Categories
BattleTech Miniatures

Pure joy: playing BattleTech with my kiddo

I haven’t played BattleTech in 20 years, and if you’d told me a few years ago — when I started enjoying miniature painting, and painting Warhammer 40k stuff every day — that my first-ever game using miniatures I’d painted would be BattleTech, or would be played with my kiddo, Lark, I wouldn’t have believed you.

We used the old (2015, I think?) Alpha Strike Quick Start intro scenario, for which I painted four specific ‘Mechs to make two balanced teams of two: Marauder and Valkyrie (Lark) vs. Archer and Wasp (me), with the win condition being first heavy ‘Mech destroyed.

Lark surveys the battlefield during the first turn
The first face-off between the two heavies; both took a solid hit
Things are looking grim for that Marauder
Lark’s damaged Marauder takes cover in the woods about halfway through our game
A beautiful move by Lark, who won initiative: getting into my Archer’s rear arc; the game could have gone either way at this point
My Archer survived this rear-gunning, and I stacked my Wasp behind the Marauder to close out the game

Last year I got to play D&D with Lark for the first time, and playing BattleTech — the wargame I’ve loved the longest and played the most — with Lark was just as awesome an experience. We had a blast, and we’re already looking forward to our second game on a larger map, two full lances per side (these four plus the next batch that I painted with our second game in mind).

One of my favorite moments was watching Lark get a ‘Mech’s-eye view to establish line of sight for the first time and being excited by how much fun that was. Sharing the visceral and tactile joys of miniatures wargaming with Lark was just pure joy for me.

On top of that, Alpha Strike was a great intro for Lark, a great return to the game for me, and not in any way “kiddy BattleTech.” AS 100% succeeds in distilling CBT into a shorter, punchier game without losing sight of what makes BattleTech fun. It’s streamlined and simplified, but not in any way simplistic. That’s a thing of beauty.

The core box is one of the best values in gaming, too: It’s actually everything you need to start playing, and for barely more than the ‘Mechs would cost in separate force packs.

I took some time during our game to talk a bit about the differences between AS and CBT, and I suspect Lark and I may have some CBT in our future, too.

What a fantastic Saturday all around!

Out now: The Unlucky Isles

The Unlucky Isles [affiliate link], the first system-neutral guidebook for my Godsbarrow fantasy campaign setting, is now on DriveThruRPG.
Categories
BattleTech Finished miniatures Lightbox photos Miniature painting Miniatures

Second lance of Long Nights ‘Mechs

Today I finished painting my second lance of ‘Mechs, two heavies and two mediums for my Long Nights mercenary company.

No outdoor shots today, just the lightbox — but I remembered to use my grey backdrop this time!

L to R: Rifleman, Warhammer, Phoenix Hawk, Blackjack

I sometimes regretted combining two colors that are notoriously difficult to paint — white and yellow — in the Phoenix Hawk’s color scheme, but I’m happy with how it turned out. Walking the line between looking like an anime mobile suit and looking like a BattleMech without being too twee about it was an enjoyable challenge.

It also gave me a chance to try Soulblight Grey, GW’s new grey wash, for the first time. It’s interesting stuff, almost feeling more like a contrast paint than a shade paint; it’s kind of milky. But it walks a pleasing line between no wash and a black wash.

Butts

I’m not sure how long it will last, but my goal is to never repeat a paint scheme. “They’re mercenaries” is a great excuse to just experiment and have fun painting whatever feels right at the moment.

Out now: The Unlucky Isles

The Unlucky Isles [affiliate link], the first system-neutral guidebook for my Godsbarrow fantasy campaign setting, is now on DriveThruRPG.
Categories
Godsbarrow Old school Tabletop RPGs

The Black Furnace level 1-A

Today I finished the draft of the first area in my #dungeon23 project, the Black Furnace.

The Black Furnace’s servants’ quarters

Level 1-A is the servants’ quarters, home to the cult of Hürak Mol. It’s accessible from one of the Black Furnace’s five entrances, and connects to level 2 and level 1-B.

