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.
One of the great joys of playing roleplaying games, especially playing a single character through a long campaign, is in seeing your character grow and change. In traditional high fantasy games, it’s fun to rise from humble beginnings to be an important and powerful figure in the campaign world.
However, it’s relatively rare in roleplaying games to see the sort of deep, personal character transformation that you might see in books, TV shows or films. That’s because the sort of growth and change encouraged by traditional roleplaying games is different from the growth and change that most popular media is built on.
Character advancement is not the same thing as character development.
Heroes of the Hearth is a GM-less, diceless story game by Stiainín Jackson. In Heroes of the Hearth, you tell the story of a group of villagers, the family and loved ones left behind by the fantasy adventurers who have left home to battle evil. It is included in Pelgrane Press’ Seven Wonders anthology.
I recently had a chance to play the game, and I ♥ it. (I “heart” it, you see, because the heart symbol stands for love and “heart” sounds like “hearth”… Visual wordplay is difficult, ok?)
Before playing it, I’d been worried whether I’d enjoy the game. The characters were all pre-generated and I was concerned they would be flat or hard to customise. The scene structure seemed paradoxically to be very rigid and yet offer little support.
Which just goes to show that you should never review roleplaying games without playing them, because my fears were unfounded and I had a great time. Let me tell you about it!