Thursday, December 31, 2015

Fall Down, Go Boom: The Year in Gaming 2015

I’m giving myself exactly an hour to sum up the year.

With this, Age of Ravens hits 102 post for the year, a hair under twice a week. That’s a little off because we had some gaps (explained below). I did few reviews this year, but I managed to finally finish of my History of Post-Apocalyptic RPGs. Finally. There were a lot of them. What really killed my speed and productivity was a game-related injury.

In mid-February while prepping our Guards of Abashan session I suddenly had a great idea for a set-piece. It would require some new, cheap figures. On a deadline, I rushed out to the local shop. Just as I stepped from the pavement to the street, I hit a patch of ice. I went down, blacked out from the pain, dragged myself back to the house, blacked out again, called Sherri, and blacked out a little more as I went into shock. When I woke I pretty much shivered there until she got home. I’d sprained my shoulder, twisted my neck, and generally given myself a host of delightful pains. I couldn’t get in to a doctor until the following Monday. In the end took a long time recovering, sleeping sitting up on the couch to keep the pain down. I still have a muscle tear in my left arm that hasn’t fully healed. It twinges when I go to lift anything serious.

And then a couple of weeks ago I got a sinus infection that’s played havoc with my equilibrium. But let’s leave that delight off the table.

NEW RPGS AND BEYOND
The last couple of years I’ve managed stats for plays and sessions. The fall put me off track and I never caught up. But here are the new rpgs I remember playing or running:
  • Ashen Stars*
  • Atelier Auzumel
  • Atomic Robo Samurai
  • Belly of the Beast
  • Dresden Files Accelerated
  • Dungeon Crawl Classics
  • Edge of the Empire
  • Fate Dr. Who
  • Ghost Lines*
  • InSpectres
  • Into the Odd*
  • Itras By
  • Lady Blackbird
  • Monster of the Week 2e
  • Questlandia
  • Shadows of Esteren
  • The Clay That Woke*
  • The Goblin Game*
  • The Spy Game
  • The Warren
  • Torchbearer Aliens
  • Worlds in Peril
  • Wrath of the Autarch*

There may be others, but that’s off the top of my head. Games marked with an * were short or small demo sessions.

What game most excited me? That’s a hard call, I want to say Lady Blackbird, The Warren, or MoTW 2e. But I actually think it is Ghostlines. I keep going back and imagining stories in that setting.

I also played a lot of boardgames, but again I didn’t track anything. Nothing grabbed me like Imperial Settlers did in 2014. Pandemic Legacy comes close and it’s probably my fav for the year. But I also dug Blood Rage, Libertalia, and Panamax.

No new video game grabbed my attention. Instead I went back to oldies: Suikoden, SSX, Persona, and the remarkably excellent and problematic Dragon Quest series.

WHAT I RAN
I’d meant to run more one-shots, especially teaching sessions for games. But injuries and illness put a kibosh on that. I ended up bumping 2-3 events because of that. That makes me feel particularly shitty because it gives me a rep as an unreliable GM. Who wants to sign up for a VoiP that might flake out?

But I did run one or two-shots of Action Cards, FAE Shadowrun, Itras By, The Warren, Kingdom, Monster of the Week 2e, 13th Age, Atelier Auzumel, Microscope, and Dungeon Crawl Classics.

For campaigns (let’s read that as 4+ sessions) I managed a few
  • Ocean City Interface continued on strongly. They opened the year coming out of the Neo Shonobi Vendetta portal and back to the real world. After some investigation they flipped into the Masks of the Empire portal for eight sessions. Then back in Ocean City they uncovered a great deal about the larger plot. Finally they jumped into Sky Racers Unlimited, where we are now. Saturday we’ll have the last (probably) session of that arc. (Action Cards)
  • Guards of Abashan rolled along. They fought some significant foes and dug deeper into the threat facing the city. They had several major successes. Last session they defeated one of the three “evil” sorcerers threating reality. (Action Cards)
  • Legend of the Five Rings continued and we got through a couple of seasons. But scheduling conflicts hit it hard. Last session we reached a solid stopping point. I wrapped some major plot threads and we made hard choices for the characters. We’ll return to that campaign in 2017 to figure out what happens a few years down the road. (Action Cards)
  • Shadow of the Titan wrapped up just after mid-year. I got them up to level 8 which is where things get crazy. I ended up really happy with the complete arc of this thing. I also had a better handle on final sessions, so I took my time getting the players to talk about their characters' goals. The players loved building the world with Microscope and they want to do that again with our next campaign. (13th Age)
  • I also ran a short arc of our Dresden Files Accelerated playtest. I wasn’t happy with it overall, but I enjoyed the story I put together and loved the characters. In particular I was bummed Thanksgiving scheduling meant we didn’t get a final session to wrap things up. (DFAE)
  • I began an online 13th Age mini-campaign which I’m enjoying hugely. It’s set in the Dragon Empire from the core book. We’ve only gotten in three sessions of the eight or so I plan.
  • I played in a Worlds in Peril campaign, but only got to participate in three sessions. That ended early which was too bad.
  • The Rolemaster campaign on Monday evenings continued on. We hit level 4 (I think) and we finally got out of the Coral Road. Of course now we have to invade a pseudo-Aztec city, so we’re probably going to die.

