Monday, December 31, 2012

End-of-YEAR Elmore Musings (12/31/12)

The horizon of a new year beckons...

There's no need to state how I'm thinking back on the year that was, and looking ahead to the year to come. Most of us are doing that right now, and of course I'm no different.

I missed last Friday's End-of-Week Elmore. So I figured I'd do it today, cleverly call it the End-of-YEAR Elmore, and use it as a vehicle for my New Year's Eve reflections.

With regard to my year in roleplaying, I'm happy with how 2012 went. It was the first full year of my return to roleplaying, and I had a grand old time. I've been going strong since I officially returned to the table-top RPG scene in April 2011. My gaming activities have been fairly regular, and nothing if not intense. By intense, I mean that roleplaying has been my primary pastime for nearly two years, and has consumed most of my spare time, whether it be actual play or planning for sessions.

Adult life being what it is these days, I'm feeling, as Bilbo Baggins said, "like butter scraped over too much bread." I suspect that I'm also feeling a bit "toasty" (see what I did there? ;-) from the intensity of my mental focus on roleplaying. I won't say that I'm officially "burnt out" when it comes to roleplaying in general. It definitely hasn't gotten to that point. Consider it more like the "good tired" that comes after a work-out.

I think I'm experiencing some self-induced exhaustion when it comes to being a GM. The source of this exhaustion rests squarely on my shoulders. When it comes to my recreational interests, I don't do things half-assed. I dive head-first into whatever has caught my fancy. I think I've been so driven to make the most of my return to gaming that I haven't let myself take a breath. I think I need to take a step back from my endeavors and give some thought to my table-top experiences so far.

It's probably time for me to reflect on where I've been, relinquish the reigns for a while, and savor the new RPG memories I've created before I can move on into the new year as a GM. Throughout my gaming career, I've mostly been a GM. I think I was under the assumption that I needed to be firmly and constantly at the helm again during my return to roleplaying. But my current gaming group has some folks that are willing and more-than-able to run games. I need to remind myself that I'm not that kid anymore, the one that was the only person willing to be a GM.

I'm hoping that taking time to muse over the last two years will recharge my RPG batteries. I definitely don't want to keep pushing myself when it comes to being a GM, and risk becoming truly burnt out. I'm pretty excited to take a break and consider the lessons I've learned. I know that I came back to gaming with at least some assumptions and expectations, and I want to take time to sort through my headspace and perhaps purge some of the detritus.

I hope that I will come out of this self-reflection period a better GM and a stronger roleplayer in general, with a clearer picture of what I want out of the hobby. This will hopefully include becoming a better RPG blogger!

To one and all, I hope you've had a great year of roleplaying, and may you have more RPG goodness in 2013!

Monday, December 24, 2012

A Blessed Yule to All!

It's been a tough year, with plenty more of the same-old "humanity's inhumanity to humanity." Hopefully, you and yours have made it through unscathed. For those who've been touched by dark times this year, my thoughts and prayers go out to you. May the coming year be kinder to us all.
I've been becoming more of a pragmatist as I get older, but there's still this stubborn core of daydreaming and hope within me. It's what made me hold out for some sort of miracle shift of consciousness with the ending of the 13th baktun on the Mayan calendar. It's also what never fails to make me disappointed by acts of dickheadedness, no matter how many times I see it or experience it. I never learn my lesson, according to loved ones, when it comes to being surprised by asshole-ish behavior. I guess I just continually hope that people will simply be civil. Well, I'll just keep trying to "be the change" and continue to present a positive face to others.   
But enough of gloom! I'm looking forward to Christmas tomorrow, mostly to see the reactions of my children to their gifts. My son in particular, for some time now, has been asking for a castle play set with associated giant ogre and dragon (sold separately of course)! A chip off the old block, perhaps? Anyway, we did get him those "Imaginext" toys, and he should pass out with joy when he opens them. My daughter, alas, is enchanted by My Little Pony, but apparently a lot of older nerds adore the Friendship is Magic cartoon. Just like LARPing, that particular bridge is too far for me.

Again, happy holidays to you and yours! Perhaps we'll all get some gaming goodies this year?

Friday, December 21, 2012

End-of-Week Elmore (4 Ahau 3 Kankin)

I went looking for a piece of Elmore art that was suitably "apocalyptic" for this day, the infamous December 21st, 2012 (or 4 ahau 3 kankin on the Mayan calendar). But I settled on the above. Why? Because the ritual it depicts invokes the mystical, and perhaps I'm wishing something mystical would occur today.
Yes, yes, I know. What do I keep hearing? "We're all still here!" Yes, I knew we would be here, even though it would have been cool if all of humanity had turned into luminous spirit beings at once. Sad to say, but perhaps we're not enlightened enough for that event just yet. 

Oh, and I would like to point out that the day is not over yet. No one should be breathing a sigh of relieve until midnight tonight!

In all seriousness, perhaps the change is not external. Perhaps a change is already starting in our consciousness. Maybe in the coming years we will evolve in the way we see the world, and each other. A positive evolution.

Anyway, until our mass transcension, we'll still have roleplaying! 

