Hello everyone! And welcome back to Always Split the Party. I am your host and GM, Jim!
So it’s been about a year since I posted last, and since then I have played a ton of D&D, both as a DM and as a player. I’m running three groups currently (I know, right?!) and am playing in a Tyranny of Dragons campaign run by one of my players. Its a lot of RPG to handle, but I think I’m able to do so. Whenever I think I’m getting burned out, I put off a session for a week or two and by the time it comes around again, I’m rearing to go.
Moving forward, I think I will keep these posts pretty short, as I will be more inclined to write. I hope. That’s the plan anyway.
I wanted to talk today about foreshadowing and leaving the threads of future adventures in your current ones. As players move through the adventure, there will be loose ends that are not solved. It is inevitable: the players never followed up on the lead they had at the Broken Bottle tavern, the henchman of the villain escaped during the chaos of the final battle, or the secret identity of the wealthy patron funding the cult was never revealed. These things would never occur in a book or movie, but in an RPG, loose ends are a fairly common occurrence.
Further, sometimes things happen that might seem significant to the players, but that really have no bearing on the adventure at hand, and so never come to fruition by the time the story has been ended. During the heroes’ prison break, they also set free a mysterious elf-maiden, who seems to control magic, and who disappears as soon as they leave the anti-magic zone of the prison behind. The mad wizard in the tower south of the town is not there the last time the heroes go to see him, and they take that to mean he has gone missing. The sickness plaguing the poor of the city in the slums has not disappeared with the destruction of the cult, the way the heroes thought it would.
When these sorts of things happen, the heroes have questions in their minds, questions that they want answered. Now, if you don’t plan on running future adventures with these characters, or in the world again, or if this is simply the end of the campaign, then you can answer these questions by addressing them either in an epilogue, or just after the game. However, if you are planning on revisiting this world, then I would recommend not answering any of these questions, or tying up any of these loose ends.
The reason is that these loose ends and unanswered questions are the best adventure prompts that a DM could ask for. Think about it this way: when you are starting a new adventure, how do you get your players interested? By connecting the quest to the backstory each character has, of course.
These loose ends are generated by the adventures the characters have just gone through, and so they are going to be instantly hooked by the promise of tying off one of those loose ends. And if that leads to a bigger adventure than the first one was, then that’s great! The point is to hook your players, and using a loose end from the first adventure as that hook is perfect.
That is why I recommend leaving a few of these loose ends around in any campaign. Add something to your adventure that seems significant, but that the players can’t follow up on right away, for whatever reason. The players will puzzle over it and then get back to the task at hand. But when the time comes for the new adventure, the mystery will come back to the players’ minds and they will be hooked right away.
I hope this makes sense to you! Let me know if you have done this in the past, either intentionally or unintentionally, and how it worked out for your group! As always I have been your GM Jim! Happy gaming.
And remember to Always Split the Party!