I can’t remember the last time I drew a proper dungeon map, and I don’t think I’ve ever written up a dungeon this size before. I’m enjoying sitting down each day with no clear idea of what’s next, and just having fun with it.

Out now: The Unlucky Isles

The Unlucky Isles [affiliate link], the first system-neutral guidebook for my Godsbarrow fantasy campaign setting, is now on DriveThruRPG.
Categories
BattleTech Finished miniatures Lightbox photos Miniature painting Miniatures

My first lance of ‘Mechs in 16 years

Today I finished the first ‘Mechs I’ve painted since 2007.

L to R: Valkyrie, Archer, Marauder, Wasp

This lance for my Long Nights mercenary company is full of firsts: essentially my first time doing camo (I was about 10 for my actual first time), pin washing, flocking, detailed glass, and really pushing for subtle edge highlights.

Natural light close-ups

Sigourney “Lucky” Long’s Marauder
Ragnar “Night Sweats” Thorpe’s Valkyrie
Gabrielle “Dozer” Baudin’s Wasp
Ishida “Beef” Toyokazu’s Archer

Lightbox shots

These didn’t turn out as nice as the natural light shots above, but I took ’em so here they are anyway.

The whole lance
Marauder (my favorite angle)
Marauder front
Marauder rear
Valkyrie front
Valkyrie rear
Wasp front
Wasp rear
Archer front
Archer rear
Out now: The Unlucky Isles

The Unlucky Isles [affiliate link], the first system-neutral guidebook for my Godsbarrow fantasy campaign setting, is now on DriveThruRPG.
Categories
Deathskulls Orks Finished miniatures Kill Team Miniature painting Miniatures Tyranids Warhammer 40k

My 2021 and 2022 in miniature painting

In early 2021, I did a year-end retrospective photo for 2020 — the year I got back into miniature painting. I painted 97 miniatures that year, and I had a blast; returning to an old hobby I’d never quite clicked with (it’s complicated) was a perfect lockdown activity.

By contrast, 2021 saw my enthusiasm flagging. I started the year strong, but finished just keeping my hobby streak alive. I didn’t do a year-end photo.

2022 was about the same as 2022. I wasn’t planning to do a photo for last year, either, for pretty much the same reason: I figured it’d be disheartening.

But in December I got back into BattleTech, and also saw how close I was to finishing some killer 40k terrain pieces, and got excited to crank some stuff out. So I finished the year stronger than expected, and that led me to get off my butt and take retrospective photos for 2021 and 2022.

Everything I painted in 2021

In 2021, I painted Deathskulls Orks for my Waaagh!, Moonkrumpa’s Megalootas

I painted 15 models in 2021: two Killa Kans, Skraggit (left) and Stikkit (right); a Deff Dread, Facepeela; my Taurox Trukk conversion, Da Fancy Wun; and a squad of Boyz, Thragg’s Deff Ladz.

2021 was my first time trying an ambitious conversion, mashing together a Taurox with an Ork Trukk; I documented the whole process in a five-post series. (Here’s part one.) 2021 also marked the first time I used green stuff as well as the first time I magnetized any models. (Facepeela’s lower arms are magnetized.)

As I got these minis off the shelf for their photo, it was like seeing old friends. I’m not an amazing painter, but every mini I finished in 2021 brought me joy — and they still do. Skraggit and Da Fancy Wun are two of my favorite models I’ve ever painted.

Everything I painted in 2022

I set out to finish a Kill Team board’s worth of terrain in 2022, and while I didn’t quite get there I came pretty close.

All of the 40k terrain I painted in 2022, plus five Genestealers and a mantis

In 2022 I painted 25 models: 18 pieces of 40k Kill Team terrain, 6 Genestealers (for Kill Team), and a giant mantis as a Christmas gift for Lark.

Terrain feels all fast and exciting at first, with a big ol’ sprayed-on primer and base coat in one, and a big ol’ wash. And then the details start to add up, and add up, and it’s not a breezy summer morning anymore. But it’s still fun!

