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My Shadowrunners have been going on a five (real-life) month streak of destruction and have gotten immensely powerful to the point where they are near gods, but also gotten incredibly shafted due to the fact that they've acted with pretty much no moral code of any form, so they're in a prison with no way out.

I've decided (and some of the players, when approached out of session, seem okay with my ideas) that the campaign will end after the players attempt to prison-break; whether with them all dying horribly (which I expect given that they tend to be not too focused on actually extracting and more focused on murdering hordes of enemies), or with them riding off into the sunset as mythical figures.

Two catches:

First, I'm ending the campaign, and while I've gotten approval from some players, I haven't asked for it from all of them, and some would never attempt anything if they thought it could get their near-epic character killed (even if the alternative is rotting in prison while being hired out as mercenaries and waiting for the final bullet that kills you). Otherwise things just get too ridiculous.

Second, we have a new guy in the party, who joined during just the past couple runs. This wouldn't be such a big deal but not only does he have a character, but even though he's not the most powerful of the group he's still way too powerful to transplant into a lower level campaign, especially since I was planning on shifting to a mostly non-combat campaign.

What do I do?

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Update: The Finale happened. It ended well, with a focus on narrative; people wound up with a wonderful ending-they rampaged through the prison and got out fine. That all ended with them flying off into the sunset in helicopter VTOLs but they crashed in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean; providing a cliff hanger ending, allowing their characters to (theoretically) survive and appear in cameos later. –  Kyle Willey Mar 10 '12 at 6:22
    
mmmmh.... sounds like fun... –  Yaztromo Mar 11 '12 at 23:07
    
So far I've only had good feedback, and I told the newbie and he seemed cool with it. –  Kyle Willey Mar 11 '12 at 23:18

3 Answers 3

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Wow! I'd suggest you go again through Pat Garret & Billy the Kid, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, the Good, the Bad and the Ugly, the Magnificent Seven and OK Corral and then plan the appropriate end of the campaign!!! Of course these movies will give you more a mood and inspiration, rather than straight material....

I think you should tell them (informally, out of the gaming sessions...) that the campaign is heading fast for a Grand Finale, so they'll come with the right attitude.

They will have a number of patterns to choose: maybe the'll turn against each other, a bit like like the Good, tha Bad and the Ugly, or maybe they'll go for a common good cause against an overwhelming enemy (Magnificent Seven), or maybe they'll have to escape from an overwhelming enemy that eventually will catch up with them (Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid - I'd recommend this!).

At the end they'll probably all die and in next campaign that you'll prepare (quite a lot of years later, in the same world) they will be mythical / legendary beings and great stories with unexpected twists, falsifications and embellishments will be told about them.

During the playing session I'd put some special music (given the inspirations, probably Bob Dylan's songs for Pat Garret & Billy the Kid + Knocking on Heaven's door... or Ennio Morricone!)

Enjoy and let them bow out in style!

have a look at this picture.... do you remember it? ;-)

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I chose this answer because it's closest to what happened-the characters are all in ambiguous states of survival, legends among people who knew about what they did to escape (or get into prison), basically aren't safe yet, and may never be. –  Kyle Willey Mar 10 '12 at 17:55

Have them try to break out, but work with the newbie character so that he betrays them to get his freedom. They all get executed and he becomes a NPC for you to use in later games that will press the player's buttons like it's time to nuke Russia.

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+1 Oh yes, planned PC betrayal sets up some FANTASTIC NPCs. Just make sure that the players know the "PvP Lamp" is lit. (I liken it to the smoking lamp on naval vessels. PvP is only enabled when it's lit.) –  Brian Ballsun-Stanton Mar 10 '12 at 16:02
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Screw that, none of that storytelling gaming velvet glove treatment. Real gamers know anything horrible may happen to them at any moment! This is Shadowrun, well set into the trad gaming tradition... –  mxyzplk Mar 10 '12 at 16:10
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::shakes stick:: In my day... sonny... Gamers were used to betrayal from their own character creation process.... –  Brian Ballsun-Stanton Mar 10 '12 at 16:12
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Exactly! No hippies in Shadowrun! –  mxyzplk Mar 10 '12 at 16:13
    
Newbie wasn't there-he hadn't landed himself in prison. The players discovered that they hadn't escaped the consequences of their actions-the final narration ended with a monologue by a mysterious entity who showed them evidence of most of their past crimes, then their helicopters all lost power and fell into the sea. –  Kyle Willey Mar 10 '12 at 17:24

Tell them the campaign is ending, and ask them if they want to participate in the finale. Be up front about the risks of characters death, but leave it in their hands as to whether or not they want to "risk" their character's story ending in death.

If several of them decline to participate, consider adding player-run NPCs to the adventure to allow the players to have an excuse to watch the end of the story unfold.

Give a cursory explanation of why you feel the campaign should end if you feel you need to. But ultimately, if it's been a long run, an ending is probably the appropriate thing to do.

Regarding the new guy...

I'm not quite sure what the question here is. A new campaign means new characters for everyone, right? Let him keep the same concept if he wants to (although new players often want to try something completely different, given the opportunity), but have him roll up a new character with the rest of the group.

You can also apologize for the timing if you want to, although that's not necessary.

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I'm definitely going to apologize for the timing; he may actually be brought in as the CO for the next group, just because I want to see how the party dynamics work. This depends on how stuff works out, but I think it may go well, if a little bit drama-inspiring. –  Kyle Willey Mar 10 '12 at 17:24
    
I got lucky enough to get consent from all but one of the absent players to control their character for them; and the other player never responded to anything I sent her, meaning that the session was pretty much just the first eight or so characters; which was useful because there were only eight passenger slots on both the VTOLs combined (I'd actually planned on heroic sacrifices, but evidently that failed due to math). –  Kyle Willey Mar 10 '12 at 17:51

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