The following lines were written by Artimidor, Founder and Webmaster of the Santharian Dream as an introduction to our celebration of the 5th Anniversary of the Santharian Dream. Whether you're a development member and/or an RPG player, a Moderator or an Admin at any of the Santharian Message Boards, or just a visitor passing by - welcome to our 5th Anniversary special! Due to the occasion we have decided to make a special update for you, offering several interesting background details concerning the foundation and the development of the Dream. - Enjoy!

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, yeah!"

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.

The Satyr

View picture in full size Image description: Satyr and Nymphs. Picture by Eratinalinfalah.

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.

Statue of Brok Strongarm

View picture in full size Picture description: A long Santharian journey... Mitharim dwarves on their expedition to Toll Brok'Baroll. Pic drawn by Quellion.

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!

Yours sincerely Santharian Webmaster,
Artimidor Federkiel


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