WHAT COMES THIS YEAR
With L5R finished, I’m going to run a long-promised Middle Earth campaign for the Sunday group. We’re going to play exactly one year real time. My niece will be joining us. Originally I planned to use Pugbuttah for this, but that’s better fit for settings with looser canon. So I’ve been working on an Action Cards Accelerated version. We should begin that in a few weeks.

In OCI we’ll be moving on to the last of the four portals, Assassins of the Golden Age. I need to work on the new card mock-ups and rules for that. Once we get through that one, we can begin to cycle through all four (plus the “rw”) at a more rapid pace.

Guards of Abashan could wrap this year. If it does, I need to think about what comes next. I have some ideas, but I’ll want to check with the group about that.

I anticipate I’ll run Mutants & Masterminds online again. The group wants to return to the same world, but we’re going to use Microscope to figure out what’s happened in the time between campaigns. The first game focused on “Year One” type characters. This one will be about “Legacy” characters (ala sidekicks, New Mutants, Teen Titans, or Young Avengers).

I hope to run a longer-term campaign for our alternate Monday group. I don’t know what yet.

THINGS I’M GOING TO DO
  • Launch the Kickstarter for Right of Succession
  • Get a playable beta of Action Cards together
  • Put one or more of the RPG Genre Histories together in a book format.
  • Run games at Games on Demand for Origins and Gen Con
  • Switch my Patreon over to Monthly rather than by post.
  • Record more Play on Target episodes
  • Record a podcast with Sherri
  • Finish outstanding reviews
  • Run Atelier Auzumel more

THINGS I WANT/SHOULD DO
  • Look at Teachable and YouTube for alternate ways to monetize both the blog and RPG history lists
  • Keep myself to a twice a week schedule for Age of Ravens
  • Fix the lighting in the Game Room
  • Be more conservative about my Kickstarter backing
  • Run more online one-shots and teaching sessions
  • Go to Metatopia
  • Go to another Midwest con
  • Run another online mini-campaign
  • Run a f2f mini-campaign for the Elkhart/Goshen folks
  • Prepare to move if Trump gets elected
  • Get more freelance work
  • Make more time for painting figures

LOWLIGHTS
  • All the injuries. Combined with up and down weight control.
  • My inability to get a handle on Itras By when I ran it. I like the concept, but it didn’t work when I tried to execute it.
  • Lack of progress on the job hunt front
  • The weakness of my work for the ThreeForged RPG competition
  • Several long promised Kickstarters still not coming through.
  • The G+ changes and the general decline in hits (which may be a fallout from the decline of RSS).

HIGHLIGHTS
  • I GOT NOMINATED FOR AN ENNIE. wtf? How did that happen? That was pretty awesome. Even if I didn’t win, it was cool to get recognition.
  • I finally signed a contract for a project I wrote nine years ago. I hope that will see the light of day in this coming year.
  • I hit 1000 posts for Age of Ravens
  • I figured out a lot of things about Action Cards.
  • Discovered Pinterest (might also be a lowlight...)
  • Spending time with Sherri.

And then there was Origins. It was amazing. The Euro-RPGGeek crew arrived several days before the convention. I got to interact with the amazing, amazing Jules, Jan, and Jonna in person. We got to play games and listen to Jonna order her fellow criminals around in Payday 2. I had a dynamite time and loved being able to host them. Then we went to Origins. Unfortunately Sherri couldn’t go because of work projects. If she’d gone it would have been even more amazing.

As it was, it pretty much rocked for me. I met and played with a ton of amazing folks, some from RPG Geek and some not. I mean seriously amazing. I can’t even begin to describe it. Plus I went to a Mongolian BBQ and, despite it being the TGIFridays of these places, it remained delicious. Most of all I got to meet and hang out with Rich Rogers in person. I don’t say this as an exaggeration: I think I learned more about RPGs and GMing from him that weekend than anywhere else. Even his casual throwaway comments have stuck with me. I’m still chewing on how to best eliminate filler words from my descriptions.

Awesomesauce.

A great year.


Time’s up.