Wow, for a year that started with so much promise, 2011 sure kicked my ass in the home stretch. I’m mostly talking about personal crap like getting hit by the mystery annoying Christmas virus (from which I’m only now recovering), trying to sell my house, having my writing/blogging routine seriously upended by an ultra-strict Internet policy at work and the continuing challenging of dealing with a horrible commute. For the last few months, I feel like I never really got back into my groove.
But even though the blog fell off a bit at the end there, it still was a pretty good year for gaming, blogging, and even publishing.
Early in the year, I continued to crank out geomorphs (102-109), mostly according to my mini-theme of reinterpreting classic D&D illustrations. The geomorph craze was in full swing back then and so many of the cool kids were doing it. There were border tiles, corners, and eventually sidemorphs. Dave's Mapper aggregated all of it and it still remains one of the coolest RPG tools that I've seen to date. The geomorph craze also inspired Joe Wetzel to launch his DungeonMorph Dice project, which led me to my first paid RPG gig. I would have never imagined that I'd actually get paid to draw stuff but I was thrilled to be included with other luminaries of the OSR/RPG cartography community.
Over the course of the year, I continued to try to introduce my young boys (now 4 and 6) to real gaming. There were ups and downs on that front but for all the games of "dungeons and dragons" where we just play with Lego figures, there were a few startling successes, notably here, here, and here. One of my goals for 2012 is to really take things to the next level, especially as my youngest catches up his older brother in grasping more complex rules and situations.
As for real gaming, 2011 was a banner year. My long running (and I mean long running) Buffy the Vampire Slayer RPG series seemed to have caught a second a wind and we are now half-way through our sixth and final season. Our Gurps dimension hopping game continued to zing along nicely (leading to the death of Chairman Meow). The big discovery of the year seemed to be Microscope and Old School Hack continued to serve as our go-to game for one-shots.
And this wouldn't be Risus Monkey without Risus. I ran two "raygun gothic" games for the Gameday crowds. In January, it was Moon Soldiers Must Die! and I followed it up with The Moon Mistress Is a Harsh Master in October. Both games were very well received and I had a blast gaming with old friends and discovering other games like Fiasco and Savage Worlds.
In advance of the release of the The One Ring RPG, I did an exhaustive reread of the The Hobbit. It took a while to read the book out loud to be inquisitive and always-interupting youngsters, but it took even *longer* to finally conclude the write-ups. It was an illuminating endeavor as The Hobbit, taken in isolation and seen with fresh eyes, is really a great fodder for gaming and very different from the Lord of the Rings as a whole.
2011 saw the release of several mini-projects that I turned loose on the community. First and foremost were the DungeonWords series (DungeonWords, DungeonWords d30, WilderWords, and WestWords). A simple concept really, but I continued to be amazed by how useful they are. I still hope to do more of these, and I continue to collect words obsessively. The words themselves have made it out into the community and they inspired my own one-page dungeon, Karst Chantry, which I am particularly proud of (and used for an awesome Old School Hack game).
April, of course, was the A to Z Challenge. Yes, it was an Internet bandwagon thingy. But it also did wonders for my blogging productivity (not to mention site traffic). I suspect that I'll toss my hat in again if it comes up this year.
And speaking of site traffic. The hands-down winner of 2011 was The Ryth Chronicle. If it's one thing the OSR can't seem to get enough of us, is first-generation gaming artifacts. I obtained a copy of this piece of gaming history from to one of players (who worked for Len Scnensny at the time) and I continue to field questions from the community on a regular basis.