It’s the final installment! This post is both the final days of the month and also my retrospective of sorts on the event itself. This is a long one, I’d say, largely because of how WordPress formats embedded social media links; give them a bit of a chance to load as there’s some great jewels down there. Without further delay:
Day 30: Reverse
This prompt evaded me all month long. I was a week ahead most of the month, if not more, but as I approached the end of Dicember I ended up having everything done but this one. I had nothing. I initially wrote “reverse spells? inverse casting” on my idea list for this month but the B/X books do a good job of giving us a bunch of those and I wasn’t feeling like it was cool enough. I had completed Day 31’s art long before I figured this prompt out.
Then on the 27th it hit me: I hadn’t done a photo yet, and that’s one of the formats Dyson suggested on his blog. How do you reverse a photo? Well, a photo negative, for one, but I quickly settled on video instead and the rest was easy. With this entry, I checked off every box on the list of suggested options proposed on Dyson’s blog. Pretty stoked on that.
Day 31: World
Much like the entry for SKULL on 10 December, which saw many of us doing D20 skulls, I imagined this would be a popular take when I conceived of the idea. The real fantasy here isn’t the dodecahedral world, it’s the surviving polar ice caps.
Wrap-Up: Thoughts and Second Half Favorites
Dicember is complete!
- Day 1: Ammo
- Days 2-5: Ice, Child, Rage, Blade
- Days 6-11: Shame, Daemon, Present, Night, Skull, Forest
- Days 12-15: Help, Food, Ooze, Snow
- Day 16: Unholy
- Day 17: Sleep
- Day 18: Balefire
- Day 19: Runic
- Days 20-21: Huge, Push
- Day 22: Door
- Days 23-24: Slow, Tower
- Days 25-26: Arcane, Boss
- Day 27: Gold
- Day 28: Toxin
- Day 29: Ghost
- Days 30-31: Reverse, World
Going by the posts I’ve been able to track down elsewhere, which is probably a flawed metric to base an opinion on anyway, it looks like Dicember trailed off a bit in the second half of the month. The number of participants seems to have shrunk and the hashtag on Twitter is the same few names over and over, while the hashtag on Instagram remains mostly typos and autocompletes by Christmas celebrants in Italy. Even Dyson Logos himself fell a bit behind! But it’s okay, because everyone helped make this month a little brighter, a little more interesting, every time they took time out of their day to share an idea or a picture.
For my part, I sincerely enjoyed it, and I feel kind of proud for having seen it all the way through. My lasting impression of it has to be the flexibility allowing me to be successful. I couldn’t have gotten all the way through it without the option to write when I wanted to write and to draw when I felt like drawing. I got to make a couple of useful-ish things, including an adventure PDF and some generators, and I got to make some goofy doodles that were mostly just for a giggle. None of the prompts took themselves too seriously. In all, I’d say Dyson Logos knocked it out of the park with the Dicember calendar and the format for the challenge. I hope he runs it again in 2022. I’m looking forward to it.
Anyway, enough about my opinions on Dicember – let’s talk about my Dicember opinions! There were so many awesome Dicember works by everyone else. This time, we’re looking at the second half of Dicember; everything since the last batch at the halfway point. Let’s put together a brief list of a few things that really excited me, in no particular order:
Some Cool Entries From 16 December – 31 December 2021
- 1d12 Towers – Prompt #24 TOWER – Taichara again with the engrossing descriptions. Some of these towers stand out and have been on my mind a bunch the past week; the final entry of clattering undead working in near-silence with unnatural drive especially. It reminds me of Ghostlands and the Pit of Saron/Icecrown Citadel in World of Warcraft, which I understand may be tenuous grounds for a compliment among many traditional tabletop players but I mean it with the highest of praise as I have long adored those areas and their stories and general ambience and aesthetics. I’ve really been mulling this list of towers and have returned more than once to re-read it. Follow Taichara.
