2020 Review

I guess any review has to begin with the resolutions I’d set out at the end of 2019. Despite the limitations caused by coronavirus I still had a good year of gaming, it just didn’t go down the way I had expected. Like pretty much all resolutions, I knew I wouldn’t meet them all, but they did give a direction and structure to the year.

What happened with my 2020 resolutions

  • Old School Essentials was the game I got the most out of, playing Night’s Dark Terror weekly with two alternating groups. I did say this would “definitely be completed this year” which didn’t happen; that doesn’t bother me though as I’ve enjoyed taking my time running it and by all accounts the players have as well (unless they’re just too polite to say otherwise). It will “definitely be completed this year” though. There was a crazy notion that if I had time I would run Red Hand of Doom or Night Below; I still would like to run those but there is a big queue they will need to join. I also used OSE for Winter’s Daughter at both face-to-face Convergence and Virtual UK Games Expo – it’s a great adventure, I’d highly recommend.
  • I did restart my Barbarians of Lemuria campaign for a few weeks, which saw the PCs deal a blow to the invading so Tepangian sorcerers by escaping with King Zander Bley of Parsool. But I realised Friday nights were not good for me to GM, I was too knackered from work, so when we reached a sensible break point the other players started running games, with a plan that I would restart the campaign again later on. More on that later.
  • Sharp Swords & Sinister Spells and Dungeon Crawl Classics didn’t feature as much as I had initially expected, with both only making con appearances; my homebrew The Mad Queens Jewels set in the Midderlands for SS&SS at Virtual Grogmeet and the Greenwood of the Fey Sovereign for DCC at Virtual Go Play Manchester and Virtual Grogmeet.
  • LotFP and Everywhen didn’t get a look in. LotFP has an miasma around it that puts some people off, and there was no specific module I wanted to run for it (although looking at the excellent modules Black Blade of the Demon King, the new Deep Carbon Observatory and Veins of the Earth on my shelves there’s a chance that may change in 2021). I just didn’t have time for Everywhen.
  • I did mention the possibility of running Hot Springs Island as I fancied a hex crawl. Well the hex crawl part was realised when I started The Evils of Illmire using the little know Saga of the Splintered Realm system, that has been a great experience and continues into 2021. I can’t see Hot Springs Island getting a look in for a while.
  • I did get to play in a load of amazing games, more on them in a bit
  • My Kickstarter-fu is now well developed, although I still did back quite a few projects, but nothing like previous years. In particular I mostly avoided new systems (I couldn’t resist OpenQuest and Worlds without Number though) and picked up some great zines and modules.
  • VTTs took up way too much of my time, but I did get to grips with Fantasy Grounds Unity and the newer FoundryVTT. I only use Roll20 as a player now.
  • I did manage to spend less time on Twitter, but also read fewer novels and comics, something I really want to fix.

2020 month by miserable month after March

January

The highlight of this month was Grogten, a full on weekend of gaming and boozing with some friends in beautiful, scenic Tenby (we were hoping to do it again in a few weeks, curse you coronavirus!). I didn’t GM this weekend so was able to sit back and get stuck into all of the amazing games, including some classics from back in the day (Star Frontiers by @davepaters, WFRP albeit 4e by @jaje7406), an unpublished Strontium Dog game by @Sam0Vail and some of the latest and greatest (Liminal with @davepaters, Night’s Black Agents with @carlclare and @OrlanthR running Tales from the Loop).

I also attended one of the few face to face events of the year, Go Play Manchester’s Wintercon where I played in a Savage Worlds game run by @theGROGNARDfile and Best Left Buried run by @sjamb7, both excellent games. In the SW adventure the Wages of Ophir I had the honour of wiping out every other party member, a proud moment for me.

Regular online gaming saw the continuation of the Two Headed Serpent for Pulp Cthulhu with @theGROGNARDfile and my Old School Essentials Night’s Dark Terror games which are still ongoing.

