Tonight my Pathfinder group faces their final challenge. The grand enemy they only heard whispers about 8 months ago is now out in the open and they must fight him to the death or watch him wreak untold havoc on the world. The campaign is finished and although the epic confrontation will be the centrepiece of the session tonight there will be one very important thing to tack on at the end; the twist that leads to the next phase of the story. The characters are powerful enough now that little they know of is going to be much of a threat but a whole new level of challenge awaits.
I spent quite some time last night designing the final encounter. I knew who they would face ahead of time and had a vague sense of the battle but working up the actual numbers is tricky. I want the final fight to be hard and I don't mind if I kill off a character or two; they aren't going to miss much from this point forward! The trick is that in a four person party killing off a person or two leaves the group with very much diminished resources and that leads to a cascading failure. It is a fine line to walk as I don't want to make the fight unwinnable either. Going through a year long campaign and then getting wiped by the last boss isn't ideal!
If people do want to continue the story I won't be doing it in Pathfinder however. The characters will be tenth level after this session and they simply have access to too many spells and abilities. They can fly, cure any ailment, send messages anywhere, ignore most normal physical challenges, and do any number of other crazy things. Creating opponents and challenges for them is becoming more and more of an issue, which is of course normal when characters in DnD type games get powerful. If we do continue I will be using Heroes By Trade instead which will make for a strange transition but I have played in campaigns that successfully swapped game systems before.
Hopefully I will get a chance to swap hats for awhile. My theory is that I will hoodwink In The Hat into running the next campaign while I get a chance to play a character in Heroes By Trade and see how it works from the inside. I have had a grand time running this campaign but I think I need some time to be a player for awhile and recharge my DMing batteries.