Writing for a D&D campaign is quite unlike any other kind of writing. It is the very apex of the writing craft. Knowing that the tale will change shape with every gaming session, is half the fun. Careful placement of NPC's and plot devices is essentially the tending of a grand garden. When the tale begins to blossom and flower, after two or three sessions, the craft becomes even more stylish. PC's will certainly do their part, to help steer the story along, creating a colorful collaboration quite unlike any other form of writing.
It was decided, for this campaign-to-end-all-campaigns, that the NPC pool will largely consist of prominent pre-existing characters/creatures/deities from D&D's earliest days. There'll be efreeti, in a nod to Sutherland's iconic cover at from the 1979 Dungeon Masters Guide. There'll be appearances by members of the original Circle Of Eight (Mordenkainen, Bibgy, et. al.). There'll be githyanki, in a nod to Emmanuel's iconic cover art from the 1981 Fiend Folio. Deities will have their parts to play (including Asmodeus, Lolth, and Thor, to name a few). There'll be firbolgs, in a nod to Jeff Easley's iconic cover art from 1983's Monster Manual II.
Some NPC's will be benevolent. Some will be hostile. Some will be transparent. Some will be tricksy. All will be interesting.
In my world, challenging oneself as a D&D writer is important for personal growth. Never one to become stagnant, I've written countless campaign notes through the years. Some notes get recycled. Some notes are forgotten, and lost to the ages. Each time a fresh campaign rolls around, it gets better. Always better, never worse.
Giving old treasures a new chance to shine has also always ever been part of the process for me, as a writer. Case in point, the great golden mace of the north. Originally intended as both a treasure and a plot device in the 1990's, when I was DM'ing a mindblowing Planescape campaign. Raise your hands if you remember the Planescape campaign setting from 1994. The sun was setting on 2nd edition D&D, and it was an uncertain time for the game. At any rate, the PC (Zogg Zogz) for whom the treasure was written, never did factor into the equation. Clearly, not everyone shared my passion for the game at the time. And so, not unlike Sauron's one ring to rule them all, the treasure vanished without a trace, never to be seen or heard from again.
Until now. The great golden mace of the north will be one of the featured treasures in our GDQ1-7.
A favorite PC of mine (Okarr The Magnificent) reappears in this new campaign, as an arch-mage who dwells inside his own wizard tower along the eastern rim of Benchleydale, just north of the marshlands, near where the witch (Terrible Tess) makes her home.
In the mid-1980's, I was refereeing a fun Dragonlance campaign, in which the PC Okarr was one of the stars of the show. He was a dual-classed F/MU who wielded a magic sword with power-word activation. Speaking the word "Zar" would make the sword go aflame; dealing extra fire damage to his opponents. Speaking the word "Par" would grant the wielder the power of flight. It remains to be seen if this weapon will reappear in this new campaign, but it's almost certain that Okarr himself will have a part to play in all this, before the story is through. While this is not the first time that Okarr has appeared as an NPC in my many D&D adventures, I can say with complete certainty that this will be the last (and best) time that he appears. And you, dear readers, can interpret that any way that you'd like to.
Having a rich DM history, from which to draw upon, goes a long way towards the fleshing out of any new D&D campaign. Having great modules to run (GDQ1-7) makes my job seem less like a task and more like fun. Striking the right balance between hack/slash and monty haul is an artform unto itself.
I'm still enjoying the ride, after all these years, and against all odds. The faces/names/places have changed, and yet my affinity for the game still remains. I'm still learning too, about my strengths/weaknesses as a storyteller (and still learning about my love for the craft, which might dwindle at times, but most assuredly will never die, as long as players are willing to join me at my table, in search of adventure).