This D&D campaign has been running for 40 years

The latest episode of Wired’s Obsessed series features Robert Wardhaugh, the Dungeon Master of a D&D campaign that has been running continuously since 1982. Most campaigns are lucky enough to last longer than a few months, so reaching the 40-year mark it’s a great achievement.

The focus of the video is on Wardhaugh’s setup, which takes up the entire basement of a house he bought with this sizable gaming area in mind. It has room for his collection of around 30,000 miniatures, all of which he’s hand-painted (which is why players can’t touch them during gameplay). He also has ground to play out every conceivable part of his home setting based on an alternate fantasy version of historic Earth – Wardhaugh is a professor of history at Western University in London, Ontario by day.

In addition to a homebrew setting, it runs D&D with homebrew rules that evolved from 1st edition AD&D. As Wardhaugh notes in web site for what he simply calls The Game, those rules have continued to change over the years and include new rules that players have asked to bring from 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 across generations. Permadeath is accepted, and Wardhaugh says, “When your character dies, if you don’t have any other characters, you’re out of the game.” In all, he says that “about 500 characters” have come and gone in the last 40 years.

Players came and went as well, and his daughter joined the group – asking to play as a fairy at age six or seven and staying, still a part of the group at age 20. Some players have moved, but still fly for the occasional session. Having that regular reason to hang out helped keep his group of friends together, and that seems to be the main reason why Wardhaugh is still running D&D, four decades after he started. “As long as I can keep doing this,” he says, “I hope for the rest of my life, I don’t lose my friends.”

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