It is nice to have laurels to rest upon.
I launched the idea of running an online campaign on a blog on February 18, 2009, just nine months after starting this blog in the first place, with the post, Stupid Ideas of Mine. I did start such a campaign, at first on this blog, and then on a blog of its own - which has been more practical. The first campaign limped along, and was joined by a second, then a third campaign ... these last two not having the necessary legs. So it goes.
After the first campaign sputtered out, there was a long period in which I did not run online. However, back in September 2011, I decided I would pick it up again. Throughout that month, I gathered four new players, and together we started the new campaign on September 23. It has been ongoing continuously for one year (less two days).
During that time we have had massive fights, played with complex magic, explored ruined ships, had an outdoor campaign, had an underground campaign, fought in a war and had brief dalliances with potential love. It has been everything an ordinary campaign might be ... and despite the method, I think I've proved now that I can do EVERY kind of running with just text alone. The players have proved that it is worth it to them to struggle and try to succeed, and get along as best they can.
It is strange to me that what makes credibility online with the community is not how well you can play, but how NICE you are. That there is the fundamental flaw in the community itself - and for those long time players who can look back at the years between the 70s and now, it has ALWAYS been the flaw. If you've been part of groups founded on campuses, inside gaming stores or at community centres, the one measure of the DM that simply does not rate mention is ability to play. The jackass with the key to the gaming room is often a major representative ... the DM whose mother organizes the convention is another. And lest we forget the player who's day job provides enough money to buy all the figures, all the table time and especially the booth where in convention after convention he or she sits and signs autographs.
Can he or she play? Who the fuck knows. Does it matter? Clearly not. You don't need to know jack shit about playing in order to design packaged content for gaming companies ... that much is obvious. What you need is a connection, a completely bland personality and the ability to be NICE for year after year as you spout absolutely the same drivel over, and over, and over again. You need to be able to write pandering, useless articles for the dragon magazine online with a marvelous plastic smile plastered Romney-like over your features. You need to beam widely at paying audiences while you take money from the conventioneers because 90 years ago you scrawled something on graph-paper while you and the Great G burped Dr. Pepper together. It is how well you genuflect, how miraculously devoid of substance are the panegyrics you write, how fantabulously sexy and immaterial are your Los Angeles connections, and how long you can keep this going without your nightly self-esteem-induced vomiting overwhelming you. So long as you are likeable, for the Love Of The Game, no one will ask you whether you can play the fucking thing or not.
There was a stupid idea at the core of my question three years ago, but it wasn't whether or not it was possible, or fun, to run an online campaign with a blog. It has been, it will continue to be, I see us going forward and I know that after a year the players are beginning to TRUST that the effort they make today will have a chance to materialize. No, the stupid idea I had three and a half years ago was that it would buy me some sort of credibility; that readers might see that, despite my volatile and oh so acerbic bitterness, there was REAL substance behind the vitriol. I deluded myself in thinking that with solid evidence that I could construct a campaign, design a complex world that had continuity, advance the characters through that world in a pure sandbox style, and carry it on for a long time, would wake people the fuck up and realize that I'm only acerbic when I am opposing the mind set that makes that value set impossible.
People would rather read nice people.
Even if the nice people are deadly dull.
Laws, chillins, write what you want, but there's no place in the world for bloggers who use words like 'bastard' ... no, chillins, no! That's why we burned that miserable, self-absorbed film Ratatouille that depicted a child born out of wedlock, yes'm, yes'm! Only use GOOD words, chillins ... else you're soul will never walk with Jesus!
Not that I think, for one second, that D&D is the only past-time to which this kind of ignorance applies.