Alright, another year in the books means that we’re going to go through files, notes, and memories and try to recap this thing. This is a mostly self-indulgent post, rough around the edges, and posted for posterity’s sake.
Things I worked on but didn’t finish
Here’s a fun list.
- Arrinium: my dungeon23 project; a malicious mega-dungeon magical academy. The game would have involved building routes between classes and dormitories through the ever-shifting dungeon. Lots of potential for this one still. Big inspiration from The Scholomance by Naomi Novik.
- Deepspace Revival: my space fantasy project—rather than a whole dang galaxy, the known world is a menagerie of aliens and the many moons orbiting a gas giant.
- Monsters in a Time of Revolution: this is a Down We Go hack where you play as monstrous folk trying to bring down human oppressors. The game itself is done, but it doesn’t have enough meat to generate missions / run a campaign. I would have to sit with this and write mission generators which isn’t terribly interesting right now. (This was in my 2021 retrospective—deep backburner!)
- Graveworlds: Starforged actual play serial fiction. I have three episodes written. I would like to have an entire arc finished before I release this. (Also a 2021 retrospective project.)
- Death March: Mechs + The Ten Thousand. This one is in slow gestation. It also uses my house system, and would need more work to bring to fruition.
- Project Monster: a small zine with multiple nested hit dice monsters. Building unique and exciting NHDMs is actually kinda hard.
- The Mountain: a solo-game about trying to solve a calamity by being able to see into the future. Inspired loosely by Dune. This is pretty neat. I need to write a bunch of tables for it.
- The Marble Forest: a small adventure in a self-contained location. High potential; this idea has been on my mind for quite some time.
- Can’t Take the Heat: A 2-player romance game that Norn and I are currently working on. This thing is 85% of the way to a first draft and almost ready for playtesting.
- Hex History: a worldbuilding game I’m cooking up that also expands on world anchors. The manuscript is about 70% complete.
- Space Lotus: A game I worked on with my best bud Ryan. White Lotus but in space.
- Artisan: yet another revolution game; this time with the oppressed class being magic-based artisans that strike deals with Saints to grant them more power. Light inspiration from the ciompi revolt.
I’m actually pretty happy with these. There are some blocks on these projects that I would need to work through, but since I’m doing this as a hobby for now, it’s fun to follow the muse and pick these up here and there and plug away at them.
Things I Released to the World
First, blog posts:
- Tension Cheatsheet: this thing has helped me so much for creating adventures and running games. I was quite pleased to see that it made it into Warren D’s collection of tables for GMing.
- Question-Based Adventure Design: me writing down my framework on creativity. I still use this method when I have enough time to gestate on ideas. Answering questions multiple times will push you past your lowest hanging fruit.
- Spell Friend and Enter: probably my favorite post of mine this year. Zelda-maxxing campaign framework. I would love to try and build this out into a setting / adventure bundle zine in the future.
- Ransacking the Room: a little framework that I use to think about searching in games. My favorite part of this post is the comments section with other people’s suggestions.
- Ringing the Bell: a little reputation system I cooked up by stealing Trophy Gold combat mechanics.
- Under the Hood of the Garden Wall: once more talking about adventure design: this time taking some potential lessons from everyone’s favorite spooky season show. Which I finally watched for the first time this year.
- Gulch: A collaborative project between myself and my partner Norn Noszka. This is the thing I’m most proud of this year, and I think we really nailed it. Norn helped with every aspect of the project and nailed it with some amazing pieces of art. For 2024 I would like to continue expanding Gulch with specific adventures and a potential zine-edition.
- A Demon of Three Notes: We absolutely cannot be stopped. Once again Norn and I worked together on this little gameable blogpost. For 2024 I would love to get this into layout with a specific town / adventure rather than presenting it as a framework.
Next, released games:
- Swineheart Motel: my system-neutral horror adventure. I love this thing and I want to do more of these. The layout took forever—the text was finished in 2022 but I really struggled with doing the PDF on my own. I think I learned a lot and have a good basis for future Fringe Variable adventures.
- roleplaying game: this is a shit post. I wrote this in 2021 I think and got it to publishing state because I posted a little screenshot on twitter and the people demanded it. I don’t even know if this thing is playable.
- Three Goblin Markets: an adventure I wrote for the latest Cairn jam. I’m not really happy with how this turned out and think it’s probably my weakest work when it comes to a “finished”1 adventure.
The Year Ahead
Let’s break down what I’d like to see out of 2024. Here’s my goals and processes to achieve them:
|Goal & Reason
|Be a good partner 2
|Study layout 3
|4/month recreate one aspect of layout from a book or magazine.
|Can’t Take the Heat 4
|schedule 2 push days a month.
|Hex History 5
|schedule 1 push day a week.
|Fringe Variable Adventure 6
|q-bad design in mornings at day job.
|In-person RPG group 7
|check /lfg and Edmonton meetup groups 1/week.
|Flexibility + Stretching 8
|2 minutes of stretching per day minimum.
|Draw for fun 9
|doodle something in sketchbook 1/day.
|Fitness: bench 135 for 20 reps 10
|gym 3-4/week with gzcl workout plan focused on chest.
|Climbing: send my first v6-7 11
|attempt a green tape each session.
|add something to journal app everyday.
