Wednesday, December 31, 2014

14 Things That Happened To Games In 2014

Oh 2014, how will we remember you?
That'll probably help, if you don't have a tattoo gun handy, though here's a list of what happened in RPGs this year:

1. Last Gasp got an awesome free instant random generator thingie set up which is the most useful GMing tool I've seen in ages. Most of the rest of the planet can burn if I can keep that.

2. Contessa got a solid and big-tent crew of gamers together and shored up its position as the best and most important convention/event factory in online gaming. P.S. It also just happens to be completely run by women.

3. The only bad news: OSR blog veteran Huge Ruined Scott closed up shop on his once-beloved outpost of arch worldbuilding and early-onset curmudgianity...

4. ...though Basic Red ("So why, in monster manuals bloated with 14 different kinds of vampires, far too many interchangeable reptile men, mermaids, DOLPHINS, WATER WITH A MEANY FACE ON IT, and JUST REGULAR WATER all statted up as off the shelf options to murder your players, how absolute gold like the Kappas gets lost in the shuffle?") and Goblin Punch  ("They resemble huge, predatory cats with long necks (like an eel), no fur or eyes, and gelatinous flesh.  Visible in the center of their semi-translucent body is a football-sized egg, which contains a embryonic princeling (very valuable to the proper sorts)" stepped up their game mightily to attempt to fill the void.

5. John Peterson--author of Playing at The World and the only actually trying RPG historian started putting out articles over at Medium featuring, y'know, research and, like, looking things up and, like, sourcing.

6. The Google Plus RPG community got awesomed-up to the point where you can pretty much generate cool d100 tables to order by just asking for ideas and letting them sit there over night.

7. Kelvin Green showed people a new and better way to put out basic adventure modules with Forgive Us.

8. The 9th World Bestiary gave everybody some cool new monster pictures and sci-fi ideas to play with, even those of us who aren't playing Numenera yet.

9. Tired, angry indies Burning Wheel Headquarters and Onyx Path put out overwrought, derivative bullshit that tanked because everybody who wasn't in the credits saw right through it.

10. The fifth edition of something called "Dungeons & Dragons" came out and exceeded expectations, rapidly becoming almost everybody's second favorite edition.

11. Over here, we played a lot of games, Marilyn Manson talked about playing D&D and his guitarist came over to play. And I wrote a lot about stuff including art history for D&D people and the Churches of Tiamat and Demogorgon.

12. In July the RPG Drama Club finally slid all their pieces onto "Mess with Zak and Mandy" and failed and fucked up so hard they made a rule against saying my name on RPGnet...

13. ...despite or because of which Red & Pleasant Land came out and kicked ass and grossed enough in a week to pay rent in downtown LA for years and more than Vornheim did in its whole run and more than most RPG products make, like, ever.

14. And finally, here at the end of all things, Topless Robot announced 2014 was the best year ever for tabletop games. As the only person to have worked on both of the products in the top two, allow me to say: you're welcome.

So: 2015, Year of the Goat--bring it. I'm gonna finish rewriting every monster in the Manual, watch my players take on a tournament of the Knights of Tiamat and write an adventure about black metal viking amazons. What are you doing?


  1. I'm going to be reading all the excellent shit you write. Thanks for getting me into dnd, and sending me Dwarf Land.

    Also thanks for the time my players got into a bar fight in Vornheim, were taken to court and strapped to pigs to determine their guilt/innocence, then spent their trial arguing not that this was unfair, but that the barman and his wife should be strapped to pigs too. Culminated in epic kitchen knife fight with bar owners, everyone trying to cut everyone else's pig string.

    Have a good new year.

    1. i'm smiling reading about that bar scene--that's so cool.

      Glad to hear I could contribute to some fun at your house!

  2. Will read your book, probably will read and watch your recommendations, will play more games (planning Carcosa + Into the Odd mashup). Probably will start my own blog dedicated to gaming.

    Wish you an awesome year 2015!

  3. I'm not hip enough to understand this one: "9. Tired, angry indies Burning Wheel Headquarters and Onyx Path put out overwrought, derivative bullshit that tanked because everybody who wasn't in the credits saw right through it." Is Burning Wheel Torchbearer what's being discussed here or ?

  4. Oh lordy, 'RPG Voldemort' is a new one to me. Because using someone's name would be too humanising.

    Still, it would make a good tshirt.

  5. Ha! RPG Voldemort. Really?! Well, I for one really want to get my hands on Red & Pleasant Land, but right now I can't even get a D&D session going online or IRL. :( Congrats on a successful 2014, and I'm looking forward to seeing more from you in 2015.

  6. I circle back here once a week for ideas for my own DND game and your writing never disappoints. Your Children of Demogorgon idea became the basis for my entire game world and my players really enjoy it. I loved your Death Frost Doom book and I can't wait for the edited reissue of Vornheim you mentiond a while back. Have another great rpg year.

  7. I'll add on to what Flatline said: thanks for getting me into D&D, for Vornheim (our players had a trial by crowdsurfing, and are currently navigating Zorlac's place), for the excellent GMing while we played R&PL at IndieCade (I've used your "Meanwhile!" narration trick… so handy when the party is split up), and for the constant, mind-boggling output of beauty and utility (both in and out of tabletop games).

    I'm going to play a lot more D&D.

  8. I gotta agree on the Numenera Bestiary. That is one of the best monster books I've ever seen. Yeah, 2014 has been a good year for gaming- too bad everything else about the year sucked hard.

  9. Is that OSR pic using a gerund or a regular verb? Very important difference; especially to the neckbeards.

  10. Hi Zak!
    I've followed your blog for a couple of years, and I gotta say it's the best gaming blog out there.
    I've been dying to read Red & Pleasant Land, along with Vornheim and other stuff from LOTFP; do you know more or less when the 2nd Edition Vornheim book will be ready? Can I expect that R&PL and Death Frost Doom will be still in stock by then? (I would rather order them all at once to save a bit with the shipping costs, I live in Chile and they're pretty high).
    Thanks, and keep on doing your thing, you're awesome!

  11. I'm currently trying to imagine what the movies would have been like with Zak as Voldemort.

    And while 5e is only my third or fourth favorite D&D (depending on the celestial alignment), first Vornheim and now R&PL and the DFD rewrite are among my favorite supplements.

    Also, physically, R&PL was an absolute joy to read. Both aesthetically pleasing and well laid out with a great TOC.

    I still hate your maps.