Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Blog Has a New Name

I decided to change the name of the blog in an effort to more accurately describe the blog to newcomers and visitors.  I felt Black Hole Diaries in name alone did not really suggest to would be readers exactly what the blog is all about.  The name Dungeons and D20s should more accurately reflect the nature of the blog here being that of D&D and other RPGs.  So, if you're a regular reader and suddenly see this seemingly new blog pop up in your news readers or blogrolls, you'll know what's going on.

Monday, January 30, 2012

My Journey Into B2: Keep on the Borderlands

I'm almost ashamed to admit that up until recently I had never run or played in Gary's B2 module.  I've never been a fan of modules in general other than for idea mining, and growing up, me and the guys never really played in any of them.  We just created our own adventures for the most part unless we were crawling through Undermountain or Night Below. 

I have read B2 over many times, particularly for Gary's advice on how to run an open-ended style game.  To me B2 is perfect for that because it gives you an introductory method on how to run a mini-sandbox.  After some years of playing, however, the generic ho-hum of the content never resulted in me actually playing or running the material within. 

Now, with all that said, my daughter, who is now 10, sees me pouring over my D&D books, and reading things about the game.  She's asked me several times if she could play, and I thought, what better way to introduce her to the game than B2?  After all it has all the classic tropes (goblins, kobolds, ogres, orcs, etc.) and it's pretty much open-ended enough as a site that I could toy with it enough to make it my own.  Plus, it would save me in having to prep for yet another game.

So, with that said, the wife decided she wanted to join in as a player too, and as she is fairly inexperienced with the game herself, I thought it would be a perfect opportunity for us all to experience this module.  I don't know, I kind of feel like just as inking your own dice, playing or running through B2 is sort of like a rite of passage into the game that we all should go through at least once, especially those of us with the mindset of an "old school" mentality. 

So, the wife made a human thief named Lornella and the daughter made an elf mage named Aran.  I threw in a NPC fighter (to give them a little muscle) named Crokus, and away we went.  Eventually they met up with a cleric who is trying to retrieve an amulet from the kobold cave, a 0 level guide whom they paid to take them to the caves, and a hireling level 1 Fighter.  We are now about 3 mini-sessions in, and they've been having a blast.  Heading into the first delve into the cave was dangerous for them.  As they went to enter into the kobold lair, they were ambushed.  I decided that the kobolds would use a weighted net strung up in a tree to drop down on them then have a couple of archers in the trees to shoot any that might escape the net when it came down.  Well, Lornella and Aran managed to dodge the net, but couldn't dodge those two arrows, and both got shot, and reduced to negative hit points in their first encounter.

Naturally I start to panic a little, as I really didn't want their very first taste of the game to be a TPK (although had it happened, oh well.)  The cleric was stuck in the net and couldn't seem to get out round after round of trying.  The kobolds jumped down from the trees and attacked Crokus and the other hireling, but eventually the cleric escaped and healed Lornella and Aran. 

Now, they've managed to enter into the kobold lair, but haven't managed to get past the first entry area.  A group of 6 kobolds, then the wandering kobold troops have kept them at bay and they've really had to focus on managing their resources.  They've spent a lot of time in that one area provoking random encounters as they try to heal up and memorize spells.

I was a little concerned about my daughter playing a magic-user at 1st level.  We all know that low level mages are often a liability in a game rather than an asset.  She's gone down a couple of times, but she has never complained.  She's even asked me a time or two "Did I die?" but not in a truly disappointed way, but more of a "I'll roll a new character up" kind of way. 

All in all, it's been a great time.  They've both been enjoying it, and it's a way for us all to experience B2 together.  I'm not sure it will matter to my daughter in a few years, as she will likely grow up into her teens and forget D&D, but maybe one day she'll look back and be able to say, "oh yeah, I played in the original Keep on the Borderlands."