I enjoy painting terrain. It’s a great palate cleanser, with big brushes and bold sections and — with the vibe I’m going for — plenty of excused to weather with gusto.

It was also fun combining two 40k terrain lines, Manufactorum and Mechanicus, into what I think is a cohesive dystopian manufacturing facility. Both incorporate tea/bone and dark red, and I’ve built all my stuff to be durable, interoperable, and still offer a decent amount of customization for layouts and variations.

Here’s a top-down shot showing one possible layout.

Most of my finished 40k terrain

All of the walls/railings on the gantries are placed so that pieces can still connect in a couple places. Ladders are placed and oriented with the same goal in mind. And all the ground-level pipe connection points are tea/bone, so (hopefully) the two terrain sets blend into one another.

I guess technically I’m combining the Munitorum line as well, but those containers, crates, and barrels are so plug-and-play it hardly counts. I do them in colors not present in the other stuff, so they’ll stand out.

I’m glad I got all this stuff out an photographed it. 2021 and 2022 combined didn’t match my output in 2020, but I painted some stuff I’m proud of — and hopefully I’ll get to use it eventually.

And I got a surprise in January: Lark expressed an interest in playing 40k and Kill Team. I’m pretty sure I can cobble together two Kill Teams or two 500-point armies, so if I finish my last few pieces of terrain — a huge gantry/tank combo, another ruined building, a sacred radiator, and some scatter terrain — the two of us could get some games in this year. That would be awesome!

Out now: The Unlucky Isles

The Unlucky Isles [affiliate link], the first system-neutral guidebook for my Godsbarrow fantasy campaign setting, is now on DriveThruRPG.
Categories
BattleTech Miniature painting Miniatures

Pour one out for my first camo ‘Mech

Well, shit: I just ruined a fully painted miniature by using the too-thick dregs of my varnish bottle and completely fogging it out. I haven’t done that in years! Not since the last time I used spray varnish, at least a decade ago.

I should have trusted my impression that it looked a little thick, but I’d used the same bottle a couple weeks ago with no issues and I was in the groove.

That’s several hours of work — on a model slated for a first game of BattleTech with my kiddo next week, and a ‘Mech I was happy with — just wasted.

This little Stinger, an STG-5M piloted by Ozan “Gatling” Almaz, was the first ‘Mech I ever tried to paint in a camo scheme. Here he is after being base-coated:

You will be missed!

Luckily I’ve got a Wasp partially painted, so I can scramble to finish that one and slot it in for the match Lark and I were planning on next week. If I grind hard and don’t paint anything else at the same time, I might even be able to finish it only a couple days behind when the Stinger would have been done.

It’s a silly thing to be bummed about, but I get invested in the minis I’m painting.

Update 1/8: As luck would have it, I had a light ‘Mech — a Wasp — already primed and fully based, so I spent a chunk of today finishing it up as a replacement for the Stinger. I’d forgotten how quickly this can go when I’m painting a ‘Mech, not a 40k model, and just painting one model, not several. It was a fun day.

Then, after testing my varnish on Brother Test-Mech first, I varnished the first lance of ‘Mechs I’ve painted since 2007. They won’t be done-done until a couple days from now, when I add flocking to their bases; I need the sealant to be bone-dry and fully cured for that step.

First lance WIP, freshly varnished (and still shiny): Marauder, Wasp, Valkyrie, Archer

It’s a real joy to be painting ‘Mechs again!

Out now: The Unlucky Isles

The Unlucky Isles [affiliate link], the first system-neutral guidebook for my Godsbarrow fantasy campaign setting, is now on DriveThruRPG.
Categories
BattleTech Miniature painting Miniatures

The best mini I’ve painted (so far)

This unassuming little Valkyrie represents a lot of firsts:

  • The first ‘Mech I’ve painted in 16 years
  • The first ‘Mech in my Long Nights mercenary company
  • My first time pin washing (instead of all-over washing)
  • Also my first time attempting proper edge highlighting
  • My first time trying to do a detailed pane of glass (the cockpit)
  • And currently the best miniature I’ve ever painted
Still needs decals, weathering (maybe), grass flocking, and a painted base rim

I started with the Valkyrie because it’s the plainest of the lance I’m currently painting, and the one I cared about least. I figured I’d goober some stuff up here before moving on to something cooler.

