I recently (on Saturday) brought a game of D&D to its ending. It was a disappointment to the players as they wanted to keep the momentum going but due to the nature of the store one thing must end so a new thing can come into being. The ending though was really a beginning too, in that the big bad escaped via a teleport and left the players stranded in their quest.
I have been running this D&D session for around 10 weeks now alongside the Monkeyblood Design module (designed for Pathfinder and Swords & Wizardry now too I believe) whilst melding in my own take. It started with a session that involved no combat at all, utilising the start of a game similar to the Dungeon World ethos that landed them in an under desert temple which was devoted to the great God Basaltor. They were seeking the Amulet of Foreseeing for one of their villages and they were told to follow the signs and bring an evil to an end. This led into The Demon Stones by Monkeyblood Design and the adventure formed around it.
Unfortunately, at the end of the Saturday’s game the battle had been fun but the Underlord escaped and the war was lost. The guardians of Basaltor advised the players that they had not destroyed the great evil as Basaltor had commanded and hence the AAmulet of Foreseeing would not be granted them. This also caused the players to become annoyed at the circumstance of the game as they had loose ends.
The plus side of this all for me is the fact that these players are now keen to get involved again in the game if and when I resurrect the Underlord campaign. I have a few good ideas for it but I recently lost a 3/4 prepared manuscript for the Throne of the Ghast Queen I had been writing and this caused me to become a little less motivated in this regard. Very frustrating when things disappear from cloud storage. Anyhow, I am keen to hear about your experiences with endings that are not a true ending? I have planned several adventures to occur like that but the players have always destroyed my plans (and the big bad) so I am actually a little lost in regards to this.
What should I do? Does the Underlord come back with a plot that targets the players directly? Does he try to wipe them from the Earth or do the players catch wind of similar occurrences to the Demon Stones module and find that the Underlord is trying to re-carve out his own plans in a different area? Does he move on to something that is more ambitious? After all he managed to complete his ritual. Maybe the ritual was a precursor to a greater plot? How would you move forward? Would you design an adventure that is like a chase scene? After all, the players are likely to be keen to grab the Amulet of Foreseeing and complete the quest they initially began and to do this they must destroy the Underlord. The options are numerous and I would appreciate the guidance! Keep rolling!