Occasionally Nostalgic

Last weekend, I ran what was probably the third to last session of Worlds’ End, the Dungeons and Dragons game that I’ve been running for Jennifer and a couple of friends of mine. Recently, I found a picture that one of the players, my friend Evilpheemy drew; it was dated July 2002, which means I’ve been running this campaign for just about two years now. Seeing that surprised me. Last weekend’s game was one of the best of this campaign, and I’m looking forward to the next session.

I’m a nerd. I suppose I should admit it. A true geek. I’m thirty-six years old, and I’ve been playing Dungeons and Dragons since I was eighteen, and for most of that time I’ve been a Dungeon Master, inventing worlds for my players and running the games. And during most of that time, I’ve been running almost all of my games in a single huge milieu. The storyline has grown gigantic over the past thirteen years (the oldest notes I’ve found for this particular setting date back to January 1991); I’ve run fantasy games that are part of it, science fiction games, and modern day games, all part of this massive story arc. The end of my current campaign, the one called Worlds’ End, will probably be the end of this massive storyline, as I try to tie up a lot of loose threads for my current crop of players (none of whom played in that game of 1991) and bring closure to a story arc which has been building in my head for thirteen years.

Of course, even as the storyline comes to a close for my gaming career (I have ideas for other worlds and other storylines, in case anyone’s worried that I’m going to give up gaming altogether), it refuses to die. It’s mutating now, and I think it’s time to actually set it down on paper and see if I can’t write a few publishable novels out of it. I’ve decided that after I’m finished running Worlds’ End, I’m going to spend a year plotting out the entirety of The Terassic Cycle, and then I’ll write the damned thing. Maybe that will purge it altogether.

But even until I get around to writing that, I’m also working on another novel: The Outer Darkness, something I’ve been exploring with Evilpheemy and a mutual friend of ours for at least five years now. Again, it’s something that needs to be written.

All of which is backstory, I think. You see, Jennifer’s headed out tonight to spend some time with some on-line acquaintances that she’s meeting in person for the first time. I decided that while she was gone, I’d head over to Borders in the next town over, and spend some quality time with my laptop working on The Outer Darkness. After that, I went to get some sushi for dinner, and while I was headed out of town, I saw Evilpheemy’s girlfriend N. walking down E Street. She and I go back a ways; she played in Underground Puppeteers and Underground Puppeteers Book 2, a couple of Live Action Role-Playing games that I ran for a few years. I gave her a ride back to her apartment, and we sat in the parking lot and chatted for half an hour or so. It was good to do that. I enjoy her company, and I wish her and Evilpheemy the best.

Anyway, talking to N. made me feel nostalgic for all the friends I made while running Underground Puppeteers. I keep in touch with some of them, others I’d like to talk with more often. And, of course, thinking of those friends made me think of the friends I had who played those Dungeons and Dragons games back in college, close to twenty years ago. I thought tonight that I’d call some of them up — including D., whom I traveled in Ireland with back in 2001 — but none of them were at home.

I’ve recently come to think of my life as a series of chapters. There’s the high school chapter, for example. College was a chapter in and of itself, and that particular chapter lasted until about 1994 or so. Then there was another chapter marked mostly by floating without any real focus. Then a new chapter began in 1996, and ended in 2000 or so. The current chapter is still ongoing. Each chapter was marked by a distinct set of friends that I’ve loved and cared for, and I’m happy that even as the chapters change and go forward, I’ve managed to hang on to some of those friends. Though I must admit that when I realize that I’ve known some of my friends (like D., or Aristo#), friends who’ve been there since the beginning of the college chapter, for close to twenty years, I start freaking out. Do friends that you’ve known for seventeen or eighteen years count as “old friends”? Can I really be old enough to have “old friends”? Surely I can’t be.

Sometimes, it seems that the saddest thing of all is that you can’t go back and re-live some of those earlier chapters.

[For the sake of more nostalgia, you can check out the website for Underground Puppeteers, which I discovered is still up; apparently GeoCities doesn’t take pages down even if they haven’t been updated for five years. Here’s the link: Underground Puppeteers. And here is a page with pictures from the very last session of that game.]