Category Archives: Blogging

Thanks For Buying Stuff Through My Affiliate Links!

I signed into RPGNow to check out +Jame’s Spahn‘s new supplement for White Star, White Box Options: Psychic Talents. It’s less than $2.00 (1.99), so I figured I would use my accumulated credits to get it. Since this credits is not actual cash in the bank, I don’t feel bad about spending it. This first supplement from James was just announced yesterday and was in the top 8 at RPGNow at the time I wrote this the night before last. I’ve been trying to come up with my own ideas for psionics and not making much progress for something coherent.

I was amazed! It was $48.09! Holy fiduciary increase, Batman! Last time I looked it was less than$5.00. Once it got up to almost $10.00, but I spent it on a few things.

I just want to say thanks to everyone who has bought something through one of my affiliate links through RPGNow, DriveThruRPG, or D&DClassics. I will use the money to add to things that interest me, and will share my opinions in a review, as time permits.

Six Years!

Today marks six years since I started this blog, way back in 2009. I had 29 posts in July and August that year, most of my posts were about past experiences as a player, more of a player’s journal. I was reading blogs of all the various OSR bloggers, several of whom ceased to blog, and decided I wanted to record my recollections and ideas. I didn’t pay attention and only a few weeks ago realized that last year was the big 5. Lots of bloggers seem to do that – get surprised when they hit certain milestones of time or number of posts.

2010 and 2011 were completely ignored – no blog posts. I got divorced in 2010, and had a lot of other things going on for a while there. I managed to read a few of my favorite blogs, and some disappeared in that time frame.

In 2012, when I finally dusted off my campaign notes and started playing with my sons, I managed a post that mentioned it. I also managed a post about random directions. It even had some tables!

2013 was ignored again. I played a time or two with my sons, but was not in or running any other games, and wasn’t following RPG blogs much.

Finally in January, 2014, I read about the D&D 40th Anniversary Blogging Challenge, so I signed up. Something about it being the 40th anniversary of D&D and my 36th year since I started with Holmes Blue Box, lit a fire. I posted blog posts in every month except January and September. My posting slowed in the summer when I was outside enjoying the short period of warm weather and sunshine we get in southwest Michigan. 2014 saw 226 posts, that’s almost 62% of the year. I hit 100 posts on March 17th, 2014.

I managed 27 posts in November, 2014 when I also participated in NaNoWriMo and over 60,000 words on a first draft of a novel. When I drafted this article in late March, I still had not written the last few chapters so I can start the second draft. I slowed to 8 posts in December, as it is the start of my busy time of year at work. [I still have to finish that first draft….]

January, 2015 saw 10 articles posted, and I started posting daily on January 28th. I reached 300 posts on March 4th., and 400 posts on May 9th. I did not pay attention to what my 200th post was.

So here I am, six years, almost 480 posts, an infrequent AD&D game with my sons, a Wednesday night AD&D G+/Roll20 game that has been going since March, 2014, and have played the last few sessions in +Roy Snyder’s DCC campaign. I have made a few contributions to the OSR and participated in some contests, and collaborative efforts. I ran my first session at a convention, made some new friends. Some I see somewhat regularly, and others I touch base with online.

I look forward to more games, more cons, more friends, and sharing and learning online!

 

Treasure Needed

Why can’t the real world be more like D&D? I’ve been helping my son and his family and have some funds tied up that I could be spending on fun stuff. What I need is a dungeon to loot and get rich enough to not have to work for awhile.

So I have to cut back on some purchases, like Mythoard, and buying stuff online as it strikes my fancy. I need to make sure I have the funds for the two conventions I plan to attend in the Fall, Con On the Cob, in Ohio, and UCon, in Michigan.

I will have fewer reviews of new stuff. I guess that means I need to finish up reading things I have bought recently and get my reviews posted. I will have more time, now that my son and his family are not living with me. Not seeing my granddaughter every day and enjoying her smile is tough, but they’re close enough I can visit every day, if I wanted.

I’m looking forward to a slow weekend in a few days, when I don’t have to travel for work, or help do a move.

I’ll be doing a staycation the weekend after this coming weekend, so I can get more done on getting my AD&D campaign ready to go for online play. Hopefully, getting caught up on some projects around the house doesn’t take up too much time.

