After 47 chapters, 10 episodes, and 2.5 years, our Star Wars: Shadows of the Force campaign has come to an end. What started with a fight against pirates on the jungle world of Zebulon Prime ended with against grey market salvagers in the depths of a planetary nebula. In between we saw the rise of Binary Transports, the promotion of three Jedi Knights, the training of two padawans, the discovery of an alien holocron , and numerous battles against the Force knowledge cult known as the Sith Ascendancy.
But the campaign was about far more than numbers. Along the way we changed how we play RPGs, incorporating narrative mechanics like skill challenges that created truly exceptional, truly memorable encounters, including hot-wiring a speeder while fending off high plains lizards and bouncing a starship through a proto-star nebula. We also told some really cool stories, including the adoption of a young Force sensitive Twi’lik and his training as a padawan, the epic battle with the fleet of the pirate lord Ral Duris, and lightsaber duels amid alien ruins in the sunward desert of Ryloth.
Hell, we even blew up a planet.
Truth be told, I wasn’t ready to end the campaign. I could have kept running it for at least another six months. There were still plenty of stories to be told, plenty of battles to be had. But times change, and some of the players who were into the Star Wars campaign couldn’t make it any more while others were ready to move on to something else. Combined with a change of game days from Friday to Sunday, the time was right to move on to something else.
So the campaign ended. Maybe not the way I’d envisioned it ending … but unlike some of our earlier campaigns, it went out in style. Thanks to two players – Jim and Damon – we were able to write the last chapter in the story of Shadows of the Force. Our heroes fought against the operatives of DeadStar corporation, an salvage firm that was selling salvaged Republic military hardware on the black market, and engaging in freelance piracy on the side.
The pirates had succeeded in restoring a Sith War-era Republic frigate – one of their biggest hauls yet. The heroes snuck aboard the frigate, destroyed its hanger bay, and fought a pitched battle for control of the primary and auxiliary bridges. They seized the frigate … and made the decisions that would shape their destinies for the rest of their lives. Jedi Knight Quest Fios, realizing that it was only by showing strength that the Jedi could defeat the Mandalorians, executed the pirates who’d surrendered to him. Understanding the true nature of the Jedi, the force-sensitive tech specialist Zulen Tek embraced Quest’s vision and declared his intention to join the order. Together they vowed to follow the Jedi crusaders Malek and Revan in their war to free the galaxy of the Mandalorians, and restore peace to the Republic. Their companion Fyor viewed their newfound admiration for Malek and Revan with some skepticism ... but that didn’t stop him from obeying the order that destroyed a helpless pirate starship.
It was a darker end, but the campaign was always supposed to be about balancing on the edge of light and dark, the same as Malek and Revan in the original Knights of the Old Republic video game. It also sets up subsequent chapters nicely. Quest Fios and Zulen Tek have made their choices, and as the Mandalorian Wars unfold, the rest of the player characters will need to do the same. Future adventures would involve the decision points of other characters in the campaign, culminating with the destruction of Malachor V, and the end of the Mandalorians.
Will those stories be told? I don’t know. I’m hopeful that they will be, perhaps as one shots, perhaps as short adventure arcs, but if not, I’m ok with that. The campaign ended, and ended well ... and as a game master that’s immensely satisfying.