Beginnings and Endings

On Wednesday, February 26 in the Year of Our Lord 2014

Happy Fiftieth Birthday to Me!

When I started playing Dungeons and Dragons, on that rainy, Sunday afternoon in March (which I’ve referenced so many times already) so many years ago, I never imagined that I’d end up with a library of 132 (if I counted correctly) hardcover books, numerous softcover books, hundreds of pre-packaged adventures, and reams of hand-drawn or photocopied maps.  I, also, never imagined that I would be still playing this game 35 or 34 years later.  It has been amazing.

I’ve traveled a long way, since those early days.  Rilmorn has been named and mapped.  I’ve had friends craft maps for me (Special Shout Out to Thom Thetford and John Hesselberg!).  The solar system in which it resides is defined in broad strokes.  TSR is gone.  Tens of thousands of words have been written about its history.  I have written blog posts as a traveler in Ryllmorrin.  Wizards of the Coast are set to release the fifth edition (DnD Next) this summer.  I’ve ran games in Rilmorn in at least fourteen cities in three states for an uncounted number of people.  I’ve a blog about gaming and designing Rillmorinn.  So far, I’ve had a series of world-spanning wars and two cataclysms (The Great Cataclysm and The Great War) to account for edition changes; this coming Saturday, I’ll be wrapping up the campaign that is paving the way from 4E to DnD Next, as part of my 50th birthday party.  It has been a long path, but I’m glad I traveled it. (2015.04.16)

Saturday, March 1, 2014 around 1 Post Meridian, Eastern Standard Time, we will begin the last game in my Giants in the Earth campaign.  The players will be trying to prevent three super computers from opening portals to the Far Realm and thereby destroying the world.  They are also going to have to save the dragon Dhivanara of the Purple Sands, as she gives birth.  All of this is tied up with the restoration of Castle Timeless and the Quan.

Way back in the 80s, I gave two friends of mine the opportunity to choose and define two parts of Rilmorn.  Mike and Thom chose to fill out the Seven Races of Marn and to give parameters to Inner World of Rylmorn.   Rillmorn is shaped like Skartaris with openings at both poles.  Three colonization crafts (that bore humans from other Earths which ultimately seeded humanity on Rilmorin) are crashed on the inner surface of the world.

Each of those ancient crafts (now, mostly buried and brutally scavenged) was controlled by a super computer.  Colossus, Goliath, and Titan still exist and are active.  Their AIs warped by millennia of neglect and magic, these super computers seek First and Final Theorems and in their despair are attempting to open gates to realms beyond mortal comprehension.

E3 and their allies cannot use standard adventurer logic and “Kill the Giants in the Earth.”  Destroying the super computers will not stop the Far Realm from ripping into the universe; the millennia of spells cast by the Giants themselves have already cracked the fabric of reality.  E3 Plus must “ground the giants” by planting magical/holy trees in the right spots.  After the trees are planted, they must be quickly aged, so the roots can intertwine with the system.  Once that has happened, each tree must be magically bound to the Quan – A mystical realm already restored by E3 member Feldspar von Quan.  All the while this is going on; yochlol demons and vile dragons will be attacking to stop the heroes, since they want reality to shatter.

Because I ran too subtle a plot, my players missed that Iomaudra the Iron Dryad, whom they saved several games ago, has the power to magically increase the age of a tree, when she sheds her blood upon it.  They may need to get her from Occipitus to complete their quest.

In addition to everything else, Dhivanara will seek out Surana.  Dhivanara is about to give birth to Chronepsis, the Triple Dragon of Fate.  E3 encountered Chronepsis during their “World Tour,” when they took their magical, steam-powered airship on an extended trading mission.  Dhivanara is being attacked by servants of Linden the Mistress of the Centre of Time, who sees Chronepsis as a threat to her dominion over time.

E3 also has to gather the three saplings before they can begin the saving process.  They need the Holy-Oak of Meliki (the only surviving cutting of the Holy-Oak in on Laurant in the Rilmoré Cluster), the Dreaming Tree of the Sleeping Gods (the seed of Dreaming Tree grew out of a magical working and vanished hundreds of years ago), and the Ivory Pine (Feldspar has a seedling of the Ivory Pine, but they need a sapling; the dryad Amarantha has one, but E3 doesn’t know where she is).

