on Feb 20, 2008
A few longtime readers may remember the Mar Tesaro D&D campaign, which was the original purpose of this site. Before the programming, the videogames, the rollercoaster, the introspective teenage retrospectives, the rants, and the webcomic, this site was a record of our gaming sessions.
Since we began gaming together in 2004(?) or so, we’ve played through four campaigns in our homebrew setting. The setting is fairly low-magic, low-power, and low-level. Most of our characters are now level 8 or 9, which puts us only a few levels behind some of the huge, epic leaders we’d run into. As my brother Patrick began the fifth campaign, it was clear that our characters were getting too big for the setting. We’d met all the major powers and been at the center of four major world events. Were were whales in a swimming pool. Patrick suggested that the fifth campaign should be our last with these characters and this setting. The campaign was a sort of final battle of good and evil. The idea was that all of the threats popping up (the four previous campaigns we’d played) were the result of the powers of evil gaining influence in the world, the precursor to the final cataclysmic showdown between good and evil. Evil was going to pour into our world and use it as a battlegrounds against good. Regardless of which side won, it would most likely wipe out the mortal realm, which would not only kill all the shopkeepers in the game but also greatly devalue all the property we’d acquired. Clearly this just wouldn’t do.
There was a prophesy (of course there was – there is always a prophesy) that predicted this would happen, and that mentioned that when the time of evil came there would be some heroes that would rise up to face the challenge. Having been at the center of the four previous major threats, the player characters were obviously the intended heroes.
Last Saturday we had the final session of that final campaign, and brought the story, the setting, and our characters to a complete and final close. I know some gaming groups have characters that live on for years and years, reaching level 20 and beyond. Our group agreed that we didn’t want to go that route. Aside from the fact that we would no longer fit in the setting as epic characters, we wanted to explore other games and settings, as opposed to playing these guys for the next decade.
The final battle was pretty interesting. On our side we had our characters – all of our “alts” and abandoned characters and several prominent NPCs, each leading their own group of 100 soldiers. On the other side was the forces of mucho evil, of similar size but different makeup. (We had a lot more ranged units.) The opposing forces were led by a very large and evil looking dude, who turned out to be a Mind Flayer with a bunch of levels in Awesome Evil Mojo Powers.
It was the largest fight we’d ever been through. Patrick devised his own system for mass combat, and it worked really well. It was a battle of about 4,000 individual units, represented on the hex grid in groups of 100. There were three types of groups: Magic, Archers, and Melee. They formed a nice paper-scissors-rock relationship that brought some rewarding strategy to the game. It also allowed for rolling lots of handfuls of different dice, which always makes me happy. It was fun, varied, and tense. Note that I hate long combat the same way a reasonable man might hate lengthy dental procedures, so I want you to realize just how amazing it is that I managed to get through a four-hour battle and enjoy myself in the process.
Once the army of evil was crushed (and it was very close, as the kill ratio was not too far from 1:1) the mass combat ended and it was down to a fight between the PC’s and Captain Squidface. (Note to other GM’s, always name your antagonists, because if you don’t, your players will. And you will not like the results.) None of the player characters died, but it was very, very close. Several of them went down and were in negative HP when it was all over. The dice could easily have killed us there.
I’ve mentioned before that I like stories that end. It’s one of the reasons I like anime and generally loathe American television. It was great to see our story come to a close, nice to end it on a high note, and even better that none of us snuffed it there in the Last Battle.
The group is still set on exploring other games and settings. Originally the plan was for me to run a Star Wars campaign, but it looks like I’m going to be working on an indie game, and so I don’t think I should make that kind of commitment right now. I had a bunch of notes for the Star Wars game already written, along with a map and some other details. I might post them here so they don’t go completely to waste.
Shamus Young is an old-school OpenGL programmer, author, and composer. He runs this site and if anything is broken you should probably blame him.