This D&D campaign has been going on for 40 years

The latest installment in the Wired’s Obsessed series profiles Robert Wardhaugh, the dungeon master of a D&D campaign that’s been running continuously since 1982. Most campaigns are lucky enough to last more than a few months, so reaching the bar 40 years is quite an achievement. .

The video focuses on Wardhaugh’s setup, which takes up the entire basement of a house he bought with this important gaming area in mind. He has room for his collection of around 30,000 miniatures, all of which he painted by hand (which is why players are not allowed to touch them during gameplay). It also has land to represent every conceivable part of its homebrew setting based on an alternate fantasy version of historical Earth – Wardhaugh is a professor of history at Western University in London, Ontario, by the day.

In addition to a homebrew framework, it runs D&D with homebrew rules that evolved from AD&D 1st edition. As Wardhaugh notes on the website for what he simply calls The Game, these rules have continued to change over the years and include new rules that players have requested be introduced in the 3rd, 4th, and 5th editions of D&D.

The length of the campaign made it dynastic, with players – of which there were over 50 – playing the children of their previous characters over generations. Permadeath passes and Wardhaugh says, “When your character dies, if you don’t have other characters, you’re out of the game.” In total, he says, “about 500 characters” have come and gone over the past 40 years.

Players have come and gone too, and his daughter joined – asking to play as a fairy when she was six or seven and staying, still part of the group at the age of 20. Some players have moved on, but still fly for the occasional session. Having this regular reason to hang out has helped keep his group of friends together, and it seems to be the main reason Wardhaugh is still running D&D, four decades after his debut. “As long as I can keep doing it,” he says, “I hope all my life I won’t lose my friends.”

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