The Growing List

As with much else in life, I find that the things I want to do related to RPGs and the new ideas that come into my head keep growing, and the available time to focus on those ideas is shrinking.

I have found that my summer “TV” watching is much less than the rest of the year. I don’t have regular TV, and only watch shows that I can get on the free version of Hulu, NetFlix, and YouTube. This is good, since I also spend more time outside, when Michigan finally thaws.

Coming to a focus on an article for today seemed harder than usual. I persist in writing a daily article for this blog, because I made a commitment to do so at the end of January. So far, I have not missed a day, since I decided to blog every day.

Some days and article seems like a stretch, and other days, I am able to write multiple articles in one go and schedule them out.

It has been chaotic around here the last few weeks, and traveling for work, trying to keep up with mowing my yard and weeding my garden, and recovering from a summer cold seem to have tapped out my creative reserves. I managed to build up enough posts to get me through last week when I had to go out of town for work, but for the last few days, I have been getting in a blog on the day it’s due. A few times it has been minutes before midnight when I post the final draft.

I won’t stress it, if I don’t have something to write about. I want to add value to my readers, not just drone on and one with no real point.

I have some half formed ideas for some tables and other ideas, but nothing worthy of sharing. For some reason, distilling tables down to their essence and making them a quick and easy to use tool, I struggle. Sometimes the struggle is coming up with multiple pieces. Sometimes the struggle is completing the idea. I have some all the dice style tables that need more polish before I share them. My ideas are to help me focus and plan out my own campaign(s), I hope others can getsome use out fo them also.

Work, Work, Work

Last week got crazy with last minute preparations to go out of town to train a client, and trying to get over the bug that’s going around.

I don’t have much to write about for the blog, except that I have more ideas and things on the back burner than I seem to be able to get to. The internet at the hotel was particularly difficult to connect to so I could write this post and maintain my daily posting.

I am finally mostly over the cold or whatever it is. My ears are still a bit full, but I’m not coughing so hard I pass out when I do cough. I’m still tired, but now I actually feel like doing something.

Training today went well, and the data entry the client did is done and we verified it and I didn’t have to bring any work back to my room  tonight!

I ran by the local Wal-Mart and they had sheet protectors, so I got a package of 100.

I picked up some other odds and ends and had some ideas for the various games/campaigns I am working on/thinking about/planning.

I tried watching TV in my room. I don’t have regular TV at home. It was all ads and very little worth watching, and to think I was contemplating giving cable another try. I don’t miss it. It gives me more time to do other things.

Well, time to wrap this up and see how much I can get done before I need to get to sleep.

Travelling For Work

I have to go out of state for a few days, the week after next week, to train a client. I will build up a log of posts so that my blog updates each day, but I may not get my posts shared to all the appropriate G+ communities on the day the post goes live.

I am glad sales sold something to an existing client that they probably should have tried harder to sell years ago. I just wish they had us in the loop BEFORE the signed contract came in. We have a week’s notice to jump on the situation and work like maniacs for  a go live date of July 1, when normally we consider a bare minimum lead time of six weeks as pushing it.

From past experience, I feel that this is one of those where I end up taking crap back to my motel each night to work into the wee hours so I can get it all done in the time allocated by the contract.

It would soften the blow a bit if I knew I would have time to work on my campaign to get ready for online play. I made a good start last weekend, and got a bit more in the past week, but there is still so much to do! I didn’t get anything done on my campaign today, because, well, Free RPG Day! This post is only going up today because I wrote it ahead of time.

What makes it sting all the more is that my son and his girlfriend have been living with me since September, and my granddaughter was born in January. They finally are ready to move into a new apartment, and can move anytime after July 10th. I have to give up five of the last few days of seeing her every day. I have been working at home since late February, and when I get stressed from some work issue, I can just see her smile and hold her a moment and work crap doesn’t seem so bad.

They are only moving 10 or 15 miles away, close to the neighborhood in Kalamazoo where they lived before. Most likely, I won’t see her but once a week, maybe less frequently, depending on her parents’ schedules.

