2021 Review

I started 2021 believing it could only be better than 2020. On the gaming front there definitely was an improvement with a significant amount of face to face gaming, but life in general continued to be pretty lousy, including 5 months of furlough (ok, being paid not to work isn’t too bad), redundancy, wrong step into a new job (which I’ve since left), then Covid a few days before Christmas.

What happened to my 2021 Gaming Plan?

Rather than set out resolutions I knew I wouldn’t complete (as had happened with my 2020 resolutions), I set out a shorter gaming plan, games I would realistically run or start running.

  • Night’s Dark Terror continued throughout the year, my plan was to “see (it) through to two excellent conclusions”… well I’ve certainly had one excellent conclusion as one group finished it a few weeks back, but the other group still have to have the final session which will be early January. Without a doubt this will be completed in 2022.
  • My Monday night group continued to explore The Evils of Illmire, they didn’t get fed up with me and we reached a heroic and satisfying finale as they ended the cult in Illmire. I added some of my thoughts on running the campaign to the final session report.
  • I wanted to start a new OSR module, initially I was looking at Castle Xyntillan (which I still hope to run at some point), but in the end was drawn to the exotic allure of Yoon-Suin which I paired with the new Whitehack 3e which I’m really enjoying.
  • I did get to run a couple of sessions of Beyond the Wall and Other Adventures. It didn’t disappoint, we had a lot of fun creating characters and the village, and I found the play book easy to use in practice. Really should run this again.
  • The long established fortnightly Friday group has been fantastic and I really wanted to restart Barbarians of Lemuria with them, but the rest of the group had great games to run in the slot and I just wasn’t focussed on BoL for most of the year. I did write and run a game at Owlbear and Wizard’s Staff con in September which I really enjoyed, and it was the multi-table feature game for the Grogmoor Friday afternoon session at Grogmeat. I really do want to get my BoL campaign up and running in 2022.
  • Getting in some face to face gaming – well that definitely happened and I enjoyed every second of it. More on that later.
  • I don’t know that I mastered FoundryVTT, but I certainly got to grips with it and developed a Whitehack 3e system for it (mostly built while on furlough, so my time was put to good use!). Without a doubt it is the best VTT out there at the moment.

Not a bad outcome really, I achieved most of the plan, so I reckon I’ll take a similar approach for 2022.

Stats

I kept a record of each game I played this year, recording the date, system, adventure, GM, approximate hours and the event (if any) I played it at. It was really interesting seeing those hours rack up and the variety of games I played:

  • For 614.5 hours
  • 224 sessions
  • An average session length of 2 hours 45 minutes
  • Number of systems played: 33
  • Number of systems GMd: 6
  • Most sessions as GM: 41 of Old School Essentials
  • Most sessions as player: 21 of RuneQuest

2021 month by month

January

Because of Covid Grogten became Virtual Grogten, a Friday evening and all day Saturday event with the good folk who would have made the trip to Tenby. I played in @Sam0Vail‘s Pendragon: Agent Excalibur game (I’ve played it a few times and it’s always ace), properly played Dragon Warriors: The One Eyed God for the first time with @davepaters as GM (a game I’ve wanted to play since the 80’s that exceeded my expectations) and also played Vaesen for the first time with @mcookie123. Great games all around, the Vaesen adventure The Silver of the Sea in particular captured that buzz I had first playing Call of Cthulhu back in the early 80’s – the feeling of stepping into the unknown. We also shared a few beers online over the weekend, all in as good an event as we could have had under the circumstances.

Regular gaming continued with Delta Green with @TonyLayter, Call of Cthulhu: Reign of Terror with @jaje7406, The One Ring: Oaths of the Riddermark, RuneQuest Glorantha: Sartar Rising! and Forbidden Lands with @OrlanthR, Out of the Ashes (play test) with @TheTweedmeister and D&D 5e Eberron with @theGROGNARDfile. There was also a few short sessions of Fate: The Tower of the Serpents set in in Harn GMd by @Corsair1973.

I continued to run Night’s Dark Terror for two groups and The Evils of Illmire, both of which would run through most of the year. Gaming wise this was a great start to the year.

February

A quieter month for gaming, I played in two Delta Green adventures, finishing Agent Purple’s Green Box Blues and starting A Victim of the Art, both with @TonyLayter. We also picked up our ongoing Fall of Delta Green: Operation PHO PAR game with @mcookie123 (which has been absolutely fantastic and will run into 2022).

