This is my first post for the Blaugust 2021 blogging event, scheduled in advance since I’m away this weekend.
I was listening just before the weekend to the latest episode of the DM of None podcast, an always entertaining and informative Dungeons & Dragons (and other TTRPG) themed podcast. This episode was a discussion of the forthcoming Strixhaven setting book for D&D, a Magic the Gathering crossover product that introduces a magical school as a possible setting for adventures.
Although examples from other settings, games and fandoms were given, the earliest example I could think of wasn’t featured in the episode. My earliest Dungeons & Dragons campaign was set in the ‘OD&D’ setting of Mystara (a k a “the Known World”). I was a teenager in secondary school at the time, but looming end of school exams didn’t stop me from planning a rediculously over-ambitious campaign. Even then I had altitis, as MMORPG players would think of it, basically a tendency to want to do ‘all the things’ at once. So for the one group of players, I planned for six different sub-campaigns in parallel. Play switched from session to session between sets of characters in different parts of the world. There was an overarching meta-plot and meta-timeline with events that characters would become aware of or interact with to a lesser or greater degree.
The smallest of the six campaigns was a solo (single player plus DM) strand set in the Principalities of Glantri. The fantastic source book for this country was one of the Gazetteer series of products that fleshed out the Mystara setting; each added new rules or options to OD&D alongside providing the country overview and some adventure ideas.
I loved all the books in this series, but this was one of my favourites. It came out in 1987 according to Wikipedia, I imagine I bought it not long after that as I was an avid collector of the series. This setting included a magical school located in the capital of Glantri City. It was a rich potential location for adventures as the city and country had complex politics and a lot of dangers. I came up with a cold-war style plot: the solo character was a spy from a rival magical nation undercover in this hotbed of political in-fighting, playing the role of student in order to steal magical secrets. Harry Potter it was not.
It’s funny how a single reference can trigger long-forgotten memories; I’d not thought of this campaign for a long time. Thankfully I’m a much a pack-rat in life as in MMORPGs, at least for anything creative or hobby-related. I still have the campaign folder with it’s dividers to separate the strands. The paper is rather faded now, circa 35 years is enough time to get the “old paper” effect without cheating it seems! Maybe I should think seriously about digitizing it all before it’s too late…