- Balefire – Prompt #18 BALEFIRE – Schlumpwerks, aka James Jackson, has absolutely crushed Dicember over on Instagram. There hasn’t been a single miss in the bunch. Every piece of artwork has been seriously amazing. Like every single one belongs in a book somewhere to be enjoyed by readers for years and years. Picking just one is super difficult, they’re that good; for the sake of this article I’ve picked this one below, but you can’t go wrong with any of them. I selected it because of the sense of foreboding and fear in the piece, the dark shadows of night struggling to obscure a great threat from the moonlight. The flames are a tiny comfort, a desperate signal. Follow Schlumpwerks.
- All These Swords (and One Axe) by James V West – Prompt #5 BLADE, I imagine – James pretty much “won” Dicember for me because his work is always wonderfully interesting and charming. His works in general speak to a sincere love of fun. And on top of that, his art drips with so much style. Just look at it. The thing about it is, I could have opened a role-playing game in my youth to a page with his art and his words and my mind would have absolutely hit the land speed record. It not only wouldn’t have been out of place, it would have been a page I pointed out to my friends while we ate Cap’n Crunch with our hands and struggled to keep soda cans balanced on a carpet floor. I feel lucky that I get to feel that same feeling as an adult. I could probably link to any of his posts and be satisfied that the accolade is well-placed but these swords are just so cool that I will single them out as a group. Follow James.
He has even more weapons not specifically tagged with Dicember over on his blog, which I highly recommend.
Retrospective: Favorite and Toughest Prompts
In case anyone was particularly interested in which of the calendar prompts got my mind racing in many directions, or which I had the most fun with:
- Day 1: Child – I expected this to be really difficult for me and approached it with some trepidation initially. I rarely include kid characters in games even though logically you’d expect tons of them all over if you actually stopped to consider the setting at all. I mean, where do barkeeps even come from? But once I figured out that the child could be baby monsters it all clicked for me. I put together a roll table in the vague presentation of a Christmas card while watching Elf out of the corner of my eye with my wife. Several of the entries are cryptids from our own world.
- Day 11: Forest – Probably unsurprising that this was one of my favorites. I grew up in forests; I have hiked part of the Pacific Crest Trail and hundreds of miles of hiking elsewhere in the PNW (rainforests like Haida Gwaii, Sooke, Tofino Pacific Rim, Hoh, etc and inland forests and mountains throughout British Columbia and Washington). I love forests, so this adventure flowed freely and was a fun little project. Plus, it got me to fake my way through Affinity InDesign after so long away.
- Day 26: Boss – I love making monster parties have veterans and specialists among them. Being set upon by a roaming band of goblins in a dungeon is one thing, but being attacked by a few goblins marshaled by a big brother orc or hobgoblin with a trademark banner and saber is a whole other ballgame. It can cause a quest to spiral into all new directions. Your party may spontaneously develop a rivalry or nemesis, they may make assumptions and tie it to other events you hadn’t even considered, you name it. I was especially excited by the timing of Evlyn releasing a drawing of a Goblin Champion to her Patreon as I was about halfway through writing the roll tables for this prompt.
And those I had the toughest time with:
- Day 21: Push – Really had to dig through my brain on this one. I think I ended up overthinking and fatiguing my brain with it. Also, I wound up restating something the awesome Diogo Nogueira has already done. Seeing some of the art out there done for this prompt, I can’t believe I missed such obvious options!
- Day 30: Reverse – As mentioned above in this very post, this one came to me at the eleventh hour. Honestly really happy with how it turned out given that I never really take videos ever (my phone could lose the function and I wouldn’t notice).
So that wraps it all up for Dicember 2021. I had a great time. It was perfectly timed to coincide with my return to the blog and it felt great to stretch my nerdy legs a bit. In many ways, having a list of prompts like this took a ton of thinking off my plate, so to speak. I could focus on the actually doing, rather than the sorting through half-formed ideas for projects and posts. This really worked to make my return painless despite it being during the busiest time of year for me.
Dicember was a lot of fun for me. I hope it will return in 2022, and I definitely look forward to it. Hopefully Dyson confirming it and my activity level will coincide next year so I can help spread the word and share in the excitement; it would be really cool to see many more members of the old-school D&D communities join in on the challenge. If you’re reading this and didn’t get a chance to participate this year, I hope you will take part if it happens next year, and post your own creations and takes on prompts to fill the holidays with super cool things along with us!