CONTENT WARNING: If you are a GM, this story will make you cry and scream and throw up.
Clickbaity title and stupid Youtube joke image aside, I experienced a scary moment today (hereafter, "The Event"). This served as impetus for me to blog about how I run games so you can learn from my mistakes.
About six (seven!?) years ago, I had a job where I was pretty bored. I started writing a dungeon crawling game called His Majesty the Worm. I began playtesting it. It was fun! I wanted to share it with people outside my immediate gaming circle, so I've been working on it ever since. It's almost ready to be published.
For the playtest, I quilted together a megadungeon by combining the dungeons being published in the blogosphere during 2015-2016. I've been running a game based in this megadungeon every Tuesday since then.
My weekly game recently took a short hiatus while I was on holiday. When I got back from my vacation, Google gave me an alert that I was almost out of data, so I spent some time with their "Clear Space" tool to delete old emails, shared files, big videos, stuff like that.
When I sat down to play the game tonight and opened up my laptop, the tabs that usually contain my campaign said "No such file exists."
I assumed it was just because I was signed into the wrong account but...no.
When I was clearing space and merrily selecting "Yeah, ha ha, permanently delete THAT," I had apparently placed a check next to my campaign document.
The master document that I've been using to run my game was accidentally deleted. Six years of work - gone.
I had deleted about 300 pages of content. Maps. Random encounter tables for each level. Hundreds of keyed entries. Years of notes and restocking based on player events. Gone.
I was devastated. Without much hope, I opened a Google Support ticket.
Because I am so relieved that I was able to recover my campaign, I want to share how I created it in the first place and talk about how its evolved over years of play.
Megadungeon campaigns aren't Herculean one-and-done efforts. They are a series of small, discrete decisions. And once they're created, they change during play.
When this works, its really something special.
Creating a Megadungeon
Update your campaign based on player actions
I talk through a lot of these processes with more detail and more examples in my supplement Dungeon Seeds. It's free if you sign up for my His Majesty the Worm mailing list.
And remember - make backups of your important documents so you don't make a mistake like mine.