I am approaching the final session of the longest D&D campaign I’ve ever run.
The players have made their way through all the challenges I constructed for them. The only thing left to do is confront the final villain and defeat him.
I’m reminded of something I wrote in high school, that people are attracted to stories that excite them regardless of how real those stories are. The world, characters, and stories I’ve built through Dungeons and Dragons aren’t real, but the outcome is as important to me as the outcome of other things in my life.
I started Cimmeria back in middle school with a map I made with my dad. I wanted to create a treasure map that would lead my friends on an adventure. I drew a river, some towns along the river, some forests, and some mountains to the east. Up in the mountains an X marked the spot of great wealth.
The world that I called “The Magical Lands” grew over time. I expanded the map. I brought the Greek gods in because I like Classics. Including the Greek gods necessitated the existence of Greece, so I named The Magical Lands after the mythological land of Cimmeria. The land to the east that the ancient Greeks pointed to on a map and said, “Here there be monsters.”
My first campaign in Cimmeria ended with a whisper as half my friends went off to college. The second campaign ended with a gasp as one PC stabbed the others in the back.
In 2010 we were able to reunite the group over the summer. We continued into the school year by using the internet.
At first I just pointed my webcam at a battlemap and moved miniatures around for my friends while they told me what their characters were doing. At some point we made the switch to using Roll20 and have never stopped. Roll20 has been essential for keeping the campaign alive and, in no small part, for keeping my friendships alive. My friends are one of the most valuable parts of my life.
Near the end of 2011 I started posting a campaign log of our adventures on the Order of the Stick Forum. I’d read SilverClawShift’s campaign logs and loved them. I read Sagiro’s as well. I wanted to create something like their work, so I set out to do that.
The log evolved over time as I’ve matured. I started it when I was 20. I’ll be almost 27 when it’s completed. As the log went on I expanded it by including illustrations and writing side material that detailed the history of Cimmeria.
I love writing and the log was easy to write. All I had to do was transcribe what happened with minor embellishments here and there. Additionally, the log provides a record of the sessions. If someone asks, “When did we talk to that guy with the purple hat?” I can easily look that up in the log and tell them exactly when they talked to the purple hat man and what they discussed.
The campaign log never took off with the reader participation the way that SilverClawShift’s or Sagiro’s did. While disappointing, the log was never really for other people. It was for me and my players. I enjoy rereading it and that’s enough for me.
While the audience on Order of the Stick remained mostly silent, I knew they were there due to the view count on the page. The Xorian Wars campaign log routinely got 200 views per post and near the end was averaging something more like 300.
As the end approaches I’d like to do something special for this silent audience as well as for my players. I want to stream our final sessions live on Twitch. Maybe an audience will show up and my friends will see that they we haven’t just been entertaining ourselves with our adventures, but hundreds of others as well. Maybe an audience won’t show up, but we’ll have the recording for ourselves. We can watch bits and pieces of it and remember the best campaign I ever ran for my players.
I am approaching the end of the Xorian Wars campaign with a sense of melancholy. All my life I’ve been a student up until a few months ago. Since this campaign started I’ve completed my Bachelor’s and my Master’s. I’ve gotten married. I’ve gotten four pets. I have a full time job. My wife and I are trying to conceive. To put it mildly, I have other activities that demand my attention. I have every expectation that in the future I won’t be able to devote as much of my time to roleplaying games.
I will stay play. I will still DM. Maybe I’ll continue to record my sessions in one manner or another. Maybe I’ll find the time to continue creating something as great and fun as the Xorian Wars. Maybe I won’t because I’m too busy teaching my future children how to tie their shoes and how to eat with a fork.
One thing I have noticed as I’ve gotten older is that making these stories with my friends is one of the most important things in my life. I will not let it go. I might just loosen my grip so I can hold other things.
With that said, the stream will be starting at 7:30PM PST on December 1st at https://www.twitch.tv/gocorral. It will resume on December 2nd at 10AM and again on December 3rd at 10AM. Watch the whole thing or just stop in to say, “Hi!” I’ll appreciate it either way.