After college I joined the work force and started a 9-to-5 job. Employment tends to push gaming events to weekends, a fact which still makes me sad at times.
I started a game using the Hero rules set in modern-day central MA. I set it in Puck's prime material plane, so extrapolate the oddities from there. I had aliens named after viking runes running around. Around midwinter they tended to gather to celebrate the arrival of their first emissary named Wunjo, same as the Norse rune of joy. Alien Jesus is the name of my Ministry cover band.
The party came together to investigate the theft of an ancient Aztec cup, and they discovered the thief that could walk through walls. They tripped across a half dozen other plotlines and suddenly had too much to do - sense a trend here? I remember them hotwiring a car from the Smithsonian parking lot and escaping to Egypt ahead of a retrieval team from a shadowy government agency.
People started gaining powers, including the PCs. One used the cup and took on fire powers. Another had the chance to partner with a demon to get shadow powers, but declined. They traced it back to a group of friends working on a virus to treat disease. It backfired and started the Wild Card virus. The PCs were contagion vectors, so wherever they went they left a legacy of superpowers behind them. They took a bus in London, and the driver developed precognition, giving him the safest bus in London.
Real life swept me along and I let that game go. A few years passed, and D&D 3e came out. I decided to start a test game with a few friends to kick the tires on the system. I downloaded the first demo adventure from the Wizards site, the one with the mine and the magical disease in the well, and went to town with 5 friends. I set their base in the small town of Adris, an outpost at the far east of human control wedged between the Dwarven mountains and the Elven forests. It turned into the longest campaign I had ever run, spanning 5 years and involving 7 active PCs.
That evolution gave a depth to the game that I haven't had anywhere else. Sure, I have set 4 games in Highcastle, but that only gave a depth of history and setting, not the intricate meshing of PC and NPC actions that I got from the Adris game. The players and their characters meshed with the plots and loose ends and made something greater than the sum of its parts. They generated a sense of history and continuity as they gained their 14 hard-won levels, and I have a 32-page timeline of bullet points covering what the PCs did during the game.
They tripped into the quest for an ancient artifact - the Seven Cubes. They're actually hypercubes, each with a different colored "inside" cube tuned to a different god. They've got six of them already and have experimented with using them together, which produces some spectacular effects. The purple one channels power, spell or otherwise, the green one manipulates life force, the red one controls fire. If you stick the three of them together, you can lay waste the undead hordes with purifing flame. So 14th level characters can generate epic-level spell effects by combining cubes.
Then I became a father. Actually, five of us in the gaming group became parents within a 2-month span. We played a game or two with the kids, and none of us could concentrate on the game. I let the game go fallow and decided to concentrate on my daughter. That was almost 5 years ago now, and I have gamed very little in the intervening time. It was a choice, and I decided my family comes first. Now to get my daughter gaming.
The itch to run a game gets stronger with each passing day. I feel like I've let a big part of myself go for too long. I'm afraid that my GMing skills have rusted over. I'm like a new GM all over again, with the same self-defeating question: "What if my game sucks?" To even ask the question implies an internal no confidence vote.
Screw it. The Adris game is coming back this summer. I want to get the story told and put it to bed. I want to have a game wrap session where everyone can ask about all the plot threads that went by the wayside during the course of the game - there's so much unexplored opportunity in this game that I could run several other games in the same town without breaking a sweat, and I think that's awesome.
There are other opportunities and ideas floating around. I want to run an epic-tier 4e Dark Sun one-shot game. I've been toying with metagames, where players can control kingdoms like the old D&D Birthright setting. I'm playing with the Leverage rules and thinking up mods to run Travelleverage with tramp freighter crews in the late Imperial era. There's been call for a Gweepling game which I'm thinking about organizing since most of our social group's kids are in the 5-10 year range. So much opportunity - I hope I can capitalize on half of it.
Look out, gaming world. The Wombat has returned.
Next time: a retrospective of the retrospective, and where we go from here.