As a side note, I'd like to thank Zak.  I asked if anyone had any legible maps of the caves of chaos on G+ the other night, and he responded linking me to his totally awesome one-page dungeon map he did of the caves.  Really, really handy and has saved me tons of time at the table flipping through the module pages.

Anyway, as they continue to progress through the caves, I'll continue posting updates of their exploits.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

What Motivates Your Players?

Sounds like a simple question really, and one that would seem easy to answer.  What kind of rubbish is this?  Players are motivated by killing things and taking their stuff.  And yes ultimately no matter what kind of game you play in, that is at least one of the end goals, but it is often not enough to motivate your players, especially in a sandbox game.

I often hear the question raised, "how can I get new school players into older style or 'old school' gaming?"  I think the key really boils down to one thing; how experience awards are handled.  This one feature sets the tone for a particular style of play.  You see, back in the day, when players sat down around the table, and began to seek adventure, they did so on their own, and the DM facilitated the world for them.  This was because the players had a goal (kill things and take their shit and advance and become more powerful) and the goal was rooted in the process by which they attained it.  Going up in level via experience points.

The older iterations of the game made it quite clear.  You advanced in level and gained experience points primarily in two ways; killing monsters that were challenging to your level and by collecting treasure.  Even up into the 1e DMG, Gygax held this to be true.  In that guide he references the exchange of treasure, or gold pieces, into a converted ratio for experience and specifically pointed out that the treasure must be somehow carried out of the dungeon, not just found.

The change began in 2e, in which the game began to take a shift overall as a whole.  It became less about gaining treasure and fighting monsters and more about that dreaded two-word-phrase "the story."  In the 2e DMG the notion of awarding XP for treasure is resolved to a small blurb, highlighted in light blue, and annotated as an "optional rule for experience."  

"As an option, the DM can award XP for the cash value of non-magical treasures.  One XP can be given per gold piece, or equivalent, found."

As an option?!  Seriously?  So, the new school player (or those whose roots lie in ONLY 2e or editions that followed) have a clear reference on how the game should be.  This is why the new school player will sit around, waiting for the DM's guiding hand to lead him to "the story."  And when the DM doesn't do this (i.e. the old school DM), the game becomes lost in translation and can become a bit awkward.  An example of how a typical adventure may start with an old school DM with new school players:

DM: Okay, you're at the Blazing Drunk Tavern enjoying drinks with your mates.  A minstrel plays a lively  tune in the common room.  Patrons move to and fro eating and enjoying the evening.  What are you doing?
New school player:  Uhh....I have an ale.
DM: Okay, 1 copper.  The keep brings you the ale.  What else are you doing?
New school player: Uhh....*waits for DM to spoon-feed him "the story."*

A very similar exchange with old school DM and players:

DM: Okay, you're at the Blazing Drunk Tavern enjoying drinks with your mates.  A minstrel plays a lively  tune in the common room.  Patrons move to and fro eating and enjoying the evening.  What are you doing?
Old school player: I order an ale, slap the serving wench on the arse, and ask the keep if there are any rumors of this place.
DM: Okay, 1 copper.  The keep brings you the ale.  The serving wench slaps you in the face.  The keep then tells you of some ruins just outside of town which are said to hold a golden jeweled crown worth a fortune.
Old school player: We head out tonight.

You see, the old school player doesn't need any other motivation than the notion of the possibility of fighting some shit and getting a treasure, because the treasure paves the way for the advancement.  It is THE motivation to play.  There is no need for them to sit around and wait for the DM to serve up the one ring to take to Mount Doom.

The key, when starting a new campaign, is to find  the players who fit the style of game you want to run.  There is nothing wrong with storylines in games.  I use them myself.  But make it clear from the on-set on how experience is gained and how level progression works.  So, if you're running an old school style game, make it clear to the players, "hey, you level up by killing shit and taking treasure because each gold piece worth of treasure taken also equals that much in xp."  If they are new school players, they might not get it at first, because it might not come natural to them.  If you have someone more familiar with this style of play at the table it helps because they can guide the new school player, and really, it's so bloody simple they'll feel foolish for not catching on in the beginning once they see how it's done.  The difference is being able to recognize what motivates the new school player vs the old school player.

