Thursday, December 31, 2009

Best and worst of 2009

At the end of 2009, I have taken a few moments out of the family holidays to summarize the year. Tomorrow I will post my vision for the new one. Here we go.

Worst all categories – Outlaw Press
Thinking back on 2009, nothing stand out as clear as the scandal of Outlaw Press. While D&D have seen some support for multiple editions all through the years, T&T have fallen to the wayside since the late eighties. One fan publisher have, using POD technology, been fanning the flame and been publishing a steady stream of adventures and rules. You can see that for us T&T fans, that fan publisher was our pride and a focus of interest and fan writing. Then it turns out that James Shipman, the publisher in question, had stolen materials he published, and reprinted without permission. Also, nobody knows where that art he used came from, and it sure have been stolen, by Shipman or his source. Shipman do have some bad habits so who knows?

Hopefully it will end up in court finally and some sort of restitution made. It's not exactly strange that all that pride and focus of interest have soured, and while the feelings are still strong they have changed flavour. I could strangle that guy! But this is for the lawyers to take care of, and I only hope lack of funds wont stop justice from being served.

Worst game experience – Primetime Adventures
Now, this is an odd one. PTA is not a bad game per se, but it is my worst game experience this last year. The mechanics are well crafted to emulate the way a story evolves in a tv series. But, if you had strong Traits that tied your character into conflicts and relations with the other characters, by necessity all Traits would be used in every scene and conflict. It made the Traits mechanically useless and all conflicts always had the same chance of success. Was this really the intention?

But, what make PTA my worst game is that I played it for social reasons and not because I liked the game. I hated it, but wanted to hang out with my friends, and I really wanted to have a game group to play with. If you wonder why one of your players is kind of vacant and don't seem to really engage with the group, check to see if he might be hanging around for social reasons and would prefer to play another game. I got to play another game later on.

Saddest news – Dave Arneson (and way to many more)
Since our hobby is fairly young, we still have our founding fathers among us. Or at least a few of them. A sad effect is that the hobby have left the toddler stage, and some of the Great Old Ones are getting old. While the death of Dave Arneson inspired me to share my love, hopefully other more joyful happenings can inspire us to share as well.

Best Game – T&T
For me this was the year when Tunnels & Trolls became my gaming focus. Having read about old school gaming, about Megadungeons and how it was the hobby was shaped in those elder days of yore I managed to get some people together to actually play. That, and the fact that the game works so well for what it is intended to do, won it a place in my heart as a favourite.

Best Adventure – The Fane of St Toad
While the death of Dave Arneson was a blow to us all, the memorial session of Mike Curtis' froggy adventure The Fane of St Toad was very emotional for me, but in a good way. It was a victory for T&T as a simple a quick system for on the fly conversion of adventurers written for other games, and a victory of mood and glorious combat against insurmountable odds. Exploding frogs, who can resist that? Thanks Mike! Thanks Dave!

Best news – the OSR publishing effort
Once the hobby was all about making shit up. Then the idea got lodged in the brains of people, as witnessed by Tim Kask, that the company they bought the game from had better ideas than they. Nothing exactly helped people get out of that mindset when Gary Gygax wrote his rants about the true way to play D&D. When I first laid eyes on Pegasus Magazine, and other publications from Judges Guild, I loved them all. That cheap newsprint and the oozing feeling of hobbyists pouring out their love for the game reached that soft spot. Seeing that going on once again, this time as a pdf freebie online, a cheap booklet available from Lulu or somebody's webpage or blog is heartwarming. The publishing efforts in the OSR is one of my best memories of 2009.

Best Game supplement – Fight On! Magazine
Having said that, Fight On! Magazine must be mentioned as a inheritor of Pegasus or Dungeoneer. That rag have the same kind of wild and crazy mix of just about anything. I love it.


  1. I agree, both regarding the loss of the founding fathers, and the amazing things that are happening in the OSR community.

    While we are losing many of the pioneers, the spirit lives and grows through the efforts of more and more dedicated bloggers and publishers.

    I am very optomistic about where the old-school community is heading!

  2. Holy crap, I hadn't heard about the Outlaw Press thing. That is incredibly depressing.

  3. You're welcome, Andreas, and thank you for choosing the Fane as your pick for best adventure. I write some things because I want to and others because I need to. The Fane was one of the rare ones that I both wanted and needed to write. If you'll indulge me, let me point out that it's still available for free here in case anyone's coming in late and has never seen the adventure for themselves.

    Here's to you a very happy 2010 for you and yours.

  4. Same to you, Mike! Go download his scenario, friends.

    Ed, depressing is the word. :(

    Otherwise I think I agree with our paladin, the future looks bright enough!

  5. A good summary of the year. 2009 has in many ways been a year of loss and disappointments, but some good things have happened too. Thanks for reminding me of the Fane of St. Toad, which I ought to have mentioned in my own summarization of the past year. That will need to be remedied I think.

    Happy New Year! :)

  6. I think I was a bit unique with that adventure. :)

    It was a emotional part of my year, it had to be mentioned.


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