Game Day: The Great Campaign Purge of 2020

Everyone keeps things. Some people keep a lot of things … and, as we learned from Fight Club, the stuff we own ends up owning us. While I’m far from a minimalist, I do think it’s possible to keep too much stuff, and it’s good to be mindful about what you keep, and what you throw away.

Case in point: campaign notebooks. I love creating campaign notebooks, which are typically three-ring binders that collect adventure notes, random tables from various sources, reference materials, and the occasional map. They’re hard to get rid of, because each is a collection of memories, sometimes great memories. They’re also caches of creativity; snapshots of enthusiastic world-building from years past.

But here’s the thing … once a campaign ends or otherwise goes dormant … I don’t need these books anymore. Yes, they’re fun to page through … but I never do that. And yes, they’re handy as a reference, but most of my notes are stored on my MacBook; I don’t need dead tree versions filling up valuable shelf space in my game room (that’s what graphic novels, board games, and are for!).

So in an effort to practice what I preach, I’m cleaning out the game room and reducing as much of the gaming clutter as I can … starting with my campaign notebooks. A side benefit of doing this is a host of Game Day columns that this will undoubtedly spawn. In the coming weeks, look for columns on:

  • Infinity Storm: My seven-issue Mutants and Masterminds campaign for the Blackrazor Guild.
  • Broken Land: My lunchtime Greyhawk campaign for the Gamer Working Group
  • Shadows of the Force: The Blackrazor Guild’s long-running Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic campaign.
  • The Borderlands: A year-long, infrequent D&D Kids campaign.
  • Pirates of the Vohoun: The Blackrazor’s D&D 3rd Edition playtest campaign.
  • The Blackrazor Campaign: The original, super-sized campaign notebook, filled with the Blackrazor Guild’s 10-year run.
  • Character Notebook: The overflowing binder of characters, some beloved, some completely forgotten, all stuffed into the same notebook.

I’m not throwing things out willy-nilly. I’m flipping through each notebook and digitizing anything that’s archive-worthy (particularly hand-drawn maps that I probably didn’t scan or take pictures of previously). Ancient character sheets, from the dawn of my gaming days, are likely to be retained, as well as those for vintage characters from the last 25 years of Blackrazor Guild gaming. But one-shot characters, and the 20 non-definitive copies of Duklar Ironforge, dwarven war cleric, can be recycled.

Doing this review is a good thing. It lets me take strolls down the overgrown, labyrinthine alleys and side streets of Memory Lane and, at least in some cases, create capstone posts that memorialize these great adventures. Even if I don’t write anything, it provides me with an opportunity to reflect on games gone by, a bittersweet activity that can’t help but inspire future campaigns.

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A picture of two of my soon-to-be purged notebooks: Pirates of the Vohoun and Blackrazor Archives.

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