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I am in Newcastle for 2 days of lecturing, which frankly seems to take up far more time and energy than it is worth, but I agreed to do it so I had better. On the way to the Uni I popped into Travelling Man and Forbidden Planet and picked up the “Battlestar Galactica” rpg quick start rules, the “Coyote Trail” Western rpg and another copy of the “Pirates Guide to Freeport” all for a song. The latter one I shall pop on to Amazon Marketplace to make a few quid from, the rest I shall enjoy. Interestingly the Western rpg is from Precis Intermedia and is one of ther simple “genre driversion” games. I have just finished reading “A Dirty World” a Noir rpg from Greg Stolze, using the One Roll Engine. It’s a fascinating game system, interstingly implemented to bring out the themes of the genre. However before Xmas I ran “Mean Streets”, a genre diversion Noir game, a very simple old skool rpg. Having read both I have this feeling that if I ran a Noir game with ADW we’d spend all our time being dazzled by the system, it’s cleverness and ‘modern riffs on themes’ and we’d forget to play a good roleplaying game set in the genre.. Now I could be wrong, but a lot of new games put the system right up front and I have started to wonder if that actually might impede the roleplaying, rather than enhance it..
I have always blogged offline when I could, using a client and editing and uploading or in the case of my work blogger accounts (http://freightandlogisticsnews.blogspot.com/) using email to directly feed multiple blogs and sites for dissemination.
Recently I have become far more aware of how ephemeral my computers are. Even with stable operating systems and software that I enjoy using, my tendency to tinker means that my home PCs are an ever evolving and changing series of platforms. Eventually I screw up, and when that happens life is so much safer when data is either on my new Buffalo NAS fileserver or, in the case of less important data such as bookmarks or blogs, online. Thus this.. my dalliance with online blogging using Firefox add-ons to try and support and improve the richness of my blogs.
I have managed to review my gaming in 2008, which was quite successful given how often I travel and how ill I was in the early half of the year. Planning for 2009 is quite difficult.
Part of the problem is that we have had regular monthly TomCons at ours once a month and my friends and I have sampled a wide range of roleplaying games and a smaller set of boardgames. We had the first TomCon of 2009 this weekend past and had a great game of Britannia followed by a fun game of Serenity rpg, spoiled only by my being in rather a silly mood. The weekends are great, they fulfill all the key needs, meeting good friends, eating, some drinking, playing games you’ve never tried and running some of the rpgs we all have on our shelves and which we look at with guilt everytime we walk past them..
I am very happy with TomCons.
But I also need to run something over a slightly longer period of time. Now I am not unaware that my work life (40% away from home) means that I am very unreliable for ongoing weekly games, but it has been possible before to start a series of games (usually with my son and his friends or my mate Martin) and stagger through 5-6 sessions without too many interruptions. Indeed I ran D&D like that for over 2 years when I first moved back to Sheffield. About 50% of Tuesdays I am at Martin’s and we are currently playing our way through a Pathfinder/D&D game. Only problem is that we never seem to get more than 2 players and ref on Tuesdays and that’s almost too close to zero sometimes. My son and his friends are too busy playing World of Warcraft to play trad rpgs these days, altho’ maybe I could drag them together for a one-off sometime.
There are cons. Due to my issues with Gwenthia, or possibly a broader rush of anxiety, I haven’t run any scenarios at cons for some years. I got in a real tizzy about it all, which is very odd and quite embarassing. I have some confidence that I may have faced that bugbear and won, providing I use published material and stay away from commitments with or to others, but simply turn up, post up and play. We’ll see.. I shall certainly do 2 cons this year, probably Conpulsion (but watch how work stacks up), Furnace (better turn up to that one) and maybe 1-2 others. That means that quietly and without too much fuss I could run 2-4 games at cons.
I could play/run at our local hobby shop: Patriot Games on Monday nights. Now this is a seemingly sensible idea. There is a shop, it is full of roleplayers, the games are often over subscribed. But oddly getting players is difficult. I sat with 2 players running Savage Worlds 50fathoms for some weeks next to a d20 game that was massively overfull, and yet despite a nice poster and making it clear (I think) that we’d happily take onboard 2 more players, we never got another one. Perhaps a game of something mainstream might attract more players, or perhaps I need to ask the owner to use his pull and drag in some players to make a full group? I’d be happy with a five week run if I could pull it off.
So, where does that leave me?
