Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Hello 2012. Best of the Lich House, 2011


I learned a lot in a year of blogging.  The discipline of writing about your games forces introspection and reflection.  Beliefs are held up and examined, the underlying thought structures are tested.  Criticism is more constructive out here on the blogs; there's more of a spirit of gamers helping each other to run better games.  It was a fun year.

Here's a quick look at five of my favorite posts, and then the five most popular posts in terms of internet traffic.  I picked these five mainly because they embody themes I returned to at various times on the blog, and which I'll likely continue developing next year.

Some of My Favorites
Horror in Dungeons & Dragons
I love the horror genre; it tests the DM's skills to create horror situation, and horror moments usually involve challenges on multiple levels for the players.  This post listed ideas on incorporating horror into your D&D game by borrowing common horror themes.

Winter is Coming, and so is Gamer ADD
I frequently suffer from the Gamer ADD - my past is littered with campaigns ditched when something new and "better" came along.  This post laid out strategies (culled from project risk management) on managing your gamer ADD so you don't blow up your campaign every time a new idea comes along.

Say Yes - Skill Checks in a Rules Lite Game
A challenge in running old school games is adjudicating all those situations not covered by the rules; this post promotes a collaborative/cooperative style of DMing to maximize player engagement in skill rulings and avoiding being an arbitrary DM.

The Sandbox Triangle
I am keenly interested in player-driven games and structuring my campaigns as a sandbox; the challenge in the sandbox is balancing player freedom, with the amount of detail and effort required by the DM.

The Drowning Fairy
I read a lot of myth and folklore and like to pull inspiration for monsters from real world sources.  Faeries and ghosts are often indistinguishable in folklore, and this monster involved combining the drowning fairy motif - Peg Powler or Jenny Greenteeth - with the Ringu type of ghost.

Most Popular
You can't take post-counts too seriously; if one thing is clear, it's that odd ball traffic through the Google can spike traffic to a minor post.  Most of these "popular" posts have racked up hits from non-gaming sources looking for something else.

The Demon Azazel
Unclean Spirits of the Wilderness
Ape Men of the Black City
Monsters as Plastic Army Men

Azazel and The Exorcist are the two most popular searches from non-gamers - people love googling the demonic possession.  The Black City picks up visits from folks looking for white apes.  And I'm always getting hits from people looking for stuff about plastic army men.  They should play some D&D instead!

I bet there are a few blogs out there where "hot elf chicks" is their top post.

I Just Nuked Gothic Greyhawk
Die, Strahd, Die!

These are the two most popular gaming posts; I'm glad they get a lot of traffic because they demonstrate key points about my DMing philosophy.  Player choices matter, I'm not going to fudge the dice, and I'm not afraid to let things rip - for good or ill.  NPCs are meant to die, there are no Mary Sues in my campaigns, and the players need to earn their successes without any dice fudging by me, too.

The Gothic Greyhawk post got a ton of traffic after it was linked from James's LOTFP blog, when my group unleashed 13,000 hungry dead on our campaign world while I was running Death Frost Doom.  It wrecked their homeland, but made the campaign way more interesting.

Die, Strahd, Die became an OSR rallying post - it illustrated that letting the players develop their own plans and strategies, and playing it straight with the dice, will lead to a more interesting result than forcing a scripted story line to fit a sense of drama.  Besides, unless you're Al Pacino, players know when you're fudging.

Goals for this Year
I expect in 2012 to continue to discuss ways to build player driven games and run sandboxes.  Other goals this year are pretty simple - I'm hoping to read another 10 Appendix N type books, continue running a weekly D&D campaign, publish the Black City, and incorporate regular blogging about Call of Cthulhu and its siblings to this year's mix of stuff.  I should be able to get in some Cthulhu one-shots along the way as well.