Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Savage Cyphers and Sorcery - My RPG Year in Review

I was in heaven at Gen Con 2014


A Year in Review

2014.  What a phenomenal year to be a part of the tabletop gaming hobby!  Ever since starting this blog in January, my experience as a gamer has exploded into a bright ball of awesomeness!  I was involved in multiple campaigns, I got my family gaming regularly, I was a guest on a couple podcasts with LexStarwalker, and I went to Gen Con after years of thinking the trip was never going to happen.  Most importantly, in 2014 I met so many extraordinary people - both in person and online – and I’ve had a wonderful time sharing, learning, and laughing about our hobby.  It is very easy to get caught up bickering over system minutiae, edition wars, and controversial debates, and sometimes this is healthy… in moderation of course.  But make sure that you take a few moments throughout the year, to reflect on the true joy of tabletop gaming, and how it has influenced your life in a positive way. 
This is why I started this blog, as a place to capture these moments, remember them, and share them with those interested in tagging along.  At the end of the play-session, when the dice is settled, our hobby is all about sharing memories and having fun…

… and wow, did I have a lot of fun this year!

From our #GetOutAndGame Numenera event at Romano's Pizza

Maybe Too Much Fun

I love numbers.  Actually that’s not entirely accurate.  I love what Microsoft Excel does with numbers!  Yesterday evening I spent some time tallying up the number of gaming sessions I experienced in 2014 and I’m not sure if I should be ecstatic or appalled by the tally.  In total, I was in 125 RPG sessions in 2014.  Of these, I was a game-master for 102 and a player for 23.  At first I was taken aback at how much time I spent behind the GM screen, and felt a little guilty, but then I counted the number of sessions I played with my kids:  44.    My wife Jennifer took part in an additional 9 “grown-up” sessions this year, which brings my family gaming total up to 53.  I’m quite proud of that number, and I think it speaks to one of the principle points I try to make with this blog:

If you want to game more, get your family involved! 

Disney Con 2014!  Playing in public at Disney's Art of Animation Resort

I also did a breakdown of the games I GM’d and played throughout the year, although I didn’t need to even look at Excel to tell you that Numenera was by far the big winner for me in 2014.  While I love and enjoy almost all of the books on my shelf, there really is no system that reflects my style of game-mastering like MonteCook Games’ Cypher System.  I’m not sure if you can tell by the way I write my game summaries and play reports, but I’m a “seat of my pants” improvisational game-master.  My home-brewed adventures are a series of bullet points, and I love any tool that can help me run the game on the fly (like +Andreas WaltersNon Player Cards!)  I like sharp action, fast combat, and great story.  If a game can’t provide those for me, I have no interest in playing any further.    

So here’s where I spent my time at the table in 2014:

1.      Numenera – GM: 47 sessions; Player: 8 sessions

2.      The Strange – GM: 16 sessions; Player: 12 sessions

3.      Savage Worlds – GM: 21 sessions; Player: 1 Session

4.      Basic Fantasy RPG – GM: 7 sessions

5.      Cypher System (Space Hack) – GM: 6 sessions

6.      Adventures in the East Mark – GM: 3 sessions

7.      Mouse Guard RPG – Player: 2 sessions

8.      AD&D 2nd Ed. – GM: 1 session

9.      Dungeon Crawl Classics – GM: 1 session

Most of my blog is about game-mastering however there were quite a few standout moments, as a player, that are definitely worth noting. 

·    After five years of experiencing RPG’s solely as a game-master, I returned to the player’s side of the GM screen in one of Brian Takle’s truly wonderful Mouse Guard RPG sessions.  I’d love to spend more time with my character, Avarick the cook and apiarist, in 2015!

·    +Jeremy Land ran a 12-session playtest of The Dark Spiral, +Bruce R Cordell's epic adventure for TheStrange.  My character, Conrad Merrick (Sharp-Eyed Paradox who Conducts Weird Science on Earth, Abides in Stone on Ardeyn, and Adapts to Any Environment on Ruk), was a fun-to-play and impulsive combination of Will Hunting and Cave Johnson. 

·    My long-time gaming buddy Craig McCullough ran a one-shot of Savage Worlds Fantasy at a local Norwin Game Knights function a few months ago, in which I played a Half-Orc Assassin.  After years of owning and enjoying Savage Worlds as a GM, this was the first time I got to play the game. 

·    +Lex Starwalker ran a 5-session Numenera mini-campaign using Robert Schwalb's adventure Beyond All Worlds.  Serbrus Ton’bur, my Doomed Glaive who Consorts with the Dead, had a sick and twisted encounter with his wife’s cannibalistic killer, leaving both the player and the player-character emotionally scarred… in a good way! 

Dunkin & Dragons with my Mom, Evie, and Carrie

What to Expect in 2015!

There’s a lot of great gaming coming up in the New Year that I already have planned!  It looks like I’m going to have our regular monthly game of The Strange continuing, and our next adventure series is going to mix three themes that go so well together:  Sherlock Holmes, Dark Sun, and Star Wars.  Our weird 4-in-1 Quattro con Carnage campaign begins its Dungeon Crawl Classics phase next Tuesday, and will progress into Savage Worlds and the Cypher System in the following weeks.  You’ll also see a slight change in our regular Numenera campaign, as our characters from Tales of the Broken Mask travel to the great city of Qi for What Lurks Above.   

There are other games I’d like to try as well.  Even with nearly two-dozen sessions, I still want to play more Savage Worlds in 2015.  I played a lot of Weird Wars Rome and Accursed, but crave more of The Last Parsec after last week's #SantaGaming session.  I’m itching for a lot more Dungeon Crawl Classics goodness!  Despite reading and re-reading the rules several times, we only managed one game in 2014.  I'm happy that there are at least 4 sessions planned in the next two months! 
I may get a chance to play Fiasco in the next few weeks, as well as the DragonAge RPG, both of which will be completely new experiences.  My family game, featuring my wife and kids, just wrapped up our trio of #SantaGaming spectaculars, but we haven’t settled on our next ongoing campaign.  We may return to one of our previous campaigns, or try something completely new.  I’ll probably be giving them a chance to decide very soon.

I’m certainly open to any and all feedback, so if there is something you’d like to see us try, please let me know! 
Getting all spacey for Savage Worlds The Last Parsec
As I close out my final blog entry for 2014 I just wanted to thank you all for reading, commenting, and contributing to this little site.  Writing up play-reports for my games is not something I just started doing in the last twelve-months.  In fact, I am sitting on literally hundreds of pages of play reports for previous campaigns, which were shared with the players once and then filed away on my hard drive or in binders.  But sharing the sessions with all of you on social media, reading the feedback, and having conversations about my games has truly made a positive impact on how I game master.   I sincerely appreciate all of you out there, and hope to continue collaborating on more exciting playtests, reviews, and special projects to come!

Happy New Year! 

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