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Concluding a Tale and Wrapping up a Story

How to tie up loose ends during a tale, in particular when the plot gone off the rails, so to speak.

There are all kinds of fun story climaxes and spontaneous deviations that can occur during sessions of Tales of Xadia. So much so that it can become tempting to just free-wheel scenes and interactions for the foreseeable future. And hey, we won’t stop you! 

But many players crave some closure, as well as a practical finish, after a few sessions. So let’s get into how we can pull that off as a Narrator (with maybe a player tip or two along the way).     

Callbacks

 

The biggest thing I’m asking here is for Narrators to keep an open mind and set some plans aside, as well as brainstorm some new ones. Players, if you’re tagging along on this article, put in some thought as to what your characters currently have as goals. Bringing a character goal to the attention of a Narrator is a great way to bring some immediate ideas for closure that you’ve already thought up!

So all that being said, I assume you know the value of putting a button on things, so to speak. You know that sometimes a journey is fun, but however inconsequential, it needs at least a minor destination.

So if it feels like the action is drawing to a close, only you have no idea what kind of close, it’s time to take a look back on what you’ve done so far. Take some notes! Have your players–

  • Stumbled across a mysterious person who they now haven’t seen in a while?
  • Found scenery, a building, or an object that stood out to them, but wasn’t part of the story yet?
  • Wondered aloud if something would happen, and it didn’t yet?

These sorts of clues are opportunities you can hang story hooks on, particularly endings. The mysterious person can reveal that players inadvertently played into their lives somehow. The mysterious building could contain a long lost relative. That dragon that never showed up suddenly can!

Sure, a few players might declare that they knew all along that you would tie things back around this would be called back, but let them have their satisfaction rather than call out the truth if you like.

The Left Turn

 

The other big tool you can use in concert with a callback, or in place of one, is inserting a big surprise. By a left turn, I mean a sharp change in direction. Why call it a left turn? I don’t know where that idiom comes from but I don’t mean to disparage left-handed folk. We’re talking non-sequiturs that could even be the seed of a new tale.

Was there anything you, Narrator, wish had been pulled from your hat of tricks? There’s no time like the present! Let your favorite character or monster suddenly make a dramatic appearance, maybe even with a request. A request to head to the other side of Xadia and retrieve something, perhaps!

Inspiration for Your Table

Cortex is more than just an idea, it’s many stories that deserve to be told! You can subscribe to the Tales of Xadia newsletter, and our YouTube channels feature fun playthroughs of our tales!  

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