Monday, January 1, 2018

2017 in Review - yeah, I do that too ...

Not much to look at, tough. It's been a slow year here on the blog. 30 posts ... not an all time low, but way too close to be comfortable. Life's just too damn crazy right now to allow for more. I hope this changes a bit in 2018. I have plans, of course, but as they say: a plan is a list of things that do not happen. Anyway, let's look back at 2017! I'll try and make it interesting.

Lost Songs of the Nibelungs (the elephant in the room)

It's been a good year. Mostly due to very enthusiastic play-testers in the f2f games and in virtual space. One of my players in the local group even agreed to DM the game a bit and gave me a chance to play a character for a change. I died. Fast. Good times :) I did not heed my own advice. Lost Songs has cooperation deeply ingrained into the combat system. Fighting alone is a game of luck you'll most likely lose in the long run ...

I also finally managed to write a magic system that holds up in play-testing! Two years of hard brain work right there. It needs to connect a bit more with the system, but it's all there and just needs to be done. Here, have a peek:
Open in new tab for details ... There'll be a post
explaining it all in the near future.
There's still lots of work to do with the game, but I feel confident that it will eventually happen. Couldn't say when, though. Those things take the time they take and that's a good thing. Other construction sites I need to tackle are (in no particular order):

  • The seasonal aspect of the game. I talked about this a couple of years ago. Still needs to happen. The concept I'm working on includes some sort of rune oracle attached to the Narrative Generator.
  • Another thing I'll need happening is the tribe generator I've also been talking about a couple of years ago (see here). I have a clearer picture now what I'll need and how it connects to the game. And the sandbox needs it, so it'll happen soon.
  • The third big construction site is how non-player characters, monsters and combat work on the DM side of the screen. I've talked about this a lot recently and you can see some of this on the magic grid posted above. Most likely the next thing I'm working on, as it connects too many things in the game to get ignored any longer.

All of those are partially done to one degree or another. It'll need testing, of course, and after that the game needs another revision where all that stuff gets connected properly. That's the finishing line and it is in sight. Still, could be another 2 years before Lost Songs will be that complete. We are getting there, though :)

The Blog in 2017

I know, it's not much to look at count-wise. Content-wise that might be another story. I've written some looooong posts this year, chewing on some ideas and concepts of gaming like a dog on a bone. Some of this got read, some of it got received well and there's always people out there who are willing to read and comment on my thoughts. I appreciate you all!

It's hard to gauge what works best for the blog and what tanks. Walls of text certainly don't help the traffic, it needs time and dedication from the reader, which is a lot to begin with. However, if I get feedback, it is always from those who actually sat down and read it all, so it's always worth to sit down and write it all. That said, it's the design philosophy posts that get the most traffic (which is good, as I don't intent to stop writing them ...), D&D always draws a crowd (need to write some more Oddities posts in 2018, I suppose) and the Lost Songs stuff comes after that (seems that there are a couple of people interested in seeing where it goes).

What I didn't get to do often last year was writing reviews. Not that I lacked material, but when I started having less and less time, something had to give. Didn't have the time or the energy. I hope that'll change in 2018. Another thing that fell a bit short last year were community projects and cross-blog chatter. The blog is over 5 years now and I've been lurking for much longer. If I look around today I see it all changed. Many, many blogs I loved to read and share content with are gone some way or another.

I'm sure there's lots of new great stuff out there, but lack of time lets me only find some of it every now and then. Doesn't help that I'm really not interested in 5e. Just won't play it. I generally think I have reached a point of saturation (tried to capture my thoughts on this in a post here, if you are interested).

All the shit storms didn't help. There seems to be trend in which people online try to compensate a lack of content with what they believe to be "personality" and "opinions". Fuck that noise. I'm here to talk elf games and DIY and history and philosophy of the hobby. If I have nothing to say about those topics, I'd rather write nothing than wasting my and other people's time with bullshit politics. YMMV, of course, and I agree that it can be entertaining to watch in moderate doses. However, if that's ALL that's happening in a sad attempt to sell stuff or gain followers, it gets old fast.

It's actually one of the biggest changes here on the blog: I ignore those people now. My blog-roll is somewhat shorter for it and the OSR banner is down. I'm still "old school", I just don't think the OSR is heading into a good or healthy direction. Compare what's happening now to what was going on, say, 6 years ago on OSR blog-rolls and you'll know what I mean.

