Candlekeep, by William O'Connor
Back in the date of August 5th, 2014, I was a groupless gamer. Half the old crowd of high school buddies moved out of the state, and for a while I've debated whether to give online gaming a shot. I could try typical fantasy fare like so many others, start slow with time-tested ideas and do yet another fantasy adventure. Or even a test adventure of "clear out the kobold cave" to be dropped as a one-shot.
I could've played it safe, but to hell with that. I had an idea of mine brewing in my head for quite a while. An idea given fruit by years spent reading Harry Potter, of watching shows like X-Men and Chip Cheezum's Let's Play of Wonderful 101, of masked figures in Assassin's Creed traversing the rooftops of a medieval city as pursuing knight-templars gave chase.
I wanted a D&D game; I wanted a magic high school game; I wanted a fantasy superhero game. And I was so set on this idea that I was willing to test it out on players who've I known and chatted with, but never gamed together.
I wanted Arcana High.
It was then that I found my new gaming group, a group of four friends I got to know and have fun with for these past months, a group I will continue to play with even after this campaign's end. It's been a great run; I had an overarching idea for the game, but no plan survives contact with the enemy and many of the games' plots, characters, and story arcs took on a life of their own.
There are some gaming groups who continue a game until they get tired of it and try something new; there are some gaming groups who've been playing the same campaign for decades. Every group has their own style, but for me I like to wrap things up with a definite conclusion. A satisfying ending which brings closure on a story, after a heroic triumph, that is the way we wanted to go. The way which felt best.
I'm happy, and yet sad. Happy that these many months of collaborative story-telling created an epic campaign we'll remember for a long time, yet sad that it had to end. For the time being I want a break and wish to try out other games, but there's a part of me which knows that someday I'll return to that world once again. The bustling streets of Brancean, with its street vendors selling kebabs to hurrying apprentice mages on their way to school; the tower-neighborhoods of the Undercity and its subterranean shrine the Glittering Dome; the vaunted halls of Highstone Academy, home to wood elf wizards with talking rabbit familiars and drow artisans setting up dungeon obstacle courses for would-be adventurers. I'll miss the daring battles with supervillains such as the terrifying dungeon-builder Deathtrap, the Kingpin-esque crimelord Theopolis, the unseelie king Orpheus, and the fallen gold dragon Dorethal whose centuries of witnessing and battling great evils sent her over the edge.
I once sought to collect my stories in a campaign journal like so many other groups, but the time spent prepping for an ideal game week after week (along with jobs and self-publishing projects) made this a failed endeavor. Hopefully, one day, in some form or another, I can share the many wonders of this world with you as well.
Farewell for now Arcana High, it's been a great run!