Here’s the books I remembered to log:
- The Healers’ Road: one of my all time favorites but hard to recommend. A pure slice of life fantasy about two healers that are part of a caravan. This is all about characterization.
- City of Last Chances: good old fashioned fantasy by Adrian Tchaikovsky. Lots of gameable material in this one.
- Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow: I really enjoyed this one. A sweeping epic through the two lives of the main characters.
- The Empress of Salt and Fortune. A wonderful, fully contained little novella.
- The Spear Cuts Through Water: I don’t think I’ve ever read a book quite like this before. Really enjoyable.
- The Golem and the Jinni: I was in the mood for fantasy romance and this delivered.
- Daughter of Redwinter: a pretty good fantasy book but I don’t really remember much about it.
- The Kaiju Preservation Society: popcorn reading, to be completely honest. It was interesting to compare what my mental picture of the protagonist was with my friends though—they are completely undescribed and ungendered.
- Every Murderbot Diary Book: I love these things. Amazing sci-fi.
- Keep Going, Show Your Work!, and Steal Like an Artist. Little manifestos that reminded me of Pressfield’s Do the Work and similar books.
- Dead Silence. Titanic + Ghosts + Spaceship. The first half was good, the ending was a let down.
- The Night Circus. Dueling magicians. What’s not to love?
- Mickey7: Loved it. Can’t wait for the Bong Joon-ho film. He better keep the clone threesome.
- Far from the Light of Heaven: A nice little sci-fi space ship horror murder mystery. Did not stick the landing much like Dead Silence.
- Between Two Fires: I feel like everyone in RPGs read this book because of Sean McCoy. Like everyone else, I loved it. I eagerly await Ruination Pilgrimage and The Shrike.
- Earthsea Trilogy: Tombs of Atuan was the perfect book.
The blog had 26,207 visits in 2023. The most popular post was Nested Monster Hit Dice, followed by Spell Friend and Enter, and in third place was Tension Cheatsheet.
10% of the referrals from the site came from substack (the Glatisant) and 9% came from twitter. The others all blend together a bit.
54% of my visitors are from the US, with 12% from Canada, and 7% from the United Kingdom.
Most people—65%—read the blog on a phone while 27% use a computer. The rest is tablets and small laptops. It makes me happy that I focused on responsive design when I rebuilt the website.
The mindstorm mailing list has 234 contacts.
Calling it finished is generous.↩︎
I’ve never been happier with a partner than I am with Norn. But relationships require constant work and effort, even when they’re going as good as mine is!↩︎
My biggest blockage on releasing projects is the daunting task of taking a manuscript and laying it out. By focusing on recreating layout that I like I can skill up enough to lower the intimidation factor of a new project. This will be important with finishing CTTH and HH.↩︎
This game honestly rules and it’s the first collaboration between Norn and I. Bringing it to completion will let us move on to the next big thing we work on together.↩︎
This is my personal “not an adventure” project and I’ve had a lot of fun working on it. I also feel like it is an incredibly strong world-building framework that a lot of people will be able to use to great effect. I could just blog this today and I’m sure it would be a banger but this is one I want to push myself into finishing a physical zine for.↩︎
I have lots of ideas for more modern day horror scenarios and want to start writing them. By utilizing the layout I did for Swineheart again I can probably get these out at a faster rate—I just need to write them. I am generating ideas faster than I can finish them, so I need to make an effort to actually cook these adventures.↩︎
I miss in-person friends and gaming around a physical table.↩︎
My flexibility and stretching routines have taken a bit of a dive and I feel it. This year I need to focus on my legs and knees in particular. Once again I must sing the praises of the best stretching video in existence.↩︎
This might be a weird idea for a “goal” but I would like to make drawing a meditative, relaxing, and leisure activity. If I don’t specifically try to work this in to my leisure time it will just go to watching uThermal on youtube and scrolling social medias.↩︎
My powerlifting career is over but I really would love to hit a huge PR in terms of reps instead of weight this year. 20 reps at 135 is a big goal. Probably the whole year. I might need to break this up into smaller bite sized chunks, but I feel like my workouts are one of the most on-point thing in my life so I’m not terribly worried.↩︎
Climbing is my “fun” workout and I need to start focusing on it a bit more! I can hit most projects that are a step below the green tape, but I’ve never been able to actually send one of them. I think a bit of it is the intimidation factor and unwillingness to try, so that’s the first process I’m going to build up. Just attempting the things.↩︎
Writing this retrospective reminds me once again how much I’ve forgotten about this year. A daily (small) journaling habit would help me remember all the good and bad. I’m going to use Diarium because it is not subscription based and has cloud syncing.↩︎
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