To put it in a simple analogy, the new school player is all about the destination (the story) while the old school player is all about the journey.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

So You Need an Idea for an Adventure

Yesterday one of my friends suggested we play some D&D over skype later in the evening.  So, naturally I agree before thinking and then the "oh shit I need an adventure" hits me.  I created this table a while back, mostly for writing purposes, but thought, what the hell, I'll give it a go.  After a few random rolls I was able to come up with a pretty good adventure for the group.  Unfortunately, we didn't get to play after all, because one of my friends got ill later on that night.

Here is a link to the table (hosted on Google Docs).  Now, the original chart only had the first two tables, which I used last night to make my adventure.  I added a third table on the chart this evening.  Basically all you do is pick up a d100 roll it and consult the first table.  Roll it again, consult the middle, then roll it a 3rd time and consult the 3rd table.  Keep doing this several times.  Write down your results.  If you get something that sounds cool, write it down.  Then go through, pick out the best ones, and you should have some good starting inspiration for an adventure.

I'll give you an example off the first couple of tables, of what I got.  I rolled several times, but eventually came up with these usable combinations:

Sad Prince
Whorehouse of Decadence
Cathedral of the Fatal
Mute Bride
Charming Demon
Verses of Failure
Servant of Fear

Now, the tables as they are leave out the "of"s and "the"s.  Just mix and match the words and let the imagination take over.  When I began I knew this adventure would be city based, so I took what I thought could be most useful of what I rolled for that.  So, out of those useful combinations I came up with the following notes which I scribbled down in a notebook:

"Sad Prince in disguise approaches PCs about rescuing his bride who is mute (now.)  Tracked her down to Whorehouse of Decadence which is being run by a succubus (charming demon) named Absuroma.  But first the PCs must infiltrate the Cathedral of the Fatal and steal the Verses of Failure which contain banishment ritual to banish her back to her plane."

So, a few rolls on the chart, some inspiration, and I have a couple of adventures to last at least 2 sessions.  I added some more stuff as well once the ball got rolling.  Like the fact that the Cathedral of the Fatal is being overrun by ghouls.  Why?  Because their is a priestess in the halls below the cathedral being held in a sleep like stasis because some BBEG harnessed her soul into a garnet stone and put it in a circlet which the priestess is wearing.  So the ghouls are entering the cathedral through her dreams.  Of course, this leads to even more plot hooks.  Who did this to her and why, etc.

Anyway, the chart and tables are useful for brainstorming when the old adventure writing block demon strikes.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Planescape: Looking Back

I remember when Planescape came out back in 1994, it kind of changed things in D&D.  In some ways this was good, and in others bad.  I recall being a very narrow-minded teen at the time, and my first introduction to anything "Planescape" came in the form of an acquaintance named Joe.  Joe was a power gamer, in the truest sense of the word.  He was min-maxing before there was such a thing.  My group of friends never were really into that aspect of the game.  We always preferred to play characters from the PHB with actual real stats we rolled, with flaws, and who weren't indestructible superheroes.  We liked to focus more on the roleplaying aspect of the game.  As such, we never were big on munchkins entering our sessions.

Enter Joe.  You see, Joe was playing (what else?) a tiefling.  He had been running this tiefling with a few of his friends in the Planescape setting and wanted to enter our campaign.  I had no idea what a tiefling was, and when he told me it was half-demon from the Planescape setting, I immediately put up a mental block for all things involving the setting.  It had, in my opinion at the time, spawned a layer of such cheese that I refused to take it seriously as a campaign world.  Of course, over the years I think the tiefling has developed in the game into something that truly epitomizes what old schoolers hate about the current iterations of the game, going from optional player characters in later editions, to a core race in 4e.

