Name Shadytrails
Status Ended / Dead
GM / DM Telgin
System DF Community Fortress (Freeform)
Current Players None
Current Party Isolde, Jack Pine, Tunda

The ill-fated successor to the already ill-fated Duskfields.

Succumbed to too much frontloading, pervasive apathy and monkeys running off with Jaxler's plot.

Behind the Scenes

Shadytrails wasn't ever planned in any great detail, which was an intentional departure from Duskfields. Telgin believed that the planning and plotting of Duskfields ended up strangling the game in some ways, so he opted to let Shadytrails play out more organically. This was also an attempt to return to form like Dawnpick, and he hoped that the lighter tone would also recapture the feel of the original fort.

Unfortunately, the lack of planning for Shadytrails was also partly due to apathy. The premise started out as only a vague intention to try a community fort again some day, which was accelerated without further planning or enthusiasm after one or two players agreed that everyone should do that.

In an attempt to mitigate some of the apathy, players created pregame scenes that tied their characters to the game, which probably caused more problems than it solved. It alienated players who weren't included in the pregame scenes and discouraged them to join, which was exacerbated by the need to read many pages of RP in the first few posts of the thread.

Postmortem Analysis

"What are these pictures from again?"


"What was Shadytrails?"

Shadytrails words.png Shadytrails posters.png

The first graph shows how many unique people posted on a given day, as well as the running average. The second graph shows the number of words posted in a given day, as well as the running average. Neither graph tries to account for the content of the post. That is, people posting things out of character, "PTW" and so on still count, but those were rare enough that they do not substantially affect the analysis.


The graphs show a grim trend for Shadytrails. It was never active on the level that Dawnpick and Duskfields were and its popularity died off rapidly. Following the trend from Dawnpick and Duskfields, it can be assumed that a further sequel would follow suit and suffer from dismal participation.

Most of the activity at the end was from Telgin, who continued to post updates long after everyone else quit, so the already low numbers could be considered to be inflated somewhat.

The Good

Shadytrails did depart from Duskfields in that it had considerably less behind the scenes drama, which was a minor success. That's pretty much it.

The Bad

By far the biggest problem with Shadytrails was apathy. The game took place during an era in which Dwarf Fortress had buggy invaders, meaning that the town was never attacked. Fighting is an important source of drama in these games, so its absence was sorely noticed. The players had little material to work with outside of it, and nobody really tried to conjure their own stories like in Dawnpick.

The high level of material front loading in the form of pregame scenes also probably scared away potential players, or discouraged them from really participating in RP in any way.

The Moral of the Story

Telgin is now of the opinion that community forts like these are generally a Bad Idea, and he has no intention of running any more and probably won't even join any since they're unlikely to be worth the effort he expends in character journals.

It is possible that the problems with Shadytrails could have been avoided by instead focusing on combat and violence even more. It would be an interesting experiment to see if a full on military outpost would have better reception, but Telgin won't be running it. Not even if he's wanted to run a griffon military outpost since before Duskfields. Just not going to happen.