What else? Projects! (there's a free game in it, too)

There's of course a couple of project developing here on the ranger. I guess it's something that happens when you blog long enough. There is, of course, Lost Songs of the Nibelungs as the main project, but I'm also still collecting material for The Grind (card-based action rpg in a steampunk-setting) and the Goblin-Tribe Simulator is not forgotten (if neglected, but I can't change that for now).

However, nothing of that got finished in 2017. What I did get done, though, is publishing my very own first module. Took me only the biggest part of 2016 and a good chunk of 2017 to get there, but Monkey Business saw the light of day on the 1st of May 25017. There was some positive reception about it and I know for sure that's there are people out there who enjoyed it for what it is. That alone makes the effort worthwhile, but it also was great fun writing it. Expect more of the same soon (see below).

I did not manage to make a print version available, though. Time just wouldn't allow it. That it'll happen is all I can say right now.

Another thing I did and didn't talk about that much here on the blog, was a editing and layout job for one of +Mark Van Vlack's games: Phase Abandon. It's a fantastic little DM-less and rules-lite game. The layout and editing was merely an exercise, a fun side-project and a present for a friend. However, Mark decided to make it accessible on drivethru and there you can get it for free (just follow the link on the name of the game ...)! Check it out, it's a great game.

That pic had been in the public domain without any
kind of attribution & I love it for so many reasons ...
if anyone knows the artist, give me a shout!
And that's about it. Considering how busy I had been last year, this is plenty.

What 2018 might bring ...

More of the same, I guess. I'll try and review a couple of things I read and liked last year. More free stuff, if I can find it! I'll also try and position myself away from the OSR, maybe as some sort of branch (?). I'm thinking about labeling my publications
"OSG" for: Old School Gonzo
(or Gamers / Geeks / Goodness / Glory / Grognards / Groove .... there's plenty of good words starting with "g"). I'll whip something up in that direction. Maybe as soon as for my next publication. The blog needs a new banner, too, so ...

Next up projects will be a modern day supplement for Labyrinth Lord/Mutant Future called
"be1967 - A Game of Extraordinary Splatter"
(the "be" stands for Basic Edition - it's not a new game, though, just a collection of rules to make it work with LL/MF). It's something I needed to write for the next weird adventure module I'm working on called:
The Rise of Robo-Hitler -
A Grindhouse-Splatter Extravaganza
A module following the simple credo that Hitler can't be killed often enough ... More about this soon. The supplement already saw its first play-test (with a group of ten people, 5 of them being newbies to rpgs in general ... it's been crazy) and it is fun to write. I'll aim to publish it in 4 months. Let's see if this works out. Probably not :) But it's happening this year, I can tell you that much. be1967 might see a first publication here on the blog as early as this month.

I've also been asked to do some editing for +Jay Murphy's
USR Sword & Sorcery Deluxe Edition
(check out his blog here). It sounds like a great project and I'm looking forward to work with Jay. Interesting times, I'd say.

Here's to the next year!

Turned out to be a long one again. Ah, well. I'll keep writing them as long as you guys keep reading them. 2018 already shapes up great and I hope it'll be a little bit more productive than the last one. What I wouldn't change is my readers, the g+ crowd and the commentators here actually engaging in dialogue about my scribblings and (of course) the people I had the pleasure to game with (special shout-out to +Van Noa and the A&A group!). You guys are awesome and I hope we get to exchange as much thoughts and ideas as we did the years before. Good show, folks, good show!

2018, here we come!


  1. Great read. I think everything you listed you can achieve in 2018. Lost songs is awesome and I am really looking forward to playing it again.
    Thanks for the shout out. Every one who has seen your layout of phase has been impressed, it looks great.
    Let's plan on working on a few things and make it happen in 2018!

    1. Thanks, Mark! We'll definitely do that :)

  2. The artist is Frank Kelly Freas from IF Science Fiction February 1959 cover for the story Pipe Dream by Fritz Leiber.

    1. Thanks! We'll attribute him in the imprint asap. Was it something you knew or is there a good way to find those things. Because I did check and I couldn't find him.

  3. No I didn't know it. I did a reverse image search. Just go to and you can drag the image (from anywhere, e.g. another web page or your computer) onto the page and it will search for it. From there it was just trawling through the results to find the information.

    The most interesting thing was seeing that he also did Mad magazine covers for a while. I can see the similarity in the image you used.

  4. Thanks Jens and a Happy New Years! You've definitely made the A&A group gate and kept me on my toes for 'Chasing the Sun' campaign.