BBEG from my last campaign finally met his end in my current campaign. I always worried that his death wouldn't have an impact at all, but it ended up being just beautiful thanks to, surprisingly, my minmaxing player. Sir Gordon was a Death Knight. Not always, of course.
He served alongside a character from our last campaign as a Paladin for the realm until their unit was obliterated. Gordon covered for Akkadian's retreat. Akkadian was a mere soldier then, but he'd later grow to be an immensely powerful Oath of the Crown Paladin in his own right.
He was captured; he, his wife and his child were hostages of the Emperor and a strange Demon Lord. Gordon was forced to enable research on a ritual while his family suffered curses of indefinite slumber. Gordon didn't know the nature of the ritual, but the experiments were brutal.
With a year's passing, the ritual was completed. Akkadian's companions (other PCs, but not Akkadian himself) watched as Gordon's flesh peeled from his bones and proximate things were drenched in negative energy. They escaped from the citadel and the rising undead army.
Akkadian's group went off to do bigger and better things, destroying a coven of sinister hags and slaying the Kraken they unleashed from the plane of Water. That campaign ended; the new one began. Our new group lived for some time blissfully unaware of the undead horde.
They found themselves at a loss when they found a sleeping woman and child, neither of whom could be stirred. Adrian, thinking little of it, took a wooden toy from the boy's things. Shaman discovered Gordon's journal as well as evidence of the experiments in the undying castle.
Still, they had their own quest. They freed the Neskan slaves, lost friends on the way. They only wanted to bring their friends back. They later succeeded in reviving Pearl and Ravyn, though Pearl ended up murdering Kida accidentally while under the influence of an Incubus.
Some time, much later, they crossed paths with Gordon, the Death Knight. A fierce battle ensued and they defeated him. His body escaped, but his heart was left behind. Adrain dispelled his curse. They tracked him to the citadel where he awaited a ritual to fully restore himself.
They slew the priests and stopped the ritual. While they rested, they experienced Gordon's life through dreams that I explained. The moment Akkadian's player (currently playing Shaman) recognized his own old PC in the sequence, his face lit up. More importantly, they remembered.
Shaman cast scrying on the heart and saw Gordon, decrepit and motionless, lying on a bed in the dungeon below them. They crept down the stairs and encountered Gordon whose straining eyes met them. Adrian pulled the toy out of his pack and showed it to Gordon, whose eyes welled up.
Adrian said "Father, I've been looking for you for so long. See? It's me, your son. We forgive you, we just want you to come home. We're waiting." Gordon was moved. The strain turned into complete ease. His body relaxed; his heart stopped.
And everyone at the gaming table was stunned.
From: Aaron Gardner on All Things DnD's Official Facebook Group