Now, that is not to knock anyone who enjoys playing tieflings.  Truth be told, Joe could have been playing anything and it would have been irritating (especially considering he was toting around a vorpal blade of all things).  My point here being Joe turned me off of the setting years ago because he was a munchkin, and due to my naivety I presumed that if Joe=munchkin playing tiefling from Planescape then Planescape must=cheesy power gamer setting.  Having the chance to look back at it now and review some of the material I've found for it, I hate that I never gave it a shot, because it rocks...a lot.

Sigil, the City of Doors

Sigil, the home base for the setting, is a perfect example of introducing "weird" into a game.  Basically the place at the center of the multiverse, with doors to anywhere in the prime material and outer planes, the possibilities within it are potentially endless.  What really strikes me as amazing is the city's layout.  Shaped in the form of a torus like ring, one can literally look up and see the city wrap around with buildings above them.   The city wards themselves change at randomly making it really impossible to fully ever map.  And of course, there are the doors themselves which lead to pretty much any plane of existence one can think of.  Some being hidden, open, locked, etc.  The possibilities for adventure in Sigil alone seem endless.

I'm not sure if I'll ever get to run Carcosa or not, but if it ends up being a "player dump" into that world, I can definitely see them traveling through Sigil.  So, are there any Planescape gamers out there?  Anyone ever used Sigil or any of the other Planescape elements in their campaigns?

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The Blighted World of Zaoth

One of the projects I'm working on presently is a weird science-fantasy homebrew setting I'm calling the Blighted World of Zaoth.  As such, I've decided to create a separate blog to devote to the development of the world, and use my blog here to focus on my thoughts on DM theory, DnD in general, and what have you.  If you're interested, feel free to hop on over and take a peek.  It's a bit bare at the moment, but content will begin showing up quickly.

The Blighted World of Zaoth - Blog

The Ape-Men of Tharr

Deep within the Forest of Tharr dwell the race of ape-men known as the Kuthar.  They make their abodes high among the tree tops in wooden dwellings linked together by rope bridges.  The ape-men are intelligent, but tribal by nature with a distinct warrior caste system.  Fearless and strong in battle, they fashion their own crude weapons of stone and rock, but have developed the keen ability to utilize firearms, laser rifles, and other weapons and armor they have scavenged over the years from civilizations long forgotten as well.

The ape-men are rarely seen outside the Forest of Tharr, and while their pursuits are not those of conquest and glory outside their realm, they are extremely territorial and approach uninvited trespassers with force.

Rare is it to find an ape-man outside of Tharr, but occasionally a select few will end up wandering amongst the realms of men, often met with a combination of fear and distrust.  In most instances, these Kuthar have been exiled from Tharr and cast out of the tribe, cursed to walk among men.  These displaced ape-men often seek out mercenary work as armed caravan guards or, in the rare instance, as adventurers.

Summary of ape-men abilities and restrictions:

Armor: Any
Weapons: Any
Starting age: 17+1d4
Starting gold: 3d4x10
Classes: Fighter, Cleric
Ability score requirements: 12 STR, 12 CON
Stat modifiers: +2 STR, -2 INT and CHR
Bonuses and abilities: Infravision 30', +1 to hit with spears and any firearms, +3 saving throws vs. poison

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Hexcrawling and Its Fundamental Use in Old School DnD Part 3

Previous entries: Part 1, Part 2.

In the last entry, I discussed creating the first 7 hexes including the starting location (usually a village or city, but could be any civilized area/feature) which is in the center, and at least 3 interesting locations outside of the starting location to explore.

Our starting map with 3 locations to explore

So, this next step requires a little bit of prep time, but don't spend too much time on any of the 3 locations (unless you have the time to do so, that is).  We know we have some sort of tower in hex 04.05, a ruin in 05.03, and a monster lair of some sort in 04.03.  This is the time for some brainstorming.  If you've already taken the time to think of some places/NPCs your PCs are likely to encounter in the starting village (inns, taverns, local lords, sages, etc.) now is the time to start tying them into the surrounding locations.

