Even in a year of pandemic, there was gaming. I probably played as often as I did in normal times, but fewer titles and with fewer people. I did not attend any conventions; I tried, signed up for online cons, but it didn’t pan out for me.
I played a total of 20 different titles, the lowest number in six years; this included only 3 board games, 14 role-playing games, and 3 story games. Only 6 of these (30%) were new to me, i.e., I had never played them before, including one playtest. The board games were sadly curtailed because my husband has been wrestling with vision problems that made it frustrating for him to deal with small writing and game components.
But I still played at least once weekly thanks to a variety of recurring RPG campaigns conducted online. Frankly, I had not had this much satisfying long-term role-playing in years: with few options for leisure and social activities, many more people could be counted on to meet regularly.
With six years of data, here is what the game type breakdown looks like:
For the last five years I’ve also been keeping track of who I play with. It looks like this:
Player diversity was disappointing in 2020, particularly when I was a player in other people’s games. The majority of players who were not cis men were players in games I or my husband ran, and somehow I did not play with any people of colour (that I am aware of), a sad performance. Despite this, I think it’s not too bad that I played with 41 different people.
Here is what my list of games looked like in 2020:
Since mid-April, Evil Hat has been working hard on creating a lot of high-quality modules for the virtual tabletop Roll20 for gamers besieged by the pandemic and social distancing. I have put a ton of time and effort into these. A few more were published today so I wanted to give a view of the Wall of Awesome:
In the last two months I’ve done a lot of work for Evil Hat Productions, setting up adventure modules for play on the virtual tabletop app Roll20. After setting up three Fate Worlds (The Secrets of Cats, Deep Dark Blue, and Red Planet), I worked on the five Fate of Cthulhu modules and these were just approved by Roll20 today.
Our team is now working on more Fate goodness and on Monster of the Week adventure modules. It’s so exciting to see these go live!
After 16 full episodes, running our City of Mist campaign continues to be a high point of the week for me. Here is the “crime board” page; the first image shows the investigation in the first story arc and the PCs’ circles of influence:
The second shares with my players Detective Suarez’s investigation of the crew in connection with the museum theft of the second story arc.
Although I often have a hard time retrofitting published adventures to a specific group of player characters, this time it turned out pretty easy. Because of the characters my players had created, i.e. pure chance, we had pretty good hooks for the scenario even though it’s based on a completely different crew. Since this introductory scenario is full of handholds for a new crew and MC, it was very reassuring to rely on it rather than second-guess myself. Episode recap after the cut to avoid spoilers.
New month, new year, new decade: I finally launched the City of Mist game I had been prepping since late November, running online via Roll20 and Discord. I’m not ready yet for a game review, but here is what’s going on with the campaign setup and launch.
I had backed this Powered by the Apocalypse (PbtA) game at the PDF-only level in the original Kickstarter funding campaign in 2016. Since then, I had received not only the materials covered by backer tier, but a goodly number of supplemental materials since publisher Son of Oak Game Studio was generous with free content to backers. But that bounty became daunting: there seemed to be so much reading to do that I kept pushing in back in the reading queue in favour of shorter games and fiction.
When I did start reading, however, I was soon swept away by the atmosphere in the setting portions, and delighted to finally see an interesting mashup of the PbtA structure with the narrative weight of Fate Core‘s Aspects under the guise of “tags.” But I will review the system in another post when I have played enough to be satisfied that I really grokk it. Suffice it to say that I soon found myself planning an online campaign.
I’ve been neglecting my blog for all sorts of reasons I don’t want to get into right now, but it’s a new year and time for a fresh start. It’s time to once again look at the games I played in the year that just ended, and see if I accomplished some of my goals.
I played a total of 36, up from last year’s low of 29; this included 14 tactical and strategic games (board, card, and miniatures games), and 22 narrative game (role-playing games, story games, live-action role-playing). Some 23 of these (64%) were new to me, i.e., I had never played them before, including 7 playtests (19% of the total). But there were several repeat games thanks to a few recurring campaigns, particularly 13th Age, Agon 2e (playtest), Dragon Age, Journey Away, and Paladin, as well as perennial favourite Spirit Island.
With five years of data, here is what the breakdown looks like:
For the last four years I’ve also been keeping track of who I play with. It looks like this:
I have been trying to play with more new and diverse people, and that seems to be working, although there is room for improvement.
Here is what my list of games looked like in 2019:
[Updated to add the names of some women and enby game designers I had somehow failed to copy-paste from my spreadsheet.]
Once again, I review the list of games I played during the year we just said goodbye and good riddance to.
Despite having fewer health problems in 2018, the number of different games once again dropped, to only 28, down from 62 in 2015, 47 in 2016, and 44 in 2017. I had a lot of challenges this year again, plus little money to attend conventions (only Big Bad Con and one day at KublaCon), and no space to play at home.
As a result, I played only 7(!) different tactical and strategic games (board, card, and miniatures games), from 30 in 2015, 26 in 2016, and 18 in 2017. That makes up 25% of the titles I played.
On the narrative game front (role-playing games, story games, and live-action role-playing), I played 21 or 75% of my titles, compared to 32 in 2015, 21 in 2016, and 26 in 2017. Of these 21 games, I ran 7, or 33%: At the Stroke of Midnight, Blue Rose RPG, Fate of the Inquisitor, Misspent Youth, The Quiet Year, Threadbare RPG, and Turn. Continue reading “My 2018 in gaming”→
The sun sinks in the sky, bringing long shadows and a wisp of cool air. In a handful of hours it will be midnight. The veil between the world of the living and the world of the dead is growing thinner with each passing moment. At midnight it will open, and those who are able to stand unshaken before the Beloved Dead will be allowed a boon. You and your friends set out for the graveyard, each eager to meet the Beloved Dead and ask a favor from those who have gone before.
It felt perfect to play in October.
System and Setup
Meguey released it three years ago; the full version which I was using is on her Patreon site, but she also released a basic free version on her Medium blog, so you can take a look.
I had scheduled it as a two-hour game, but it’s hard to gauge how long a given episode will take: you can play with 2 to 6 players and the Yahtzee-like mechanics make it difficult to guess when the end is near. As play aids, I had created a cheat sheets for the Signs; and I used my dry-erase Noteboard so we could draw the elements we created. Continue reading “Play report: At the Stroke of Midnight”→
Last week at Big Bad Con, I ran Robert Bohl’s role-playing game Misspent Youth. Because I was running in a four-hour time block and it’s always a challenge for me to stay within the scheduled time, I cut through setting and character creation by using Misha Bushyager’s playset “Young, Gifted, and Black” from the recent supplement Sell Out With Me. The premise:
“What happens when a group of students from a predominantly Black, inner city public school score highly on a test that propels us to a predominantly white private, suburban boarding school? Will the other students accept us for who we are or will they make stupid ass assumptions about us?
“Will we be able to fit in with them? Do we even want to? Will we have to sacrifice our identities to become more like them or can we plant the seeds of true multiculturalism and make them more like us?”