Game Day: The Campaign Wiki

Game Day was pretty much a wash yesterday, with everyone except for Evil Genius and I unable to attend. That made for a downer of a game day, but we pressed on, deciding to work on our campaign’s ongoing project: the GriffWiki.

Our gaming group’s been campaigning in the World of Greyhawk since 1996, and we’ve had a web site , The Griffin’s Crier, chronicling our game since 1998. The site’s gone through two major incarnations, one as a simple HTML web site, and its current database-driven version. While the site served as a useful archive and touchstone for the campaign (and managed to recruit us more than a few players), it was never as easy to use as I would have liked. Even the database version, which is maintained through a series of simple web forms, isn’t all that user-friendly, particularly when it comes to browsing the site and quickly launching into an editor.

Enter the Wiki

I’ve watched the rise of Wikipedia and its myriad spawn, notably Memory Alpha and the Wookipedia, with interest. Here is a tool that does exactly what we want — allowing for quick editing and addition of content to the site, creating lists of categories and articles on the fly,  and easy customization through PHP/CSS (the last being a technical requirement of my own.

For the last year or so, we’ve been experimenting with the idea of converting The Griffin’s Crier to a wiki, and after a few false starts, we’re finally doing that. You can find the wiki at Only campaign members can edit the site, but anyone can browse its content.

The biggest challenge with the wiki has been coming up with an organizational scheme that works, and won’t lead to a huge mess as we port in hundreds of NPCs, PCs, organizations and sites into the wiki. To that end, we’re starting with people — the building blocks of our campaign world — and expanding outward. To date, we’ve moved 61 people into the database, organizing them along categories such as class, race, alignment, and religion. I’ve also begun moving over the  organizations, detailing the two dozen or so adventuring guilds located within Obsidian Bay.

A Maze of Tiny Twisting Categories

Even this limited export gives rise to problems. For example, as I imported the various characters into the wiki, I assigned them to a “Worshipper” category based on which god they belong to. Which is great … except that categories in the wiki become orphaned if you don’t assign them to a higher-level category. So now I’m going back through the wiki, assigning each of those “Worshipper of God X” categories to the larger “Worshippers” category, which itself belongs to “People”.

It’s enough to make your head hurt, which is why I usually only spend 30 minutes or so each day working on the project. Once the wiki’s better established, I plan on spending a few nights/days doing nothing but porting content, but for now slow and steady is the way to go.

Digging through the Past

The thing I’m enjoying most about the wiki project is rediscovering all the content we’ve created and then promptly buried in the web site. It’s amazing how much story you can accumulate over a decade of play, and I’m looking forward to finally having it all in one place as I combine the current version of the web site and its immediate predecessor (which now lives on solely on my hard drive) into the wiki.

Creating this mega archive does have one drawback though: it’s difficult to skim. There’s no easy way for folks joining our campaign to quickly get caught up on its history, and its expecting too much for someone to read through 10 years worth of sagas to get caught up, even if everything is online. As a result, once all the content is moved to the wiki Evil Genius and I are going to put together some summary pages design to provide a broad sweep of the campaign, from the power struggles in Obsidian Bay to some of our more epic story arcs. I think these guides will go a long way to catching everyone up on Greyhawk as it exists in our campaign.

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