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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RPGaDay 2018, Week Five: SHARE…

RPGaDay 2018 infographic

RPGaDay is an annual celebration of tabletop roleplaying.

Week Five: SHARE…

  1. … a great stream/actual play.
  2. … whose inspiring gaming excellence you’re grateful for.
  3. … a friendship you have because of RPGs.
  4. … something you learned about playing your character.
  5. … why you take part in RPGaDay.

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32: A Step into RPGs Retrospective

Turtles, vanish... by Fatboy73 on DeviantArt
The piece of TMNT fanart I liked most but didn’t use in my TMNT RPG blog series.

This month is the 32nd since I started this blog. It is also, by a weird coincidence, the month of my 32nd birthday. I realised this too late to turn RPGaDay into “31 posts in month 31 while 31”, but nevertheless I’m feeling a bit reflective.

Here is a look back at some of my most popular blog posts, the top 11 posts on the blog based on average views per month (vpm) since publication.

There are a lot of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in this list. You’ve been warned.

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RPGaDay 2017, Day 22: Which RPGs are the easiest for you to run?

RPGaDay 2017 infographic

RPGaDay is an annual celebration of tabletop roleplaying. This is the first year I’ve tried to do it.

Which RPGs are the easiest for you to run?

The RPGs that are easiest for me to run are the ones in which the players do all the hard work, particularly in being proactive and developing conflicts between each other instead of waiting for me to provide a problem for them to solve. For example, Smallville is a dramatically driven game in which, during a session, I could often sit back and just watch things unfold. The problem with Smallville, however, is that there was so much preparation needed at the start of the campaign (preparing NPCs and so on), and so much bookkeeping needed between sessions. That’s a significant barrier to me running it again.

Psi*Run is a game that also takes a lot of player input throughout and, being designed mostly for one-off sessions, has no prep work or bookkeeping to speak of. On balance, I think Psi*Run is the easiest RPG to run, although I wouldn’t be comfortable using it for a campaign.

RPGaDay 2017, Day 18: Which RPG have you played the most in your life?

RPGaDay 2017 infographic

RPGaDay is an annual celebration of tabletop roleplaying. This is the first year I’ve tried to do it.

Which RPG have you played the most in your life?

As I said on Day 4, the RPG I’ve played most sessions of is Unknown Armies. But I covered that before, so instead I’m going to talk about the RPGs that I’ve played most different campaigns or settings. That’s much harder, and I’m not sure I know exactly the answer. It could be Fate Core, but I talk about that enough, so instead I’m going to go with Psi*Run and Fiasco.

What makes these games so interesting is that every session is completely unique. For Fiasco, that’s mostly as a result of the playset you use. I can’t remember all of the playsets I’ve ever used, but a few that jump out in my memory are:

For Psi*Run, on the other hand, it’s down to the questions you ask and the order in which you answer them in the game. And that means that Psi*Run can get wild. I’ve had Psi*Run games based in the modern day, which is the default setting, but also I’ve had ones set underground after the apocalypse, or on a spaceship, or ones that hopped reality. Games have ended with player characters being captured, defeating the Chasers, being the Chasers all along, turning into dogs, eating reality, or personally carrying the Sun around the Earth forever. Like I said: wild.

Terminator: Runners, a Psi*Run hack

Screenshot from The Terminator

For Day 2 of RPGaDay this year, Michael Duxbury said that the RPG he’d most like to see published is an RPG based on the Terminator franchise, particularly the first few movies about unstoppable time-travelling killer robots in disguise, in which the only way to survive is to run away. Alberto Muti suggested a Psi*Run hack and, well, I went and made one.

Presenting Terminator: Runners.

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Character advancement vs Character development

Anakin Skywalker's journey to become Darth Vader: Fear, Anger, Hate, Suffering.
Character advancement and character development sometimes go hand in hand… but character development isn’t always a joyful experience for the character itself

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.

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