Well. It says that I have about 5-6 one-offs that I can run this year. That’s good fine gaming as long as I have cured the con jinx, but even if not I can probably do 3. It says that as long as I am ok with 2 players I can run maybe 8 sessions on a Tuesday in a spread over 4 months.. and that can be almost any kind of gaming, as long as it’s not Middle Earth (unless they play uruk-hai hunting hobbits). It says that if I get my local shop owner to help I could do a 5-6 week run on Mondays at the shop.
You know, that’s not at all bad. I think I can move forward and plan.. 3-6 one-offs and 2 5-6 week story arcs..
So time has come to try and write a plan for gaming in 2009 which I can then fail to achieve, but which is fun in a kind of speculative daydreaming way. To do that I need to first mull over 2008 and see where I am coming from before I know where I am going to..
I tried in 2008 to focus on setting and not system, I am not so sure how well I succeeded.
In terms of purchases I tried to resist or at least go second hand. I bought quite a bit of Earthdawn second hand or very very cheap (when the USD-GBP rate was almost 2:1) since I loved the setting way back when but never ran it. I have sold a lot of Glorantha stuff and will continue to do so. I bought an AFMBE book, and I rather fell in love with the Paizo Pathfinder Chronicles and bought and read the first three even though they are D&D [I’d probably Savage them]. I avoided buying the new Basic Roleplaying book from Chaosium, which is fortunate since last week I saw a copy and realised that as a credited playtester I was entitled to a free copy.. it arrived today. I resisted the Battlestar Galactica rpg, but will succumb in 2009, I faced down the nostalgic pull of Dragon Warriors and despite resisting Trail of Cthulhu I did buy a few GUMSHOE games (same system) and enjoyed reading them. My ongoing love for the City of Freeport setting went wild as the setting went system free, but I haven’t fully read or played there. My purchase of the Blue Rose rpg must be put down to gspearing geeing me up, although it’s a very interesting setting.
Gwenthia, our shared world fantasy setting, has been getting me down all year. I can’t keep up the leadership role and the creative tensions have driven me away from the setting and all d100 game systems. My angst about this drove me into a cycle that meant I couldn’t face running any games at cons in 2007 or 2008, and as such I have done nothing with it all year.My
I ran Talislanta several times, which was a huge buzz for me since I’ve loved the setting for years, but somehow thought it was too big and weird for my friends. What nonense! It’s like Glorantha or The Forgotten Realms; you take a small area and just game away like it was 1976 and the idea of a huge game world didn’t exist yet.. I was delighted by how simple and smooth the system ran, and I think that all the games have been great successes, especially the one at a TomCon.
I don’t think I ran anything else this year until December when I ran Mean Streets, a noir rpg set in 1943 New York. Very much a settings led choice, since the system is very light and the setting/adventures very generously provided in the cheap pdfs.
My rpg BBS, The Tavern, has pootled along ok this year with only one php insertion attack and one migration between servers which my friend Simon managed well. The migration threw everyone’s cookies bonkers and I am still not sure everyone who wants auto login has it. We hosted the chat forum for the Continuum and Furnace cons, and people seem to enjoy hanging out there in a small cosy environment. I am grateful that when things get sticky Simon helps.
So, did I achieve much? Well for a year when I have been really quite unwell I have played a lot of great games, but not run many. So be it. I have greatly enjoyed playing Wordplay, lots of Savage Worlds, Traveller, Sufficiently Advanced, SCION, Atlantis, D&D 4e (!), Pathfinder Beta, SimpleQuest and many others so I think 2008 turned out to be the year of playing, and in fact it was great fun with great friends!
Next year.. or in a few days.. my 2009 plans!
I am on a Czech Airlines plane somewhere over Europe on my way to run a conference in Prague for the next 2 days, and then attend another conference on Wednesday before returning home. I am quite tired, what with a busy workload last week, either seeing friends or working every night and then Matt’s 18th birthday do on Friday night [to Saturday morning].
Got up and gardened all day today and yesterday. Cleared nettles, cut down brambles, trimmed hedge with my eldest’s trimmers. Then planted out winter pansies and put down crocus bulbs. There are lots more things to be done and much more clearance, but I feel that I put in a good 12 hours productive gardening. Compost bin totally full, as is the ‘green recycling bin’ so goodness knows where the next lot of green stuff is going to go.
Got to work now, then the ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ results show and a couple of episodes of Silent Witness before bed. Off to lecture to lecture tomorrow.
Oh, and I shaved my moustache off when in Belgium last week and both Ann and Matthew say they prefer it.. wow. I have had a ‘tache for 28 years!