In this video, I go over my 2022 gaming retrospective, followed by my 2023 New Year’s Resolution, as it relates to gaming. Synopsis below.
Going into 2022, I was hoping to run the following systems:
Well, I failed on all fronts, although I came close with Cortex Prime, as I’ll be running it at the upcoming BSer Con in late January. I clearly don’t have a great track record when it comes to New Year’s Resolutions. But that won’t stop me from trying again this year. :)
One reason it’s difficult to commit ahead of time: Not only do my interest shift over time, but I also never know when something comes out of nowhere and captures my attention. This can either come truly out of nowhere, like EZD6 (as mentioned in my last video, this is now one of my favorite games), and I had a similar situation with Warlock! the year before.
Or it might be a Kickstarter that I backed years ago, that finally delivered. Often, my interests have shifted by the time it delivers, but sometimes there’s a spark. I had that happen with Broken Compass, and quickly got it to the table for a couple of one-shots.
What did I run?
Early in the year, I wrapped up a campaign I had begun in 2021. It started out as Hot Springs Island (a very fun system neutral sandbox setting with hexcrawl procedures). After the party left the island, I morphed the campaign into The Seas of Vodari (a fun 5e nautical setting).
While I think the players were having fun, I’ve come to the conclusion that I don’t enjoy running 5e. I might go into more details in a future video or blog post, but here’s a brief summary: I’m gravitating increasingly towards a low-prep, improv-heavy GM style, and I’ve found that other games make this much easier for me. I don’t like how combat in 5e tends to feel like a separate tactical mini-game from the rest of the game. And frankly, I just got bored of 5e after many years. There are so many other games out there that I would love to experience. I might still play 5e if a friend really wants to run it, but I won’t seek it out and I won’t run it.
I had first played Warlock! in 2021. Early in 2022, I ran a couple of one-shots of the classic WFRP adventure “Night of Blood” (free on DriveThruRPG). I continue to love this system, and ended up collecting all the books. I’m especially proud of owning a copy of the Black Edition that was limited to 200 copies. There’s a ton of material I still want to get to the table, so this has become another go-to system for me.
I briefly talked about EZD6 in my previous video. So far, I ran a couple short homebrew one-shots, as well as the Old-School Essentials adventure Hole in the Oak. I found that combo works really well. OSE (or other old-school system) stats are easy to adapt to EZD6 on the fly, and homebrew adventures are easy to improv.
This Kickstarter delivered a beautiful set of books in 2022. Broken Compass is a pulp adventure game, that lets you play stories in the vein of Indiana Jones, Uncharted, or Tomb Raider. It has an interesting core mechanic, where you need to roll matches. Overall, it really models these types of pulp adventures very well. I ran 2 one-shots, shortly after I got the game. But while it’s a fun system overall, there are a few things I don’t like about it. It’s a little too lose, with a decent amount of GM fiat. I prefer when complications and such are more clearly mechanized, rather than leaving them up to the GM. Still, I enjoyed running this.
So overall, I ran 4 systems total in 2022. Not too bad, even if I didn’t get everything to the table that I was hoping to.
What did I play?
My friend Lance started running Fallout for our home group in February, after we shelved my D&D campaign. It uses the 2d20 system by Modiphius (same as Conan, Star Trek Adventures, etc.). It’s a more crunchy game than I would typically gravitate towards. In particular, Fallout more or less models all the aspects of the video game franchise with detailed rules: crafting, weapon mods, haggling, etc. If I were creating a Fallout game, I’d likely attempt to capture the vibe, but not worry as much about the mechanics. But Lance is a huge fan of the video games, and his passion really shows. He does a great job making the world come alive, and striking a balance between open-ended sandbox play and feeding us plot hooks that lead to interesting adventures. Overall, it’s a refreshing departure from 5e.
Sharp Swords & Sinister Spells
My friend Harrigan ran Temple of the Blood Moth. A very bloody adventure, and super fun! He used Sharp Swords & Sinister Spells, which is fine, although there are other lightweight systems I would choose over this one.
But the adventure was great, and should work with any OSR system.
In addition, I played a lot of one-shots, mostly at conventions, but some separately:
- BSer Con:
- Savage Worlds (Fuhgeddaboutit, a zany Mafia themed adventure)
- Deadlands (Weird West, powered by Savage Worlds)
- Rangers of the Midden Vale (a fun indie game)
- Gamehole Con:
- Pirate Borg (an awesome pirate themed game using the Mork Borg system)
- Weird Frontiers (Weird West, powered by DCC)
- Paranoia (playtest by the author of the new Perfect Edition)
- Castles & Crusades (one of the original OSR games)
- Low Fantasy Gaming (a nice sweet spot between 5e and OSR, run by Jason Hobbs)
- Symbaroum (very cool dark fantasy setting)
- Trophy Gold (interesting mix between story gaming and old-school elements)
- Heart (another dark, narrative focused game)
- Delta Green (secret agents fighting cosmic horror)
So overall, I played 14 different systems (or 13 if you combine Deadlands and Savage Worlds) - I really can’t complain!
I attended Gamehole Con in October. This was my first physical con since the pandemic, and my first time ever attending Gamehole Con. It’s a really great con, and especially great to meet many friends that I only knew online before. Definitely one of my highlights of the year!