The Forbidden Lands game with @OrlanthR came to a end. I enjoyed a lot of the game, it’s quite brutal in an OSR way and the open world/hex crawl element really appealed to me. I grabbed this myself at UK Games Expo and hope to run it some time in 2022.

One of the advantages of furlough was that it did give me time to focus on things I wouldn’t have been able to if I’d been working. I hadn’t been doing a great deal of coding in my then job, so I spent quite a bit of time getting stuck back into that (specifically ReactJS), but it I also decided to run another BurritoCon. I set out with a goal to ensure everyone would get into one of their top 3 game selections for the morning and afternoon slots, so that is what I asked for. With 80 sign-ups that turned into a mammoth task, but I’m pretty sure nearly everyone got a top 3 game. I doubt I’d have the time to do that again (next BurritoCon will be set up on Warhorn, you can sort yourselves out :-))

March

BurritoCon6 quickly came about, and I’d decided I would only play games at the event. The advantage of being the organiser is that you get to pick games first, so I went with DragonQuest: Tomb Island with @theGROGNARDfile and Warlock!: Ghosts of Hollyford with @HailOrcusdorkus, both great sessions.

I played a few one shots, including Call of Cthulhu: My Little Sisters wants you to Suffer with @theGROGNARDfile and DC Heroes: Watchmen (over 2 sessions) with @Corsair1973 and GMd a test run of Worlds without Number: Into the Awaroth Woods in preparation for Virtual Grogmeet.

The Wednesday group started MERP: River Running with @davepaters at the helm, while Delta Green: A Victim of the Art and Out of the Ashes (play test) came to a close. Delta Green is such a strong game, I love playing it and every adventure has been ace; I’m hoping we can continue this in 2022. I also really enjoyed Out of the Ashes, it reminds me quite a bit of Beyond the Wall and Other Adventures.

April

I was invited to played in @BudsRPGreview‘s Liminal: The Twice-said Agreement play test, it was a cracking adventure with our team of investigative reporters checking out a haunted house in the style of Most Haunted. Great fun.

The main highlight of April was Virtual Grogmeet: I played Old School Essentials: The Maleficarum Heist – A Midderlands Adventure with @sjamb7, and a 3 session (over 3 nights) game of Night’s Black Agents: The Persephone Extraction with @theGROGNARDfile; we’re going to continue it at Virtual Grogmeet 2022. I also GMd Worlds without Number: Into the Awaroth Woods – while the players said they enjoyed the game, I consider it my weakest game as GM of the year, I just got the pacing and tone completely wrong with this group.

The long term RuneQuest: Sartar Rising! was put on hold, we’re picking this up in January 2022, can’t wait!

May

Quite a few games started/restarted as a few others came to an end.

Games started:

Games completed:

  • Call of Cthulhu: Reign of Terror – this was a cracking adventure, loved the setting and the horror felt very real
  • D&D 5e Eberron – well I tried vanilla 5e; I certainly enjoyed the sessions and the Eberron setting and @theGROGNARDfile‘s adventure really brought it to life. In particular the climactic ending really hit the spot with a touch and go battle to defeat a nasty angel.
  • MERP: River Running – really enjoyed this, felt very Middle-Earthish; we were lucky with our rolls with the critical system working in our favour, but could just have easily worked against us

I played two one shots in May: RuneQuest: Everyone comes to Hunfrid’s with @DuffPaint and WWII Operation Whitebox: Operation Crossfire with @chrisesharp both of which I really enjoyed.

June

Finished Delta Green: Music from a Darkened Room while starting Harnmaster with @Corsair1973 and WFRP: Making the Rounds with @OrlanthR (we did this in a 9 hour mammoth session one Saturday in mid-June, it was brilliant!). I enjoyed playing Harnmaster, I ran it back in the day but haven’t touched it for decades… it works pretty well, and the FoundryVTT system handles most of the crunch.

