Retconing (or How to Get From Terah to Nibiru)

During my downtime from actively running a game, I have started to work on my settings and I have discovered something upsetting.  I have found better ideas for things, than those that I originally created or stole.  Now, what do I do?

During the Dark Time, after the glory of Second Edition was over and before the messianic arrive of Third Edition, I decided to run a campaign that was set on a world other than Rilmorn.  I had planned on using only modules and nothing else…No Gregory Created Stuff.  I failed, but I did end up with a fairly cool setting based of B2 Keep on the Borderlands and Return to Keep on the Borderlands.  The PCs started at and basecamped out of Kendal Keep, a keep on the borders of the Empire of Namoria.  I never named the world, because I didn’t need it.  Years and campaigns later, I would name it Terah.  Now, I want to change its name to Nibiru.  I never heard of Nibiru, until I was watching Scooby Doo! Mystery Incorporated.  Later, when I was rewatching Star Trek: Into Darkness, I noticed the opening sequence took place on the world of Nibiru.  Thus, my desire for the name change.

During the last game I ranin my Pellham campaign, I named an NPC Gabardine.  I knew that she was one of five “sisters” and I decided that three of the others would be named Fescue, DoTerra, and Cusped.  The fifth sister is to have an “E” name.  I later decided that DoTerra would be an alchemist and Cusped, a mage working with the Teeth of Dahlver-Nar.  Then, I decided I needed to have one sister that worked magic with plants and one that worked magic with cloth, but I’ve already got one name wrong…Gabardine is a florist.

What do I do?  I retcon!

I can’t retcon, because I believe this (I wrote this as a rebuttal in a debate about Lucas’ retooling of Star Wars.”

To alter a work once it is released to the public is be unfair to the audience, forever tweaking something prevents it audience from being able to fully connect with the work, because there are multiple versions and analogues of the work and any of them could be the true work.  I know how it feels to put something out there and then decide it is flawed.  Even though I presented it to two different audiences, I should not have changed the wording of my poem.  Now, there exist two quanta of the same work, but I have undermined the readers of the first version of the poem.  I have effectively told my first readers that what they got was crap.  It does not matter that there is very little to change in a two stanza poem, but it doesn’t matter.  It says that I put out bad stuff that I of which wasn’t proud.  Altering Star Wars is no different…

I can’t just change a draft and then run my campaign.  I’ve already put these events out to the public.  In days past, I told Mike Magee about the quintuplets born to a descendant of his character Gareth Eybender.  I never got to run those NPCs at that time, so years later when I found Ptolus, I could lift the name Danar and rename Janel the Herald’s oldest child without incident.  My two examples of Terah/Nibiru and Gabardine/Fescue are both events that have “been published.”  They are given events.

I see way to fix each of these problems.  With the Gabardine/Fescue event, I tell my plyers about my desired change and then if they agree with it, it changes.  The Terah/Nibiru change is a more of a cheat.  Not every culture calls the world upon which it dwells the same name.  Even on Rilmorn, where everyone does use the same name, each culture alters the spelling and sometimes the pronunciation.  So, Terah is the gnomes name for their former homeworld.  Everyone else gets to call it Nibiru and I get to steal the crazy that goes along with the story of Planet X.  Will I do them?

So, until we meet again, Game On!

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Namoria and Terah (or How I Failed at Modules Between Editions)

When I was working on a post about Retrocontinuity , I discovered that I could not find a post to which I wanted to link.  It turns out that I never finished or posted that particular post. Here it is.

In late 1999 AD, my Players and I finished up my latest campaign – the one where one PC was a werewolf, who didn’t know he was a werewolf and another PC was a midwife working to keep her vampiric step-father’s condition a secret and my Oriental Adventures campaign had never really gelled and taken off.  We were all psyched up for 3E, but we didn’t want to wait until August 2000 AD to play again.  I didn’t want to start a new campaign in Rilmorn that I would have to convert for the new edition, so I decided to take up an idea from Mike Magee.

Back in the 80’s, Mike suggested that, since I owed so many modules, I should run a game using only modules.  The idea was for me to run the modules as written; I wouldn’t create my own plot lines.  As we played through each module, I’d place any maps in the module contiguous to already existing maps, ignoring any anomalous terrain issues.  Thus, I’d create a mosaic world made up of Greyhawk, Forgotten Realms, and Krynn.  It was a cool idea, but since I had been running a continuing Game World in Rilmorn, I never took the time to try it.  The downtime between editions seemed like the perfect time to try it out.

I had B2 – Keep on the Borderlands and Return to the Keep on the Borderlands, so I decided to use that as the foundation for this campaign. I had two solid versions of a great sandbox-style game module, a copy of B1 – In Search of the Unknown (a site which was marked on the maps of both Keep on the Borderlands modules), and a group of self-directed players.  Once I dropped a few plot hooks in, this campaign should have rolled itself right out.  I flopped right out of the starting gate.

I just could not run a campaign ex nihilo.  I felt compelled to create an empire, so I could have borderlands into which I place the Keep.  So, I came up with the Namorian Empire.  Namoria was based on Rome with a strong Celtic influence.  I wrote up a historical timeline.  I designed a calendar with 12 months, each one named after one of the first twelve emperors.  I also went on to adjust some of the history written into the module about Kendal Keep (the name given to the Keep in Return to the Keep on the Borderlands). No matter how hard I tried, I just couldn’t do it.

I use other modules and adventures, but rather than run them mosaic style, I tried to blend them into the campaign seamlessly.  It became a rather fun campaign, but personality issues and a storyline that got out of hand led to the demise of the Namori Campaign.

Skip to several campaigns later, we are well versed in using 3E and I am running my Sanderzani Campaign.  I am trying to add a bit of Lovecraftian horror to my store and quietly insert Yog-Sothoth into the background.  I, then, begin to attempt to draw the PCs across time and space.  I take modules, The Sunless Citadel by Bruce Coredell and The Standing Stone by John D. Rateliff (author of Return to the Keep on the Borderlands, by the way) and blended them and their maps to create an adventure for my gypsy band.  I tied it to the characters and adventurers of the previous campaign.  It went over well, but I never really got to reveal all the secrets I wove into that adventure setting.

But, my tale of woe doesn’t end there.  I got the D&D Next Play Test materials and attempted to run them for various Players.  I decided to put those materials into this world.  I ended up creating a weird map that was supposed to be changed as more play test materials came out. Unless the objects and places appearing on the map were labeled and oriented correctly, they didn’t actually exist.  Everything else on the on the map was in flux and subject to change.  I tied some of the adventures to the Isle of the Dreamers from my original Namori Campaign and would later use some of this material as background for my short-lived gnome campaign.  Now, I’m using this material and setting to expand on the Isle of the Dreamers.  It never ends.

Game On!