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.

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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