February

This was a quiet month outside of my regular games, I did squeeze in a face to face Go Play Manchester though, getting in another game of WFRP 4e, this time the Great Wain Robbery by @RoderiHamilt.

Notable for being the last full covid free month.

March

I was lucky enough to squeeze one last face to face con, Convergence in Stockport where I ran both Winter’s Daughter and For the Honour of the Tribe using OSE. With full lockdown kicking in a few days later @Newtus ran Go Play Manchester as a virtual event which allowed two sessions rather than the usual one; I ran Greenwood of the Fey Sovereign for DCC and played in @NewtusSkyraiders game which I heartily recommend.

There were some changes to my regular gaming with Mythras Luther Arkwright with @Corsair1973 picking up from our adventures last year and running until August, and I joined @OrlanthR‘s Swords & Wizardry and Liminal games (both of which were ace), with the latter running until May.

April

Virtual Grogmeet was the highlight of this month and saw many more players joining than before. I ran my homebrew adventure The Mad Queens Jewels for Sharp Swords & Sinister Spells set in the Midderlands and played in an excellent Five Torches Deep session GMd by @doc_griffiths.

Pulp Cthulhu Two Headed Serpent came to an end with a fantastic, brilliantly pulp climax and I joined in @DomjnicRpg‘s LotFP Anomalous Subsurface Environment game, although my attendance was sporadic. Due to time constraints I had to drop out, but I believe that game is still going strong.

May

One shots included an excellent session of Alien with GM Graham and I was invited to one of @BrendanJLaSalle‘s Game Therapy sessions where we played X-Crawl. Damn, that is one crazy game and a whole load of fun.

Even though I’d put a hold on Barbarians of Lemuria the group wanted to keep the alternative Friday night game going, so we revisited Strontium Dog run by @Sam0Vail which ran through to June. Although the system shows it’s age it still did a great job of recreating exciting 2000AD SD adventures.

This month saw @OrlanthR start his Orlanth Rex’s Gaming Vexes podcast on which have become a semi-regular contributor for better or worse.

June

There was a lot going on this month with one shots including a playtest of @PaulFricker‘s Full Fathom Five adventure for Call of Cthulhu (which was quite unusual and a lot of fun) and I ran a new system I’d been looking at, Swords & Six Siders using the Dyson Logos adventure Goblin Gully.

I dropped out of an ongoing The Black Hack 2e campaign to make a bit of time to run The Evils of Illmire, from what I saw that continued to be a fantastic campaign, pulling together old adventures from White Dwarf and Adventurer magazines. A few new games were started as well:

  • Earthdawn with @OrlanthR, a game with a rich setting but a system that is showing it’s age. Played this until October, losing a few characters along the way as is the old school tradition.
  • Adventures in Middle Earth ran by @Lintillaz, this was an excellent 2nd age adventure set at the time of the fall of Numenor.
  • Eberron with @theGROGNARDfile, my second foray into a 5e game this month. Really enjoy playing it.

July

A third month without a gaming con, but my regular gaming kept me going. Of course Night’s Dark Terror was still going strong and I started The Evils of Illmire with a new weekly group using the little know Saga of the Splintered Realm system (it’s an OSR system with some modern twists, the PDF is free and worth checking out). The Evils of Illmire is still going strong with some way yet to go and not a single PC death!

@carlclare started running 17th Century Minimalist, bringing his usual attention to detail in the setting and plot. This cracking adventure ran on until October with a few weeks break between.

August

This is when things started to get really busy. Perhaps we’d finally started to accept that covid would be here for a good while, but whatever the reason there was a load more gaming stuff going on.

For a few weeks I’d been prepping for BurritoCon5 having decided a while back to make it an online event. We had twice the attendance of the biggest previous BurritoCon5 and a wide range of games. I played Romance of the Perilous Land with @TheTweedmeister and Punkapocalyptic with @HailOrcusdorkus – both were fantastic games. Later in the month we had Virtual UK Games Expo which was pretty decent all things considered. Although I didn’t partake in much besides RPGs I enjoyed running both Winter’s Daughter for OSE and Greenwood of the Fey Sovereign for DCC.