July

A couple of games started this month:

  • Another long term monthly game with @theGROGNARDfile, Call of Cthulhu: The Children of Fear this is going to take us well into 2022 (and beyond I think!)
  • Castles & Crusades: The Ruins of Ramat with @KiernanEd, a proper old school adventure

The highlight of July was the UK Games Expo weekend at the end of the month. It was the first face to face RPG event in 16 months and was just bloody fantastic. Myself, @davepaters, @OrlanthR and @TonyLayter grabbed accommodation not far from the NEC and made a full weekend out of it, fitting in a trip to the UKGE trade hall and plenty of great food and beer. We completed the WFRP: Making the Rounds adventurers with the dodgy Sergeant Rudi Klumpenklug finding a special place in our hearts, and started Call of Cthulhu: Masks of Nyarlathotep with @davepaters. The plan is to continue Masks in early 2022 and run it through to the end – I can’t express how excited I am about this!

I also played in a one shot of The Dee Sanction, the Window of the Soul adventure with @jwmuk, but unfortunately was unable to make the concluding session.

August

As you’d expect the summer months were quieter. Of the ongoing games we finished Harnmaster, a cracking investigative adventure and played a play test of Pendragon: Agent Excalibur with @Sam0Vail. I love these Pendragon games @Sam0Vail puts together, the British 60’s setting combined with fae realm mischief works really well.

Castles & Crusades: The Ruins of Ramat came to an end with the party all surviving. I’m keen to play more Castles & Crusades, maybe in 2022.

September

After the quieter summer months I was keen as mustard for the Owlbear and Wizards Staff con, superbly organised and hosted by the affable @Asako_Soh. There is a strong social element to this event with plenty of eating and drinking to go with the gaming. As it was skipped last year due to Covid, there was a great sense of anticipation; it was fantastic to catch up with everyone face to face – in fact it was the first mass gathering of Grognards I’d been to for a long time, and it was brilliant. I played in @theGROGNARDfile‘s Advanced Fighting Fantasy adventure Champions of Titan, Assemble and GMd Barbarians of Lemuria which went better than I could have hoped for. I’ve only ran Advanced Fighting Fantasy a few times and always enjoyed it, so it was great to play it this time as one of the great champions of the Fighting Fantasy game books – it’s a game that doesn’t get the attention it deserves.

The Friday night group started 2300AD with @carlclare with a proper session zero; we each created 3 characters with an expectation that most of them wouldn’t survive the adventures ahead.

October

@mcookie123 handed Coriolis GM duty over to @davepaters, that is still ongoing. I wasn’t sure what to expect with Coriolis, but the setting immediately grabbed me and the adventure was another strong @mcookie123 special. I look forward to playing more of this.

Started GURPS: Kriegshunde with @Corsair1973, a dark tale of unpleasant Nazi soldiers having to make a deal with the devil for their mortal souls. I played and ran a lot of GURPS back in the day, it was great to play it again.

Started Trail of Cthulhu: Eternal Lies with @jwmuk. I love these long play investigative campaigns and this one has a great reputation which has been fully delivered on so far; with Children of Fear ongoing and Masks of Nyarlathotep about to pick up again in January, 2022 is going to be a great year for big campaigns.

The Evils of Illmire campaign came to an end, after more than a year of weekly games the party pushed through to defeat the evil cult. A great ending to a great campaign, I’d highly recommend it.

I also played a RuneQuest adventure, Remembering Caroman with @JimjimTheGrim, but unfortunately I only made the one session so missed the finale. I hear it was great.

November

Regular games continued while my thoughts turned to Grogmeat and the promise of a full weekend of face to face gaming and delivered in bucket loads:

  • The multi-table extravaganza of Barbarians of Lemuria: Battle for Lemuria went down a treat and was worth the time and effort that went into preparing it. A particular highlight was the final dice roll to determine the fate of Lemuria, and it didn’t go to plan… it has been suggested this is my first Total World Kill!
  • Frankenstein’s RPG: Make your own Luck with @davepaters was a lot of fun, the system worked far better than it had any right to, particularly with my suggestions which the other players loved!
  • I ran the old Imagine Magazine adventure A Box for the Margrave using Old School Essentials and it seemed to go pretty well, I certainly enjoyed it.
  • I’ve been fascinated by OpenQuest since the Kickstarter arrived so was pleased to grab a space in @TheTweedmeister‘s adventure Non Semper Erit Aestas. Really enjoyed it, I’d like to run some OpenQuest some time.

The Grogmeat weekend was completed with the Go Play Manchester event on the Sunday afternoon. I played in Cthulhu Dark Ages: The Siege of Ely with @sjamb7 as GM and really enjoyed the TPK he ‘engineered’ – great stuff!

