Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Campaign Setting Anniversary

One of my players sent me a note this morning, mentioning that it was 14 years ago today that I began my World of Samoth campaign. Out of the original seven players (including me as the DM), there are three of us left, plus we've added several more over the years. Our current group is five strong and has been that way for the past couple of years.

At our "first session" all those years ago, we rolled up our characters, ate dinner, and then all went to the movies to go see the first Shrek movie. Our "true" first session was a couple of weeks later, when the group began with the old school module, B6: The Veiled Society, which kick-started a murder mystery involving some warring families vying for control of the city. One of those families still plays a very important role in the campaign to this very day.

Back when we started, my wife and I were not yet married (we were engaged, though, and our wedding was about six months later). In fact, of the group, only two of the original players were married at the time, and none of us had kids. Now everyone that's currently playing in the group is married and all but one of us has kids.

We've changed our snacking preferences a bit, as I've mentioned before. Now, more and more often, we include beer at our sessions as well. We're not a "soda and Doritos" type of group. Our frequency of play has lessened due to combinations of kids, business travel, and other reasons, but we still do get together (we played about two weeks ago, in fact).

I've blogged quite a bit over the years about these things, and about my campaign setting and our game sessions, so for this anniversary I thought it might be fun to show some pictures from my "Campaign Setting Book" that I've made. I started working on my campaign way back in the summer after my high school graduation, in 1988. It was actually a "reboot" or revision of some earlier settings I had worked on dating back to when I first started playing D&D around 1983 or so.

Back then, I didn't have a computer or of course any access to the Internet, so all of my campaign world research was done by going to the library and also going through my parents 30+ year collection of National Geographic magazines. I oftentimes would copy drawings I saw in those books as inspirations.

I've kept pretty much every scrap of paper on which I've written notes for my campaign setting over the years, and then in 1998, about 10 years after I'd started, I began collecting all of my notes in a big non-lined sketchbook. I started by actually meticulously re-copying all of my old notes but over time I found it more efficient to just cut out certain sections of my notes and paste them into the sketchbook. Below are some pictures to give you an idea - it's a mixture of hand-written notes, old pages printed from a dot matrix printer in late 1989 or early 1990, newer pages from around 2003-2004, sketches, and more. I'm still adding to the book although these days it's more of almost a "scrapbook" project, as most of my game-related notes on characters, NPCs, etc. are just on my laptop.

Hope you enjoy. Tell me about your campaign world for your games - is it homebrewed like mine, or do you use a published setting? Do you have a crazy notebook like mine full of hand-written notes, or are you more organized?

The first pages. On the right is graph paper that I pasted
into the book. It's got a mixture of dip-pen calligraphy I did
along with a regular ballpoint ink pen. I used the World of
Greyhawk boxed set as a template for my campaign note. Circa 1987-88.

Another piece of graph paper with a mixture of
calligraphy and handwriting, for a Language Tree
for my campaign world. Circa 1988.

This is a more recent creation for the campaign world ("recent" being about
10 years ago), for a calendar design. Circa 2004

Various sketches I did of weapons and architectural designs. Circa 1989.

Some more sketches of weapons and armor, grouped by culture. These were
actually for some "secret societies" that were employed by various merchant
houses. Circa 1989.

Sketch of a chainmail hauberk and a helmet. Circa 1989.

An NPC and a description of an organization that was
essentially a powerful mercantile league run by dwarves,
along with a rough sketch. Circa 1990.

"The Imperial Alphabet." This was hand-written with
a dip-pen with a special nib for calligraphy. I used to love
practicing calligraphy and applied it to my D&D stuff.
Circa 1987-88.

Some more weapon and armor designs. Circa 1987-88.

"Religious Items." I think I may have copied the idea
of the totem-like designs from an article for another
game that I read in an old Dragon magazine. You can
see how I cut out my old sketches and pasted them
in here. Circa 1988.
More weapons and armor designs. I used check out
encyclopedias or ancient arms & armor all the time. Circa 1987.
A product of its time: a dot-matrix print-out of some
old NPCs I had created. I've got pages and page of
these in my notebook. These were using 1st Edition
AD&D Rules, modified with Unearthed Arcana and
Oriental Adventures. Circa 1989.

Hanging: home office (laptop)
Drinking: Iced tea
Listening: "Blue in Green (Take 3)" by the Bill Evans Trio


  1. Congratulations! That's quite a run.

    1. Thanks, Trey. It's a pretty standard fantasy world, as you've probably seen from my earlier post - nothing as creative as your stuff, but I enjoy it. Cheers!

  2. As one of the original members who has to drop out due to those pesky things like marriage and kids, it was great strolling down memory lane! I can't believe it's been 14 years. I remember a few of those early gaming sessions we had at the office after hours. Lots of fun! Thanks for encouraging me to get into D&D.

    1. You should come back to play! I keep trying to coax you. :)


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