Why do the NPCs know about the monster lair?  Perhaps it is the home of an ogre who has been pillaging the farms of Windholm at night?  Maybe the spot of a local group of bandits who have been hijacking merchants passing through, effecting the commerce in the village.  Obviously these are quick and simple ideas, but they are presented to give you an example.  Find some way to tie these locations into your starting location.

Jot down some starting notes on each location based on their hex:

04.03 - Lair of Hedgemog the Ogre (stats here in parenthesis)  Has a group of hobgoblins working for him (stats for hobgoblins in parenthesis).  At night Hedgemog wanders countryside (50% chance the PCs might catch him in his lair at night).  During the day he sleeps in his lair and the hobgoblins protect him.

Now, if you have the time, you might want to draw out a quick map of the lair, key it with monsters, traps, etc.  And you'll need to do this for at least the first level of each of the 3 locations, but no more than the first level of each location (if it has multiple levels).  If you're pressed for time, try any number of free dungeon generator tools out there to get a layout for each location quickly, then key it up yourself.

The idea in the sandbox and/or hexcrawl is that the players have freedom of choice to go where they want and basically do what they want (and suffer the consequences therein), so you're going to want to ensure there is incentive for your PCs to want to explore at least one of the areas you've prepared.  There are any number of ways to get your PCs going.  Often most campaigns kick off in the common room of a tavern.  How will the PCs know of these locations or learn of them?  Why should they want to go there?  Perhaps they are approached by an NPC offering payment to retrieve a MacGuffin from one of these locations.  Or perhaps they just hear about one or more of them as prime unexplored locations ripe for plundering via rumors in the town.

Rumors are a great way to get the ball rolling in a sandbox, and in my opinion, offers the PCs the most flexible freedom of choice in what they choose to do.  I would start off with 10-12 rumors with half of them being either completely false or only half-true, while the other half are completely true.  Place them on a chart, and roll for one while they are in the tavern in the first night.  If they actively seek out rumors, roll a die (d4 or d6, subtract reaction adjustment but no less than 0) to determine how many rumors they hear from various occupants of the town.  Roleplaying these out can be great fun as well, and really bring the world alive for the PCs.

The key here is making them WANT to explore places you've prepared.  If you don't make them appealing, chances are your PCs can wander off into areas you haven't really prepped yet, and then you're completely flying by the seat of your pants.  Sometimes this can prove to be just as fun, and to be sure, there will always be a certain level of improvisation that goes into a sandbox or hexcrawl game anyway.

In the next post, I'll discuss topics relating to getting the PCs there (i.e. the actual crawl) from constructing random encounter tables, determining movement, weather, etc.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

