Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Me and Roleplaying: 2014 and Beyond...

Hail and well met, fellow adventurers! Here we are, on the threshold of a new year of crisis and opportunity! May we all rise to the blessed challenges that the universe lays before us, for challenges are blessings, and they help make us more than we were before!

I love the RPG blogosphere, the whole cacophonous lot of you! Every single one of your blogs are a light that keeps the flame of roleplaying alive! Whether you have a regular game (be it face-to-face or virtual), or are dreaming of gaming days past or future, you are keeping the spirit alive. And I salute you for your efforts, however humble or grand. Thanks to all of you for your continuing inspiration. For that's what you have been, are, and will be for me.

No, this isn't a farewell post from me. I'm just changing my focus for my free time in 2014. I'm working on a dream, folks. Wish me all the best you can spare. I'm bound and determined to change the career aspect of my life. I'm going to focus all the will, energy, determination, and ambition I have in this body into the effort.

So my available time for the hobby will be limited, but it will burn no less brighter for it. Indeed, I expect the inner fire for roleplaying will only burn hotter. I'm looking forward to my return to roleplaying when the time is right, just as it was right about three years ago. I always have believed that hope springs eternal. It is this faith that has driven me most of my life. Without it, I'm not sure where I'd be today.

At any rate, this is an RPG blog, eh? So, what do I foresee for me in the way of gaming in the new year?

Well, there will be no doubt some evenings where I will actually find myself at the game table once more. I've laid the foundations for several good groups of gamers that have promised to have chairs open for me. Most likely I will be a player, as I probably won't have the time to prep to be a GM.

I see the coming year as a time of much-needed reflection on my roleplaying career. This reflection will include some much-needed delvings into the old rule sets that have been calling out to me. I'm feeling like I have a lot of assumptions when it comes to my gaming past. Assumptions scare me. To me, they reek of hubris. You assume you know all there is to know about something, and that's when bad things happen.

Yes, I need to do some long-overdue exploration of my roleplaying past. Since I jumped head-first back into roleplaying in 2010, I've pretty much never looked back. But that neglect of my RPG past has most likely given birth to this burning desire to read and use some of the old books.

One of the big assumptions I've harbored is that I know all I need to know about the older versions of D&D and AD&D. But I'm really feeling drawn to, of all things, 2nd Edition AD&D at the moment. At the very least, I think I need to do a good read of this version of the game over the next year. If only to exorcise the demanding, nagging feeling that I need to explore it again. But actually, I expect to see that old game with my older man's eyes, and see what I get out of it this time around. That's a reunion I've foolishly avoided. I think it's going to be a good thing, for me to revisit the version of the game that took up much of my early roleplaying life.

Heck, if I have time, I might just go back and revisit St. Gygax's masterwork, 1st Edition AD&D...the version that I played the most back in the day. I expect to be rewarded by that journey as well.

As I do my re-exploration of the above, I hope to have time for posting some musings here.

As I've said before on this blog, I love Castles & Crusades, and it really is my preferred version of AD&D, but nostalgia DEMANDS that I go back and take a look at the real deal again. Whether this becomes good nostalgia or bad, limiting nostalgia is really up to me, and what I do with the feeling.
I also hope to do some reviews of new games and such as I read them, and perhaps contribute some gaming material here and there. We'll see. 
The X factor of 2014 is the 40th anniversary of D&D and the release of the next iteration. From what I've seen of D&D Next via the playtest materials, I'm not really interested in using those rules. But what a milestone! I'm excited to see what comes...er, next!

So, this is not goodbye. I will be reading all of your words, contributing when I can, and enjoying every minute of it! I wish you all a wonderful new year of roleplaying goodness! Please have much happy gaming, as well as general happiness and prosperity (both of the wallet and the soul!) Until we meet again on the road to adventure, I wish you all the best!