Thursday, December 20, 2012

My 7 RPGs (meme response)

I heard about this latest RPG blogosphere meme at The Other Side blog and others.

So here are the RPGs that I've played the most, in roughly the order in which I played them (with some overlap, of course):

1. First Edition AD&D

The game that got me hooked, just like so many other roleplayers! I loved the arcane language of Gygax (as a kid I used to wonder, "who is this mysterious author with the strange name?!"), and the sometimes crude but always evocative illustrations. What times my companions and I had with those books!

2. Palladium RPGs (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Ninjas & Superspies, Heroes Unlimited, Rifts)

Ah yes, Palladium! I may cringe a bit now at the thought, but back in my formative years Kevin Siembieda almost loomed as large in my mind as St. Gygax! We created many mutant animals, superheroes, master martial artists, and post-apocalyptic adventurers in those days. But eventually, especially when it came to Rifts, we nearly drowned in the sheer number of sourcebooks!

3. Second Edition AD&D

We "graduated" to Second Edition eventually, and I really liked the more "professional" color illustrations, the different presentation, and the various published worlds that came along with this edition. I don't remember being bothered that they removed/changed the names of the demons and devils, or that the monk and assassin were gone (no one in my teenaged group ever played them). But I hated the Monstrous Compendium (those pages always wore out and fell from the unwieldy binder! we just kept using the First Edition Monster Manual!).

4. Amber Diceless RPG

I moved to this game when D&D became too "childish" for me. It also helped that Erick Wujcik of Palladium fame was the creator. I considered the game more mature, due to the lack of dice and what I considered a subsequent focus on roleplaying. It also introduced me to Roger Zelazny's body of work. Besides 1E AD&D, I probably had the most fun playing this RPG during my first era of roleplaying.

5. Castles & Crusades

The game that brought me back to table-top RPGs! I owe the Trolls a debt of gratitude. The game is an incredible "reimagining" of 1E AD&D by way of 3E!

6. Savage Worlds

I've only played this RPG a few times, but so far I really love the mechanics.

7. Labyrinth Lord

The game that's made me regret that I never played Classic D&D back when I was a kid. I've only played LL a handful of times, but it's opened my eyes to the wonders of the era when races were classes!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Yes, this is my post about the Mayan calendar and December 21st, 2012

Party like it's 4 ahau 3 kankin!
I'm definitely not trying to brag about this (that would be really lame), but I remember a time when I was one of only a handful of people in my personal world who knew (or cared) about the whole "Mayan calendar-2012 apocalypse" thing. 
As a much younger man in the late 1990's, I first heard about the "end of the Mayan calendar in 2012" theory and the potential for a related apocalypse. Some close friends and I were watching a History Channel documentary, no doubt. At least, I think that's the case...I can't remember the details of the show, really. What I do remember is a dramatic moment where the narrator's voice became very ominous, and we were shown the grinding wheels of the Mayan calendar spinning rapidly. Then POW! It came to a sudden halt on a date that, we were told, corresponded with December 21st, 2012 on the Gregorian calendar.
This was the first time I'd ever heard of the supposed "end" of the Mayan calendar. Up until that point, I'd had a mild interest in Native American/Mesoamerican cultures. But that show really ramped up my fascination with Mesoamerican history in particular. Since then I've enjoyed reading about those cultures, in what was no doubt a way for me to fulfill my childhood dreams of getting into anthropology and/or archaeology (the first movie I can remember seeing in theaters was Raiders of the Lost Ark, if that tells you anything).
Anyway, time (of course) marched on and on. I finished college, got into the working world (hooray), got married, had kids...all that American dream stuff. I also lost my connection to roleplaying for a time, unfortunately.
Flash forward to today, and I'm sitting here feeling quite underwhelmed by the fact that the long-awaited date is only a few days away. And that makes me somewhat sad. I'm sorta puzzled by this underwhelmed feeling. Perhaps it stems from a notion that nothing spectacular is going to happen on Friday.

Over the years, I've witnessed the obscure notion put forth in that late 90's documentary grow exponentially into the "doomsday craze" it is today. I've watched countless other documentaries discuss the topic and posit theories ranging from apocalypse to some transformative event in human evolution/consciousness.
I never believed for a second that the world would end on 12/21/12. Yes, I've been one of those who entertained the thought, irrational or not, that the world would experience some mystical rebirth into...well, a time of greater harmony. Yes, yes, a bunch of hippy-dippy, New Age garbage, right? But a man can dream. If anything, I've enjoyed injecting that more positive possibility into the doomsday talk that usually comes up.
So anyway, here I find myself on the cusp of the event itself. It feels strange that the date is almost here. I guess, for me, this is one of those moments when you step back and go "whoa, where did all the time go?" You know, one of those stereotypical things that occurs to old(er) folks.
Of course, I know that the Mayan calendar in its entirety is not going to "end." Rather, it's the end of a roughly 400-year period called a "baktun." The 13th baktun is coming to an end, and the 14th baktun is going to begin. The date on the Mayan calendar is 4 ahau 3 kankin. Simple as that. 
So, how am I going to celebrate? At the very least, I plan on dancing around intermittently during the day on Friday and singing "Tonight we're gonna party like it's 4 ahau 3 kankin!" to the tune of Prince's "1999." And I'm going to let myself hope, for one more time, that something mystical will happen and humanity will transcend our numerous long-standing psychic afflictions such as hate, greed, etc. 
Either that, or our alien overlords will finally return.

