicly (with two epilogue sessions). My four 3E campaigns rose and fell in a grand fashion and after each of those I was not heavy in my soul. What was different about this campaign?
I don’t know what makes this campaign’s end different. What I do know is that the repercussions from this campaign will echo through many of my games to come. Castle Timeless, the Quan, and Spellguard are going to be sites to which PCs will adventure. Aktara will show up as the “Only Tiefling in Arkosia.” Surana is the Chronarch, she will play the role of Nimsûl and guide PCs to Castle Timeless. Ghul is a Prince of Hell (or a lich or a Spellscarred Savant) and will surely reappear as gadfly or villain. Belvar and Feldspar are both dragons and I love throwing in dragons. The Giants in the Earth will provide hooks and stories for years to come.
Maybe the heaviness at this particular ending comes from what is going on outside game. One friend is moving away, but will be back for his wedding. One friend is looking to buy a house with his S.O. One friend is dealing with a a great and profound grief. My daughter will be a mother in five months. Also, this is my last 4E game; from this point forward all games are going to be DnD Next playtest rules. Are extra-game events making this ending more profound?
I hate leaving this post on a hanging note, but I don’t have any answers. If any of you out there do, please offer me some ideas. Until next time, GAME ON!