I’m the senior member of the team, and I really shouldn’t have to do this, but because the company has what they call a “lean business model”, and we have just enough people on the team to scramble and make it all work, it only makes sense to send me.

I wrote this post on the 13th and scheduled it for today. I am curious to see how things work out between now and then.

I just found out Friday the 19th, that I am not travelling next week, but the following. That is good! I am tired from a crazy and mentally stressful work week! I am so ready for something different today!

Farewell to the RPGBA

The RPG Blog Alliance, of which my blog belongs, is shut down at the end of April. There is a G+ replacement for the RPGBA site, here.

It arose to give an easy and quick method for RPG bloggers to get the word out about their blog, due to the RPG Bloggers site requiring manual entry of the RSS feed information. It served a purpose, but I find, like many that G+ and its communities make getting the word out about a blog very simple. In fact, many people are relying more on G+ and not so much with blogs. For me, I have a blog that I control, so I always have access to my notes and ramblings.

Time will tell how long RPG bloggers keeps going and if they ever become automated or quick to respond. I scheduled this posting for 45 days after I submitted to the RPG Bloggers site, many have said that they have waited a year or longer.

Not all the RPG blogs I follow post in the G+ RPG related communities that I follow, but do use RPG Bloggers. I don’t follow RPG bloggers regularly, because I don’t have a dedicated RSS reader, other than one I have on an old computer as an add-on to Firefox. Yahoo and Google dropped support for RSS, that was a nail in its coffin. I liked and used RSS, and losing it changed how I interact with communities and forums that I have been involved in since the email only days of sharing information, back in the 90’s.

FB keeps changing their algorithm to hide stuff you want to see, and it is nearly impossible to find something more than a day or two old.

G+ is easy to use, and far from a wasteland. If you find a community that focuses on something you are interested in, whether it is RPGs or anything else, you can find active communities with lots of posting. Some communities have a lot of noise and spam, but I tend to sever my connections to those communities that don’t have good information or helpful and courteous members.

Just like in my early days of being connected to the world with email, I have connections with people around the globe. For someone who grew up prior to such instant communication, it is like the world has shrunk in my lifetime. Even more cool is to find that some of the people I interact with online are in my area or relatively close, and we can get together for regular play, or meet up at local and regional conventions.

As long as I have a way to interact with others for actual online play, or for getting interesting ideas, maps, and so forth, the internet will continue to be a place of benefit to me and RPG fans.

400th Post!

It took a long time to get to 300 posts, but the last 100 posts seemed to just fall together.

I’ve had this placeholder post in my drafts folder for a few weeks.

While trying to catch up on posts with reviews of products I have purchased, I hit 399 published posts a few days ahead of schedule.

I still have ten scheduled posts. There are 16 draft posts only one of which is a review. I have two other reviews that I don’t have a draft post placeholder yet.

I am going to go ahead and post this as I move on to finish checking out my new goodies so I can write about them.

These review posts need to be done before I put more energy into my ideas for White Star. I have started 4 or 5 ideas for White Star and they each need time to germinate and be crafted before I share them. Working on something different is always a good way to work on them in the back of my mind. I’m not sure why that works, but it’s pretty cool.

I think that I’ll mark my 500th post, 750th post, and 1,000th post, and then every 500 or thousand after that.

2015 A to Z Challenge Reflections.

I planned to write a follow up on my A to Z experience this year, and a survey that arrive just before midnight alerted me to a Reflections Post, that needed to be done by May 8th. I am doing catch up on articles and clearing a backlog of things to review, on this rainy, thunderstorm laden weekend.

This was the second year that I participated in the A to Z Blogging Challenge to write a post every day, except Sundays, in April. As with last year, 26 blog posts is not difficult for me. I had most of them done and scheduled before April. Also, like last year, I only had time to keep up with the blogs in the (GA) category. This year, I read most of the posts.

For me, the hardest part of the challenge is a theme that I feel good about. This year, I wrote about different aspects of planning a city, whether it is a living city or an abandoned/lost city. Once I had a topic, I came up with 26 topics. I then scheduled each topic for the appropriate day and wrote on the topics that interested me.