I’m taking a more subtle approach with my ‘Mechs than I generally do with my 40k minis, but I suspect this approach will bleed back into my general bag of tricks for painting. Patient pin washing following by equally patient edge highlighting is a really neat one-two punch.

In the Long Nights, this Valkyrie is piloted by Ragnar “Night Sweats” Thorpe, and I feel like I did him proud!

Out now: The Unlucky Isles

The Unlucky Isles [affiliate link], the first system-neutral guidebook for my Godsbarrow fantasy campaign setting, is now on DriveThruRPG.
Categories
Godsbarrow Old school Tabletop RPGs

#dungeon23: off to the races!

I’m not sure all my notes (many rolled in Tome of Adventure Design [affiliate link]) will survive the next steps, but I’m off to the races with #dungeon23. Weep at my terrible handwriting!

Sketching out the surface level of the Black Furnace: five entrances, with notes

I like megadungeons with multiple entrances and verticality, so the Black Furnace has a main entrance, two chimneys (which can be used as dangerous entrances), an observatory side entrance, and a collapsed garden/cave that also allows ingress.

Today’s room was S1, the main entrance: a huge black kiln with three ways down to level 1 (one of which also leads to level 2).

Out now: The Unlucky Isles

The Unlucky Isles [affiliate link], the first system-neutral guidebook for my Godsbarrow fantasy campaign setting, is now on DriveThruRPG.
Categories
Godsbarrow Old school Tabletop RPGs

#dungeon23: ground work

I’ve juggled things around a bit since my initial #dungeon23 post. With less than 24 hours to go until my first room, it’s time to lay the last bits of ground work for the Black Furnace.

Dungeon23 logo created by Lone Archivist and released under a CC BY 4.0 license

The thing I’ve changed up is mapping: I bought a graph paper notebook (4 squares/inch) and a Jujutsu Kaisen pencil mat, and I’m going to do some — or maybe all — of the mapping myself.

My #dungeon23 mapping notebook all stickered up and ready to go

I still might use some of Dyson Logos’ gorgeous maps later on, but for the entrances I need to blaze my own trail. I have an idea of what the dungeon looks like on the surface, and how many entrances it has, and I want a significant vertical element available early on; all of that points to mapping out the first level myself.

Origins of the Black Furnace

When I open the book for a published dungeon, there are few things I like to see less than pages and pages of backstory. That’s usually enough for me to put it down and/or never run it.

But ya gotta have some backstory, or at least I do, to hang your hat on. I don’t need a meticulous ecology that makes logical sense, but I want to know why the dungeon exists, or why the first bit of it was created, if that’s more applicable; and I want to know its themes and key ingredients.

Here’s what I already know about the Black Furnace, which appears as an adventure site in The Unlucky Isles [affiliate link]:

  • Rises from the earth during times of great strife
  • Sprawling subterranean maze
  • Realm of a long-forgotten god
  • Maw which releases ancient monstrosities into the world
  • Reappearance bodes ill for Brundir

That’s the grist for my mill, and those are my touchstones to keep me reasonably focused. But I need to flesh that list out a bit before I write my first dungeon room/location or I’m going to wind up rambling in eight directions, none of them productive.

The larch

All it took to get my creative juices flowing was a few rolls on the Religions table in one of my favorite random-creation tools, the Tome of Adventure Design [affiliate link]. I rolled the name Her + ak + Mol and instantly knew I had the heart of the Black Furnace: the god who created it.

I put a bit of English on that name, started writing…and the rest of it flowed out of my half-formed notions, the notes I’ve taken over the past month, and the raw creative flow born from knowing this god’s name.

