Sunday, December 31, 2017

Death Bat's 2017 Year in Review and Gaming Plans for 2018

2017 In Review

Well, 2017 was a rough year for me for a lot of reasons, and I suffered from a lot of burn-out, I will admit. I have been growing tired of the standard level/class formula of D&D and it's myriad clones. I had some turmoil in gaming throughout the year which, without going in to detail, meant that fewer campaigns were completed with the consistency that I might have desired, and certain friends with whom I might otherwise have enjoyed gaming more with have fallen to the wayside for many and varied reasons. Sometimes, unfortunately, a person may be a great and interesting personality but that can also translate into deep frustration with how they function as a gamer....we'll just leave it like that.

The highlights of the year were getting much more involved with the D100/BRP systems, specifically a long running Call of Cthulhu campaign which remains ongoing, and a short stint with a Mesopotamian Adventures campaign using Mythras. Running Mythras again reminded me that in the end I prefer the simpler combat mechanics of other BRP games, but luckily I have a solution to continue that campaign in 2018: OpenQuest 2, which will be a ridiculously easy conversion thanks to it being built on the RQII OGL Mongoose put out years ago, which is the same framework from which Mythras springs.

I also ran a 13th Age campaign which also concluded in a spectacular and very satisfying manner, and in so doing convinced me very much that 13th Age will remain one of my eternal favorite systems. Ironically I did not feel class/level burnout while running 13th Age.

Also, Traveller this year was a lot of fun! Traveller has some weird limits in its implied universe and tech, and Mongoose failed to deliver on some pivotal supplements (the Companion, especially, or any alien books), but it's a robust system and with the core books out now (Rules, High Guard, Central Supply Catalog and Vehicle Handbook) I essentially have all I really need going forward.

I have, of course, run multiple D&D campaigns this year. But my drive on running these is, I admit, based more on familiarity and ease of the system than any special interest I have in the D&D-style fantasy genre right now. I just haven't felt as excited for my campaigns this year with D&D as I should be, and it's not because I lack interest in the game or's just over-saturation, burn-out. I need to give it a break.

The weird dark horse experience of 2017 was Starfinder. By all rights I should not be bothering with this system anymore: it's full of the sort of anachronistic blend of fantasy and SF that drives me nuts, and dovetails nicely with other games such as Shadowrun and Rifts, games which I like in principle but don't run in fact because as a GM I personally have a hard time sustaining my suspension of disbelief when running them. But...damnit,  I keep thinking about Starfinder and what I can do with it. Even while being annoyed with the anachronisms and the Very Big Questions of how the frickin' universe functions while running my test games on Starfinder I was still enjoying it. Every time I finish working out a new idea for it I am reminded that I would, in fact, prefer exploring real SF....but Starfinder just has a demented, fun simplicity to it that I keep getting trapped by. Grrrrr.

Plans for 2018

So what's up for 2018? I'm going to try very hard to be more considerate of my own time and my players' by staying more focused and avoiding so much bouncing around. Some of this can be accomplished by know, playing games I have genuine interest in and not buying so many other games that end up as distractions. For 2018 this means the following:

More Call of Cthulhu

And lots of it. I want to continue the ongoing Weird Oregon Campaign, and then I want to tie that in to an old west campaign using Down Darker Trails, and maybe later in the year see if people are interested in a Cold War era campaign as well. All of them will relate to one another.

Mesopotamian Adventures powered by OpenQuest 2

I really like OQ2. It takes the strengths of the BRP/RQII systems and turns them in to a perfect package for gaming. I want to use this to continue the ancient Ubaid campaign I am running, set in Eridu around 3,100-2,900 BC which I feel has between 6-10 sessions of play left in it, and then expand from there if the group interest continues. If I find myself sufficiently enamored with OQ2 after that, then it may be the ideal solution to running my long-planned but often put off Pergerron campaign (a sort of high-fantasy ancient Mesopotamia), or maybe Sarvaelen (the dark fantasy setting).

Genesys Core 

I need to try this one out. It's a great system, very flexible, and it hits a lot of my requisite bells and whistles. Just not sure how, yet, to use it....but we will see!

More Traveller

Everyone in my group likes Traveller, and I have plenty of content ready. The only question is....where to fit it in?


Look, I am very confused about this game, but I admit I love it like I love fatty foods and sugary products that I am not allowed to eat. I don't think I'll get this monkey off my back until I actually run it with serious intent. If the group is willing, I will propose an actual Starfinder campaign, in some capacity, in 2018...probably doing a new location/universe, but one which still ties in to all the Pact World thematics to make compatibility with existing content easier.

Okay so the above all seem likely to happen right now, safe bets for sure. So how about the rest?

A New 13th Age Campaign

I'd really love to do another 10-15 session 13th Age story arc sometime this year. What world I'd set it in and other details remain up in the air, and it's sufficiently unplanned that it won't happen right away, but I think for what I need out of level/class style D&D systems right now 13th Age is it.

Less D&D

As much as I continue to love D&D, I've played it to death in it's many iterations for the last 36 years now and I think I need to give myself some sort of a break (barring 13th Age) in 2018. If I can actually stop running it entirely for a few months, it might help me to reinvigorate interest. I haven't really taken a break from running D&D weekly since or so! Seriously. I think I went 3 months without a D&D game in 2005 as well. Dang, no wonder I feel burnt out.
(Three days in to the new year and it's already clear that this ain't gonna happen. D&D, I can't quit you! I just enjoy it too much.)

Cold & Dark Campaign

I am really eager to actually run this. Cold & Dark is exactly the sort of dark, horror-themed SF I love and the die-pool mechanic of the system sounds solid to me. I'll run this just as soon as I can convince my group to try it. Assuming I can find a spot to fit it in!

Wishlist: Symbaroum, Conan RPG, Adventures in Middle Earth

I'd love to play all three of the above, but finding the time to plot this out is the problem, never mind finding the time to actually play! For now I'll continue to collect and read each of these systems, but who knows, maybe inspiration will strike right when time is free in 2018. There are other games in this boat which I'd love to run, but it turns out I have a hard time "absorbing" 600-700 page rulebooks: Zweihander and Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea, I am looking at you! Both are "on the list" but damn, I actually think I'd have preferred if each of these tomes were broken up in to 2 or 3 volumes....the psychological impact of one massive book vs. three volumes is a terror to my brain.

That's it for now....everyone have a great New Year!

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