Reoccurring Themes (or Gregory, Don’t go There Again)

I’ve been working on where I expect or hope my Pellham campaign is going and I’ve found myself looking at some familiar territory.  There are types of stories that I like.  I like alternate dimensions stories.  I like time travel stories.  I like Faery stories.  I like to use them in my games, too.  I like them a lot.  In addition to ideas and themes for my games, these stories also connect to places in Rhillmoran; places I have used again and again.  My Pellham campaign has seeds of these stories it and they are leading me back to my favorite, but possibly overused, stories and places.  I wonder if I need to break away from my favorite stories.

Castle Timeless has been a staple of my games since the 1980s.  It has been a rare campaign that did not see at least one trip to Castle Timeless.  During the Giants in the Earth and the Tasque Elzeny campaigns, Castle Timeless got a makeover.  I’ve been thinking about using Castle Timeless, because of a few throw away lines and plot point in the backstory of C5: Llywelyn’s Bane.  It, also, doesn’t help that C2: The Ghost Tower of Inverness (one of the other modules slated for use in the Pellham campaign) has an often missed time travel component.  Going to Castle Timeless certainly places Pellham in Rhillmoran, but it opens up a whole can of wyrms in that it will tempt me to run a time travel mini campaign and I’ve done that time and time again.

Faery locales are going to be part of this campaign.  I’ve already placed Ardenmore in Adran Silverleaf’s back story.  So, how do I keep from retreading old ground?  My fey folk and fey realm should be different than they have been before.  This is going to be hard, since I like my fey to have a Celtic sensibility and Pellham is a Celtic-style setting.  It doesn’t help that I’ve got a “Hollow Hills opening on the Night of a Full Moon” idiom running with this, too.  I guess I’ll just have to turn these fey “up to 11” and go full bore with them.  Make them the Fey of the Fey and play it for all that it is worth.  They are capricious, enigmatic, and dangerous benefactors and patrons.  They are brave, valiant, and noble allies and villains.  Their plans and their beliefs are not easily understood by mere mortals, even if those mortals are their elven descendants and cousins.  It should be great fun, if I can play it right; I’ve misplayed this style of NPC multiple times before.

I don’t see how I can get away from alternate dimensions in this campaign.  If the PCs follow through the entire plot as devised by the modules, then they must enter an alternate dimension.  I’ve did a lot of development on this alternate dimension for a failed campaign (outside forces pulled Players away), so I may be able to make this work for me.  The provided storyline only has the PCs there for a relatively short time and the alternate dimension is completely unlike the rest of the setting, so this could easily work to my advantage.  I’ve got an “alien,” but not lethal environment into which the PCs can adventure.  It plots well and is part of the module collection, so if I use it and it alone, then I should not get caught up in a plane hopping campaign, which can really be fun.

Having covered my “big” flaws in the previous three paragraphs, I must now move on and discuss a harder drive in my gaming themes.  I want to connect this game to other games that I have run.  I’ve been thinking about placing a connection to the Shadowfell Road in Pellham or Inverness; this would open up a connection to Moytonia and I would be tempted to pull things from Barovia and the Walking Wood into Iolta and that might dilute this setting.  I really want to place a connection to Castle Timeless and I’ve already explained why that is a bad idea.  While I have not yet designed them, I know there are magical trees in Pellham and they could easily be connected to the Quan.  Even though this campaign takes place over a thousand years after Giants in the Earth and Tasque Elzeny, a connection to the Quaan would let me access Feldspar, E3 Trading Company, and Spellguard.  While a link on Thrain to the World of Terah would allow me to bring threats from the Caves of Chaos and possibly connect the PCs to the Isle of Celestia and the Dreamers, it would be bringing in alternate dimensions.

Want to know what reeks in all of this; writing out this post has given me a half dozen or more ideas that I now am interested in dropping into the Pellahm campaign.  What do you think I should do?

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.