Once again I had a table of eight. This time there were two new players, a father and son team, and the rest were veterans of the last few sessions. When the characters were sorted we had a Cavalier, a Binder Warlock, a Rangers Hunter, a PHB1 Ranger, a Slayer, a Cleric, a Thief and a Knight. Whew! A full table. I need a backup DM if these numbers continue.
I opted to move the plot right along and had the ghost of Nathaire speak to the party, even as he left his body for good. He told them how to use the ritual as his last act of repentance for the misery he had caused. We then proceeded with skill challenge. It didn't make alot of sense to me, this skill challenge, and the players rolled horribly. After giving the narrative a chance to move a bit, they failed and were all blasted as the graveyard erupted with Zombies and the ghost of Vontarin freaked out. A couple of heroes fell and all were bloodied in the end. The cleric was down at the last round, so we ruled that she died. Someone had to.
For me, this was an anticlimactic ending. The last encounter was nearly identical to the one before though with a less interesting dynamic. The villain was basically the same. I changed it around to make the Wizard a close bursting banshee type monster, but they piled on it in classic solo fight style. This battle really should have been a set piece to remember, with some sort of terrain or mechanic to make it memorable, but it was more or less a repeat of the week before.
I think the similarity of the last to fights points to the major problem of the season, which is that it featured two villains who were literally indistinguishable. Its hard enough for people to keep track of fantasy names and mysterious plots in these games without twining them all together in a mush. It was very apparent to me every time I recapped the story, that this was a narrative particularly lacking in clarity.
"So a long time ago there were two wizards, but now there's two wizards though one is different, and one's possessing the other so they're kinda the same, but you fight them so it doesn't matter really, and they have the same stats too."
Here's hoping next season has clearer goals and benchmarks.
Of course everyone had fun and it really felt like enthusiasm is building for next season. I have enjoyed this stint of public DMing and I will continue for now. The interaction with the younger players particularly reminds me of why I have been trying to break into the teaching profession.