I had most of my topics written with at least a few paragraphs or notes of things to be sure to mention. I dug in and wrote several posts in a marathon session, so that I only had to let them sit to do cleanup before they posted. A few topics seemed a bit harder to write, and I got a bit repetitive when some topics had overlap.

I did not come up with as many tables and generators as I had hoped. I did get some ideas for building them. Once those ideas have sat for awhile, I will gather them and see about making a more coherent PDF to share.

My goal of a system to randomly generate parts of a city did not materialize. I think because of the all the dice table in Metal Gods of Ur-Hadad #1, that +Adam Muszkiewicz showed me. It touched on most of what I was after. I don’t really need all the details I think I do, I just WANT them.

Since I scheduled each post, I had no problem posting on the correct day.

I am currently on the fence as to whether or not I will participate next year. I like that I used it to help me clarify and flesh out ideas for my own use. If I participate again, I will have to use it to do something helpful to my own needs and desires as a GM; whether it be a module, series of new creatures, a collection of maps, or NPC’s, it will have to be something that serves a dual purpose.

This year, there were twelve blogs with the (GA) tag for games. Of those, one was geared towards game books and not directly RPG related, that I could tell. Perhaps it was just not my thing.

Nemo’s Lounge gave up doing custom NPCs with a drawing after 16 posts. Both the drawings and NPC’s were great!

Wampus Country was doing a town a day and got up to E when it stopped. He had some interesting ideas, that I enjoyed while it lasted.

 

Others missed a beat here and there, but most of us managed all 26 postings for the month.

Tower of the Archmage had a great series of vignettes of a party of adventurers. He often included a map. He hiked the Appalachian trail and was gone for the whole challenge, so he wrote and scheduled all of his postings before he left. This series would make a neat short story and/or a module/dungeon.

Tim Brannon at The Other Side did vampires, as he promised he would last year, after doing witches. Who knew there were so many vampires in different cultures. He began with A for Aswang, which I not too long before learned about from watching Grimm. When White Star came out, he even did an A to Z special with a Space Vampire, modeled on the one from the 80’s Buck Rogers TV Show.

Mark Craddock of Cross Plains reviewed his favorite things about D&D.

Keith Davies of In My Campaign built several mythologies/pantheons and had a system to help him build them.

Sea of Stars had a series of NPC;s.

Spes Magna Games did a series on the “Boogie Knights Of the Round Table”. I have not seen the movie, Boogie Nights, but I got the reference. What if King Arthur and his knights where in the age of disco? He kept it going until the last few days, but did all 26 posts.

Another Caffeinated Day did a series of NPC’s,

The Dwarven Stronghold did NPC’s and magic items.

If you need NPC’s, items, maps, images, vampires, or city planning suggestions, there is a lot of good stuff collected in these posts, check them out.

My Take On Blogging About RPGs

This is as much for myself as for others.

Take up blogging for your own reasons. Whether you think it sounds like fun, or just to help you get your ideas for running your own games, or creating your own games or game materials.

Not all of your ideas are good ones. It is OK to write a crappy article -and just save it as a draft for later. That way, you have it and can go back to it later. Some partial and half-formed ideas are OK to publish without being fully formed. Sometimes this sparks a creative moment for someone else that is then shared with the community. You can also revisit the idea later in a follow up post to flesh it out.

Be gracious and thank those who share and give back. Share your own efforts and give back. Be inviting and encouraging.

Limit your non-RPG postings to non-RPG circles. I prefer to separate my politics, religion, and other activities from my RPG activities. Be who you are and do your own thing, but I blog about RPG things from my perspective, and don’t use it as a soapbox to convert others to my views on other things, or rant about how I can’t believe someone else believes or does X.

As Wil Wheaton has said, “Don’t be a dick.”

Be careful with the written word. Without the face to face interaction to gauge tone and body language, it is easy to miss sarcasm, hyperbole, satire, etc; or to read into it something other than what was intended. Don’t assume that something someone else has written in a blog post says what you think it says. Some may not spell check their work or have good grammar usage, or just messed up and left out a key word or phrase. See above where I said be gracious. Before flying off the handle and flaming or trolling someone, take a deep breath. Is it really necessary that you respond to everything you read online? If you really have to, write your blasting comment off line, and then set it aside. This gets it out of your system and allows you to move on.

