The Warhammer games grew in intensity. Now Andy's character had inherited a small kingdom, old enemies surfaced to wrestle it from him, he had to save his wife and unborn son, then he gave it all up to go back to his small town and run his inn, which culminated in a huge campaign in which he survived to make it home, only to die on the edge of town... oh, I could go into all kinds of detail, but suffice to say that it was huge, epic and world-shattering.
We also dabbled in MERP, with his last-of-the-elves character in Dark Age England, and we brought Star wars out for a dusting every now and then. But WFRP dominated, and when he created his new female elf character Herenya, things went from great to amazing. Other gamers drifted in and out but me and Andy were the hardcore. We started up a Call of Cthulhu campaign which I wasn't happy with, but then something amazing happened. I realised that my emotional state influenced games incredibly.
I found this out when Anne, my girlfriend I had been living with for four years, up and left me because I wasn't ready for marraige. Her leaving had nothing to do with my gaming - she let me get on with it as she had no interest in gaming, computers, sci-fi or fantasy, or anything even remotely connected with imagination - but had everything to do with me not doing what she wanted to do, i.e. get married and have lots of kids right now! She tried to emotionally blackmail me by threatening to leave me if I didn't propose. That's not a solid foundation for a life together, so I called her bluff and said goodbye.
That night she left me, a Monday, I ran a Call of Cthulhu game I had already arranged. I was in a daze and didn't even think to cancel, the players turned up and I went into auto-pilot. I was so down, feeling betrayed and terribly angry, that the game I ran was bleak, angst-ridden and dark.
It was amazing. Maybe one of the best games I have ever run. I realised that my mood meant everything to the atmosphere of a game so since that incident I have tried my best to mentally prepare myself for the game to come, and tried to invest myself emotionally in the campaign and the setting. If I feel it, the player's feel it. That was my goal and the games prospered.
My new-found preparation techniques paid off immediatley. The new WFRP games with Andy were incredibly enjoyable, more than his previous character, and a whole new campaign arose. The campaign went from strength to strength and now that I lived on my own I could dedicate more time to my games. I could purchase and invest in more material.
And, boy, did I do just that.