Greetings Santharians, long-time
contributers or just recently arrived ones,
developers or role players alike... - It's Anniversary time!
Yup, it's true. As of November 1st 2003 Santharia turned 5...
*puts candles at the chocolate cake and lights them*
A pretty ancient age for a website, I might add, which many webpages never
happen to see, especially not world building projects, which commonly linger for
a while on the web to finally disappear into oblivion. Santharia has always been
different, thanks to a unique concept, its dedicated members, a clearly
structured, constantly improved organization and last but not least the
definition of clear goals.
Picture of Artimidor,
Founder and Webmaster of the Santharian Dream.
Let me put in a short quote here. On
December 23rd 1999 a reviewer of the online magazine Briefme.com found the
Santharian Dream and wrote a short review on the website (click
here for original source) :
"Santharia: a FRPG Site in the Tradition of Tolkien
Here's yet another fine example of a superior role-playing campaign turned
website! Replete with the usual maps, histories, bestiaries, and similar
materials, this site sets itself apart by its use of rich and original images.
The content is best described as broad and deep. The server that hosts this site
is a bit slow at times, but patience pays off, so stick with it. Yeah, baby,
Well, this was back in 1999, only one year after the site had been founded, and
only half a year after the first members had joined. Actually there never had
been a "role playing campaign" on which Santharia was based, contrary to other
sites. World building had been the center of Santharia right from the start, and
it was definitely not the other way round. A very different approach, but
a very necessary one, which turned out to be one of the main reasons why
Santharia managed to stay that long on the web. Of course we were far away from what
we have today, but it was enough to attract the attention of fantasy enthusiasts
all over the world, which could see the potential of the Dream as they saw the
differences to other sites on the web. Many people joined the development side
in the course of time, adding their smaller or bigger parts to make the world
more complete. And since the foundation of Santharia we have never stopped to
dream, to think in the larger context, to find new perspectives and new
challenges. And we will continue to do so in the future.
But I guess it's time to relax a bit at
this point and watch the nymphs dance in the background... See? Uhm... Sorry, got a bit
distracted... - Anway, I think making a little break a bit from development to take a
dreamy look back filled with nostalgy can't hurt, eh? And indeed, quite a
bit was achieved in the past 5 years, of which we can be very proud of.
Especially, as our achievements together are something I wouldn't have thought
realistic at all the moment I started this small project quite a while ago.
When I look back at the last 5 years, many things have developed and changed to
a degree I would never have thought possible myself. What started as a small
personal homepage of mine has turned into a 2000+ pages large fantasy universe,
updated regulary, featuring lots of stories, poems and entries, with many
aspects of the world being illustrated already in tremendous detail, Flash
movies were created, songs composed and audio studio recordings done, an RPG
game is in the process of being programmed, even a primer and a cookery book
were created - and friendships have been made,
ranging all over the globe from China over Russia, central Europe till the US,
Canada and even Chile. Whether members are young or already "born when dinosaurs
still roamed the earth" (quote Thuja), whether they ar black, white, green or
blue (well, till now we don't have any extra-terrestial here, but who knows?), tall or small or
have other religious beliefs, Santharia provides a platform for all who are
interested in serious world building in the grand style following the tradition of Tolkien. The site was
re-designed several times to improve navigation and make the huge amount of
content easier accessible, new sections were added while others were
re-structured, development rules were made clearer and more efficient, message
boards and guestbooks replaced and updated. And
right now we have to deal with up to 3000 visitors a day at site parts like the
RPG Board, which initially was only a small addition to the main site, but
managed to develop a life of its own.
Of course the larger the project got the more difficult it became to maintain.
But we lived through many difficult situations and decisions, Santharian-related
or not, however, the small, but essential core of Santharia has always remained a unit in all these
years, welded together, despite differences in opinions now and then, and the
restraints and problems we had to deal with in our "offline-lives". Some
real-life issues threw shadows over the Dream like the September 11th 2001
attack and the controversal Iraq war, but also personal things like Anaea's
sudden very dangerous illness or the car accident of Drogo's girlfriend. On the
other hand accidents like Talia's (learn from this: never do your son's bed when
he is already grown up!) have brought people to Santharia as well, who
soon found a new home in this online community. Quite naturally there were also
cases when long-term Santharian members argued with each other a bit more than
would have been necessary, but later managed to reconcile, there were incidents
when 10 pages long character descriptions drove RPG Admins close to madness,
there were cases when members decided to leave or were forced to leave for
non-Santharian related problems, while others finally managed to came back after
a Santharian hiatus. It
als happened that content of Santharia (including the whole site design) had
been ruthlessly stolen and we were forced to initate the closing of these sites,
that people attempted to bring our site down for the one reason or the other,
and that - as reason didn't help anymore - a selected few had to be banned from
the Santharian boards.
Picture description: A long Santharian journey...
Mitharim dwarves on their expedition to Toll Brok'Baroll. Pic drawn by
But there were also online birthday parties including virtual chocolate cakes,
odes were written in praise of other contributers, members married or are expecting
babies at the moment, people got promoted in real-life as well as in Santharia,
notorious demon duck fights took place at the Forum, polls were held judging
Rincewind, Legolas, Monty Python and the Lord of the Rings movies - and
hundreds of concepts, ideas, proposals and wishes have been discussed,
discarded, re-discussed and finally realized. - In other words: Santharia had
become a good deal of our lives, and we lived through all the positive and
negative sides of it while constantly working to make more complete what we have
begun to design initially only in a fragmentary way.
Therefore, for all your cooperative work everyone has done in the past, I'd like
to thank all contributers, especially the long-term members, who have made
Santharia to what it is now, be it artists, story or entry writers, musicians,
poets. Santharia has become a rare place full of wonders, a treasure chest for
every fantasy enthusiast, a site of which I - as the webmaster, whose task it
primarily is to try to connect the loose bits - am happy to be part of,
hopefully for several more years of development t to come.
Still there's a lot of work to do to make perfect what we've started. The
Santharian Dream is not complete. Many things which are already on the site
still need to be connected, to become part of the great Santharian pattern, to
form a great Santharian unit. This part, a very difficult one, lies still ahead
of us. But we never failed to shun the necessary work, to try to make further
innovations and improvements of the site's structure and design, and to work on
more content where it is necessary. I'm sure we'll accept this challenge and
address the areas where we still have deficits in the appropriate way, so that
we can look back in another 5 years maybe and pat us on the shoulders, smiling
on what we managed to accomplish in the last years.
Don't take things for granted, though. Our long journey started with a first
step and remember:
"Roads go ever ever on,
Over rock and under tree,
By caves where never sun has shone,
By streams that never find the sea:
Over snow by winter sown,
And through the merry flowers of June.
Over grass and over stone,
And under mountains in the moon."
It also takes contemplation, relaxation from time to time and
the setting of priorities when needed in order to reach a destiny. But most of
all it needs determination to reach a goal, a goal, which lies far, far away,
somewhere behind the horizon. And it needs people to help each other to make
this long way a pleasure and to support them whenever they need it. Thanks to
all of our members for accompanying me on such a long and hazardous endeavour -
I will try my best in the future as I have done in the past, to make the dream
we dream together a fantastic reality. See you on the road!