Although its not likely to happen for years to come, now and then I contemplate the day when I will stop running D&D. The energy it requires, the stress ... the facts are that eventually it comes time to put things like that down, even if we don't like the idea.
This is not to say that I would ever give up the game. On some level, I would go on creating a 'world' ... because that creation itself is a beautiful, occupying thing. If there were still a venue to post that world - if the inevitable fascist government that is bound to supercede this one doesn't outlaw the internet on principle - then I would probably go on posting or publishing or whatever seemed like a good idea at the time. I like tearing things down and building them again, so I'd go on with that. I just think the process of playing has its limitations for an old man.
Now, I'm talking sixty, sixty-five, maybe seventy. I don't know, really. I never expected the game to take the toll it does on me now.
(To be honest, I haven't expected 90% of the changes that have come along these last ten years)
I know that sounds sad. I know that many a gentle reader will resist contemplating that truth themselves, even as they are turning into the early part of their fifties. Someone is also bound to rush forward and shout that Gygax or some other icon 'ran until their death' ... but I'd like to point out that Gygax died at the pretty young age of 69, after two strokes, a narrowly avoided heart attack and ultimately the aneurysm that killed him. Arneson went at 61, though of cancer and not any stress-related malady.
I'm only 12 and a half years off 61, so I'm a lot closer to that age than a lot of my readers. Presuming I stay healthy, I don't crap out from cancer or stress, I have to consider that those later years of life are creeping up pretty steady. A fellow has to know his limitations.
But not to worry. I don't view the game or its design through the same lens as a lot of people. I'm lucky enough to realize that there's more to this than the running itself, or the 'fun' of it all. There's something deeply fascinating with roleplaying and world-design that I fully expect to hold my attention for decades to come. There's a certain pleasure in knowing that eventually I'll be able to sit and design freely to my heart's delight.
I've never felt that I had enough time. Somehow, its all been a fight to push back against those commitments others pressed upon me. Primarily, this whole business of having to feed, house and clothe myself has been a real drain on my personal resources. It doesn't help that I'm finicky and insistent on silly priorities like living well or decently or having toys and such. How much easier a life of obsessive design could have been if my requirements were no more than those of monks living on the coast of Ireland in the 6th century ... a little hut with a bed, a stove, a small table and tallow candles made from the pigs outside. They got on with the business of inventing mythical bullshit with nothing more than ink, paper and dedication.
(I don't see any difference between the fantasy of D&D and the fantasy of Christianity ... just putting that out there)
But, I've been tainted with the lure of techology, which is so much more insistent upon a better prepared space and reliable power. Alas.
When the time comes - and it will - I think that I can continue to explore my comprehension of this game far past the need to actually 'play' it. I think there are avenues of development I've not remotely considered, which will reveal themselves to me only with time, effort, patience and contemplation. I think, in the end, there's a certain solace in the practice of investigation into things we enjoyed frivolously in our earlier lives ... something that sustains not only ourselves, but perhaps future generations.
After all, have I not read the scribblings of a hundred old scholars writing privately and patiently in small rooms up to their death? I have. I most certainly have.