It's a Game, Not a Novel Played Out With Dice

Alexis has a great post up today about player agency, using NPCs based on behavior and motivations, and how that can, and should, define the "narrative" within a DnD game.  I'm not going to attempt to personally attack Alexis here, so I hope it's not perceived as such, but he is a rather controversial figure here in our little blogging world.  Most of his posts, despite what can be looked at as written with a somewhat pretentious attitude, are interesting, informative and entertaining to read.  Despite his somewhat contemptuous and misanthropic demeanor in our little corner of the world, he quite often has these moments of genius which make you look back and say "fuck yeah!" and this is one such moment.
There is often this perception that the "sandbox" cannot co-exist with the "story narrative" in DnD.  I believe, however, that the two are so intertwined that neither element can be successful without the compliment of the other one.  The modern day RPG focuses on "paths" and "storylines" in which there are defined encounters or events that are going to happen no matter what the PCs do.  These narrative railroads essentially lead the PCs down a trail where the DM is the storyteller, and the players little more than kids sitting around the campfire, listening, and maybe rolling some dice here and there. 
In the sandbox, however, there are an infinite amount of storylines happening all over the place.  The ones the PCs choose to get involved with, should have meaningful consequence based on the choices they make as players.  Otherwise, why bother with the game?  The sandbox isn't about simply going from hex to hex, or dungeon to dungeon, fighting goblins and collecting treasure.  Of course, they could be, and many are, but that doesn't make for any more of a meaningful experience for a player than a railroaded storyline.  At least in the storyline, interesting things are happening.
Rather, the sandbox and the story should co-exist and feed off of one another.  There are factions, and people, in the world that are trying to do different things.  If the PCs suddenly become a part of that, then their choices should have some consequence, but ultimately they should have the choice.  And those choices might not always lead to rousing success.  In DnD, just as in life, sometimes you fail.  There will be moments when your PCs will do something, or not do something, which might result in some pretty severe consequences, perhaps even death for the character(s).  If you utilize NPCs, especially villain NPCs based on their behaviors (rather than as a means to satisfy a story you have concocted) then you are showing the PCs a living and breathing world, one in which their actions, or lack thereof at times, least in terms of whatever plot, or story, you might have them engaged with. 
Could those actions have world changing consequences?  Maybe.  Could those world changing consequences have a significant impact on the game?  I'd say definitely.  Death Frost Doom is a great example of this.  If the PCs follow a certain series of choices in that adventure, they will unleash a horde of undead onto the land.  We've all seen play reports on this module in which that was the case.  Would that be a world changing event?  Damn right it would be, and if so, let it be.
To illustrate this, I'll use an example of how I am using NPC behavior and player choice/consequence in my current game, rather than just letting an event happen for the sake of the storyline.  In our very first session of my current campaign, the PCs were tasked with retrieving a certain MaCguffin.  They needed to raid a thieves guild warehouse to get it.  They failed in this.  So what happened?  The villain NPC who was trying to get said MaCguffin was able to get it before the PCs.  The result of the NPC having retrieved this MaCguffin had some pretty dire consequences.  Within the sewers below the city, this villain was able to unleash a horde of undead which threatened the security of the city.  When the PCs managed to return, they had to fight through a group of undead to eventually find the NPCs lair in the sewers.  They were, unknown to them in our last session, one room away from tracking him down.  So what did they decide to do?  Well, being severely depleted of resources and hit points, they decided to rest, heal some wounds, and memorize some more spells.  Now, I could have the NPC still waiting on them in the next room, ritual dagger in hand ready to sacrifice a victim just as the PCs enter (that would be the case in a story driven module where player agency matters little), but the PCs made the choice to rest.  The NPC knows they are there.  They have severely put a dent in what he was trying to do.  But if he knows they are there, he isn't going to wait in his chambers for them to walk right in and defeat him.  So, in the midst of their rest, he will make an escape, and be successful.  Why?  Because based on the circumstances and choices the players made, this is the behavior he would illicit in response.  He is, by the way, leaving behind a summoned demon from the Abyss to slow them down.
As Alexis stated in his blog post, the narrative for DnD is, and never should be, a predefined set of events.  If you know what will happen in the end, why bother playing?  The fun in the game is NOT knowing what will happen, and giving the players the freedom to define for themselves, through play, what their destiny will be.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Goals for 2012 or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Blog