When others leave comments on your blog, wall, or page and it feels like an attack. Stop, take a deep breath and look to see if they are just seeing a poor word choice in a quick blog post. Do you see how someone could come up with something totally different than your intended meaning? Is it something you can let roll off, or would you sleep better if you made a clarification? Don’t let it ruin your day. Mean people suck. Don’t be a mean people back.

Learn the capabilities of your chosen platform and use their strengths to help you.

Build up a buffer of posts. If you want to be a daily blogger, don’t immediately publish every idea that comes to mind. If you have ten ideas today and publish all of them today, what about tomorrow? Publish the first idea today and schedule the others to post over the next nine days. That gives you nine days until you have to think of something else to write about. As you think of ideas, schedule them to post the day after your last scheduled item. It is also OK to post on topics of the moment when they come up. Posts and ideas for posts that are not fully formed can be saved as drafts to craft them until they are ready. I find it useful to get all my ideas on various scraps of paper, or electronic notes into an appropriate article in draft form, so it is already in the process of being published on my blog.

Share your blog to the appropriate G+ communities. Note to self: Remember to use the LINK option instead of just copying the link into the text field….

Have a variety of types of things you blog about. Play reports, game ideas, tables, current events in the RPG world, maps, art, etc. If you have something that is your trademark, or your own way of presenting something, keep at that thing until you hit your stride.

Use your blogging to help you build a campaign, module, setting, table or other idea that you can use at the table. Collect those ideas that you know can be something, but that you just need to flesh out. Sometimes others have similar ideas that are close to what you want or need and can help you craft something for your needs.

Make it fun and make it interesting.

Don’t take yourself too seriously.

Review your articles before they post. After an article sits for a few days, when you re-read it, you find spelling and grammar mistakes that can make it hard to understand or follow, or you may think of something to add to it. I find typos of words that are spelled correctly, but are homonyms, so thus the wrong word, or other words that are spelled right, but don’t make sense.

I made sure to enable spell checking in my browser, so that anything I post online is spelled correctly.

Use tags and/or categories to tie together similar topics. If you write on something more than once, or have a prior related topic, use the search feature of your blog and link back to that topic. Periodically review your blog for new tags and categories that might be needed or go back and add them to older posts.

If you have a certain type of post that build up to a substantial amount of writing on a particular topic, make a PDF of it and make it available as a download on your blog. For example, a collection of tables, or an adventure you built over time on your blog. If it is particularly well done, you could put it up for sale on DriveThruRPG or RPGNow as a pay what you want or for a small amount. Be sure to acknowledge those who gave you ideas and suggestions. See above about being gracious.

Announce your blog posts on relevant pages. I prefer Google Communities, those seem to be easier to review over time than Facebook. Don’t overdo it. Some people post everything to dozens of communities.

Read and make helpful comments on other’s blogs and pages.

Constructive comments or constructive criticism are good things. Give and receive them graciously. If you tell someone what is weak, lacking, or needs improvement in what they write, be sure to point out what they did right. Don’t assume that they understand that you are only pointing out the problems, and if you don’t mention other things that they are perfect. Most people don’t see it that way. If it is important enough to point out the bad stuff, it is also required that you point out the good stuff. If you receive only indications of your failings, be sure to ask what you did right. If the person is a jerk and can’t find anything constructive to say, then don’t take their input too seriously. You might point out to them, with grace, that they are really good at pointing out other’s failings, but they need to work on pointing out what others do well. Model the behavior you expect from others.

Just because you don’t get a certain specific RPG or genre or setting, or don’t like certain things in RPGs does not mean that you need to mention it. Or if you do mention it, does it need mentioning every posting or every time that topic comes up anywhere? Speak to what you know or want to know more about. If you have to mention something you don’t like, do it in such a way that it is clearly your take and experience, and not a condemnation of everyone who enjoys that particular aspect of RPGs.

Remember that RPGs are _GAMES_ and that games are supposed to be FUN! If you are blogging about games, it should be fun! If you lose the fun, then it is hard to make it enjoyable for you or others. Remember my rule [-1], if you aren’t having fun, you’re doing it wrong.