Thinking back on 2009

That was a helluva year.  In my old livejournal account, I felt more free to write about personal stuff but this blog feels more narrow of purpose, a blog about my gaming and geekery.  But I can’t look back on the gaming without putting it into context, so here it is…

Cons

Dreamation was a fun con, as always.  1st Quest worked like a charm and there were some fun sessions, including some epiphanies on two of the game’s settings that are going to make them really sing.  It was nice to see the Dreamation regulars.

Jiffycon was really my favorite con of the year.  I went to the con with my lady-friend, Janaki and my good friend, Pete and his daughter, Kalista.  This was my first con with Janaki and it was neat to go to be seeing to the Shock: game I had agreed to facilitate and glance up across the game room to see her laughing and having fun at her own game.

We showed up just as the first sessions began and I had to kinda walk in, slap on a name badge and go.  Shock: makes that pretty damned easy and my table was filled with ringers, stone-cold gaming ringers.  It was a damned fun game.

At that same con I got to see how far Misspent Youth has come and its a really nifty game.  I love how you GM that game.  As the Authority, you just put your boot on the players neck until someone get’s pissed off enough to pick up the dice and enact some kind of awesome rebellion.  It is a nifty technique and nice to see that latest stage since its first awkward steps.  It is great to see an old friend, the guy who introduced me to my first RPG, the Marvel Super-Heroes RPG, bust his ass and make a cool game.

Kalista is a special needs kid and it was great to see her out of her element; Jiffy Con’s childcare allowed that and allowed Pete to attend the con without having to find weekend-long coverage for her.  She is non-verbal, so there’s no way for me to really know what she thought of the whole thing, other than that, on the ride home, she rocked out to Tom Waits.

The Pilgrimage

For the first time in a few years I missed Gen Con.  I was aching with jealousy but it passed.  The next year promises to be hectic and I cannot make any promises that I will be there but perhaps in 2011.  Honestly, what I missed most was our Star Wars Episode LXV Primetime Adventures game (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3).  I want to see that damned thing finished.

Dragonslayers

Playing 4e was a study in stutter starts, mixed up schedules and play that never quite worked.  Sometimes it has nothing to do with the system in the books and sometimes it did.

My favorite Dungeons & Dragons moment of the year was killing a dragon.  Jim threw in a dragon to a fairly staid orc encounter and it could have been a really difficult encounter or just a menacing role-playing thing.  Charlotte’s elven archer fired a shot and it was on.  My Rogue/Warlock, Melech the Red, rocked out, hitting true with all of his Encounters and his mighty Dailies.  By the time Melech was done with him, the dragon was blind and unable to move far without falling over because of a fine flurry of shiruken and daggers.  It was glorious as Aaron’s bad-ass shifter Barbarian closed in for the kill.

There’s something about a D&D dragon fight.  There just is.

Good times.

Kryos?

I miss getting together once a week or so with Jeff and Storn to record the show and another night to game.  When the video show didn’t pan out, we all just kind of drifted into our busy schedules and once that time wasn’t set aside anymore for Kryos, it became tough to make time happen for one another.

I miss those guys but as I have said in other places, I am glad they are following their dreams and passions with such gusto.

There are several shows’ worth of material on my external hard drive.  It won’t be the 40 minute shows that we had the in past but eventually, a shorter, sleeker (and honestly less well edited without Jeff) show will come out.  No promises on a date but it is on my plate.

BW: 13 Cities

Storn and I tried to set up several games with several different groups of people, many of whom we had never gamed with before and it just was not working out.  Family emergencies and all kinds of shit were getting in the way.  It was out of this frustration that the 13 Cities were born.

When Storn and I get on the same page, we collaborate at the gaming table really well.  We surprise each other while still staying true to the foundations we laid together; that can be a rough line to toe.

I wish I could point to one 13 Cities moment but honestly, it was just the constant depth the setting showed us as we traded spots as GM and player for a few rounds (Me – GM, him-player / him-GM, me-player/ finishing it up with me-GM, him-player).  It ended up being about the fall of the Yelteth Wall and the beating back of the hordes of steppe nomads who came to destroy the gods and goddesses who made the cities so great.  The setting was proved deep but its depth was found through these amazing characters.  The Horselord Prince, the Summoner and the Sheriff of Baal…dammit, I just like writing their titles out and seeing the words on the screen.

