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The long payoff

niklinna

Explorer
Years ago, in the one & only campaign I've played from start to end, I made up a 4e star pact warlock. I gave my DM a moderately detailed back story, involving a cursed birth and a horrific twin brother who the midwife ran off with, and the DM added one thing: as part of the pact, my patron took something from my character but I didn't know what it was. (My patron, by the by, was a literal constellation of stars, and there were rival constellations with warlock servants out to get me.)

Midway through the campaign, the party went on a mission that [edit:] several prophetic warnings specifically excluded me from, for if I went, "all was lost". It turned out later that the boss of that dungeon was known to eat people's names & identities.

Many sessions later, we faced the final puzzle, which involved activating a device with nodes corresponding to the stars of my patron constellation, and calling out the name of each star. The bad guy had beat us to it, gloatingly went through the ritual...and it fizzled. We got our chance in the ensuing chaos, and as I began the sequence, the penny dropped. I called out the names of the stars, but swapped my character's name in for the one where the ritual fizzled, and we "won" the campaign.

My DM hinged that whole finish on my character still being around and me figuring out the stars had swapped his name. Good thing I didn't drop out over friction with another player, or as the warlock class's place in the tier ranking became clearer and clearer. :p I'm sure my DM would have managed to rewrite it if I had, of course.

(Also, just by the way, the device was activated by inserting legendary magic items, six of which were the weapons from the 1980s D&D cartoon, and the final bad guy was Venger. We met a couple of the original cartoon characters during our adventures too, all grown up and old, and of course didn't realize who they were until later.)

Have you ever been in a long campaign with a clue dropped right away, that didn't seem significant until the very end? If so, tell us about it!
 
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Richards

Legend
Kind of - in my last campaign, the very first adventure had the 1st-level PCs checking out a farmhouse and finding indications that yuan-ti had been there (they left shed skin in the barn where they killed the mule). Later adventures over the 20-level campaign had them encounter these three "sonic yuan-ti"; what they believed to be an incredibly underpowered aspect of Yeenoghu; a jackalope; a strange man with mental powers who had an invisible, flying worm as a riding mount; a humanoid construct devoted to the physical well-being of humans; and eventually a small girl who only spoke telepathically.

It turned out all of these creatures had come through the same regularly-recurring rift in the fabric of reality connecting Oerth with Gamma Terra, the campaign world of the Gamma World game. The "sonic yuan-ti" were hissers (mutant snakes with humanoid torsos and arms); "Yeenoghu" was an ark (a 9-foot-tall humanoid dog-man); the jackalope was a hopper without that race's normal chameleon fur; the man with the invisible worm was a serf riding a blight; the humanoid construct was a medical android; and the little girl was a mutant serf.

All of this was eventually made clear towards the end of the campaign, when the mutant girl led the PCs back to her home world to "rescue" six "superheroes" according to a precognitive prophecy she'd glimpsed - but which really entailed the PCs inheriting the combat armor and mechs of the superheroes and bringing them back to Oerth.

Johnathan
 

Midway through the campaign, the party went on a mission that my patron specifically excluded me from, for if I went, "all was lost". It turned out later that the boss of that dungeon was known to steal people's names & identities.
Did your DM actually make you sit out a few sessions as a player or use another PC/NPC??
 

Bayushi_seikuro

Adventurer
I love reading these stories. They always remind me of JMS' creation of the characters for Babylon 5. He knew actors could come and go, need personal time (in the case of Michael O'haire, the original captain, be affected by schizophrenia). Each character and arc had trap doors built into them to allow them in and out (in the case of Talia and having made contact with a Vorlon mind), and some traits could be moved to others or just dropped.
Not the best show, but so many good parts. In some ways, as I write this, I think that's what campaigns are - we remember all these epic moments but we often forget the grind of less-than-stellar sessions
 

niklinna

Explorer
Did your DM actually make you sit out a few sessions as a player or use another PC/NPC??
I checked what remains of my notes, and it looks like I was conveniently unavailable around the time that part came up. Also, having done so, I am reeling from the amount of mysteries and hidden-in-plain-sight cool stuff our DM put into that 6.5-year campaign. It's a good thing I took those notes!

(One fun thing from those notes was that my character's twin brother, born with tentacles instead of limbs and carried off by the midwife, not only survived, but absorbed her into his aberrant body. We managed to rescue her later though, so it all turned out great!)
 
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pogre

Legend
I try to do this, but never over six-and-a-half years! That is pretty impressive. I hope you share with the G.M. how much you appreciated that experience. Maybe even cut and paste your O.P. and send it to them.

My campaigns with the same PCs last around 18 months these days. We continue to play in the same campaign world. Each successive campaign invariably integrates the actions and reputations of some of the previous campaign's PCs. (I typically run campaigns into the high levels and usually level 20). No where near as clever as your G.M., but my players always get a kick out of it.
 

niklinna

Explorer
I try to do this, but never over six-and-a-half years! That is pretty impressive. I hope you share with the G.M. how much you appreciated that experience. Maybe even cut and paste your O.P. and send it to them.
I was planning to do just that when I got home from class tonight, and now you've made quite sure I did. :) I included a link to this thread too.

Right now I'm playing Torg Eternity and Blades in the Dark, with different GMs, but both campaigns are proving to be piles of fun in quite different ways.
 

niklinna

Explorer
I love reading these stories. They always remind me of JMS' creation of the characters for Babylon 5. He knew actors could come and go, need personal time (in the case of Michael O'haire, the original captain, be affected by schizophrenia). Each character and arc had trap doors built into them to allow them in and out (in the case of Talia and having made contact with a Vorlon mind), and some traits could be moved to others or just dropped.
Not the best show, but so many good parts. In some ways, as I write this, I think that's what campaigns are - we remember all these epic moments but we often forget the grind of less-than-stellar sessions
Seasons 2–4 had me addicted. The show was still on wobbly legs in season 1, and of course the studio screwed JMS over, making him cram a conclusion into far too few episodes. But still that show had amazing stuff going on. I hadn't know about the planning for absences—that's really cool.
 

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