How do I end a campaign?

  • 5 Replies
How do I end a campaign?
« on: March 28, 2017, 10:59:03 AM »
Hey Y'all!

I'm nearing the end of our available time for Apocalypse World. We're about to start session 7 and because of time constraints, we'll only be able to go to session 8. (Each session is roughly 4 hours long, with 4 PCs).

Most of the PCs have 'leveled up' enough to advance moves and could retire. Threats are at the point where they are slowly being cleared/dealt with triangles are putting a lot of pressure on PCs to make decisions.

I have no idea how to 'wrap it up'. In D&D I'd have a BBEG, some loot, and an epilogue. But I'm not sure how to close it all down.

So, in your experience, how have you ended AW campaigns?

Re: How do I end a campaign?
« Reply #1 on: March 28, 2017, 11:13:03 AM »
I think that, for most people, it comes down to a question of identifying key dramatic turning points, and then building towards their resolution.

In other words, ask yourselves (and I do mean the whole group) what remains unresolved and what you want to "play to find out", and then drive towards that together.

If there are simmering conflicts or points of uncertainty, the gloves should come off. NPCs and PCs involved in those conflicts should step forward and make their strongest moves.  Stop holding back or being cautious and have these characters finally take a breath and take the leap.

If there are advances which would dramatically shift things for the PCs (e.g. advancing moves), they should probably take them!

This is a fun approach, because everyone will be surprised by the ending, rather than it being planned out ahead of time.

By the way: if there IS a potential "Big Bad" in your campaign (they do sometimes appear in AW games), bring them forward and have them escalate, escalate, escalate: make a wild plan or a grab for power, carry out some terrible atrocities... whatever it is they've been threatening to do.

I wrote a bit about this in a Story Games thread years ago; you might find the procedure and advice in that thread helpful:

Re: How do I end a campaign?
« Reply #2 on: March 28, 2017, 01:11:14 PM »
Thanks Paul! Great link as well!

Re: How do I end a campaign?
« Reply #3 on: March 28, 2017, 01:52:38 PM »

I tend to play more on the side of "following the PCs' interests", so, as a result, I haven't used the Threats/Fronts rules very much (I would like to do so more!). This means that sometimes I forget about them.

If you're getting a lot of mileage out of your Threats/Fronts, that would be a more "by the book" approach. Look at your countdown clocks, and the unresolved Threats, and consider which it would interesting to bring to bear in full. Ideally, you could get them all into action, so as to resolve these outstanding bits and pieces.

However, you may have too many of them to tackle in this way, or, perhaps, a few have fallen by the wayside. As a general rule, you're not going to want to introduce anything new at this stage: you're looking to wrap up existing story threads and to resolve existing conflicts. That's what will give the game a feeling of reaching a climax and coming to an endpoint.

You may look at your Threats, then, and, most likely, scratch out those which don't seem most relevant and most interesting. Focus on 1-3 Threats which are intimately interesting to everyone and feel like they really need resolution; drop everything else. Push those hard!

I think the ideal approach here would be somewhere in-between these two: you want to follow your Threats through, but also keep an eye on what the players and characters are interested in and always push towards there.



  • 408
Re: How do I end a campaign?
« Reply #4 on: March 28, 2017, 02:40:00 PM »
I'm a big fan of blowing up the world. And by "blowing up," I merely mean radically changing. So for instance, one of our campaigns was set on a dilapidated space station on the far side of a collapsed wormhole, long cut off from Earth. There was a Front about a group (with cultish, religious overtones) trying to re-open the wormhole which had the potential to be a game-ending change. But what ended up precipitating the end of the campaign was the unscheduled return of "Ark 17," a colony ship returning from a failed deep-space colonization mission. This represented a huge amount of resources and everyone was gearing up to fight over it. Suddenly everybody and their brother was making a run for Ark 17 in anything that could fly.

But the thing that most interested the PCs about Ark 17 was the wormhole bomb - the idea being that when the colony ship got to where it was going, it would set off the bomb to create a wormhole back to Earth. When, in the midst of a desperate, hard-fought battle against multiple groups the Brainer ultimately set it off inside the ship, it made for a great point at which to wrap up the campaign.

Re: How do I end a campaign?
« Reply #5 on: March 28, 2017, 04:04:39 PM »

Perhaps the takeaway there is to look for developing events which have the potential of changing the world, and making sure you hit them before the campaign wraps up.

"How will we change the world?" is a pretty major theme in AW, I'd say; it makes sense to lean on it as much as possible.