Why does it exist?

In Godsbarrow’s earliest days, the gods warred openly against one another. Their need for new and ever more powerful weapons was insatiable, so the deity Hürak Mol (they/them, pronounced “HOO-rak mawl”) built a great kiln, and a furnace beneath it, and began forging, shaping, and birthing artifacts, monsters, and engines of war. This fell place was known as the Black Furnace.

With every creation, Hürak Mol gained power through the other gods’ reliance on them. Where most gods grew strong because of the number of their mortal worshipers, Hürak Mol thrived on the needs of Dormiir’s many gods.

Which meant that as the world stabilized, and the gods withdrew from the mortal realm, preferring to bask in their power or fight each other through proxies, Hürak Mol was no longer needed.

Their power diminished until Hürak Mol became little more than a small god, half-remembered and largely ignored by the other gods. Before they could fade away entirely, Hürak Mol infused the Black Furnace with their deific power and caused their great kiln and subterranean complex of forges, fires, and chimneys, as well as their servitors, raw materials, and small cult of devout worshipers, to sink beneath the earth.

The Black Furnace was not seen in Godsbarrow for many centuries. Hürak Mol was entirely forgotten by the people of Dormiir.

Where has it been?

The Cult of Mol the Timeless has survived within the tunnels of the Black Furnace for untold centuries. Generation upon generation of worshipers have tended the Black Furnace, banked its fires, and — most importantly — remained fervent in their devotion to Hürak Mol, ensuring that they do not fade away entirely.

Hürak Mol, for their part, slumbers in god-sleep in the depths of the Black Furnace, their ancient, war-filled dreams forming part of the Wraithsea.

The Black Furnace is a god-realm, not subject to the laws of physics nor entirely bound by notions of time or reality. It somehow sustains the life within it, and time passes much more slowly inside its tunnels — until it returns to Dormiir. Infused with Hürak Mol’s power, the dungeon itself can sense when there might be enough strife in the world to return Hürak Mol to their former glory.

When this happens, the cult seeks to wake up Hürak Mol. Cultists work the forges and kilns, birthing monstrosities into the world and forging dark artifacts. They attempt to recruit new members. They spread a gospel of war and chaos — the fertile ground Hürak Mol needs to awaken from torpor.

It has appeared in different places throughout Godsbarrow’s history, and done so often enough to become the subject of legends throughout the world. Thus far, the Black Furnace has always remained in Godsbarrow for a time and then, responding to the ancient dictates of its creation, sunk back beneath the earth to await the next moment when Hürak Mol’s return might be realized.

Fuck yeah

That’s what I needed to feel confident heading into day one of #dungeon23!

I’ve got some evocative, partially-formed notions of what the Black Furnace looks like (or parts of it, at least). I’ve got reasons for just about anything to be part of it, as it has been accessible to the denizens of Dormiir many times over many centuries. Hell, there’s room for gonzo science-fantasy stuff, too.

I have at least one faction in mind, the cult, and it’s likely to be a fractious one. (Who could possibly agree on how to stay devoted to a sleeping god for untold centuries without becoming divided over the specifics?) It’s accessible via the Wraithsea, which is a whole other avenue of ingress and egress (sort of). That means the Arkestran Dominion likely has a presence here, or has at some point.

It also has agency, because the second it appears — which it already has — the weirdoes who live there starting making fucked-up monsters and shit, fanning out across the countryside, and spreading the gospel of Hürak Mol. Hell, they want people to find the dungeon; they’ll tempt anyone they think could be useful with promises of unimaginable power (and be telling the truth about it, although the trade-off isn’t going to appeal to everyone).

The dungeon and its core inhabitants have a direct connection to the PCs’ actions, too: Wiping out the cult would kill Hürak Mol. Aiding the cult would wake up Hürak Mol. If they survive long enough to reach the lowest levels, the PCs will encounter a god. The longer the dungeon stays in Godsbarrow, the more messed-up shit is going to leak into Brundir.