BW: Trinity

When my friend, Pete, came back to Ithaca, I was really thrilled to have a friend that excellent back in town.  Suddenly, seeing him was as simple as stopping by after picking up something at the grocery store.  When he looked across the table at me and said, “I’d really like to try Burning Wheel out for a longer term game,” I could not deny him.  Through a Friday night game, I got to introduce him to my buddy, Aaron and get our game on.

The game was solid, though it was meant for three chapters and we haven’t gotten to finish it up yet because of really rough schedules all around.  Still, they have become good friends and that is nice to see.  There is a special joy in introducing two people you adore and seeing them adore one another.

BW:MoBu City

This game’s intense.  When we are done, we have nothing left and yet we go home and cannot sleep.  It is a game with that kind of vibe, a kind of fantasy noir flashfire violence, a simmering pot of almost boiling revenge.  In our last session, Rifkin had just gotten the members of his crew that he could assemble back together and I cannot wait to push on him and see what he does next.  Fuckin’ Rifkin, man.

Shock:

There have been several Fridays where Janaki was in town and the Friday night game wasn’t on, so me, Pete and her got together and played us some Shock:.  Shock: is my go-to game when I want to play something with people whom I enjoy just making shit up.  It isn’t immersive for me and that is okay for this one.  The characters are just cells in the organism that is the world.

We also got to game with her sister and brother-in-law out west when we visited.

It is intensely satisfying to have little pieces of paper with odd science-fiction tidbits on a world strewn around a table.  Little pieces of paper with things written on them like:

  • Hood: collar that kills all sensory input
  • Ritual Ingestion of Pharma Pre-Battle, like communion
  • Orbital Culture
  • Elevator Wars: 10 years ago, Zero-G drones vs. Rocket Men

Is there any better way to spend your Friday nights with friends?  Damn.

Creative Projects

I listed all of the mad ideas, stories, games, and dingus-things that are brooding around in my brain today.  It was 14 things that I would like to see complete.  Next is to prioritize, figure out what needs doing and how much work each will be, peck off the low hanging fruit and then begin prioritizing.

Life

My dad had a heart attack and was fine after getting a stent put in.  Man, that fear, I can’t even put to words what that fear was like.  I haven’t ever gamed with him.  We made up a character for Dictionary of Mu and I saw enough to know that he will really enjoy gaming when we give it a go.  But man, I need to get aggressive on that, get us seated at a table.  I’d like to play the Sorcerer sci-fi setting I made, a kind of love letter to his love of military sci-fi or maybe the samurai setting for Dust Devils.

That is my gaming goal in 2010, to game with my dad.

How was your year?  Any thought to the year ahead?

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6 thoughts on “Thinking back on 2009

  1. Odd year. Several conventions. Some freelance work. No full time job.

    We agreed to help run a filking convention in 2011, which means we can’t do Origins in 2010 because we have to make the filking convention at the same time, so Josh promised me GenCon instead, but then got sad because it conflicts with Nasfic, the convention for people who don’t do WorldCon when it’s out of the country (it’s in Australia next year — I have a supporting membership so I can get the zip file of fiction to vote on). So, I promised him Dragoncon, which we’ve never been to.

    My father passes away in September, following almost a month of hospitalization, and I’m still in an odd space there. And, while it would be good to have a job, it’s been useful being able to make all the calls and trips to various folks to deal with loose ends, things my brother doesn’t want to jeopardize his job to deal with, and which, of course, must happen during business hours.

    I’m hoping to find out the court date for our mother’s guardianship, and then things get tricky timingwise. We need to either be her guardians or to have whoever is sign the withdrawal papers to let us give our parents’ home back to Riverbay. We need a few other things in terms of paperwork, but that’s the big one.

    At that point, we probably won’t have standing to deal with our father’s estate, so we’ll have to pack up whatever isn’t packed and put it into storage, and a whole lot isn’t packed.

    Hopefully, I will be over the nasty cold I have by Monday and can see the estate lawyer to bring him up to date and ask about help with a change of address for my father.

    Part of why this is complicated: My father died intestate, or, at any rate, with no findable Will, which amounts to the same thing. He did not name an alternative POA / Guardian for our mother. Our mother is on Medicaid, and this should not be jeopardized.

