Here’s a selection of excellent blog posts that I’ve had the pleasure of reading or rereading recently. My criteria for these selections is amorphous and unclear even to me, but largely revolves around posts which leave behind sentences, ideas, bits which tumble over and over in my brain over the course of days. I think the greatest posts are like grains of sand that become pearls if they agitate your brain enough.
Grave Growth by Larry Hamilton (Follow Me, And Die!)
Larry lays down a tiny snippet of worldbuilding that I’ve revisited and pondered at least a dozen times in the past month. This is the kind of setting detail I adore. It’s something that seems unique, is interactive, and clever players will notice a pattern and inquire after it, driving their engagement with the shared fantasy. I keep thinking about it.
The Future of His Majesty the Worm by Josh (Rise Up Comus)
This is one for the crowd who makes stuff or fancies the idea of making stuff for wide dissemination. There’s a lot of information and after-action reporting here from someone with recent experience dealing with Itchfunding and thoughts on Kickstarter alternatives. As I ponder the behavior of Kickstarter’s hellish C-suite and what steps we can all take to make migration from their platform possible and successful, I find myself really valuing insights like the hard-fought clues here.
Recent Entries on D4Caltrops by KTrey (D4Caltrops)
Yes, this one is a generalized link to the blog rather than one specific post because every few days for the last month+ this blog has been updated with a d100 list (or similar scale random table), all of which have kicked ass. If I had to pick one that keeps moving to the forefront of my brain I’d say the winner is the Seasonal Weather post, because I think weather is unbelievably important to setting the scene and feel of role-playing games. It’s crucial to humans. It’s so base to our understanding of the world and others that it’s pretty much the default small-talk way we relate to others, to the point we have standup routines around it. It adds a lot, even if it’s subconscious, and this post really nails it and makes it easy. Of course, the reason this one started with a generalized link is that every recent table has been killer fodder for descriptions.
GAZ by James V West (Doomslakers)
James really knocked this one out of the park. I agree with everything he says here. Brevity is key in games. Front-load the best parts, don’t hide them away. And he’s right: for almost everything, 32-96 pages truly is The Zone. I buy lots of fancy hardcovers too, but I go absolutely crazy on zines and similar formats. They’re where the juicy bits are. James delivers concrete stuff here that my brain keeps repeating and evaluating.
In Defense of the Green Devil Face by James Maliszewski (Grognardia, naturally)
I keep mulling over this mid-December post from James, maybe because the pace of Dicember (sic) was enough that I naturally kept other things on a sort of mental back burner. As he artfully discusses, the Tomb of Horrors adventure and in particular its iconic green devil face trap are infamous artifacts of the early days of D&D and the tournament culture of gaming at the time. People are less than charitable with this sometimes, but I remember being a teenager with a mercurial DM and I came to the same conclusion then as James does here in his retrospective article. I embrace the green devil face!
Elemental Heresies and Oaths series by Chris Tamm (Elfmaids & Octopi)
Elfmaids & Octopi is one of my absolute most favorite blogs. When I was off work unexpectedly in December and early January due to The Virus, I spent a bit of time one day catching up on the year of his posts that I missed out on. In spring of 2021 he posted a great piece on the primordial, pre-religious(?) alignment system in his game world and I was immediately fascinated; he followed it up more recently with a more in-depth series of posts on specific elemental pacts: fire, earth, water, air. This is just killer stuff!
Productive Scab-Picking by Humza Kazmi (Legacy of the Bieth)
Humza is great and I feel very lucky to have met him and his Hydra Cooperative pals. When I came back to the internet a few months ago I specifically went and looked at his blog unprompted (as I’ve been hotly anticipating his Legacy of the Bieth setting book for Awhile), and I found this post on the challenges and values of sometimes-controversial explorations of difficult topics in fiction and gaming. Even as I worked my way backward on his blog I kept referring back to it and digesting it. I keep thinking about it. I could write a ton of words about this post and what it discusses and frame it on my own lived experiences but none of it would be as useful as the words he wrote.
We Need to Craft More Third Party Modules for Small Games by Evlyn Moreau (Le Chaudron Chromatique)
Here, Evlyn makes a crystal clear call to the community of gamers who make things: support the smaller games you like by making things for them. She brings up a very important point that we all probably innately know but never actually pause to really consider, which is that the support of secondary books draws an outsized-amount of attention/market awareness, playability, and longevity to first-order books (i.e. systems). Actively doing so is something I would like to make a go at.
I don’t know your life or what’s on your schedule at the moment but if you can, make some time to put your eyeballs on these posts. Each is basically a couple minutes, tops. Seconds, for a few of them. You can read them all in less time than watching an episode of a TV show, easily, and you’ll probably like them more.