This is to what my gaming has led me: an epic, convoluted final showdown with the fate of the world on the line.  Isn’t that the way of all D&D?  It is going to be a great party and I’m going to enjoy it all!

Then it’s on my way to DnD Next!

GAME ON!

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Not a D&D Post

Live long enough and you will get old.  It’s a fact…or, at least, as close to a fact as I can see.  If You are like me, You look back on your youth and those days past and most days, You wander in happiness.  There are other days, days, like today, where happiness is entwined with a bittersweet longing.  I am nearing my half-century mark and (though I believe that I have seventy years left after Wednesday) today is wearing heavy on me.

This coming Saturday, my wife, my best friend, and two other close friends (and maybe my brother-in-law and nephew) will be getting together to end a Dungeons and Dragons campaign that I have run, since May 2009.  I may also throw myself a birthday party.  (I started throwing myself birthday parties when I turned 18, because that way I got to do exactly what I wanted and it was done the way I wanted.  That said, Christina, my wife, has always gone out of her way to make my birthday special and I’ve not thrown a party for me, since we got together.)  Fifty years of living and the end of a long running campaign has gotten me to looking back into the past.

I’ve been trying to find the actual dates for CoastCon in March of 1979, because I’ve been claiming for years that the Sunday following that convention in Biloxi, Mississippi was the first day I played Dungeons and Dragons.  I think I was wrong.  CoastCon held its first convention at the Buena Vista hotel is 1978.  I went on Sunday of that first convention.  With that bit of knowledge, Davy couldn’t have gone to CoastCon in 1979, since I went to the 2nd one by myself for the weekend.  I must have been 16, when I started D&D and it must have been in 1980.  Oh, Well.

All of that is just preamble for what led me to start writing this.  I am feeling nostalgic today.  I look back at pictures of people I never knew and remember the days when I was young.  I remember the days when it was all new.  Everything had a sheen on it.  I remember being scared.  It was all brand new and I was (and often still am) terrified of being laughed at as I weeded my way through new situations…

Christina called and we visited for over twenty minutes.  During this conversation I talked my way around to things from the internet: a quote and a vlog.  They are relevant to the way I feel today.

Things change.  It is a part of life.  Day rolls into Night.  Seasons move steadily from one to the next.  That things are different than when I was younger is not the issue with my nostalgic sadness.  My sadness stems from the fact that those days can never be experienced again.

I spend much of my time these days watching my granddaughter discover the world.  I laugh with delight every time she sees something new and expands her worldview to make that new thing fit.  I love going to new conventions and taking Christina to DragonCon in 2006 was as fun as the first time I went so many years ago.  Every new person that I teach how to play D&D is a joy in my life.  Several years ago, I chose to live in the present; always seeking out new music, new genres of films and books, going to places which I’d never been before, and living as much as possible in world as it is today.  Even with all of that, some days I grow sad that life can never be experienced twice.  “The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ, Moves on.”

There is something profound which I am failing to say here on this page.  I do not seem to have the words to describe why I miss days which I never experienced.  I miss the days when my parents first met.  I miss the days when my in-laws eloped to South Carolina.  I miss the days when Nana and Papa were young and couldn’t go off Keesler Air Force Base, because Papa had been scheduled to ship out within the week.  I miss the days when Warm Springs, Georgia and Tallulah Falls, Georgia were happening places.  I miss the Sunday where Uncle Dale forgot to take up the Tithes and Offerings and his Uncle Fred called out to him at the end of the service that he “forgot to pass the plate.”  I miss the days when my parents were children and everything was new to them.

I miss the days, because we will always have them, but can never live them again.

Traveling Through the Fire Which Burns All Things

Greg Bilsland does it. Chris Perkins does it. I do it and I bet others do it, too. We all use time travel in our D&D games. I’ve dropped time gates and chronosarians into games. I lifted “time-tripping” locations like the “Caves of History” from Egg of the Phoenix and the castle of the Darklord Tristan ApBlanc from Castles Forlorn to great effect in my games. I even ran a limited time travel campaign. It has been fun.