Monday, December 30, 2013

The Call of a New Adventure in 2014

Yes, I’m a fool for nostalgia. I just try not to let it drag me down. 
So, I’m full of nostalgia when it comes to roleplaying. Overflowing with it, bursting at the seams, etcetera. And over the last few years of my personal roleplaying renaissance, I’ve let my nostalgia fuel a return to the hobby that I thought I’d left behind for good. You see, as the years of my last hiatus rolled by, the urge to game swelled like a rising tide. Until I could deny the urge to roleplay no longer.
So round about 2010, I answered the call to adventure. I went out into the wilds of the internet and then the real world to roleplay once more. And I’ve had a lot of fun in the last few years, met some really cool fellow gamers, and have delved back into roleplaying with abandon.
And I’ve come to a new conclusion in the last week or so: perhaps my current desire to set actual play aside again for the time being is actually a result of the roleplaying I’ve done over the last few years.
Sounds paradoxical, eh? Well, perhaps not. Because there's a new call to adventure that has come over me.
You see, since early in 2013 I’ve felt another urge welling up within: to change my career path forever, to finally find work that is infinitely more fulfilling. I’ve been ramping up in anticipation of massive action in 2014 to change my career.
And I think that my successful return to roleplaying has given me faith that I can delve back into other aspirations I had as a younger man, and give life to them as well. So, this urge to change careers, to do something that helps my fellow human beings more directly rather than just slave to make some executives rich, is a dream from my past that is demanding to be brought forth into fruition. And I aim to unleash it.
I am going to become my own boss. I’m going to become an entrepreneur. I’m not sure yet what form that will take exactly, but I have some plans. All I know is, roleplaying has taught me how to dream again. It has reminded me that I need to let my dreams run free, and to not wallow in the rampant negativity that modern global society worships.
I will definitely not be leaving roleplaying for good this year, the 40th anniversary of Dungeons & Dragons. Hells no! But it just so happens that I can no longer deny another incessant call from deep within me. I’m just going to be focusing a tremendous amount of energy and focus on attaining my new career goal.
This isn’t to say that I’m leaving this blog to sit stagnant either. Rather, I will work to keep it alive, with worthwhile posts. And I am sure I will also get some roleplaying in here and there, but just not on as consistent a basis as I have for the last few years.
Anyway, folks, that’s where I am for now. I’m probably going to post one more time (tomorrow) before the year is over. Until then, please send me positive vibes (as I will be doing for you), and I look forward to continue to participate in our little RPG blogosphere community in 2014! Happy gaming, one and all!

Friday, December 27, 2013

End-of-Week...Whitaker? (12/27/13)

Hey HEY you crazy roleplaying cats out there! Yes, your eyes do not deceive you. Above you see images of a Ghost Dog roleplaying game. Yes, Ghost Dog. That movie starring Forest Whitaker where he's some sort of modern urban samurai, apparently. I was digging around in the dusty shelves of a local "comics and sundry" store that sells new and used RPG books, seeking treasure. And I came across this gem. I flipped through it, but didn't have time for a thorough read. So I can't tell you anything about it as far as the mechanics are concerned. It looked fairly bland in terms of production quality, with some pretty grainy stills from the movie scattered throughout.
I never saw the movie, so I can't discuss the quality of that, either. I just have the impression that Ghost Dog wasn't a great film. Perhaps I'm wrong. Can someone give me a review? Am I missing out on some hidden gem, a cult classic that deserved the RPG treatment?
ANYway, I DID find a VERY pristine copy of the Marsh/Cook Expert rulebook in the shelves! The guy at the register sold it to me for five dollars. Not bad! So that was a bit of a holiday treat for myself. Speaking of the holidays, I had a joyous time with the family, thank you very much for asking. I hope you all had similar!
As for this here suffering blog, I'll be doing an end-of-year post in the next few days. Just want to do something of a wrap up and consider what the next year may bring. As you've probably read here, I'm taking another indefinite break from roleplaying to free up time for other endeavors in 2014. But I might get up to some gaming here and there, read some RPG books, etc. So stay tuned, kids. Until then, happy gaming!

Friday, December 20, 2013

End-of-Week Elmore (12/20/13)

Larry's take on that classic D&D alignment illustration
Just a few days before Christmas, and we get the news about the new edition of Dungeons & Dragons coming out next summer (from Forbes, no less).
You know what? I'm excited. Maybe it's my newfound dedication to a radically positive attitude toward life. But I'm feeling happy that D&D is still in print. Yes, I'm not all that interested in playing the new edition, but I'm sure I'll give it a good look, and give thanks for the game that has been more than a game in my life.
Am I going to worry about the in-print version of D&D not conforming enough to the older versions that I prefer? No. There's still going to be some connection, at least if it's just a name/brand and some of the basic mechanics. But if we REALLY want new generations of gamers to appreciate the roots of the game, then those of us who love those older editions need to spread the word. Those who are interested will be willing to listen, and those who do not should not be dismissed outright. It's that simple. You want change? Be the change you want.
In other words, don't be a stereotypical grognard. Stop grumbling, and get out there and tell the kids about the OOP versions of D&D. Teach them the virtues of D&D's earlier iterations. Tell them about the history of the game and the hobby it created. There's no better time than the coming 40th anniversary, in my opinion.
All this from the guy who is basically going on another hiatus from roleplaying for an indeterminate time right? ;-)  I'll be back someday. But this time around, I won't be turning my back on the hobby. I'll be watching, waiting, and planning my return...with an open mind.

