What I accomplished despite 2020

It’s no secret that 2020 has been a pretty ghastly year in a lot of ways, and Covid-19 in particular has laid low many of the plans I had. I’d planned to start running a new campaign. I’d planned to go to GenCon for the first time. I’d planned to keep building up the RPG Museum wiki for all things roleplaying. The last of these I did for a while, but the year eventually sapped the energy I had to even do that.

But look, it’s worth looking at the positives where you can find them. Merely getting through the year is an accomplishment, and here are some other RPG-related accomplishments that I am also proud of.

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Uncle Step needs YOU… to check out RPG Museum!

It’s been quite a while since I last updated the blog, but I’ve been no less busy with roleplaying, thank Heavens. I’ve been playing in an absurd number of games pretty much consistently since my last post, which is delightful, and we successfully concluded the campaign of The Veil I was running. (The players were successful, that is, not the characters, which feels fairly suitable for cyberpunk and our campaign specifically.)

Other than that, I’ve been doing something a bit different: editing!

Two kinds of editing, in fact.

First of all, I edited Risky Things to do with Sorcery, a 7th Sea supplement by Michael Duxbury, which is now available for purchase on DriveThruRPG. I got involved initially as a playtester for his new rules for Fate Witch duels (give it a try: it’s fun but brutal!), but ended up doing a fairly thorough sense edit and copy edit of the final product. I’m perhaps biased, but I think it’s an incredibly useful supplement for 7th Sea GMs, and I wish I’d had it when I was running a campaign. I’m also really proud because it’s the first time I’ve got my name in a published-for-real-money RPG product and been credited for anything other than playtesting or backing by Kickstarter.

But the other kind of editing I’ve been doing is wiki editing! Early last year, I was talking to folks on Twitter about how great it would be to have some central repository of RPG design, theory, and other accumulated learning. I suggested a wiki, but I never acted on it until one day I found that such a wiki already exists! It’s called the RPG Museum and it desperately needs some love. I’ve been doing what I can, and I’m already seeing some improvements, but it would be fantastic if anyone else with an interest in RPG theory, design, history, culture, GMing, roleplaying, etc. could join in and help out. There’s plenty to do.

Here are some of the things I’ve already worked on:

A pretty big variety of things, I hope you agree! Maybe you’ll find these examples useful, but even these pages are almost certainly incomplete or need some tweaking, and there are plenty of other things that we don’t have any pages for at all yet. For example, we’ve barely even started on pages about individual games, publications, and game designers (and there’s quite a few of those that we might be able to lift from a certain other big encyclopedic wiki, just saying). How funny would it be if someone came and wrote a page about themselves or the games they’ve designed?

I’m very excited about the possibilities of this wiki, and I hope some of you come along and share that excitement with me!

Twitter and my toboggan ride down Mt Stupid

Graph of the Dunner-Kruger effect, from Wisdom of the Hands

I haven’t written anything on this blog recently. Mostly I blame Twitter, but perhaps not for the reason you’d think. Twitter is a much bigger pond that the circles I used to frequent on Google Plus. It has an active but disparate RPG scene. Being exposed to it has been eye-opening. So many clever people talking about RPGs and RPG theory in such depth and with such nuance. It has also been slightly demoralising.

(Sorry, this blog post could get a bit rambly.)

To use a metaphor about the Dunning–Kruger effect (a metaphor I also learned on Twitter), since running this blog I have been high up the slopes of Mount Stupid. Now I feel like I have just tobogganned down it and crashed into the Valley of Despair.

In short, I have finally learned enough about roleplaying games to know that I know nothing.

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Kobolds are a bit like Geese: A eulogy for Google+

In the last hour as I write this, Google+ finally shut down. It sucks, because Google+ was the best place I found online for roleplaying community discussions, and it suited me and my needs perfectly. Since the announcement that it was going, I’ve branched out to a few other social media sites. I’m now on Twitter (@Supermorff, follow me if you like) and reddit (u/stepintorpgs) and Discord (it confuses me so much) and a bunch of different forums. They’re fine but none are filling the hole just yet. Early days. (I understand some people have gone to places like MeWe, but I kinda don’t want to go somewhere that recruited social media-displaced roleplaying nerds with the same tactics they used to recruit social media-displaced white supremacists.)

Anyway, as a farewell, here’s a little thing that I posted on Google+ last year that I like enough to save. Enjoy.

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Get Inspired: Reading from D&D Appendix E

Appendix E from D&D 5e PHBIn the back of the Dungeons & Dragons 5th edition Player’s Handbook, there is a list of inspirational reading called Appendix E. It’s a list of books (much as you might find in other RPGs) that influenced the creation of D&D or might help inspire players or DMs, and even some that were themselves inspired by D&D. It’s an expansion of an older list, Appendix N, that was compiled by Gary Gygax for the original Dungeon Master’s Guide in 1979. That list is specifically things that influenced Gary, and runs the gamut from fantasy through science fiction to horror; the additions for Appendix E tend to be more strictly fantasy, in line with what D&D has now become. (Other people have already talked about the evolution from Appendix N into Appendix E, so if you like you can look here, here or here, but in general I’d say that I’d have preferred if they’d been more willing to cut things out that no longer seemed appropriate.)

For a while, I’ve been reading books from the list when I’ve had the time, and now, in the last couple of months, I made an earnest attempt to read all the books that I hadn’t yet got around to. And since I have this roleplaying blog already, I might as well put down a little review for each thing I read.

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