I was a guest on a podcast for the first time: the first episode of the GM Mastermind podcast by Sean, one of the hosts of the former Gaming and BS podcast. Note that the podcast is currently on pause as Sean is figuring out where to take things from here.
And of course, I started my YouTube channel. 🙂 This is my first time recording and publishing videos. I’m still finding my groove, but it’s been enjoyable so far.
What resolutions am I making for 2023?
Run the following games
I’ve already written enough about EZD6. This was one of my new discoveries in 2022, and want to run more of it.
Similar. I actually haven’t run Warlock! all that much in 2022, but I want to run more in 2023.
DCC has been one of my go-to systems in recent years, but somehow I haven’t run any DCC in 2022. I own a ton of awesome modules, both first and third party, and really want to run some of them.
Warpstar! is the Sci-Fi cousin of Warlock!, using essentially the same rule set. I’ve been itching to run a Sci-Fi game in a while, but it took me a while to find the right system. I really like the setting presented in Warpstar!. There are plenty of interesting hooks, but at the same time it’s open enough that you can zero in on whatever aspects you feel most drawn towards. You can run it as straight up space opera in the vein of Star Wars, or double down on the military aspects and run it as a Warhammer 40k game. I’m not much of a Military Sci-Fi guy, so will likely focus more on frontier planets, similar to Firefly.
In fact, I’ll be running a one-shot at BSer Con in a week, but hoping to run more of it after that.
This is an interesting beast. I don’t have experience with prior Cortex games (such as Firefly, Marvel Heroic, Leverage, or Smallville), but I’ve been fascinated with Cortex Prime since the Kickstarter delivered a couple years ago. It has a really elegant core mechanic using variable dice pools and a roll & keep system. However, it’s not really a finished game, but rather a toolkit for building your own games by combining a number of trait sets and modular rules.
This allows you to model not just many genres, but also different areas of focus. For example, one game might be mostly about action, and use trait sets similar to D&D, including Attributes and Skills. Another game might be more about the relationships between the characters, or their values, and employ trait sets and rules to model these.
I see similarities to games like Fate Core, which I’ve also greatly enjoyed, but Cortex Prime is perhaps even more flexible. But the open nature of the game also makes it pretty daunting to get it to the table. You have to come up with your trait sets, pick the right set of mods and create a character sheet. Online play is also a bit more involved because of the dice pool system, but there are a couple of VTTs with basic Cortex support, as well as a Discord dice bot.
They are working on an online toolset that has a ton of promise, but this is currently only available for Tales of Xadia, the only concrete game using the Cortex Prime rule set. The game has changed owners multiple times in recent years, and is currently owned by Atlas Games, who owns a couple of other RPGs and board games. Fingers crossed that they manage to realize the full potential of Cortex Prime by launching the great digital toolset it deserves (and requires).
I’ve been working on my own “Pirates vs. Zombies” themed “hack” (as they tend to call Cortex Prime games) for a while now, and am planning to run this at BSer Con, and hopefully more after that. I’m keeping it lightweight, using Google Sheets and Discord.
One Free League game, likely Blade Runner or Vaesen
Free League has made a big name for themselves in recent years with their polished products, and I know a lot of people that are big fans of their games. I’ve owned Vaesen for a while, and it might actually be the most beautiful product on my RPG shelf! But the Blade Runner Kickstarter that recently delivered looks amazing as well. And next year I’m expecting Dragonbane, the recent English version of the original Swedish RPG. It’s about time I get one of their games to the table!
And of course, I need to add the following disclaimer: I never know what might capture my attention out of nowhere. For example, I’m expecting a bunch of Kickstarters to deliver this year (such as Mothership and Pirate Borg).
Attend at least one convention in person
I’ll likely attend one local con here in Colorado, probably Genghis Con in February. I’d also love to attend one remote con, such as Gamehole Con again, in Madison Wisconsin, or perhaps Big Bad Con, one of my favorite cons in California.
Play a game in person
Aside from Gamehole Con last year, I still haven’t played any games in person since the pandemic. I might get a chance to play with my “home group” while visiting California, where I used to live. Or I might start a game here in Colorado.
Keep regularly publishing videos
While I’m not committing to a fixed schedule, I’m aiming for 2 per month. This will ultimately depend on the level of engagement I get. So keep those comments coming! 😊
Bonus: Physical Fitness
OK, this one is completely unrelated to gaming. Consider it a bonus.
For context: I’ve never been athletic, and don’t particularly enjoy exercise. I was a late adopter of exercise in my 40s and saw benefits in overall physical and mental health. I lost a bunch of weight and just generally felt better since I’ve exercised. I lapsed in 2020/2021 during the peak of the pandemic, but got back into it in 2022. I figure that committing here might help keep me honest. 🙂
So I want to keep exercising, using a mix of bodyweight exercises and Yoga. I also really enjoy hiking, and generally try to get a decent hike in on most weekends - when possible, also in the winter! Last not least, I plan to continue walking or biking to work whenever possible.
What’s your New Year’s Resolution as it relates to gaming? Feel free to leave a comment here or on my video.