Dec 27

My Top Five Posts: 2014


TalesOfAGM Dice Sq SmThe end of the year is a suitable time for both looking back and looking forward. I have yet more plans for the blog, to improve my writing and create a more enjoyable site for you. For this article, I look back on five of my favourite posts of 2014.


Tales of a GM began on August 9th, 2013. Thus, 2014 was my first full year of blogging. During the past year I posted 278 articles, including this one. Some months saw greater productivity than others, but overall I have kept up a decent schedule. Looking back, the following posts have been some of my highlights of Tales of a GM.


Location Aspects

Chronologically, the first highlight of 2014 was the article Location Aspects and Brainstorming with Players, published 18th May.


Based around the idea in Fate Core, I now give Players the chance to help me design parts of the setting by brainstorming together a list of features for a location. These features are given a rating, and turn into potential obstacles for the Heroes. However, a Player may also invoke these same features to give their Hero a bonus in a contest.


This process makes setting relevant to the game, as it is given a mechanical value. Furthermore, I love the impact of this idea on my game. The Players enjoy it when they can help create setting. While it can break the flow of a session, the payoff is the greater degree of Player engagement it creates.


This article also highlights the collaborative nature of our HeroQuest campaign.


Find the Path

Next to be published was Find the Path: A Hacked Becoming Quest, posted on 8th June.


This entry represents a personal achievement, but something of a failure for the Tales of a GM blog. The June article was a summary of the latest Interlude we had played in our Tales of the Hero Wars campaign. This Interlude was played using Becoming, by Brian Engard.


This had been another fun Interlude. The article went on to become the basis of Find the Path, the first pdf I published on DriveThru. I am immensely proud of this achievement, even if it has only sold a single copy at the time of writing. This sale was to one of my Players.


So, a commercial failure and a personal success. I have learnt from both sides of this experience. I was not expecting to sell a lot of copies, but I was hoping for enough to cover the hosting fees for Tales of a GM. I shall build on this one pdf through 2015 and release some more books for sale. Whatever their successes, the journey all began with this article.


For more details about Find the Path: A Hacked Becoming Quest pdf, please see the product page.


Little Wizards

Third on the list is Little Wizards and Making Failure Interesting, published 17th August.


As with the Location Aspect post, this article is another one looking at developments in my HeroQuest 2 game. This article grew from an idea in Little Wizards, an RPG aimed at children. The concept of interesting failures, combined with a 2013 highlight about the graded outcomes in HeroQuest 2, led me to create a method of branching the narrative in my game.


Here is another innovation which has brought new energy to our Tales of the Hero Wars campaign. The narrative often takes a life of its own, as the graded outcomes lead to interesting developments in the story. This does require a lot of improvisation, but much of this burden is passed along to the Players again.


I really need to write a post explaining in more detail this system, and doubtless this article will make the 2015 highlights list. Once more, here is another article which has lead to a big step forward in the quality of our game.



The next feature article is Trollbabe and the Hero in RPGs, posted 5th Sept.


This was the first of the multi-part Trollbabe series, currently standing at seven episodes, but with several more lined up for 2015. These essays explore the ideas of Ron Edwards found in his RPG Trollbabe.


I often find myself exploring and developing a concept as I write about it. While I create outlines for my articles, the ideas can still develop as I write. Also, I often find my understanding of a topic expands and refines during the writing process. This series exemplified these processes for me.


Furthermore, these articles have shown the quality of ideas to be found in just a single indie game. There is so much in Trollbabe for the wider hobby, which is all credit to the mind of Ron Edwards. This series has been informative for me, helped me to spread some great ideas and even brought a decent amount of traffic to Tales of a GM.


All of that began with this post. What more could I want from an article?


A Grand Finale

My final highlight for 2014 was Prep in Progress: Epilogue, posted in 25th November.


My regular series of Prep in Progress articles provide notes and insight into my experiences of GM-ing the Tales of the Hero Wars campaign. This year I had the unique experience of completing a cycle of tales. In all my many, many years of being a GM, this is the first time I successfully concluded a campaign.


So many of my games just petered out, often due to my losing interest due to the sheer volume of work required to prepare the game. Others ended with a surprising slaughter of Heroes, or just Player cohesion dissolving into an endless argument.


This year, however, I finally ended a campaign to plan. The story of the migration of the Eternal Lizards tribe concluded with the Heroes leading them through the portal to their Promised Land. Not all the Heroes made it through safely, but the story was brought to a satisfying conclusion.


This was hugely rewarding, both for me and the Players. I fervently hope to repeat the experience as we move forward to the next cycle of tales. Consequently, this short article makes a worthy conclusion to this brief overview of my highlights of 2014.



A Near Miss

Honourable mention must go to the Dragonmeet articles, as the convention was a highlight of the year for me. Again, I would hope to make this an annual event, but December 2015 is a long way off.


So, I hope that you have enjoyed the first full year of Tales of a GM. Do you have any highlights of the blog? Share your thoughts in the comments below.


Thank you for reading my blog, and I look forward to sharing 2015 with you.


Happy Gaming
Something for the Weekend next week: The Scribes’ Game


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