How Arcadayn Came to Be

As the campaign world history is rewritten, it will appear in the contents list of the Arcadayn index page. However, the history of the creation of the game world deserves some note.


Arcadayn's original seed was created by James Ragsdale, one of my best friends from elementary and secondary school. In about 1987, when we were in high school together, James drew a parchment map of an imaginary kingdom, and like a medieval king, parcelled out fiefdoms to his "vassals," all of whom were close friends who shared his interest in RPGs. He encouraged us to create D&D stats for our rulers, but at the time, he didn't have any definite plans to use it as a campaign world. However, this was just the right sort of thing to spark a brainstorm for me, and I not only created my ruler (who I made out to be the neighborhood evil dictator), but made notes on his humanoid and monstrous thralls, and the demon he worshiped. His background also described part of his homeland, which was off the edge of the drawn map. Few of the others in our little cabal got further than a sketchy concept of their ruler, so I added detail to those and incorporated them into my other notes.


After this first brainstorm, I realized I had the beginnings of a campaign setting, and began to add details in order to achieve that purpose. When I was preparing to go to college, James handed over sole editorial control to me, for by that time, about 95% of the background was my creation.


During my first year of college, I played a little D&D but did not even attempt to DM--I was in college to study. But at the end of that year, I decided that I could afford the time to run a campaign, and recruited some friends for the coming year. Over the summer, I worked on a small portion of the world in order to have a detailed starting point. (The 2nd edition of AD&D came out about this time. I liked the revision and made changes accordingly.) The campaign lasted for three years (sophomore to senior, 1989-92), and never ranged more than a couple of weeks' travel from the PCs' hometown. All this time I was puttering: adding detail to the campaign area, sketching out other parts of the world, and piling up quite an impressive stack of notes.


I used AD&D, with all its usual races, classes, etc., but with several new priest classes and character kits created using the guidelines in the Complete Handbook series. Very early into the creation process, I devised two principles that guided much further creation: First, the pantheon of gods would be finite. All species and cultures would worship gods from the same group of about thirty deities, though they would usually appear quite different in other cultures (much like the D&D game's various incarnations of Immortals). There would be no "new" gods except for those a particular culture did not yet acknowledge, or minor demigods with few or no worshipers outside of their homeland. Second, the cosmos in general would be finite. There would be none of the world-hopping that creeps into TSR's campaign worlds. (I liked the Spelljammer set, and even used it to map out the planets, but I wanted my "universe" to be exactly that: one whole, by itself.)


After I graduated, I had very little opportunity to continue playing D&D, so the world languished except for occasional tinkering (and even that was limited due to the demands of graduate school).


When I found a regular gaming group again (in 1994, after arriving in Boston), they used GURPS, which I had only played once before. The GM had created his world several years before, using D&D, and had switched to GURPS for this second, post-college campaign. I started learning the system, admiring its flexibility and coherence, and began acquiring some of the supplements (Fantasy, Magic, Bestiary). While playing in this campaign, I decided that if I ever resurrected Acradayn, I would use GURPS, and that I would radically change the world to remove as many AD&D-specific trappings as I could. When GURPS Compendium I came out, I made some sketchy notes for redoing the priesthoods and the nonhuman races before packing the whole thing up indefinitely.


When I finally attempted to GM a new campaign, I used GURPS but started with a completely different genre and setting: modern-day Lovecraftian horror. That campaign was short-lived, but I later ran another Cthulhu campaign.


Some of the players in that second game expressed interest in being in a "pure" fantasy GURPS campaign. I started creating these pages as groundwork for a possible campaign, though I would have to give up the Cthulhu game to run a new one. Eventually (August 1998), I decided to put the Cthulhu game on indefinite hiatus so that I could put more time into background work for this campaign (and other writing projects). One advantage of creating these pages is that my friends can find out more about my ideas for the world without having to corner me and listen to me babble for hours on end....


(Footnote: The original spelling of Arcadayn was "Arcadain," which was changed shortly after I began posting info to these pages--people were misreading it, or I had misspelled it, as "Arcadian." [I might still have some edits left to do--please be patient.] It's pronounced "AR-kuh-dane.")


Update 10/1998: It looks like we'll be able to start the campaign sometime in late November 1998. I will try to give occasional updates on the campaign in my Unicorn Dreams 'zine.


Update 8/1999: The campaign is going strong. I have moved the campaign write-ups from Unicorn Dreams to the Arcadayn Journal.


Update 11/2003: The first campaign came to a close in February 2002; see the Campaign Journal for summaries of those sessions. I intend to revisit this campaign world at some yet-to-be-determined date.


Meanwhile, I started a D&D (d20) game in Summer 2003 that is set in the small piece of Arcadayn used in my college AD&D campaign. That part of the world was radically changed in the conversion to GURPS, so I deliberately exaggerated the differences for this new campaign. Details of that game can be found at the Ursk page.


Update 11/2007: I am in the process of migrating much of the Lair of Thastygliax's content to a wiki format. The Ursk pages have now been moved, but the Arcadayn pages have yet to be moved.

Update 12/2015: The Adventures in Arcadayn pages were moved to PBwiki in December 2007. I have started the process of moving the wiki to Google Sites, where all of my other gaming sites now reside. (I'm leaving the updates above as they appeared in the previous archive.) Thastygliax's Vault.has been recreated as a Google Site, and houses my gaming pages that don't have their own separate wiki; the Ursk pages are located there now.

Update 6/2017: I have finally recreated the full session logs for The Maidens Who Serve the Gods on this site. I have also added brief pages for Tales of the Blue Swan (the original AD&D game mentioned above) and Ursk: The Adventurer's Guild (mentioned in the 11/2003 update), because both campaigns drew from the same sources as the GURPS Arcadayn campaign.