I make no bones with this, in part because I know I’m an intensely self-niched geek. I don’t play console or computer games religiously, and as much as I enjoy writing code, I’m no hobby programmer either. I’m a writing geek, a little of a film geek, and a lot of a book geek. But mostly, a writing geek.
I’ve been doing collaborative writing for a long time. I started playing AD&D when I was eight, and even though it fell off swiftly (phah, who needs rulebooks?) the game never did. When I was sixteen, I found a roleplay chat – Alamak – and got in with the community there, playing the same characters I had used for tabletop.
One of them – originally named Octavian, but renamed Riven Darkangel for ‘mak (hey, I was sixteen, what do you expect me to name him?) managed to survive in some form or another since then. Mostly, the eventual moniker of “Swordsman” has stuck for the last half of his tenure. I began a reset of his character earlier this year, because I realized the amount of history he had behind him was just so vast that there was no way I could approach playing him in any setting but the legacy setting from Alamak. And with all of the other players from that time period gone, moved on, and doing other things with their lives than writing, that wasn’t feasible.
Today, I realized something awesome, in every sense of the word. I was looking through some of my old game logs and notes, and came across a notation from this character’s original AD&D 2nd Edition sheet. Original Play Date: June 16th, 1990.
Swordsman is turning Twenty years old next week.
That’s a fairly big deal. His in-plot time is longer than any other character I’ve made before or since. It’s a huge milestone. More than two thirds of my life.
I find I’m approaching milestones differently than I used to. A whole year blogging. Cracking a thousand followers on Twitter (and thanks all, by the way). Approaching 30 years old. It’s all different, every milestone means something different. But in the end, I’m finding they’re good for one thing;
Milestones encourage us to look back, safely, at what we’ve accomplished and how far we’ve come.
We can argue all we want that no one walks into the future backwards. This is, I think, one of the reason milestones are so important. When we hit one, if we’re conscious, we have a respite to look back over the previous measure and assess our progress. Review our goals, rebuild our rations, and plan for the future using the past as an indicator. It’s safe, healthy, and satisfying. One of the few times examining the past can be, if we let it.
I’m proud of Riven for sticking around so long – and glad to have the opportunity to look over my own work in this way. It’s a unique experience for me – until, if, he hits 40 years of continuous use.
What are you doing when you reach milestones? Do you notice? How do you act on the knowledge that a measured event has occurred?
Photo credit: Me, My Pencils and Photoshop