One final thought (I'm sure I'm not the first person to consider this, so don't think I believe myself to be some RPG Sherlock Holmes): perhaps this will be WotC's D&D masterstroke. Maybe they were all amped up about this version being the "one edition to encompass them all" because of the 40th anniversary. So they could release an edition of the game that could pay homage (if not do justice) to all the iterations of the game, on the occasion of its 40 birthday, in a time where "geek" is becoming more and more "chic." I'm sure they'll try their best to connect this edition with the anniversary.

Heck, I'm willing to bet that at least some of the marketing materials WotC puts out will make reference to this being an "anniversary edition." Double heck, they might wind up calling this "Dungeons & Dragons: Anniversary Edition." I sure hope they don't, but you never know...

Monday, December 16, 2013

An Early Christmas Gift from across the Multiverse

The Bumble and fuzzy reindeer approve!

Christmas arrived a bit early this weekend, because I received my copy of Lords of Gossamer & Shadow! This is a diceless game that was built on the foundation of the Amber Diceless Roleplaying game, which was created by Erick Wujcik in the early 1990's.
I was a supporter of the Kickstarter, and it's great to finally have the gorgeous hardcover in my grasp!
As I've said before on this blog, I was a huge fan of Amber Diceless RPG back in the 90's. A few friends and I had "graduated" from Dungeons & Dragons and were looking for a more "adult" RPG. Ironically, it was those mysterious and cryptic ads for Amber Diceless RPG in Dragon magazine that alerted us to its existence.
My friends and I got some copies of Amber DRPG, as well as the Roger Zelazny novels on which the game was based. If you haven't read the Amber novels, you really should check them out when you get a chance. I don't think you'll be disappointed.
Anyway, we immersed ourselves in Zelazny's mythology and the larger-than-life godlike characters that inhabit it. And from there, we created characters that were the children of those beings, and made the universe our playground. It was a glorious time in my roleplaying career, matched only by the early years that were consumed entirely by D&D.
I, of course, still have my Amber rulebook from back in the day. Here's a shot of that old tome with its "spiritual successor" next to it:

Steven Russell and the folks at Rite Publishing have, in my humble opinion, crafted not only a gorgeous book, but also a thoughtful and deep book that pays homage to its "source code." Sure, the game has "stripped away" the Amber mythology, but I think it's very cool what Rite has constructed in its place. They've made the system "setting neutral" in a way, even though there is technically a setting of sorts. Ultimately, you don't have to be steeped in Amber lore to get into this new version.
ANYway, I can't wait to get some time to read through LoG&S. If you're interested, check it out through DriveThru RPG.
Mr. Russell, during the final stages of the creation of LoG&S, asked backers if they'd like to volunteer to proofread the book. I leapt at the chance, and sure enough he sent me some pages. I'm proud and honored to be listed as one of the proofreaders in the credits of the book, as well as a backer. Thanks again, Steven!
It's really cool to have been a part of this "resurrection" of the late Erick Wujcik's game, bringing it back into print via this new form. It's the least I could do for a game that brought me so much happiness and roleplaying goodness.

Friday, December 13, 2013

End-of-Week Elmore (12/13/13)

Season's greetings, folks! I'm going to be showing some snowy Elmore illos for the next few weeks. Brrr, that young lass in the image above makes me cold just looking at her! She needs to cover up a bit more, she'll catch her death! ;-)  Anyway, life is very good, and I'm feeling quite the holiday spirit. It's buoyed my soul, and I'm looking forward to my new attitude and life endeavors bearing fruit, WONDERFUL fruit in the new year!
Still don't have the time for gaming these days, and that's ok. I know there'll be more in the future, sometime. Well, that's all for now, good gentles! Hope your holidays are bright and full of love and laughter. And as always, happy gaming! Roll some polyhedrals for me!

Friday, December 6, 2013

End-of-Week Elmore (12/6/13)

Howdy from the hinterlands, pardners! Where nary an RPG session can be seen! OK, I won't go into another pity party for moi. Just checking in with a tidbit about my boy Larry Elmore.
I was never a huge SnarfQuest fan back in the glory days of the old Dragon Magazine. It got a chuckle out of it, for sure, but I never became a fanatic about it. Anyway, Mr. Elmore has a Kickstarter...uh, kicking right now, through which we will apparently get a new Snarf adventure. Hey, Larry can do no wrong in my book, so I'll be checking this bad boy out. I suggest you do the same. The things already funded and it's still got 41 days to do...so maybe we can pour some extra gravy on dem taters!
Welp, folks, I'm gonna be moseying along now. Hope your gaming is plentiful out there (definitely more plentiful than mine). If you need me, I'll be meandering some more through Jack Vance's Dying Earth and trying to get started on the first book in the Fabled Lands gamebook series.