by Scott Hardie on April 21, 2019
Gothic Earth was played for the last time on April 14, finally completing a long campaign that I was worried at times would wind up abandoned before we could finish it. You can read the entire storyline now. I'll leave the website online through August 31.
How long was the campaign? It started in July 2009. Only one of the original seven players stayed through to the end, though another eventually returned after having to take a few breaks. Among the people who I met because of it, one remains a dear friend to this day.
The game was supposed to last five years, played weekly. We took a lot of weeks off in the interim, so it lasted for a few months shy of a decade. Other than Funeratic, it has been by far the longest creative project of my life, and certainly the longest RPG campaign that I've been involved with. It wound up being more than double the length of The World Game, a fantasy campaign that I ran on this website from 1997-2001 and which I didn't think I would top. That Internet-based game may have required more work from me on a per-week basis, but Gothic Earth was far more complicated, requiring me to maintain and intersect many plot threads at a time. To me, a good plot thread must have a beginning and middle and end, and each of Gothic Earth's many sub-plots got to have that complete arc. I'm proud that I didn't leave the game with unanswered questions or unresolved conflicts.
My feelings about the game are complicated and hard to summarize. I hope that the huge amount of work that went into the massive 138-room puzzle-house conclusion demonstrates my immense love for the game and its players. I will carry fond memories of this campaign for the rest of my life. It wasn't perfect and I certainly made some mistakes along the way, but I couldn't feel more proud of the game today than I do.
Maybe part of my feelings are based on actually finishing something that I started. In our modern digital society, it's so easy to ghost on an obligation or to cancel after an affirmative RSVP. I've been forced to bring premature endings to campaigns before and it hurt every time. Maybe it's old fashioned, but I believe in keeping commitments. I'm proud that I saw this one through no matter how long it took. I'm depressive and tend to be hard on myself about failures, so I'm glad that I can point to this one big success.
On a different note, I'm surprised that Gothic Earth didn't exhaust the possible connections to the great literary and cinematic characters from this time period and genre. I started cramming in a lot more references near the end just to show how many were left. I could probably run a second ten-year campaign and still not run out of great late Victorian adventure/horror/sci-fi characters to add to it. That said, after years of exploring this time period and genre, I'm done and ready for new adventures of the imagination.
I'm grateful to every player who participated and influenced the game, and who went on this journey with me. I'm also grateful to Bill Valentin, my friend years ago in Illinois who ran a short campaign in this setting that inspired me to make my own version. I hope I've done justice to the great game that he too called Gothic Earth.
The creator of Funeratic, Scott Hardie, blogs about running this site, losing weight, and other passions including his wife Kelly, his friends, movies, gaming, and Florida. Read more »