I was going through my storage unit today, looking for some of my old D&D books. I was pretty sure I'd seen my old 2E Monstrous Compendium at some point when I was moving everything into my storage unit and I was hoping it would turn up.
While I didn't find my old MC, I did find a bunch of stuff I hadn't seen in ages. Some of it was old 1st and 2nd edition modules, boxed sets, or accessories. I managed to put together an old Battlesystem set, even though the parts were scattered across a couple of boxes. I found a ton of graph paper of various types. I even found the old Basic D&D Red Box set that was my first entry into the game.
But the best thing was yet to come...
In the farthest corner of my unit, is a huge stack of boxes. I went through every single box, and in the last one, in the hardest place to reach, was a box with all of my old DM notes. I didn't really have time to go through all of it in the storage unit, but I was surprised to see a lot of stuff in there that I though had been lost over the years, so I took it home to go through it at my leisure.
The first thing I noticed was just how much of it there was. Apparently I was quite prolific in my younger years, but very badly organized. Some characters are laid out on scrap paper and others are written out on custom-made character sheets. Some maps are meticulously drawn and are quite lovely to look upon, and some look like they were scrawled out by a 3rd grader with ADD (in-game maps most likely).
This was stuff I hadn't really looked at in at least 15 years, and it might have been closer to 20 for some of the stuff in there. Looking at the evolution of my handwriting and some of the drawings indicates that some of that stuff was leftovers from my Jr. High years.
Up to this point, all I had was one page of old notes on adventure hooks that had somehow ended up with the bulk of my AD&D books. Unfortunately, the ideas I had written on that page were fragmentary and difficult to make sense of without any context. They were basically code phrases that only I would understand, but over the years I had forgotten what those codes referred to!
I spent a few days trying to figure out what the heck I had been thinking when I wrote that page, and I was able to piece together most of it by trawling through my old gaming materials. Still, there were a lot of gaps where my memory had failed me.
But while I was going through this godawful hodgepodge of notes, I started making connections and filling in those missing gaps. This stuff may have been a mess, but it had enough meat to make sense of the rest. Not only did I have enough notes to show where I had stolen those old ideas from, I also had a bunch of inspirational pictures clipped from old magazines and whatnot. This included a bunch of art from the articles on Dragon Warrior and Final Fantasy that were snipped from old Nintendo Power issues.
Those pages and pages of ideas are enough to keep me supplied with years worth of gaming material. I'll end up posting a lot of it when it's cleaned up. Some of those ideas might be fleshed out in detail for articles and suggestions, and some of them might even end up as full modules.
What's really surprising is how much of that stuff is relevant to the campaign I'm currently building. I came up with the basic concept back then, and I've been refining it over the years. But I wasn't expecting to find a full synopsis of the original idea buried in my notes.
I was also delighted to come across an old list of gods that I was using for my pantheon back in the day, complete with holy symbols and the like. It's a big messy thing, but I'll definitely be pilfering ideas from it for my current pantheon.
In addition to the big structural elements, there are also some smaller story fragments that figure in to my current campaign that I didn't realize went back so far. For example, the ideas that Ogres are a servitor race to humans was an idea that I've incorporated into my current backstory. Instead of being a traditional bad-guy monster, they're usually on the side of the humans, and serve as full fledged NPCs.
This is a pretty big departure from the traditional role of ogres, but I wanted to make my world unique and have a different take on the classic creatures. And I was delighted to see that this idea was fully-fleshed out even back then.
I even found a page of plants and herbs that I had sketched out, complete with colored pictures and everything, which was a part of a module that I was working on at the time. Since I was already working on plants and animals as part of my background, this adds a lot of new material to pad things out.
I also found a bunch of maps going back to that period, including a map of the town, it's castle, and the peninsula. And they're all in glorious color! I was inspired by the classic Forgotten Realms maps and decided to make up a few big maps for the campaign and then fill them in with markers or colored pencils. Discovering these lost gems put a huge smile on my face.