RPG Retrospective – 2016

I have mixed feelings about 2016. I reckon everybody has now. I’ve had a load of setbacks, but have also upped my “game” this year considerably. Not all of these setbacks were gaming related, but they impacted on both myself and my gaming nonetheless.

I made the official jump to being a freelancer last December (as in, HM Taxman now knows I do freelance writing). On the plus side it means I can be taken a little more seriously and can also factor the costs of doing business into my tax return (probably a minus!). I will be paying voluntary National Insurance contributions. Ethically, and morally, I don’t agree with finding ways to hide money from the taxman. We’re all likely screwed anyway, thanks to the current political climate in the UK and abroad…

OK. Back on topic. Time has also been a casualty this year for me. As well as holding down a full-time job (with extra duties and responsibilities – and pay!), the freelance work has taken a huge chunk out of my ability to devote time to the hobby. This is a natural progression of things I reckon. Last year I’d hoped to become more of a gaming “ambassador” trying to get the disparate gaming groups of Edinburgh to perhaps try to talk to one another. I’ve put this project on hold for now – I cannot devote the time to it. A number of people commented on how busy I was, but I didn’t realise how much until my health took a bit of a body blow. When something you enjoy stops being fun, stop and take a breather.

With that in mind I had to make a few changes.

Convention-wise, I didn’t go to Conpulsion, Q-CON, or others this year. I attended the UK Games Expo and Dragonmeet, but that was the only two. There’s a significant cash outlay in both travel and accommodation for conventions outside Edinburgh. The state of the pound means it’s unlikely I’ll attend GENCON or ESSEN. If I’m honest, these are actually working trips – I’m either helping setup and help on the Modiphius stall (5am start for Dragonmeet!), and/or I’m demo’ing games. There’s something very rewarding about having players come back to your games from previous years. Even more so when they buy the game based on the session you ran.  😀

I also turned in a selection of Doomtroopers for the Cartel Tactical Centre, a Mutant Chronicles/Warzone fanzine. I’m writing a regular column called the Damnation Dossier, using Her Serenity’s Agent Sir William Heron nom de plume. I’ve a loa of NPC ideas for MC.

Most of my freelance work relates to the Mutant Chronicles. I’ve done the indexing, captioning, error checking and stats for much of the line. I call it “Chroming”. It’s hard work, but the buzz you get when it’s done.. . The Dark Eden Setting book was a true marathon for all involved.

I’ve had to reduce my weekly sessions of ORC games to fortnightly. I’m running Achtung! Cthulhu Shadows of Atlantis. I’ve a good group. We spend half the time delving into history, which I’ve really come to enjoy. It’s not Call of Cthulhu as such, but something pulpier. Sadly, the enervation of time meant I had to stop running my Mutant Chronicles game, which was fun while it lasted.

Long time subscribers to my blog may have noticed that I’ve not mentioned ORC. It’s still going strong. I have simply gone to the next level. I covered this in a previous post –  see http://www.themandragora.com/orc-edinburgh-moving-on/

Goals for 2017

For 2017, I’m trying to strike a compromise. Take time to get a breather, when it’s needed. I’ve worked pretty hard over the last year (not just gaming-wise), and I’ve a better idea about what I can do. But I’ve a bunch of ideas.

In that regard, I plan to write adventures down, not just have them in my head. I’ve a nice number of notebooks that contain “figments”, for want of a better word. Not just Mutant Chronicles, but Achtung! Cthulhu too. I really want to get the ideas down and out there. I’ve an idea for an Achtung! Cthulhu campign that I really need to spec up.

I’m hoping to play more boardgames: I tried to get more involved at ELG over the year, but time was limited. I backed “Siege on the Citadel” which should come as no great surprise. It’s something of a quandary, as I don’t really like competitive games, but enjoy the social aspect.

I’ve few ideas to help the Modiphius Silvershields programme. It’s early days yet, but I’m hoping that the ideas I have may give it a bit of a boost. Volunteer GMs are a resource to be cherished by games companies. I’m not talking about organised play like Pathfinder Society or Adventurer’s League, but GMs that give up their time to run their own games.

Infinity is a game I’d like to get into, after buying Operation: Red Veil. As regards the RPG, I’m an NPC. I’m not sure if I’ll get heavily into it. Way too much background fluff, and I plan to stick to Mutant Chronicles and Achtung! Cthulhu for demo purposes. I can’t really run any more games – even Star Trek, although I’ll manage a monthly sojourn to Black Lion.

Convention-wise I plan to go to Conpulsion this year, as well as the UK Games Expo and Dragonmeet. Possibly Claymore too. I’m not sure whether it’ll be as player or GM, but I’m planning to take the opportunities as they crop up. Either way, I reckon the work will be worth the reward.

One of my final reflections is that I’ve become something of a local gaming celebrity. I’m not a guru or an expert. I AM NOT A CELEBRITY. I’m a guy that has some gaming experience and can talk to people. That’s all.

Anyways: Happy New Year.

Published by Bill Heron

Wannabe game designer and would-be author. I've been playing RPGs for over 25 years and have recently started creating my own RPG called Mandragora: Ashes of Freedom. I also run a number of RPGs: Cthulhutech, Call of Cthulhu, WFRP, and D&D. I'm active in the Edinburgh RPG community at http://orcedinburgh.co.uk and regularly play RPGs.