“…The ending has not yet been written.”

–Opening narration of Myst

I haven’t shared much of “Praise of Stone,” the Fourth Edition Dungeons & Dragons campaign I’ve game mastered for the last year. A lot of it I made up as I went along, despite anything I may have planned from the beginning.

Inspiration for the title is from the poem “In Praise of Limestone,” by W. H. Auden. I didn’t take much else from the poem, only referenced its title – though there were some plans to incorporate more ideas that never came to fruition.

This morning I thought it would be a good idea to begin writing a summary of the campaign events, and I stumbled across some interesting consistencies I hadn’t intended at the time. At one point, the party visited the oracle at Delphi for advice. Burdened with several quests at that time, they asked for some direction.

Despite the fact that they’d been questing after the oracle of Delphi for some weeks, I hadn’t figured out exactly what the answer would be, even if I knew the questions. When they finally asked, I had to sort it out myself before answering.

The party had several enemies at the time, and they needed guidance as to whom they should try to take down first. After going down the list, I gave them some idea of the priority that I would have assigned to them, had I been in their shoes.

First, I suggested they go after an archnemesis of one member of the party – a revenant assassin whom the party had already encountered once before. I suggested they tackle the slave ring from another character’s background next.

Perhaps above them all, I told them to save the djinn who factored into a third character’s background – for last. I tried to make it as clear as possible that the djinn would be the biggest threat of all the enemies they faced (of those listed).

They asked a couple questions as I recall, and one of them was about what to do “next,” when they had narrowed down their choices to two. Between one character and the Necklace of Harmonia, and another character and the Rod of Seven Parts.

When faced with divination magic, as game master you want the players to answer the questions themselves, or otherwise absolve you of error wherever possible.

I was lucky in that the party’s “greatest enemy” had not yet reared its head. I arranged with one player to try his hand at game mastering for an evening, and the party failed to prevent a dragon from entering the world via ritual.

The dragon promptly conquered Delphi, and the party fled to the Peloponnese.

Some months later, after wandering through the wilderness having adventures and such, the party returned to civilization and began (in earnest) to go about acquiring the Necklace of Harmonia and completing the player’s personal quest.

In pursuit of that goal, I offered them the chance to pursue a couple agents of the Elemental Chaos back through the planar rift whence they came. They positively leaped at the opportunity, only to find the other dimension hostile to life.

I gave them an “out,” and they escaped back to the Natural World, wounded but perhaps a little bit wiser for it. If I remember correctly, there was another assassin waiting for them when they returned who offered them an interesting challenge.

Now the party is marching an army to Thebes so the character can reclaim his throne and complete his personal quest, but the party has many enemies still unaccounted for — enemies who will no doubt reappear in the coming weeks.