I’ve been quiet on this front for a reason.
No, it’s not because of all the time and energy I’ve been funneling into Reverse Centaur (though it really DOES take a lot of research and rewriting and all that jazz).
It’s not because I haven’t been thinking about Dungeons & Dragons – Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes recently fell into my grubby mitts and it occupies a lot of free thought.
It’s mostly because around a month ago I wrapped up the first campaign I ever DM’d with the first group of players I’ve ever played with.
This is the group that initially got me into DnD, the ones who have helped to shape me into the player I am. These are the players that supported me when I said I wanted to get to the other side of the screen, to run a game myself. They encouraged me as I formed a new world, with its own maps and histories and factions. After 18 from-scratch sessions (and two spent on a warm-up one-shot), our time drew to a close and the adventure finally ended.
Some of you may understand how hard this really is, to finish something a whole group of folks put so much effort into. Some of you may understand how emotionally tough it is to say good-bye to a group. And some of you may know what it’s like to have to do both at the same time, and you know that this shit lingers like a splinter in your heart.
I guess I’m just getting to the point where it’s not painful to reflect on how this shared adventure drew to a close, just like how eventually you have to say good-bye to your grade school friends when you leave for college, or how you have to leave your coworkers when accepting a new job. There’s a screaming nostalgia, a longing for the time spent together in such an intimate setting – and by gods, there’s rarely a more intimate setting than a well-played game of Dungeons & Dragons.
How it all ended: the group summons a former player who was sucked into the dimension of Higher Beings, and they lead the armies of Peace against the Orcish rebellion. Our group confronted the corrupted Orc Prince, who was fueled by the power of a captured god, and use heavenly one-time-use weapons to help whittle down his HP. Eventually, an NPC who was also an avatar for a god sacrificed himself to stop the Prince, and the group combined with the rulers of the realm to undo the mistreatment of the Orcs, thus eliminating the need for a rebellion in the first place.
It was just masterfully played as the group’s characters made choices I never saw coming, or thought about approaching the problem in a creative way. It was basically the best possible ending I could have hoped for, and they all had ideas on what their characters would do now that this part of their lives were over. Basically, they created the fictional closure we all needed.
And now it’s over and it just feels like there’s something missing, like a phantom limb.
I’m eternally grateful to have Gregg, Kevin, and Maj to play with every week, because without those guys I’d be licking the wallpaper and telling the insects not to break character.
So this is my entry: my relationship with my first DM’d campaign, my high school sweetheart, is over. It’s something that never really heals, but soon the pain is less intense, and your life moves on.
Now I just have to figure out what to do with the land of Yndred…