Years ago, I published a short adventure module titled “The Battle of Kierk Field.” This was just one of a series of “Gorgon Breath Adventures” that I and some writing friends put together for our indie RPG company: Gorgon Breath Games.
Gorgon Breath doesn’t do much anymore. While we did have a solid year where we published weekly monsters (or “Weekly Beasties” as we called them), the best of our work could be boiled down to a handful of adventures we wrote, edited, and published - sometimes with dubious playtesting. (I’ll admit that might mostly have been me.)
It was all in good fun, for the most part. I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t harbor some bigger ambitions for Gorgon Breath Games. Then again, the company came together during a time when outsized ambitions were kind of my modus operandi.
I’ve had a long-running bad habit of enthusiastically biting off more than I can chew, and then feeling disappointed when I inevitably choke. The Battle of Kierk Field is perhaps more emblematic of that than anything else I ever wrote under the Gorgon Breath banner.
The truth is, I had already been working on content related to The Battle of Kierk Field for some time before I actually ever published the module. I had, initially, envisioned it as being the opener to a longer Dungeon & Dragons setting/campaign: The Conquest of Muldrec.
It would center around a grim and gritty war with the eponymous Muldrec - a necromancer poised to invade the kingdom of Lauthlan with an army of the undead. I had thousands of words written all the way back in 2016, nearly two years before Kierk Field ever saw the light of DriveThruRPG. I had even gone so far as to commission an artist/layout friend to assemble book-grade PDFs of my developing campaign.
That was a pretty ludicrous thing to do when you consider that I hadn’t even playtested a single adventure yet. (Even more ludicrous when you consider that I’d only run a single brief campaign before that).
What can I say, though? My first forays into tabletop role-playing really struck me. I didn’t have a lot of time to play the game in those days, but still wanted to be involved in the hobby. I wanted to make a mark on that space, and an epic and polished-looking campaign seemed like a good way to do it.
My ambitions for The Conquest of Muldrec eventually just kind of fizzled out. I got as far as writing up plans for a follow-up to The Battle of Kierk Field, and started play-testing my ideas with a group of friends, but the reality of how much work it is to produce a full-fledged series of campaign modules just caught up to me.
If a genie ever offers me three wishes, at least one of them will be reserved for adding more hours to the day.
While my actual work on The Conquest of Muldrec as a product came to a stop, the playtesting I’d begun with my friends continued on as a regular D&D campaign. We were all busy working adults, so we could usually only meet for a few hours once a month. Even so, it became the regular social event I looked forward to.
Every month I would write pages of notes, plans, and scenarios, responding to things my player group did the month before. Hoping to up the ante, I started painting miniatures and building terrain - another hobby I fell in love with.
I came to relish those moments when everything -my planning, my preparation, and our player group- would come together and produce one of those “just right” magical moments that I knew I’d remember for years to come afterward.
“Did you plan that?” Was a question I heard several times over the nearly two years we spent saving the kingdom of Lauthlan. While I would usually brush aside any praise with self-deprecating humor, the truth is that I was beaming inside when I could tell my friends were having fun.
I learned a lot about myself as a Dungeon Master, over the course of that campaign. I learned about my tastes, my strengths, my weaknesses, and that I really need to spend more time reviewing the book before a play session. There are rules that I always seem to forget. Every time.
That’s the biggest part of why I can’t really regret a lot of the early work and effort I spent on The Conquest of Muldrec. I never published the full campaign and the RPG world might not be whispering my name with hushed voices, but I did have a great time with a group of people that I still play with today.
Somehow, I think that might be better.