It is with both pride and relief that I look back on the completion of Fathoms: Aquatic Adventures. The whole thing started way back in January '94, when I decided to create a few spells specific to underwater use that I could post on the ADND-L Internet list. I received an incredible amount of E-mail from people who appreciated these spells, and discussion sprouted about adventuring underwater. I began looking into the aquatic fantasy races, as well as the geology of the ocean. I became fascinated with the subject. I read everything I could on the subject, including oceanography textbooks. In the end, I probably could have aced a college oceanography 101 course. I learned from my research that there are mountains under the ocean higher than anything on the surface, and undersea canyons that make the Grand Canyon appear miniature in comparison. I came to the conclusion that undersea adventuring would be at least as exciting as anything on the surface. I began developing an entire campaign setting revolving around this concept. Thus Omega League: Aquatic Adventures was born. (This name, loosely translated to mean 'the last league', would be renamed a couple years later to Fathoms: Aquatic Adventures.)

During this time, I received hundreds of E-mails with suggestions and requests to play-test the setting. This interest in Fathoms helped fuel my creative drive, and I worked diligently to complete the project. Most of the content of Fathoms, in fact, was actually completed within the first six months, with most of the core rules finished by September of '94. Unfortunately, things came up that would hinder the quick completion of this project. Starting school again, promotions to new positions in my company, and the birth of my daughter to name a few. Things became so busy that I stopped posting material to the ADND-L discussion group, and even periodically unsubscribed from this internet list for months at a time. This resulted in less and less feedback on the project, and my motivation to complete Fathoms quickly dwindled accordingly. I still worked on it occasionally, simply for the fact that I could not let all my previous work go to waste. During this time, I posted the completed parts of Fathoms to my website.

Then, around the tail end of '97, I started getting an outpour of E-mails on Fathoms again. People began inquiring about it's completion and telling me of the campaigns they were running with the setting. I was floored that people even remembered this project, and assumed that the influx of interest must have been brought on by some links to my website (which had also been dormant for about a year). With renewed vigor, I collected my old Fathoms material, convinced to wrap it up once and for all. I was surprised at how close it was to completion, and silently reprimanded myself for ever letting such a project sit on the shelf. I diligently compiled the rules and finished incomplete sections, to finally bring you what you will find here.

Is Fathoms truly completed? Not according to my original plans. My final goal included a rules booklet (found here), a campaign setting, and the Fathoms Complete Guide to Undersea Life. The latter is about 2/3 completed, and I will continue to work on that. As for the campaign setting, I anticipated this to be it's own world, compete with NPC's, history, deities, etc. Once these are finished, I will post these as well - but don't hold your breath on this one. In the meantime, use the basic rules found here, plug them into your own campaign setting, and enjoy! Email me with any ideas or stories on your own Fathoms campaign. After all the work I put into this, it is gratifying to know others are having fun with it.

-Steve Bartell

March 12, 1998