I really don’t know when I first began to drop time travel into my games. Bob Brown helped me design a number of rooms in Castle Timeless. Dragon #65 gave me a great article on time lords. Ken Crosby and I had many discussions about time, time travel, and the relationship between space and time; we both agreed “Time is not the 4th dimension.” All of these events have very specific images to which I connect and while I am sure that they are listed in objective chronological order, I am not sure which one marks the true entrance of time travel into Rilmorn.

Maybe it doesn’t matter; maybe time travel hasn’t begun in Rilmorn. What if the first time traveler hasn’t been born? What if all of the time travel and time travel related information that I have gathered on my game world is all post-cursors to an event yet to happen?

I am sure that I have forgotten some of the time travel that has happened in my games, because I have used it so much. Even if I have, I do have some great memories of time travel events in my games.

I credited Ken Crosby as playing the first chronosarian (time lord from Dragon #65), but Shaefer, his kularin (winged hominid) character, was an illusionist, not a chronosarian. Shaefer enjoyed using time manipulation magic items. He was the first PC in my games to find the Time Glass. Shaefer was delighted to find the time gate in his kingdom of the High Reaches and happily led the rest of the party into the future. He researched the summoning of time elementals and proved the existence of thought elementals. He summoned one of each and placed them as opponents in the Eternal Chess Game. The elementals named Frayin and Theron still exist (even after the Great Cataclysm). They are now bound together in a magical sphere floating above Moon Tower in Spellguard. They are still playing their chess game, they’ve just got new pieces. I hope Ken would be pleased.

James Burkett played the first chronosarian PC in my games. He ran Galen Ringold. I put a series of “time” adventures in this campaign to engage Galen in the story. James had to miss a number of games due to his work schedule and every time he wasn’t there, it seemed like another party member caused a temporal disaster. Amira rewrote the entirety of the players’ history, starting with their first adventure and created a cross-time duplicate of Galen. Shev broke a temporal artifact and duplicated the party; Galen’s duplicate remained, while the other duplicates were absorbed into the originals or returned to their reality. As the number of Galenns increased, the more desperate Galen Ringold became to restore the “Original Timeline.” Galen, ultimately, left the party, formed the Council of Galens, and embarked upon a plan to use the collected life energy of the world to turn back time to stop Amira. He became a supervillain who may or may not have caused the Great Cataclysm that destroyed all life on the planet. Thanks, James.

Long before Doctor Who did it, I had a Time War. Many years ago, I stole the name Castle Timeless from Roger Zelazny’s book, The Changing Land and created a time-themed dungeon. Nimsûl, Guardian of Time, was my NPC which acted as the catalyst to send adventurers to Castle Timeless. I ran multiple groups through Castle Timeless. Ronnie Cooley, a person I knew from my Hattiesburg/USM days, shared with me his time-themed campaign, The Center of Time. He showed me the character sheet of Linden, Mistress of Time, the PC that took over the Center of Time from the mad Master of Time, which his PCs were tasked to slay. Suddenly, I saw a conflict between the two temporal realities. Linden desired Castle Timeless and the title of Chronarch. Galen’s attempt to restore history may have been the opening Linden needed to strike. It may have been the event that allowed Linden to discover the existence of Castle Timeless. It may have been the final blow that brought about the Fall of the Castle. We may never know, but Castle Timeless in now a broken ruin and Linden rules “All of Time.” The Great War is done. (2014.10.02)

Present Games:
Tasque Elzeny is, now, traversing Castle Timeless to find the Key to Time, so they can get home, after being displaced in the ancient past.

Surana (Christina’s dragonborn ranger) has taken up a quest to restore Castle Timeless. Right now E3 is traveling from the ruins of Castle Timeless to the Centre of Time to discover what they can. We’ll see what happens.

If all goes to plan, I’ll, soon, introduce the Weir of Kandalon, from Chronomancer, into Rilmorn’s history. I hope it will soon take a place of prominence alongside the Talisman of Senroth and the Clock of Ages.

Until Next…Time?
Game On!