I love it when a dungeon has potentially world-shaking implications, yet can be accessible to 1st level D&D characters. That’s what I wanted out of the Black Furnace when I came up with it, and having jotted all this stuff down I like how it’s coming together.

I’m stoked to explore the Black Furnace this year and see what comes of it!

Out now: The Unlucky Isles

The Unlucky Isles [affiliate link], the first system-neutral guidebook for my Godsbarrow fantasy campaign setting, is now on DriveThruRPG.
Categories
BattleTech Godsbarrow Miniature painting Miniatures Miscellaneous geekery Old school Old School Essentials Tabletop RPGs Warhammer 40k

2022 end-of-year hobby wrap-up

2022 has thrown the Ralyas a couple pretty hard curveballs, but so far we’re doing [whatever you’re supposed to do in baseball when someone pitches you a curveball] and managing pretty well. I usually focus on hobby stuff here on Yore, though, so I figured it was time for a little 2022 wrap-up — all highlights, no lowlights, and a few surprises.

The Unlucky Isles

One of my biggest hobby milestones for 2022 was starting up Halfbeard Press and publishing my first Godsbarrow sourcebook, The Unlucky Isles [affiliate link]. I’ve never had a well-developed fantasy campaign setting of my own before (which has always made me feel like a bad gamer), and having Dormiir to work on and explore and expand has been a delight.

The Unlucky Isles print proof

I work on Godsbarrow every single day — sometimes just a word or sentence or two, sometimes much more — and have been doing so since March 16, 2021. I’m often hard on my own work, so I’m honestly still a bit surprised I still love this setting as much as I do. (Hell, I’m more jazzed about it now than I was when I started out.)

I’m proud of doing as much of the work on The Unlucky Isles as possible myself, which was one of my goals; I did everything but the artwork. That includes some stuff I’ve notably never done in a professional capacity, like layout and cartography.

And I’m not sitting still: I’m about 25% done with the manuscript for Godsbarrow Guidebook 2: The Gilded Lands. It’s a little while away yet, but it’s coming!

Two Godsbarrow campaigns

Hobby-wise, the only thing that tops publishing a Godsbarrow book for me is running two campaigns set in Dormiir. This is one of those quintessential GMing experiences — designing your own world and then running games there — that I’ve just never had until now. I’ve run games in homebrewed settings before, but those worlds were never more than a sketchy map and some rough concepts; Godsbarrow is much more fleshed-out.

Both of these games are ongoing, and I’m having a blast with both of them. The first Godsbarrow campaign started up in July: a Dungeon World [affiliate link] hexcrawl set on the island of Bal Acar, which I’m running for two of my best friends, Rustin and Greg — the first explorers of Godsbarrow. This game feels like all the best parts of exuberant high school D&D — just weird-ass exploration and shenanigans, all signal and no noise.

Our Google Jamboard map from the first couple sessions

In November my kiddo, Lark, expressed an interest in playing D&D — a moment I’ve been preparing for my whole life. Lark picked Godsbarrow as our setting, and after some discussion we landed on Old School Essentials [affiliate link] for the system.

Lark and I starting up our Godsbarrow campaign

It’s impossible to overstate how cool it is to be gaming regularly with Lark. We’ve previously played a couple of sessions, but nothing ongoing; I never wanted to push this hobby on Lark. We’re having an absolute blast — and, again, I can’t overstate how much that means to me. (This is also another of those quintessential gaming experiences that I’m just chuffed about.)

Wargaming

Lark and I have also been playing Car Wars 6th Edition — Lark’s first proper wargame — and having a great time with it. I pitched CW because we’ve played tons of board games together over the years, and I thought the minis and zaniness of Car Wars would interest Lark. Sixth Edition is superb, and just the right rules weight for us.

That’s led me to delve back into my wargaming roots, which stretch all the way back to having huge naval battles with my dad, all spread out on my bedroom carpet, when I was maybe 10-12 years old. I re-acquired Renegade Legion: Centurion, which was one of the first full-fat wargames I played (circa age 12-14), because it seems like one Lark might enjoy.