After 2 years one of the Night’s Dark Terror groups finished the game. Another exciting ending, I was really happy with this adventure (more a campaign really).

As we’d finished The Evils of Illmire, the Monday evening group started Yoon-Suin using Whitehack 3e. I’ve really enjoyed it so far, Whitehack 3e is a cracking system that is still taking a bit of getting used to.

December

As I’m running Yoon-Suin once a fortnight for the Monday group, we’re playing other games on the alternative Monday. I was excited to play the White Dwarf adventure The Lichway using Old School Essentials. It’s a proper old school adventure and @chrisesharp‘s work on Foundry, the maps, dynamic lighting and sounds, really brought the dungeon alive.

As you’d expect with the end of the year a few games came to a close:

  • 2300AD, we lost a few casualties on our rescue mission on a war torn planet
  • Adventures in Middle Earth, the only decent version of 5e, brought to life through @Lintillaz‘s masterful knowledge of Middle-Earth’s second age
  • GURPS: Kriegshunde, it was as grim as we thought it would be… who’d have thought that delivered the seed of knowledge to the devil would have such disastrous effects!
  • RuneQuest: Adventures in Sun County, a heroic end to an heroic adventure in which we saw our characters grow and bond. Hope to play more of this.

While other regular games continued on throughout December, the year ended with a bumper The One Ring 2e session where we continued to smash orcs and get ourselves into a right mess in The Oaths of the Riddermark with @OrlanthR as GM.

Games that are carrying on into 2022: Fall of Delta Green: Operation PHO PAR, Call of Cthulhu: Children of Fear, The One Ring: Oaths of the Riddermark, Old School Essentials: The Lichway, RuneQuest: Sartar Rising!, Coriolis, Trail of Cthulhu: Eternal Lies, Old School Essentials: Night’s Dark Terror and Whitehack 3e: Yoon-Suin

The 2022 Gaming Plan

  • Finish Night’s Dark Terror!
  • Continue with Yoon-Suin Whitehack the two groups. I have no set ending in mind for this as it’s very sandboxy; we’ll see how it goes and play until we’ve had enough
  • I’d love to run a few games of The One Ring 2e, it’s a game that’s grabbing my imagination right now
  • I’ve played both Forbidden Lands and Vaesen and picked up the rules and backed a few Kickstarters, so I’d like to give these a go sometime in 2022 if time allows
  • At the start of 2021 I said I’d like to pick up my Barbarians of Lemuria campaign, but it just never happened. I’ve had ideas percolating on this for quite some time and I’d love to get it to the table again.
  • There’s game called Cairn that really intrigues me, it’s a mash-up of Knave, Into the Odd and a few other bits and pieces that seems quite streamlined and very hackable. I’d like to give it a go at least…
  • All of my regular gaming is online which is why I want to get to more face to face events this year, my current plans are to get to: Grogten, Convergence, The One Ring roadtrip, UK Games Expo, Owlbear and Wizards Staff, Grogmeet, hopefully a BurritoCon (if I can get it organised) and a good few Go Play Manchesters

I guess that’s it for now. I still have a ton of OSR games on my selves I’d love to run and games like Space 1889 that really appeal to me, but there’s only so much you can do in one year. Let’s see how it goes.

To all my gaming pals and anyone who reads this, Happy New Year, I hope your gaming and personal 2022 is the best it can be!

4 thoughts on “2021 Review

    1. Thanks Rich, I think 2021 was a perfect storm that allowed me to game so much.

      Harn really is fantastic. In the last couple of years I’ve played in Harn games using Fate and Burning Wheel, but Harnmaster just nails it.

      Like

      1. Which version of Harnmaster did you use? The current Columbia Games one? We tried the original version back in the day and it was a bit too crunchy for me. Since then I’ve run it with RQ and 3e D&D but neither was a great fit.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I’m pretty sure it was the third edition from Columbia Games. I had the Harnmaster 1st ed rules when they first came out and I enjoyed running it, but looking back it was quite crunchy. We used the FoundryVTT system for Harnmaster which handles a lot of the crunch, the game flowed smoothly.

        I used to run Harn with Fantasy Hero before Harnmaster was released, it was a decent fit. Both Fate and Burning Wheel did a good job with it as well.

        Liked by 1 person

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