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Saturday, December 31, 2011

2011 Blog Retrospective-

I have spent a couple of days going over my last year's worth of blog posts trying to figure out how I could put together a retrospective for the year; because that's what all the cool kids in the OSR are doing now and I always jump on a trend while it's hot*. The only thing I am really certain about here is that I have written a lot, and on a lot of different topics. Everything from campaign reports to rules ideas to retro-reviews of old AD&D books to what I got in the mail, and I was offline due to computer problems for the better part of a month and had times when I just didn't post a lot due to either my own illness, or just being too busy, or being kind of depressed and too busy about what happened to Ashli at Army Basic Training.

I could go the Good, the Bad and the Ugly route and see what I thought was good and what sucked and what was just malformed on my blog. I could go the route of seeing what I have accomplished over the year, which isn't a bad idea. I'd kind of like to mention all the little orphan ideas that I had that never got a chance, because either we were already playing something or something else seemed like a better idea at the time we did start playing. I could just mention the posts that are most popular by blogger stats over the course of the year, but that is always going to skew towards older posts because they have existed longer. I'll save my new years resolutions for tomorrow, although I already have some in mind gaming-wise.

The orphans- Campaign ideas, some more fully formed than others, I kind of liked the whole post of Campaign Ideas I Have Had and I was pretty into the "Ruins of a Shattered Empire" and "Humans Only" ideas there, they never came to pass. More recently we have the epic chivalric goodness of this post and this post, and I never quite got around to doing a Norselands campaign either, which I talked about, practically as bookends to the year, on January 3rd of 2011 here and on December 29th of 2011 here. Also orphaned are my wife's Star Wars campaign and any Legend of the Five Rings campaign I might have run, but I did get my Oriental Adventures game off the ground as compensation for that.

I had a couple of orphaned game projects too, B/X WW II was going good, until it wasn't. My main D&D group was lukewarm on the project to start with, and I never got the second playtest group up and running. I still have the stuff for it, maybe I'll get back to it, eventually. B/X Star Wars, a simpler version of D20 Star Wars? Sign me up! Nope, I never did it. I am in good company there though because the same project failed at B/X Blackrazor. Oriental Adventures retro-clone, I proposed it and asked for volunteers to build a team for it, then Fabian and Dangerous Brian started doing it. Good work guys, but I do feel like I should have actually done some of the heavy lifting.

The Garnia Post-Apocalypse campaign- pretty much petered out. That poor game suffered cast changes and a real change of direction and tone when I let Lee Ann DM so I could recharge some and then Ashli went into the Army and we never got back to it. Ruby is still Ashli's favorite RPG character of all time, and may be the only reason Halflings get to stay in Garnia if they make the cut. Now I am in the process of completely re-booting the entire campaign setting, so the Apocalypse is pretty much moot, but it was fun while it lasted.

I got back into contact with several old gaming friends over the course of the last year. Darryl and I are working on the Garnia re-boot together, and plan for some further gaming. Lance and I have gamed together on several occasions, most recently the night before last, when he introduced me to the new game 7 Wonders. Nikki and I have made plans for her to join us for a D&D session a few times, but our schedules haven't meshed yet.

I bought a ton of old games and gaming stuff on EBay or through Amazon. Everything from stuff I used to have and either lost or sold off over the years, to stuff I wanted back in the day but couldn't find or afford at the time, to stuff that just struck my fancy as I was trolling the Ebay auctions looking for more stuff at discount prices. I stuck mostly to RPGs and miniatures, but grabbed the occasional wargame too. Speaking of which, these came in the mail today.

I have had a lot of opinions about a lot of gaming stuff. Sometimes it's been kind of cranky "In my day, we ...." type stuff, but a lot of it has been some fairly critical analysis of the rules and tropes of the genre that we just take for granted and never think about; this sort of thing actually surprises me because I really didn't think I was too concerned with that type of critical analysis; but I explored why I liked or didn't like different things about different versions of D&D, and I think that this has helped me understand the underlying principles of the game better. That said I also spent a lot of time regaling my audience with, what I hope were interesting, nostalgic tales of my early days of playing D&D.

What did I think were my stand out posts over the last year? I liked my posts on Magical Pools and Sacred Springs, the follow up on Shrines Too from last March. I liked my posts on Shields, Helmets and Shield Walls that ran from late June through mid-July until my computer died, oddly on the day that Ashli left for Basic Training, which was also my mother's birthday. The April posting blitz was pretty good too, although more for it's completely scatter-gun approach than for any unity of theme.

I didn't really post anything I didn't like, because I heavily self-edit so I won't come off damaging my dignitas on the internet; the same goes for malformed posts, although I have noticed in going through the year's posts a number of spelling and grammar errors that I wish there was an easy way to fix.

Other than gaming, lets see- I didn't do much SCA stuff this year. Multiple knee injuries kept me from fighting and that kind of depressed the hell out of me. I went to Florida for a Star Wars weekend at Disney World and hung out with my buddy Jeff, that was cool. I performed a marriage ceremony for my friend Scott and his lady, Debbie; that didn't go quite as planned but that had more to do with the caterer than anything else. We cleared a lot of land here. We didn't get any crops in or the chicken coop built, because it rained too much in the spring and early summer. I built a huge garage with my dad, my son John and my daughter Ember; some other people showed up on occasion to help too, and it's not quite finished yet, but we were the main work force. My oldest daughter went from triumph to tragedy, she graduated from Mexico High School covered in academic and ROTC honors and then went to Basic Training and came home two months later, broken; the US Army may be all about families while a soldier is fit to serve, but as soon as you are useless to them they want nothing more to do with you and will do everything in their considerable power to deny that they have any responsibilities towards you in the future. My sadness at how the US Army has treated my daughter, who only wanted to carry on a family tradition of military service, is truly great.

*Not actually true, although I did predict several trends when I was younger. Gourmet coffee, Single Malt Whisky, Cigars, Micro-Brewed Beers, and maybe a couple of others; although it was more out of a desire to have the finer things in life than any sense that I should be trendy. I think other people saw me enjoying myself and copied me.

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