Monday, December 17, 2012

End-of-Week Elmore (12/14/12)

Yes, I know it's the 17th, but it is the holidays and things have been frantic. Therefore, last Friday's EOWE is here today. Better late know.

The above, I believe, is the cover of the first edition of Shadowrun. Loved this one! It inspires me because I'm going through a resurgence of interest in all things cyberpunk, something that happens to me a couple times of year. This includes the possibility of cyberpunk (and maybe extending into space opera) at the game table.

But I'm also dealing with what is most likely an unhealthy attachment to traditional D&D. Actually I've been dealing with that for a while now. I'm still wondering if I'm just an old guy who has calcified into a roleplaying rut. I don't like to dwell on that for too long...

What this boils down to is this: I'm not sure a cyberpunk game will be hitting my game table any time soon. But one can dream...

Maybe the Shadowrun merging of fantasy and science fiction is what I need to overcome my D&D obession! Hmmm, or maybe not. The mix of genres in Shadowrun was always intriguing to me IN THEORY, but I have always had a deep "keep your peanut butter out of my chocolate" thing when it comes to fantasy.

Elves in cyberspace? That'll be the day!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Question: Have you seen that session tracking sheet?

Maybe you know what I'm talking about. There's a certain RPG session tracking sheet, specifically for D&D-type games, that I spotted somewhere on the RPG/OSR blogosphere over the past year. I can't seem to find the sucker anymore. I remember thinking the thing was friggin' awesome. Why didn't I save it back then? Because I'm a d-bag, that's why.
I forget which blog I saw it on. It had a sort-of elaborate border that looked or something. And it was divided up into boxes for areas devoted to treasure found, monsters defeated, etc.
Anyone have an idea of what I am talking about? Or perhaps you know of at least some version of such a tracking sheet? I know, I know. I could make one of my own, or find some alternative. But I'm lazy and obsessive. What can I say?
Help is appreciated. Dumbass signing off.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Status Update: I don't know how to quit you, Dungeons & Dragons!

Greetings and salutations, fellow RPG-philes. Thought I'd check in with a good-old status update.
I've almost managed to shake a lingering monster-cold. Still have a bit of a cough, but the most annoying thing is the sore throat that's still hanging on. Seriously, you don't know how effortless swallowing is until the time when it feels like you're trying to ingest sharp-edged Legos. And I just don't get the sheer "physics" of sore throats. In the space of a few minutes the soreness can move from one side of the throat to the other, while you're just sitting there and not even swallowing. And sometimes the pain extends into the tongue. Ah well, it's almost gone, so whatever.
The good news is that I'm actually going to make it to my Wednesday night game at the FLGS tonight! I haven't run my current C&C campaign since the 24th of October (due to Superbitch Sandy and her crappy aftermath as well as my bout of plague). So I'm finally going to scratch the gaming itch!
Speaking of the itch, let me elaborate on the title of this post. As I lamented in a prior post, I'm still a victim of an unrelenting obsessive attachment to Dungeons & Dragons and its many clones. I'm still dreaming about running other systems and other genres besides fantasy (using Savage Worlds to run a cyberpunk or space opera game is still high on my RPG bucket list, and I'm reading through my copy of Heroes & Other Worlds and liking it a lot.) BUT there's always this rogue thought pattern that comes crashing back to the front of my mind, screaming "How dare you even THINK about running anything but D&D?!"

Yes, it does seem like my subconscious is totally fine with me being a player of other systems and other genres. It's me thinking of running something besides D&D that seems to induce an involuntary brain malfunction. Really strange. I'm trying to ruminate on this personal phenomenon but haven't made any headway. Might be time to head back to the shrink. Just need to find one willing to talk about Dungeons & Dragons. ;-)

All joking aside, I hope to return to some more substantial posting someday soon. As is the case with most folks this time of year, the holidays mess everything the hell up, so who knows when I can make good on that promise. I'll be in touch. Until then, happy gaming to all, and to all a good day!

Friday, December 7, 2012

End-of-Week Elmore (12/7/12)

I've always seen this image as the "on horseback" variation of Larry's famous Mentzer Red Box cover. This always makes me remember to face my fears head-on. I need this inspiration of late, especially today. Why? Because at work the bosses have called a "state of the union" meeting for my whole department. I wonder if we will get the "Pearl Harbor" treatment. Ironic, since today is December 7th. Anyway, enjoy, have a great weekend, and happy gaming!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Laid low by illness...

This is just a short post to apologize for my silence over the last few days. I've been afflicted with the mother of all colds, it seems. Right now I am experiencing the wonderful sensation of pain radiating through my cheeks and teeth, courtesy of some inflamed sinuses! Awesome-sauce, as the kids say these days.

Anyway, I hope to be able to post something of substance soon. I got my hands on a copy of Heroes & Other Worlds and would like to post something about it this week, health permitting. Stay tuned...