And then, to my complete surprise, I stumbled across an RPG.net thread about BattleTech just the other day and learned that 1) there’s now a fast-playing alternate version of the rules, Alpha Strike, and 2) there’s also a huge range of plastic ‘Mechs available. After a bit of research I pitched that one to Lark, got an enthusiastic yes, and ordered the core AS box.

My old BattleTech minis from the 1990s and 2000s

This hasn’t been a banner year for miniature painting, which is understandable given my focus on Godsbarrow and real-life stuff. With 40k (and Kill Team), my motivation has been sapped by not wanting to play with strangers during the pandemic, so I’ve done tons of painting and never gotten to use the fun toys I’ve painted. Even the return of my beloved space dwarves, which were my intro to Warhammer 40k many years ago, hasn’t shaken me out of my painting doldrums.

I’m hoping that some comparatively easy-to-paint BattleMechs, which — and this is key! — I’ll immediately be able to use in a game, are just the shot in the arm my painting hobby needs at the moment.

Ranma 1/2

No segue, but I can’t do a wrap-up post without noting that this was the year I finished Ranma 1/2, one of my all-time favorite manga series — which I started in 1992. I’ve read a shit-ton of manga this year, which has been a lot of fun.

Revisiting the Star Wars prequel trilogy

I decided it was time to revisit and reevaluate the prequel trilogy, all of which I previously rated ½ (which I think marks the first time I’ve voluntarily rewatched any ½ films), for three reasons.

One, I was surprised how much I enjoyed the first couple episodes of Obi-Wan Kenobi, and I wanted to see if I might like the prequels now, decades later. (Andor had the same effect, but for Rogue One.)

Two, I’ve based some of my identity as a Star Wars fan on hating the prequels. I wanted to try to appreciate them on their own terms rather than, when they clash with my expectations, simply assuming my expectations are perfect and therefore the films are the problem.

And three, 20+ years later I’m a different person, I love the Star Wars universe even more than I did back when these films came out, and my appreciation for the Republic Era has grown. I’ve spent dozens of hours playing Star Wars: The Old Republic and engaging with prequel content in other media, and I’ve enjoyed it.

I wound up liking or loving all three prequel films. Reviews/comments, with spoilers, are on Letterboxd: Episode I, Episode II, Episode III.

Mastodon

I said earlier in the year that Mastodon felt the most like Google+ of any G+ replacement I’ve tried, but it wasn’t until the first Twitter exodus that it really took off. My feed is full, it lacks virtually all of the toxicity of Twitter, I’m having fun gaming conversations and learning about cool stuff there — the whole nine yards. It feels like it’s going to stick for enough folks to provide a real hobby haven, too.

#dungeon23

The #dungeon23 challenge doesn’t kick off until January 1, 2023, but it was — thankfully! — announced much earlier, giving me time to noodle about it, decide to do it, and come up with a framework I think will help me succeed.

Dungeon23 logo created by Lone Archivist and released under a CC BY 4.0 license

I’m going to write Godsbarrow’s first dungeon, the Black Furnace. I’ve got my ducks in a row and I’m excited to get rolling!

Yore’s 10th anniversary

This blog turned 10 years old back in August, making it my the longest-running ongoing thing I’ve ever done online. My quiet approach, erratic non-schedule for posting, and eclectic mix of hobby stuff haven’t done wonders for attracting an audience — but I write Yore primarily because I want to write it, so that’s okay by me.

At the same time, I’m thrilled whenever anyone mentions enjoying Yore, comments on a post, or uses what I’ve shared here. If that’s you, reading this, thank you! Knowing Yore is useful to other folks is a big part of why I keep at it.

Here’s to a 2023 with more hobby milestones, and maybe — hopefully! — with fewer curveballs. Happy holidays!

Out now: The Unlucky Isles

The Unlucky Isles [affiliate link], the first system-neutral guidebook for my Godsbarrow fantasy campaign setting, is now on DriveThruRPG.