Archive for 'Previews'

Dusting It Off

Dusting It Off

by Gary Whitten

Darkness.

Soon, though, a door creaks open and the dim glow of a candle pushes back the darkness a bit. A shuffle of feet and a bespectacled face appears behind the candle’s flame. The door is pushed mostly shut and the middle-aged man moves across the room past shadows that reveal shelves and a drawing table until a desk is reached. The candle is tipped forward towards a lantern which flares to life, eliciting a murmur of surprise from the man. The desk is illuminated fully, revealing a tome, and some unbound parchment. A colorful map is carefully affixed to the wall over the desk. He settles into a chair, coughing slightly at the dust that swirls around as he does so.

Looking at the desk for a few long moments, he picks up a couple pieces of parchment, turns to the side and gently blows a generous helping of dust off of them. A pair of sneezes from the floor causes the man to look down, seeing a pair of cats, one pure black and one a gray and white mix. His blue eyes sparkle bemusedly and he turns back to the desk, dispensing of other layers of dust from the surface. Looking at the last entry in the tome, he grunts in surprise, speaking for the first time, “Three years! Where does the time go?” Shaking his head slightly, he picks up a quill and inkwell, looks at them and then discards them. After selecting a new set from a desk drawer, he dips the quill in, thinks a moment and then begins writing from where he left off.

===

Three years. Where DOES the time go? Like life, my campaign still goes on, mostly with the same players as when I last wrote although with a new set of characters and actually a few months earlier in time.   I love the creative outlet it gives me, not to mention the pleasure it gives me creating adventures for the players. When I started this blog, I was intending on using this as one of many pieces to help generate a second stream of income selling adventures and setting products, based in my campaign world. It’s only taken me 40+ years but I’ve finally firmly admitted to myself that I work far better for someone else than I do for myself. Like many creative types, I have some level or flavor (undiagnosed) of ADD/ADHD so it doesn’t take much to get me distracted. Shiny! Squirrel! Sound familiar? The players I currently have in my campaign, and those in the past, have almost all seemed to vastly enjoy my games and I have created some great content to entertain them. When it comes to created products worthy of sale from that content, I could make 40-70% of 20 great products. However, that leaves 30-60% of not-so-great portions of 20 products and that’s just not going to do it. So, unless I get some serious self-discipline for my 47th birthday and develop a sudden distaste for MMOs and 4X games, this is all going to be about recreational blogging.

But, as I like GMing, I also enjoy writing these blog entries. I also thought I had a few written already but they’re either on paper somewhere in one of my many notebooks, or they’re a victim of a failed auto-save somewhere. So here’s the deal: I’m going to write when I can and I’ll write about whatever subject comes to mind. No worries, it’ll be about gaming, and it’ll likely be related to my campaign in some shape or fashion. Oh, one other thing. It will be quality.

As I mentioned, the campaign is still ongoing. We play using Fantasy Grounds 2 software. I have players in three different time zones, with me in a fourth, usually playing early afternoon (for me) on Sunday afternoons. I have still maintained the entirety of the campaign in (or under) the boundaries of the 30 by 20 mile campaign area known as the Valley of Aesri although this hasn’t stopped me from biting off more than I can chew by imagining vast, cool ideas. I’ll probably write about this tendency and how I (sorta/kinda) get myself out of it. In the three years I’ve been silent, the main members of the party have gone from first level up to tenth (remember, with Fantasy Grounds, almost everything is text, or at least it is with us) over about 65 sessions.  One member did his last military deployment overseas, has safely returned and is now retired. At one point, I’ll write about how I handled his departure from the game including a polished excerpt from the game log. The player wanted to surprise the rest of the party with the news so they were NOT in on it; the reactions were incredible.

All content Copyright 2009-2015 Gary Whitten

….and so it begins

….and so it begins

by Gary Whitten

Many years ago, after school one day I went over a friends place to check out this new thing called Dungeons and Dragons.  After much stretching of the brain over the concepts of this new thing, I believe we were going through B2 and ran into some kobolds.  I proudly proclaimed ‘we kill them all and take their treasure’ and the GM looked at me and said ‘Umm, yeah, doesn’t work that way’.   A short time later, my proclamation did end up actually happening but not quite as heroically as I’d envisioned and a more-than-hobby was born for me.

The last 10 or so years, I’ve pretty much been only GMing, some of it in the Forgotten Realms and some of it in settings of my own making.   The campaign I’ve been running for the last several years is in a local setting of my own making called the Valley of Aesri.  After many campaigns of having the party go here, there and everywhere, I decided to try something where the entirety of the campaign was in a very small setting.   It’s allowed me to really add a lot of flavor and detail that really hadn’t been there in previous campaigns, and while the players always had had fun, there’s more of a sense of ownership now.

Over the next six months, I’ll be releasing several PDFs of little bits of the setting and eventually the full campaign setting.  Everything I write is designed to be either played in the Valley of Aesri setting as a local campaign or dropped into an existing campaign.   Even the Valley of Aesri campaign area can be placed in an existing world.

In this blog, I’ll be offering some tidbits about my experiences in working in small scale/local campaigns as well as some freebies.  These may be an NPC, a place, or something else that you might use in your campaign.

Happy gaming

All content Copyright 2009-2015 Gary Whitten