    Gamingwise, I played in some good larps, and Team Straightjackets Optional has decided we will run the one hour game that we really can cobble together on the spot if we really need to. It’s half done, at least, now. We will probably offer to run it twice at Intercon J, as our first run is filled with a loong waitlist.

    A friend’s been running a Dresden Files game with what bits of the rules we have access to. He needs to wrap up the big arcs by the end of January, when he moves to San Francisco. I now have more of an understanding of how FATE works.

    I got to playtest two of Oscar Rios’s CoC scenarios. These were very good. And there were some fine CoC scenarios at Origins. I think part of why those of us who love CoC do love it is because of the parts where it isn’t about the system. (Yes, System Matters. Hell, yes. Other things matter too.) When you get a bunch of us who’ve gamed with each other once or twice a year, year after year, with GMs we know and trust, we’re willing, nay, eager, to go to that Edgy Place. Things that look like they shouldn’t work do.

    I mean, if you’d told me, “You will sit in rapt attention as Misty reads to you about the Titanic slowly sinking,” I would never have believed you. I mean, listening to flavor text is generally painful. But, when you’ve got a GM totally on top of the material, providing you with more than you need AND able to get the exact piece you need as soon as you need it so you’re not hunting through it, you’ve got a GM who knows when and how to read flavor text.

    Oh yes, this was also the year of RaceFail ’09, and I got dispatches from my friends, who pointed me to a couple of the sane pieces about it.

    It was also a year where I started to move closer to accepting the idea of ebooks. I’m still not comfortable with reading long things on the computer screen, and still want hard copy for the books I read. For the books I don’t read — the ones I want to believe I will, the ones I might read — ebooks take up less space.

    At Darkover, where we raise money for Children’s Hospital, we were all kind of thinking one to two thousand this year. It’s a tiny convention. The economy sucks and lots of us are un- or underemployed. And, I think we all dug just a little deeper than usual, figuring everyone else was hurting. We raised four thousand dollars.

    Seanan McGuire’s first novel came out, and I liked it. Delia Sherman and Ellen Kushner are writing. Ellen and Holly Black are going to edit a new Borderlands book. Catherynne Valente is still writing, and she got married. My friend Pamela got married, and, while generally leary of sounding too positive, allowed as how she had a great time on her honeymoon. GURPS Vorkosigan is out, and it claims that Lois McMaster Bujold will be writing a new Miles book due out next year.

    As always, I am blessed with good friends and a very good friend who is also my partner. He’s also fighting off a cold, and told me that he’s glad neither of us have to do this cold fighting off alone.

    • It sounds like you have had one helluva year, Lisa. Here’s to a better one in 2010.

      “When you get a bunch of us who’ve gamed with each other once or twice a year, year after year, with GMs we know and trust, we’re willing, nay, eager, to go to that Edgy Place. Things that look like they shouldn’t work do.”

      Yeah, that kind of long-term chemistry can be a real boon when it works. There’s an unspoken batch of mechanics there in the trust and the habits that can be really nice.

      • Thanks. It’s been more stressful on my brother, I think, as he was dealing with my father through the most difficult parts. But, a better year in 2010? I won’t turn that down, so long as I can share with my friends!

        The unspoken mechanics are the thing I don’t know how to bottle. One of the larps I played in recently, Tales of Pendragon, was a mixed success or an outright failure, depending on who you were, for the gamers and gms as a whole. But, for me, it rocked because of a combination of a role that just worked for me and having the right players playing the characters who interacted most with mine. And I am still walking on air to know that Chris Woo’s reaction when he learned who I was playing was, “This is going to be great!”

        There was a seriously intense conversation Saturday night, as about four people sat me down and tried to break some very bad news very gently, having, unknown to me, agonized about this all day.

        And then, Nat Buden handed me a card that said “A bag of gold”. I stared at this in utter shock and disbelief while he walked out of the room, then did my best to throw an appropriate faint.

        Nat told me later, “I really wanted to stay and see the reaction, but it would have messed up a perfect scene.”

        It’s a tricky larp for a lot of reasons, but one is that it does rely on players working things out for themselves. That is, we were warned that if we went to the gms and asked how to do something, they would laugh at us and tell us to figure it out. Oh, sure, there were some basic mechanics that worked just fine, but beyond that? We were on our own.

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