Ten years of blogging! Where do I begin? It feels like this whole thing was started in another lifetime, by a different man. Let's look back and see how the blog developed over the years.
I had quit the band I was playing in (a really great one BTW), quit my job, and was on the outs with my girlfriend for a while. Perfect time to think about D&D again after a five-year break from gaming! I bought the Pathfinder core rules (little did I know...) and started playing with my roommates. This was the original Land's End game, which ended sometime in 2012 after a few arguments with one of the players.
I was reading all kinds of OSR blogs at the time, starting with Grognardia. I decided to get in on the action. At this time, blog content was mostly me trying to figure out how to write and what to write about. A fair number of articles were rambling nonsense, or based on some dumb notion that crossed my mind. A few bits and pieces of actual gaming content, like the Secret Santicore contest which was great fun.
Of course, almost immediately I got a new job with more hours/week, patched things up with my girl and started a new band. Free time commensurately dwindled and you can see the posting frequency drop off until I actually go two and a half years without posting, between Feb. 2013 and Sept 2015! I was recording and producing my band's first record all by myself, and that was a lot of fucking work.
Blog content - the beginning of my "Nameless Cults" series, some of which are fairly good. My favourite opinion piece I've written, which of course is about the best video game ever, Dark Souls.
At this point I think I was between jobs a lot and didn't have much money. These years were pretty lousy as I recall. I could have spent more time thinking about gaming, but I didn't have a group to play with around this time. I started dating a new girl who would ruin my life a few years later (referenced obliquely in The Saints Have Turned to Crime).
Blog content - In an effort to get my friend Manscorpion to publish more stuff (he writes a lot, but hardly ever releases anything) I gave him a spotlight on the blog to talk about the dungeon he was running at the time, The Crater of Termination. These posts were fun, I wish he did more of them but I can only whip a giant sized scorpion-abomination so much. I started working in earnest on one of my grandest & least workable ideas yet: a campaign of Arthur's Knights vs. Chthulhu Cults. Somehow it never gelled together, despite me spending years thinking about it. Failed experiments actually seem to comprise 75% of my gaming ideas!
While my personal life was still fucked up at this point, I was gaming lots more. I got to be a player for a while in a 2nd edition game, which was great until it wasn't (Why the OSR?). I restarted Land's End with most of the original players when my brother moved to town (The Return!). I ran some Labyrinth Lord games for some brand-new players, and we had great fun. I got on Google+ just in time for it to collapse, but managed to participate in one or two communal things (the Henry Justice Ford MM). Somewhere in there I discovered Judges Guild and the Wilderlands of High Fantasy, and they blew my fucking mind. I started playing in some online games with G+ people that have been tremendous fun and really mind-expanding. I think it was sometime in the winter of '18-'19 that I became obsessed with WFRP 1st edition, and managed to find a copy of Realm of Chaos: Slaves to Darkness on eBay for a reasonable price. Still looking for the second book, though.
Blog Content - Finally after six or seven years, I was actually producing decent content. A good mixture of play reports, some gameable material and opinion pieces. My first reviews appeared around this time. This will never be a review-focused blog but I do like writing them and will continue to review things that I find fun, useful or annoying. The Random Monster Generator Shootout began here, and that's probably my favourite part of this blog. Fun on the Velvet Horizon was also a great series, if intermittent. I commissioned that bad-ass banner artwork up top from Mr. Penny Melgarejo, who you should contact if you want some metal-as-fuck artwork at a great price.
A mixed bag. My personal life has vastly improved. Work is steady. The newbie-friendly Wilderlands game I started in 2019 has moved online and now has players from across North America including a few of my old gaming pals from back home. That's a great feeling. I released my first sizeable project: a 20-page dungeon for Footprints magazine #25 which included my own hand-drawn maps & artwork, something I never thought I would ever do.
Blog Content - Still doing well. I put up a small dungeon used in my home game (The Black Pyramid). Many series continued. The Historical Weapon & Armour Lists were published with the help of my good pal (& player in my Wilderlands game) Steve. Now that you've been granted this platform, I don't want to hear any more comments about 'realism' during a game, OK??
Today and Tomorrow
I am so busy trying to prep for all the games I'm running, I don't have time to come up with ideas for the blog! I have three campaigns going right now that play at varying frequencies:
1 - The revived Land's End campaign is still going (three years later) although play is currently intermittent. Honestly that's fine, the next dungeon is proving extremely complex and difficult to write up. I don't want to spoil anything about it yet - but it's going to be a RAGER.
2 - The Labyrinth Lord game set in the Wilderlands in and around the City-State of the World Emperor. This is the newbie game mentioned above, began in 2019 in person and moved online in 2020. I have a rotating pool of 7 or 8 players who show up at various times.
3 - A brand new Land's End Part II campaign, set some distance away from the neighbourhood of the original. This is a small game (just my brother and his wife). I am using Melan's Sword & Magic ruleset, which is proving flexible and easy to use. I am planning on using several great modules in this one including Sision Tower, the JG classic Caverns of Thracia and more. More updates as this one develops...
My roommates bought me a drawing tablet for my computer. I am getting better at using it with photoshop to screen-share maps and drawings during online games. This is a lot of fun and is opening up new vistas in terms of skills to develop. My digital maps are getting much better after some mistakes and lots of practise. Now I just need a better computer!
This year I have been studying after work which has really cut into my free time. Juggling gaming, musical projects, education, exercise and (on occasion) a social call to one of a dwindling circle of friends has been tough to manage. I have always been one for hyper-focus on a single topic and multitasking is kind of a time-sink. Sometimes game sessions get missed or I have to learn to improvise (another thing I've never been good at). I am using modules more than I ever have before, but I'm getting better at using my limited prep time usefully, focusing on game-relevant detail. I feel like my DMing is better than it's ever been.
As for the State of the OSR...
Just kidding! I don't give a fuck! What kind of blog do you think this is?
Things with me will continue in the same general vein. When my latest course is done, some updates will be forthcoming from Land's End II. Reviews for some new (or at least... vaguely recent) products that I really love. Maybe some play reports from the City-State game, a few Nameless Cults that I have in draft form, more Fun on the Velvet Horizon... you get the idea!
Now c'mon everyone, get out there and Fight On!