2020: Year In Review

Okay, objectively, 2020 has been terrible, hasn’t it? Despite this, I’ve just had one of my best years in gaming – if not quite in blogging. Here are my greatest hits of 2020:

Statistics

Didn’t actually realise I’d played that much “fantasy” this year until I looked at this

At the start of the year, I started logging my games on a big Google Sheet. I’ve tried to do this in previous years, but always fallen away, but I’ve stuck to it this year and it’s been fascinating to look over and remember games that I’ve played across the year.

I’ve played a total of 161 sessions of games through the year, about 65% of them ongoing campaigns. This is a lot for me, and undoubtably was affected by lockdown giving me more time to play remotely – but it’s been great. If you haven’t tried online play yet, do it.

In terms of systems run, D&D is well in the lead with 25 sessions, mostly an ongoing Friday campaign I’ll talk more about later. The One Ring and Agon are tied in second place with 13 sessions – Agon as both a player and a GM – and similarly Blades in the Dark, 13th Age, and Shadow of the Demon Lord are tied on 11 sessions. Our Shadow campaign still has 3 more sessions left, too – but those will go into 2021’s figures – I’ve just set up the spreadsheet.

Gaming Highlights

2020 became, almost by accident, the year that I got a regular ‘home group’ – a call out on Twitter to try some One Ring became a regular group, and we’ve played all year nearly every Tuesday. One Ring led to Mutant Year Zero: Genlab Alpha, to Duty & Honour (2nd edition), Wrath & Glory, and now to Shadow of the Demon Lord.

Other groups have formed, and all of them have carried on after the original games finished – from Agon (Actual Plays available here) to Unknown Armies, from Legend of the 5 Rings to Pendragon, and from Blades in the Dark to Agon. I think once you get a good group of players, it’s well worth hanging on to them, especially when remote gaming means you can continue to meet from the comfort of your own homes.

I started a D&D campaign for mostly-newcomers to the hobby (there’s a whole host of posts about running D&D for newbs here, but this is the first time it’s been a campaign). And, they aren’t newcomers now – they’re 9th level now, and I’ve discovered that Artificer, Cleric, and Rogue is a pretty lethal combo even when you only have 3 players. I’ve been running them through the Oracle of War Eberron campaign, alternating published adventures with my own sessions (usually following up loose ends or backgrounds), levelling up every couple of sessions. It’s been a lot of fun – and I maintain that the majority of problems people have with D&D5e only appear if you let them.

Media Appearances and Other Celebrity

I’ve stretched my legs out on some other media this year. I continue to be grateful to everyone who reads, engages, and helps promote this blog (I’m extending out to cover campaign play as well from next year, as well as looking at other exciting developments) – but I’ve done a couple of podcasts with the Smart Party, and dipped my toes into appearing on streamed shows.

So thanks to JamesCORP and his channel, you can see me running 13th Age Glorantha, or playing Delta Green and HELLAS. I’m also on Youtube with the Smart Party again, running “top ten fittest game books” finalist Vaesen and then setting the world to rights about investigative games discussing the Vaesen game.

I’m keen to do more of this, and I’ve enjoyed every minute of it – so let me know if you want someone to talk about one-shots, or play or run a game online.

One-Shots

With most conventions going online, I feel a bit disconnected from the one-shot calendar I’d normally be keeping. Go Play Leeds shifted online for a bit, but the balance between set-up and benefit of running monthly online meetups have put it on hiatus, and so it’s been left to online cons to give most of my one-shot games.

Highlights include an excellent game of Girl Underground run by Paul Baldowski at Revelation, a (gasps) face-to-face con in February – stunning Alice-in-Wonderland improvised gaming that Paul did brilliantly to pull out of thin air from our ideas. From the GMing side I ran a game of Punkapocalyptic last month at Furnace Online that went really well – a group of players that embraced the gonzo, brought their own ideas, and built on one anothers narrative to “play up” each other – I’ll be writing up the adventure on here.

Onwards to 2021

For next year, I’ve got a few plans bubbling away for this blog – but mainly my ambitions are around gaming. I’m looking forward to (eventually) getting back to face to face cons, and trying to keep up the online gaming schedule I’ve set for myself.

In terms of games, I’m looking forward to seeing the Shadow of the Demon Lord campaign come to an apocalyptic conclusion, and seeing what game we turn to after that. I’ve run the first session of a Star Trek Adventures campaign, with two players relatively new to TTRPGs and two more experienced players, and that is already starting to fizz.

I want to finally run some Savage Worlds this year (maybe the Pathfinder adaptation – big fan of Rise of the Runelords), and I want to get bit more handy with Modiphius’ 2d20 games – I’ve run one shots here and there, but want to see how they play in a longer form. Cortex Prime has got me wanting to run it, as has Righteous Blood Ruthless Blades – and I’ve just got hold of Eclipse Phase 2nd Edition. Eclipse Phase 1st ed was the first game I ran at a con – so in some ways it’s where this all got started – so I need to get that back to the table.

Oh, and health, and happiness, and all that. Alongside all the games!

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