Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Never Send to Know For Whom the Bell Tolls

In the middle of the journey of our life, I came to myself, in a dark wood.  Or to put it another way, traveling for work makes me reflective.  I don’t envy the life of consultants or salesmen, living out of their suitcases in strange cities.  I'm past the point of finding excitement in hotel bars or night clubs after a long day visiting one of the company's remote offices on one piece of business or another; the nightly routine instead revolves around making notes for the day, preparing for tomorrow, and reading a little before bed.  And always, the quiet reflection.

Kids grow up fast.  My wife challenged me recently, saying I wasn't spending enough time with the two "littles".  "What about that kid's D&D game or family D&D game you keep promising to make for family game night?"  I've had a gamer bucket list, a list of game systems I want to try, classic adventure modules to run, and yes - even games to play with the family.  We're not getting any younger, she says.

March feels like a time for mortal thoughts.  Perhaps it's a case of selection bias, but it seems that a lot of old school game creators passed away near this time of year and we frequently mark their deaths out here on the gaming blogs.  Gary Gygax died in March, Tom Moldvay died in March, J Eric Holmes did as well, and Dave Arneson died in a few weeks.  Those are most of the heavy hitters from my gaming book shelf.  Keep hanging in there, Sandy Petersen.  Clearly April isn't the cruelest month; beware the ides of March, if you're a game designer.

One of my goals for this year was to publish a weekly megadungeon on the blog - something to provide focus and direction.  I have to consider if the project should be less gruesome than my usual tastes so it's appropriate for the kids and family, too.  I love the horror genre, but I can’t exactly inflict something like Harrow Home Manor on my 8 year-olds and avoid a spousal beating.

Roger the GS defined the megadungeon as "big enough for multiple groups to be exploring it at the same time", and that's as fine a definition for my needs.  I've been tinkering with a place that calls to mind the Mythic Underworld, a setting full of wonder and awe, my own "huge ruined pile, a vast castle built by generations of mad wizards and insane geniuses" that can serve as the campaign center piece for both a younger audience and the older gamers, if they're interested.  I've had to miss quite a few weeks of gaming with the regular group as well.  It will be sad to put aside my beloved horror for a bit, but there is a greater need.  I'll have the chance to put the Anti-Beedo's design approach in practice and see if I can arrive at a similar destination.

What about you, have you had any of these moments?  This is a different experience than gamer ADD; it's more like a flash of carpe diem.  In a few years, the kids are going to be bumming the car keys, attending prom, getting jobs, looking for colleges, and if I want them to do the same things I did when growing up, I better get on it.  Time is not on my side.  Before I realize it, it will be March all over again.

Every year is getting shorter, never seem to find the time
Plans that either come to naught or half a page of scribbled lines
Hanging on in quiet desperation is the English way
The time is gone, the song is over, thought I'd something more to say
--Pink Floyd

Well, on those cheery notes, I do promise I'll have some game oriented content in the next few days.  No travel for the foreseeable future and a giant notebook full of stuff.  "Sing in me, O Muse, and through me tell the story of those adventurers skilled in all ways of contending, the wanderers, harried for years on end, after they plundered the House of Pluton and carried off the fabled wealth of the Underworld."


  1. MAR Barker passed away in March too...

  2. Sorry to hear about your dark thoughts! I moved recently and found all my AD&D books, and it has me fiending to get back into gaming. I stumbled onto your Black City project (which I love) and instantly subscribed to your blog.

    I guess I'm just saying that good things can happen in March, and I hope some of it happens to you.

  3. My son is 20 and my daughter is going to be 14 in May. Do it now.

  4. These thoughts have consumed me this year as well, every last word. My kids are a bit older though, 10 & 15...Too bad we aren't neighbors and could get a big family game session going.

  5. I've run my kids (5 and 7) through some Basic D&D recently and it was a great experience! I've had to put off some sessions due to various reasons, and it breaks my heart n to see how upset they get, but at the same time it's awesome how much they want to play.