As one Wednesday night @OrlanthR game came to a close another started, this time Spire. It was a fantastic game that ran through to December.

September

There had been a hope that some of us might make a much reduced face to face Owlbear and Wizards Staff con, but in the end the whole thing went sensibly online. Due to uncertainty around my circumstances I didn’t offer to run anything at this con, but was able to play in @dimbyd‘s 5e Cthulhu Mythos game and The One Thousand and One Nights with @gspearing; both great games with a very evocative settings.

There were two highlights of this month; the fantastic conclusion to the @mcookie123‘s Fall of Delta Green game which we had been playing since 2019, and the beginning of a three session Lyonesse game with @theGROGNARDfile. This was a typically Vancian adventure with plenty of backstabbing and betrayal (@sjamb7, @chrisesharp and @MozleyJim I’m looking at you).

October

Although con free we had the wonderful The One Ring Roadtrip online which featured a continuation of @Lintillaz‘s earlier Adventures in Middle Earth game and an extra long session of Oaths of the Riddermark for The One Ring GMd by @OrlanthR which is now a regular fortnightly Thursday game, currently ongoing. This weekend was as perfect as you could get for an online event – focussing on just a couple of games allowed us to really get into our characters and explore Middle Earth. Great stuff.

Also as a one shot I played in The Dee Sanction playtest by @boreders which was recorded as actual play for Orlanth Rex’s Gaming Vexes. A really nice game that captured the Elizabethan setting and the showed just how twisted @boreders‘ mind is.

The Friday night group started Reign of Terror for Call of Cthulhu with GM @jaje7406, leaving us asking the question – what is the most depraved, the horrors beyond space and time or the French nobility?

Forbidden Lands is a game I’ve wanted to play for some time and have enjoyed playing in @OrlanthR‘s regular game. It does feel like an old school game in so many ways and is quick and easy, but for me the judgement is still out on the system – as always @OrlanthR runs an excellent game.

November

This should be Grogmeet month, but instead was only Grogmeetish, the gaming event of the year for many. Despite being online only this event had it all; a pub-quiz, a multi-table Mausritter game I’d organised and GMd in and lots of other great RPG stuff. I also ran Vikingr, a game that doesn’t get enough attention and played in @boredersTalisman Adventures game (which was pretty psychedelic and total blast) and Liminal with @BudsRPGreview, a clever adventure featuring a mysterious modern street artist. I’ll say no more.

Another regular game I joined was @TheTweedmeister‘s Out of the Ashes playtest. It’s a game I’m quite excited about with a new system and tidy setting – so far it’s delivered everything I was expecting. You’ll want to look out for this on Kickstarter next year.

December

The month we are on the last day of, at least as I am writing this. RuneQuest is a game that has grown on me over the last few years so I was pleased when @OrlanthR started the third and final season of our adventure. We’ve only had one session so far, I know this will be a highlight of 2021. It was great to get a game of Delta Green in with @TonyLayter as well, we hope to finish that off soon.

Gaming started slowing down as we approached the end of the year, partially because I was totally knackered and other folks having stuff on.

A huge shout out to all those who have gamed with me throughout this year, ran games for me, played in my games, put up with me as a player – you all know who you are. Look forward to much more gaming with you all in 2021, bring it on!

2021 Gaming Plan

I’m going to be far less specific about 2021 as there is still so much uncertainty around, but here are some of things I’d like to do:

  • See Night’s Dark Terror through to two excellent conclusions
  • Keep exploring The Evils of Illmire with my Monday night group until they get fed up with me or we reach some kind of conclusion
  • Start a new OSR module – I have so many to choose from. My initial thought is Castle Xyntillan, but that may change
  • Run Beyond the Wall and Other Adventures
  • Restart Barbarians of Lemuria if there is time…
  • Get some face to face gaming in
  • Master FoundryVTT

Have a fantastic 2021 folks, see you at the gaming table!

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