Not 100% sure where today's post is going as of the time of writing. I have an idea for what I want to talk about, and I guess we're going to see where it goes. Sorry if it comes off as rambly or ranty, but it will be what it is. Also, bonus points or negative points for corrupting a Halo reference for the blog title?
Build A Monument
With the recent talk about ending your game or story, I figured I'd talk about one way to do that in a game. See, the longer a game has been going on, the longer the players have had time to do things. Now, think about the kind of things your players do. Sure, they may have the best interests at heart, but I've seen very few table top groups actually truly care about collateral damage. In many cases they like to shoot first, cut through the bullshit, and really rip the heart out of the matter - or person who is the matter. For all of the good these people are doing, there also has to be countless bad things that they have done as well.
That store they used for shelter in an early firefight? Someone probably owned that shop. Bet they were ruined too by how much damage the place took, not to mention the fact that key parts of the building were probably compromised. What about that person they helped out in the second act? That person probably had enemies, or at least people who were directly hurt because of the help that person received.
The point is, for every good act that the PCs may have done, there is likely someone who has suffered. Someone who was missed. Someone the PCs didn't care, or think, about that was harmed by their actions. Collect those people and things, and use them to build the monument.
Presenting The Monument
Building a monument is easy. Just take the sum of those wronged by the PCs, and find a way to throw it all together. Presenting the monument however has to be done with care. You want to hint that it is tied to the PCs' past. You want them to know going in that this has something to do with what they've already done in the game. Hint at villains they've already defeated, major events in their lives. Then, when everyone's speculation is at its peak, you make the reveal. If you've used this to make a villain, or villain group, than it is going to be a group with a very personal connection to the PCs. Even better is that for this group the PCs are the villains and they're just trying to make things right.
Why This Can Work Well
This can work amazingly well because it shows the players that you've been paying attention. It also puts a different spin on the way the players have acted and shows that there was more going on than they may have seen at the time. It can be a lot of fun to have a villain that you helped to create come after you. Even better when you weren't aware that you were making this villain. Finally, there is also just the fact of a past failure coming back to haunt the hero that tends to pique most people's interest.
Why It May Not
At the same time you need to be aware of the potential problems. The Players themselves may not be aware of the things they've done, and may be working under the false impression that they've taken steps to make amends to those harmed by their actions. Nothing is worse than hitting a character with a failing that they believed they'd been taking care of the entire time. Not to mention that the very idea for this is to take past victories and show the people that the player failed to help/protect. Some players don't take kindly to that, so use caution.