This is the second post in TT’s How to End a Campaign series. Each post will cover one approach to ending a long-running game, including pros and cons.

Ending a campaign is rarely going to be easy, and it’s something a lot of GMs struggle with. In fact, it was one of the two most common answers to the question “What’s the hardest thing you’ve ever had to do as a GM?,” which was asked as part of our GMing profiles thread.

Today’s approach (more of a non-approach, actually): Ending things with a whimper.

There are lots of ways to end your game with a whimper. Any time a game just sort of . . . stops, that was a whimper.

Sometimes it comes down to logistics: Jenna doesn’t have Saturdays free anymore, and George has to skip every other week. No one planned it that way, but the game can’t go on.

Other times, you or one (or more) of your players just loses interest, and lets the game die without trying to bring it to an actual close.

The key difference between this approach and the others is that when you end things with a whimper, it’s more of a non-decision than a decision. It happens, or the group lets it happen, and you move on.


Over the years, I’ve ended more than my fair share of games this way, and it sucks. I’ve also played in quite a few games that ended like this, and it sucked as a player, too.

There are no pros to just letting your game die a quiet, useless death, except on the most basic level: At least it’s over.

Good games deserve better than this. Even so-so games that the group has lost interest in deserve more closure than a whimper provides.


There are two main downsides to this approach. Firstly, it’s not satisfying. The players don’t get any resolution for the plot thread their PCs were involved in, and they don’t even get one last chance to do something cool.

Secondly, nobody learns anything when a game ends with a whimper. As the GM, you’ll wonder which of your players lost interest, and which ones might have stuck with it. Or what you could have done better. Your players will likely have similar concerns.

It’s not the end of the world when a game ends like this — chances are, you’ll pick up a new game and be back in the thick of it before too long. But even bad games deserve a conclusion of some sort, a definite act that ends them so you can move on with no weird, unresolved feelings about the previous game.

Other Approaches

The rest of this series looks at different approaches to ending an ongoing campaign.

Have you experienced the whimper? How did your last campaign (as a player or GM) end?