Wednesday, December 26, 2012

I Changed My Mind

Why should I keep blogging?  That is the question I'm asking myself this week.  I recently passed a 2nd year anniversary, of sorts, two whole years of steady posts at The Lich House.  Have my games gotten better?  Is there some element of the craft that has improved?

There is a side benefit to the effort of writing… it challenges you to express complex ideas with simplicity and brevity.  Writing forces organization on those voices in your head, turning them into a narrative for transcription.  Sure, that’s valuable.

But have my games gotten better?

I do a lot of things at the table differently these days.  My table manners have changed.  I don't use a game master screen any longer, and I used to mandate them.  I keep my notes  or map off to one side, but I'd much rather be present in the player circle during the action.  I roll all the important dice in the open these days.  I don’t alter any rolls; there's an immediacy to the results, and it's very clear when someone is going to live or die, or when the monster just got wrecked by a player's massive roll.  I used to think the DM knows best, and I'd discretely alter the results for dramatic purposes.  Ironically, the games are far more dramatic and interesting now.  I also stopped requiring backstories as much as possible, figuring that if the information was important, it would come up at the right time.

On the other hand, I'm a lot more open-minded about scenario structures; I've come to view it as finding the right tool for the job; in some types of games, an adventure path or plotted narrative or "mission of the week" is warranted, and a sandbox style won't work.  That's an improvement over my opinion a few year ago, which was 'if you're not running a player-driven sandbox, you're doing it all wrong wrong wrong.'  See that?   A modicum of maturity and growth.  I prefer site-based locations and a sandbox format, but I understand the need to deviate.

As the calendar moves into January, I'm going to sift through the blog's back catalog and pull out those ideas here and there where I've noted changes in my approach or identified something to distillate.  Blog posts are ephemeral and fleeting - I think it's fair to ask the question from time to time, is the blogging worth the effort?  But this is rhetorical, since I'm not closing shop.

What kind of things do you do differently since you've encountered the blogosphere?  The internet often seems like tribes of angry folks yelling at each other across a room, and no one ever changes their mind.  (See also, Edition Wars et al).  I've changed my mind about some things.  How about you?


  1. I've certainly expanded my reading and purchasing habits; had my eyes opened to different styles of play; no longer fudge dice rolls as I too have seen the dynamic of open-rolls make the game much more interesting than forcing things; I've connected, albeit slightly, with people I never would've encountered otherwise; and I have seen the kindness and generosity of people from all over the world; and managed to avoid all the bitching that has gone on at times. I like to think that my live has been enriched by the sphere I find myself a small part of.

  2. Reading through various OSR blogs has shifted my outlook drastically... to the point where I'm about to start up a D&D game for some friends... the first time in 20 some years I've touched that stuff. I'm also generally grown more open to a wider range of gaming flavors than I had been.
    Reading these longer missives, in a relative monarchical setting, is MUCH more effective at loosening my hardened opinions than the short pity catfights usually found on forums.

  3. That was a good post, Beedo. I enjoyed reading it as as for the DM screens, I use to call them cheater screens.

    I've been on a culinary journey with my blogging and that's been fun. And I get to talk with some pretty neat people, which is also fun.

    As for the drama on blogs, I don't partake. Just not that interesting to me. I'd rather bake.

    Cheers and boogie boogie.

  4. Your blogging has certainly improved my game, for one.

  5. Happy Anniversary! Blogging is hard work, especially when you're putting in the hours elsewhere to earn your bread and cheese.
    As far as the changes I've made, none so far. Mainly because I'm not DMing currently, but when I start up again in the summer, I'm stealing ideas from everyone. I'm going to try to run the campaign 'rolls-lite' where I don't have the players roll a die for everything, just tell them what happens based on their actions. Also, I'm going to adapt an idea for using NPCs as locks. My notebook is overflowing with adventure ideas based on blog posts.

