A place wherein this Dwarven Cleric can share his love of maps, dice, miniatures, and all things involving gaming and general geekery--not to mention the occasional witty non-gaming observations--whilst escaping from the humdrum existence of his routine Terran existence.

Hail and Well Met, fellow traveler! May my Stronghold provide a place for enlightenment and amusement, and somewhere to keep your dice dry. Enter and rest awhile.

14 May 2013

[From the Mailbag] Playing Catch-up from Los Angeles

The recently-completed A to Z April Challenge took more out of me than just physical and emotional stress. It also pretty much kept me from talking about some very generous and terrific things I received in the mail during that time.

First up are some offerings provided by Christian Walker. Old timers will remember him for his several excellent 'zine offerings, most lately Loviatar, a 'zine which I credit for a resurgence in interest and production of self-published RPG 'zines. He called it quits on Loviatar in late December 2012. Since then, he's been re-charging his batteries and taking a break. However, imagine my surprise in walking in from work one day and finding a LARGE envelope on my desk...a large envelope with his return address stamped on it. I tore into it with excitement and confusion, as I hadn't been expecting anything from him. I'm well overdue for saying THANKS, CHRISTIAN!!! Inside the package I found this little beauty:

I must confess, I've never seen this or heard of this setting before. I'm not well-versed in any Labyrinth Lord material, to be honest. This particular gem was first published in 2007 and is the basis for Mr. Bezios' "Phoenix Barony" setting (the end of the book promises several more adventures/modules in the setting). The gift was completely unexpected and utterly appreciated. It came on a very, very bad day and helped alleviate some emotional pain. The material within looks generic enough that it shouldn't be too hard to adapt and modify for my own 3.x/Pathfinder uses. In fact, I'm already plotting how and where to fit the Phoenix Barony in my campaign world in relation to Coldtreath.

Heh. Good stuff.

Speaking of good stuff, imagine my surprise when I received this in the mail on Thursday. Christian had, last year, started sending out one-page gaming material letters together with (and eventually in lieu of) Loviatar. I really enjoyed them and found them useful in my own campaigns. Well, he's started a new one-page letter 'zine: a Los Angeles-centered Cthulhu-oriented campaign setting, Shudde M'ell Confidential.

This first issue was intriguing to me. So much so that I sat right down and scribbled out a quick map and a letter to his newly-introduced first NPC regarding some mysterious runes discovered in an unusual excavation in the basement of a downtown building.

Yeah, I've got a set of brass ones. I'm a bit forward sometimes. But as I said, the material inspired me.

To be honest, I've never even played in a Cthulhu campaign. I'd do almost anything to live in Christian's neighborhood and take part in this one, though. Every Lovecraftian game I've heard any of my acquaintances run have all been New England-oriented campaigns. One friend had planned a northwest/Washington State-oriented game, but it never left the initial "wouldn't this be cool" planning stages. The idea of investigators in early 20th-century Los Angeles really sets off a spark somehow. There's a lot of interesting individuals, personalities, events, etc. that exist on the West Coast during this time period; certainly sufficient to make for a fun and realistic campaign setting.

Sigh. And here I am, stuck in the Rockies.

13 May 2013

[A to Z April] Wrap-up and Thoughts

My final entry for the 2013 iteration of the A to Z April challenge was to be titled: Z is for Zhurra’s Complicated Blade (spell). However, I also had some notes that I actually needed to swap this spell idea out for another map, because I'd swapped a map for a spell in my planned posts earlier in the month.

Sadly, this post may never see the light of day anyway. April just about did me in, blog-wise, you see.

As April went on, I was glad that I had taken the opportunity the first few days to pre-write and build a buffer. Stress at the firm is getting high, as the unknown creeps ever closer. Stress in the family because of that unknown, and worrying about my staff as well...well, suffice it to say it started taking its toll, mentally and physically. I suffered through a bad cold at the first of April, to be followed by a sinus infection in mid-April, to be followed by another bout of pink eye that hit on the last week of April.

I was simply in no shape to finish up the Challenge.

Truth be told, I haven't even thought about the blog in the last two weeks. I simply wasn't up to it.

The April Challenge is always a two-edged sword for me. It's like a mini-NaNoWriMo in some respects, as it forces me to be creative and to write. But it also burns me out.

True, the sickness didn't help.

It will take me a year to get excited about another A to Z April Challenge. Especially after this year, because I'm not sure what I actually got out of it. True, I have 24 posts of what I believe is good and useful game material. I am happy to have seen some positive feedback from this material. I feel like the Challenge was a success in that respect, even though it may remain unfinished (for now).

I'm not sure, though, that there was that much exposure to my blog this year. That's always one side-effect of the April Challenge: exposure and increased "follower" counts. It's not why I do it, but it's there. Problem is, my follower count only increased by eight in the month, and two of those have since disappeared. Not even remotely close to last year's effect. Ah well, their loss.

I was also concerned about this year's organization: each blog was supposed to have listed a theme or genre when they signed up, to aid in finding like-minded blogs. I noticed that a lot of bloggers didn't bother categorizing. This is one reason I didn't do a lot of reading across the Challenge's blogs: Blog names simply don't often tell you what the subject matter actually is; if it wasn't categorized as a gaming blog, I just didn't have the time to visit it.

I also think that it may have gotten just too big for its britches. There were a LOT of blogs participating this year: 1,656 of which I was number 815. It's easy for ANY blog to get lost amongst 1,655 others. I don't know if there's a solution to that, unless it's by having each genre hosting its own Challenge...but I'm not sure how that would work, or even IF it would work. It may defeat the purpose of the Challenge.

Now...to buckle down and get some more writing done. Maybe. If I can.
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