Direbane is an abode to share artifacts, simulacra, histories, and other items of note related to ongoing years adventuring.

Monday, October 23, 2023

Fundraiser for Jennell Jaquays

Sad news about the health of Jennell Jaquays. Jennell's is a well known name to most old school gamers, a highly influential game designer and artist of the industry since the early days. 

Rebecca Heineman on GoFundMe wrote:

Jennell Jaquays has a long road back

I’m fundraising to help offset what is going to be heavy medical costs for Jennell’s treatment and recuperation from Guillain-Barré syndrome. On Sunday evening on October 15th, she fell ill and with 36 hours she was barely alive and hooked up to a respirator. After numerous X-rays, cat scans and blood work finding nothing, they determined she is suffering from a neurological disease.

She is responding to the blood treatments and has started regaining motion in her hands and feet, she is looking at a minimum of 2 weeks (more like 4) in the hospital and six to twelve months of rehabilitation.

We are still reeling from the suddenness of this and the mountain of bills that will be forthcoming.

If you’re a fan of her work, a friend, or just someone who wishes to help us out in our hour of need, please help us

At the minimum, keep Jennell in your thoughts and send good vibes for a speedy recovery.

Thank you
Rebecca Heineman and Jennell Jaquays

Jennell, creator of The Dark Tower and Caverns of Thracia

Sunday, October 22, 2023

Engine Consummate

So I am hacking the dénouement in Dawn of the Overmind, from the illithid Monstrous Arcana adventure trilogy. When the PCs in my game reach the Overmind the Multiverse will have collapsed and the stars winked out of existence.

The Tharzadu'unian Markabs - elder abyssal creatures who now gnaw their way through Empire starclusters - are only messengers of the great doom. What goads them onward at this time, 20,000 years from when our earliest adventuring parties explored the Wilderlands, is the fear of impending annihilation. Looming behind the Markabs is an expanding, starless rift in the Space/Time fabric grown so large that it consumes Past, Present, and Future. Time has run out.

Ha, I have options for the PCs (once hopefully at least some of them survive the Gyth invasion of Penumbra where Mind Flayers gather to board the Overmind). An old character last heard walking Narcosa remains attuned with the Codex of the Infinite Planes although presently he's stuck inside the Monolith Beyond Space and Time.

My D&D campaign (har because really they are all just one campaign in the Multiverse, thanks Arduin!) in earth-time probably got going in late 1978 or early 1979, when D&D was still marketed as an "Adult Fantasy Role-Playing Game," and there was something for me like a here I am on the left coast conceit that everything should fit together, Everything...!

And that's what I've endeavored to do over 40-some-odd years of running games, with characters spanning 50,000 years of existence from the earliest time a PC appeared in the time-line up to the current adventurers. (NO, ha I did not ref 50,000 years. We bounce around a lot.)

Presently in our real-life meatspace the Beforetimes are bumping up against the new weird and it has seriously fucked with our gaming group. 

When we began these current iterations we played semi-regular in-person games pretty much centered around San Francisco Bay as everyone had pretty much dispersed anywhere from 40 to a couple hundred miles around there. With the pandemic all of a sudden we are 100% online and what was once a gathering of the tribe became sort of like a D&D Zoom meeting. It hadn't helped because we were rotating refs on a regular schedule, so getting vested in an ongoing thematic arc was nigh impossible. 

With Covid restrictions having lifted, we have basically three camps: Only D&D in-person, Only D&D online (due to convenience, travel costs), and the hybrid D&Ders like myself (we enjoy the convenience of an online game but still prefer that roll of dice in the presence of friends).

Thus I'm postponing my session until DunDraCon 47 (Saturday February 17, 2024 7pm probably in the Open Gaming Room) to blow up the whole campaign setting to smithereens. Ha, THESE tentacle-faces are NOT going to make it back to re-enslave the Giths (really, the Giths are actually going to screw that up, or fix things from their perspective).

I've weighed running a PC versus refereeing a game and for now I just want a new campaign to run, a separate online (or primarily online) campaign to run as a straight DM i.e. not rotating and start with new characters. I think I can get most of our group to attend regular monthly online sessions. Basically I use 99% Discord voice and images with maybe a smidgen here and there of Roll20 where folks really desire a map (I am totally fine doing Theatre of the Mind crap so really the Roll20 is because players don't map much any more).

On the other in-person campaign we might remain to some sort of referee rotation, perhaps even continuing the same characters if somehow they survive, but we'll have nail down who wants to ref and who doesn't. Probably 5 out of our 8 regulars ref our games now. But this campaign would be less frequent, perhaps 4 times a year. Though even with the reduced number a couple of our really fun players won't (Sick Rick) or can't (Ikbard) travel. That kind of takes the vintage punch out of gathering in-person, but we'll lose 2 players who only will in-person (Sumerled and Random Addison).

My best idea, and it really depends if others still want to ref or run PCs, would be to run the online game monthly for 11 months of the year and meet in person at DunDraCon every February.

The gnarly reality is that I probably only have 1-3 decade long campaigns left (our average party runs about 12 years and in 36 years I'll be 95!). And there's several settings I'm vested in (although of course they'll be hacked into the ever-existing campaign). I just have to face the bloody reality of an aging group, dispersed to the winds, and utilize the modern tools to make a game fun and intense online.

Ha, at least we aren't still using speaker phones or Online Gametable chat games. (And maybe, just maybe I'll run a discrete original Wilderlands campaign for Sumerled and Addison, just because they're both local...)