  6. I've changed my game quite a bit based on what I've read on the intarwebtubes. 4e still blows though :)

  7. I started writing a reply but it became so long that I posted it on my blog instead. In a nutshell, blogs haven't really changed what I do, but they have made the hobby a more enjoyable activity for me.

  8. Congratulations on the anniversary. I would say writing a blog has led to me writing one game book and playing in more games--both of which are positives, I'd say.

  9. My first encounter with the OSR was through a Hungarian game (written by Melan) and its guide to refereeing; furthermore a couple of game sessions I DMed plus a dungeon adventure in the Pnakotic Ruins (powered by S&W Whitebox). Nevertheless, it was the plethora of OSR blogs that really satiated (or actually continues to satiate) my hunger for more of it.

    The most important change in my gaming due to blogs is the use of modules of which I read reviews on blogs I frequent; a couple of house rules and a certain attitude towards tweaking the system also originates from my reading blogs (especially Brendan's and talysman's).

    Other changes in my gaming style are also influenced by reading blogs but originate from forum topics or the very OSR products, thus are not counting. Considering this, blogs rather indirectly enhanced my gaming (but did so nevertheless).

  10. 1. Connected me to a bunch of old gamers...and some young ones.
    2. Helped me get out my zine and publish some adventures.
    3. Spent a buttload more money on gaming books.
    4. I am more open to trying new systems and genres.
    5. I've learned to keep my hobby fun, I don't indulge in the squabbling or get into the drama.
    5. Back to number 1 who make me do number 3 so I can do number 4.

    Congrats on 2 years. You were one of my original Newbie Blogger Award winners and I am going to say I knew you would be good. Keep it up.

  11. I think that the biggest change I've undergone since beginning blogging is a realization of the value of pre-published adventures, something that I used to despise as "cheating". I've also been convinced of the value of not fudging rolls, relying on the dice as the voice of the game rules, as it were. And I've come to revisit the value of class/level systems relative to skill-based systems.

  12. You should blogging as long as you feel like you have something to say. That's why I do it. The fact that it's good writing practice is nice but I could do that without publishing it.

    What I've learned from blogging and reading gaming blogs - a lot of little things. The big one I can think of is the megadungeon. I learned lots of megadungeon tips and tricks, and why I needed to give one a go. We missed out on one back in the day.

    I also learned a lot about what I don't care to do, from seeing other people do them, successfully or not. Sometimes bloggers write about very successfully doing things I'd never want to do, and it makes it clear to me why from reading them.

    I still use a GM screen though, mostly to hide my minis and my maps and the occasional die roll. My players are too damn good at reverse-engineering the rules from a few glimpsed rolls and results and it spoils some of the fun. Sometimes I roll and ignore the die results, too, because I like to imagine I'm in charge and the dice are not. I know these things make me a bad GM, too, that's another thing I learned from reading blogs.

  13. Blogging is a form of interaction, just as posting threads to a dedicated forum might be considered interacting. In effect, you've created your own space to post threads, where you are the moderator and have direct control over the shifting subject matter. It has slightly less visibility than being a member of a forum, but your posts are always readily available and conversations can easily e picked back up.

    If I didn't blog I would never be exposed to new ideas. Conventions. The Old School Renaissance. Story games.

    I just discovered your blog too, so if you stopped sharing your thoughts and ideas then I would be sorely disappointed.


  14. Great blog post!

    There's a number of old school gaming aspects which I hadn't thought about in years... things like keeping tabs on rations, ammunition, finding a teacher/mentor for leveling-up training, imaginative spellcraft, and visualizing the action in one's imagination instead of watching it in front of us via miniatures and terrain.

    It was only the reading of blogs and watching of videos which helped my understanding evolve - get back to the good stuff. Now, I'm an excited DM again, fueled by an old school revolutionary fire!


  15. I cant speak for what it has done for you but your blog has certainly provided me with facinating reading and inspiration!