2011 wasn't exactly a banner year for me personally, but in terms of gaming it turned out to be a fairly landmark one.  For the first time in over a decade I started gaming again on a regular basis.  I also discovered the OSR late in 2010 which really helped to spark and rekindle my passion for gaming in general.  The fact that there's this entire group of like-minded gamers who love and appreciate classic gaming pushed me to get back to the dice.  Oftentimes I wondered if this was some sort of early mid-life crisis, but I don't think so, and if it is, so what?  I've been having a blast gaming again with my old crew, and that's all that matters.  And as to this last year in the blogging world, I thank all of you in this whole OSR thing for providing me with inspiration and a greater understanding of the game we all know and love.  I follow many of you in the scene, and stand amazed by the things I read daily, so thank you for that.
I'm not going to continue railing on about the past year on my blog, and all about different posts I wrote, because, well...frankly, you probably don't care anyway, and who could blame you?  I probably wouldn't carer either, were I in your position as the reader here.  Rather I'm going to state out some goals I have for the upcoming year, both for myself and for the blog here. 
Read at Least 3 Appendix N Works
Finding time to read anymore has become a tedious task it seems.  I have read quite a bit from the Appendix N list over the years, but I'd like to read more.  I am almost ashamed to admit I've never read Vance's Dying Earth series.  I know, I know, this is borderline heresy, but I plan on correcting that this year.  I'm also planning on reading more Moorcock, specifically his Hawkmoon books, and finishing up the Amber series.  Some of these books I already have in print, and the others I'm hoping I can find e-book editions for so maybe I can get some use out of this Nook Color I bought a few months ago.  And, of course, I will continue my reading of REH and Lovecraft, both of which have been large influences for me already.
Finish a Project and Make it Available
I've started a few projects here and there, but they eventually fell by the wayside as my interests began varying here and there.  One example is the megadungeon project I was working on, Dreadrock.  This fell on the backburner for several reasons, but primarily because much of the time I spend on developing gaming material is for my own campaign, and because Dreadrock wasn't a part of my current gaming campaign, it sort of dropped off the map for me.  That and the fact that designing a megadungeon is a monstrous and laborous task, and one I probably didn't fully understand when I decided to begin the project.  I can understand why there are so few published megadungeons available.  I suppose the best way to develop one is through sessions of playing, and while I've played in my share of megadungeon crawls, it would be easier to develop the thing during play, or for an actual campaign I'm running.  Perhaps one day I'll return to the task and complete it.  Either way I would like to provide some form of completed work, be it a module, hexcrawl setting, or something else, and make available for others in the OSR.  I think for me, just finishing something would be a start.
Blog More
As you have probably noticed by looking at my archive timeline on the right, there have been large gaps where I haven't really posted on the blog.  There are various reasons for this, and while I have had prolonged periods of not writing, I have still been reading.  So, one goal I have for the new year is to blog more often.  At least 3 times per week.  It's strange because I feel I have gotten to know so many people in the OSR simply by reading their blogs.  In some sort of surreal fashion you begin to get an idea of these bloggers' personalities and tastes just from reading what they write daily.  I find this connection even more satisfying than social network sites like Google+.  Maybe I'm just old school that way, but at any rate, I intend to blog more, and comment more on the blog entries I read daily.
Try Something New
I really want to do this in 2012.  I love DnD, don't get me wrong, but to get a chance to run or play in something like Carcosa. LotFP, Stars Without Number, or Mutant Future would be a much welcome change of pace for me.  It's not that my current group isn't open to such a thing, but more due to the fact that the mundane intricacies of life have made it difficult to get together more than once or twice a month, and when we do, we almost feel obligated to play in our current campaign.  I don't want gamer ADD to overtake me completely to the point where I'm not running my main DnD campaign, but I'd like to take a chance on something new at least once this year.  Carcosa has intrigued me quite a bit, but then again, who hasn't been intrigued by Carcosa?
Play in a Google+ Game
For many, DnD is a social game.  It provides many of us the opportunity to meet new people and socialize, but for me that is not really the case.  While I have nothing against meeting new people and making friends, the idea of playing games randomly with people I've never actually met seems...strange to me.  Perhaps it stems from playing with essentially the same group of friends for nearly two decades.  I'm not sure, but I do know there are many of you out there who blog and whom I find interesting and often think, "man I'd love to play in a DnD game with that person," and now that chance is available with the Google+ thing, and Zak's whole Constantcon movement which he helped propel.  I just need to take the leap, as I'm sure it would be something I'd really enjoy.
So, obviously I have a lot I'd like to accomplish over this next year.  If I can somehow manage to do even half these things, I'd consider the year a success as far as my gaming/blogging life is concerned.  I wish you all the best in the new year, and thanks for a great 2011.