Thursday, December 24, 2015

A Level 0 Blogger Appears

Here we go, another blog. At least this time, I've chosen a subject that's not only got my attention, but seems to be holding it for quite some time—tabletop roleplaying games (RPGs). I've written about other stuff that hasn't held my interest as much (baseball), as well as my other passions like photography and chess. However, photography is a giant investment of both time and money, so my involvement occasionally wanes. I am on a long dry spell at the moment, especially since I want to focus on large-format portraiture, which only amplifies the amount of time and money involved. As for chess, I'm just not good enough at it to write with any authority.

The subject of RPGs, however, seems to be a topic that's well-suited to me. I'm naturally a creative person, and I've been involved with them in some manner since the mid-1990's, when I had a copy of the black-border AD&D 2nd Edition Dungeon Master Guide (TSR 2160).

Now, when I say I had a copy of the DMG, I mean just that. I didn't have a copy of the Player's Handbook or the Monstrous Manual because I didn't know I needed anything else to play. In fact, I didn't have any friends to play with either, so it was mostly me sitting at the kitchen table many evenings eating a bowl of cereal and flipping through the book, admiring the artwork and concocting adventures in my head.

Actually, my childhood was not entirely devoid of gaming. I also had the 1991 Black Box set, and I ran my grandma through Zanzer's Dungeon. Or at least the first few rooms of it. She was confused, but a good sport from what I can recall.

Anyway, I didn't get into a real gaming group until college, and that was over AOL Instant Messenger. (Yeah, remember when all that was happening?) With only two exceptions (plus a convention), all my gaming has been online. It's great to have a game, but nothing beats that at-the-table experience.  On a side note, please get in touch if the list of games below interests you and you live in or around Ann Arbor, Michigan.

My hope for this blog is to explore topics related to tabletop RPGs, as well as share my thoughts. I've done print publications (zines) for my photography work, and I'd like to explore a more traditional-style zine with my zeal for RPGs. What's encouraging is that the OSR (old-school renaissance) community seems to be quite active in this area. I'm hoping to get a lot of support, if I can think up enough content for such an endeavor. If that sort of thing goes well, I would eventually like to self-publish an adventure or even a series of them. If I sell them online, I could make tens of dollars if enough people like them!

Alright, this has gone on long enough. I wanted to conclude with a list of my RPG pedigree, so to speak, because it will give you an idea of what sorts of games I am likely to talk about on this blog, or at least what I'm fond of at its outset.

Games I've run:
  • Fate Core/GURPS: Easily my most successful campaign, and the only one I've run in person. PCs are members of a travelling carnival freak show in a Steampunk pseudo-Europe. Lasted about 10 sessions before I had to move to start my career. We started in Fate Core, but switched to GURPS after I formed the opinion that Fate was too intrusive on the gameplay.
  • Traveller: Online, and only two sessions deep (not counting character generation). Originally intended to be a gritty sandbox, but I learned that sandboxes aren't the easiest things to get off the ground. Needs work before resuming if I ever want to revisit it. (Which may or may not happen because I don't like sci-fi as an RPG genre, I've discovered.)
  • Dogs in the Vineyard: Evening-slot con game at UCon 2015. Pretty well-received, it seemed. Never seen such intense roleplaying and player-on-player conflict.
  • Legend of the Five Rings: Con game one-shot (Legacy of Disaster) at UCon 2015. Also well-received, albeit with a much different flavor than the DitV game.
Games I want to run (campaigns):
  • Lamentations of the Flame Princess - gritty system based on B/X, with a heavy focus on weird fiction and horror. I am thinking of making an adventure or campaign set in 1500s Germany during the Protestant Reformation. 
  • Legend of the Five Rings - One of the players of the aforementioned Legacy of Disaster one-shot expressed interest in a campaign. The L5R system is one that I've wanted to run for a long time, but haven't explored aggressively.
  • Dungeon Crawl Classics - A fun game that highlights the more off-the-wall elements of the OSR genre. Huge online community makes this a very interesting and fun game. Not sure a campaign would be the best fit, but it's a system that's got my attention.
  • D&D B/X or RC - I am waiting on a custom printing of the Rules Cyclopedia to arrive. I will digest it at leisure and may eventually want to run a loose game based on its rules.
Games I've played in:
  • D&D 5E (ongoing campaign) - Fun game that's much better than Pathfinder/3.5. Still not sure if it's far enough removed from said system for me to want to run it, though. Our GM is awesome and that fact may be hiding potential system flaws.
  • Palladium Fantasy 1E (ongoing campaign) - My first Hex Crawl sandbox game. Very old-school feel, although I'm not sure whether or not I like the skill system yet. The game itself really grabs me though.
  • Dungeon Crawl Classics - A handful of adventures at a bookstore in Lansing, with a really fun group. Cementing my affection for anything you could call OSR.
  • Dungeon World - Very well-run one-shot game that features a very transparent rules system. Has me interested in PbtA games.
  • GURPS Horror - First game with my weekly online gaming crew. Although I joined halfway through, it was great because it wrapped up a nice little story arc.
  • Pathfinder - interesting campaign with interesting ideas fell apart because it's Pathfinder. We also had a group that was bordering on the too-large (7 people)
  • Swords and Wizardry - Con game one-shot. OSR system, but not enough info to determine whether I would like it, especially since I think there were a few house rulings going on.
  • Call of Cthulhu - Two con game one-shots. Futility and despair in a crunchy candy shell. Not sure I like it. Feels too much like a haunted funhouse ride because what are you going to do, punch Yog-Sothoth?
  • 13th Age - One-shot con game with a D&D-turned-free-form feel. What Pathfinder could have been.
  • Star Wars FFG - Various one-shots at conventions. Neat die mechanic, but far too crunchy a system for me. I'm done with feats or anything that looks like them.
See you for the first real post later on.

1 comment:

  1. Count me in as a player for any game you run online, time allowing. I'm less interested in the stock L5R fluff, but I really like the roll-and-keep system it uses.