I’m Back!

So, some of you may have noticed that my blog has been down. I got hacked. I’m in the process of getting it back up and running – I’ve cleaned out the infected files, reinstalled WordPress, and relinked it to my old database, so I1 haven’t lost any of the posts or files I had here.

I’m also taking this opportunity to do a little bit of a refresh on the appearance of the blog. Right now, I’ve got a functional, if not-terribly-attractive look set up, and I’m going to be trying some stuff with themes and images over the next little while. I’m not looking to make it fancy, but I want to give it a little more functionality and a few more of the features that I like. What do I want out of the look?

  • Clean and easy to read.
  • Excerpts on the front page instead of full posts.
  • Works well with Google analytics.
  • Lets me put occasional graphics in without spending an hour fiddling with them.

Some of you may also have noticed that there hasn’t been much new here in the past year or so. I plan on getting back to blogging a little more regularly2, including continuing my Fate of the Nephilim series. There have also been a lot of very cool games3 that have come out recently that I have OPINIONS about4.

Anyway, that’s the plan.

I’ve still got a lot of distractions in my world. They may interfere with this plan. But I’m coming into this with the best of intentions, and hope to get my blogging feet back under me, and turn this into an interesting place to visit, again.

Here’s hoping.

  1. Touch wood. []
  2. Hell, just getting back to blogging AT ALL will be a big step forward. []
  3. Like CoriolisMasksCthlhu ConfidentialCity of MistsBulldogs! Fate Core EditionPhoenix: Dawn CommandCrestfallenUndyingUrban Shadows… you get the idea. And that’s not even touching the board games and card games. []
  4. Huge surprise there, right? []

Cleaning Out the Spider Webs

Been a while.

Five months, plus a bit.

Last May, I went on a month-long vacation. In that time, I did some thinking about a lot of things, including this blog. It was becoming, I realized, more of a chore than a pleasure – I was always putting off writing the play reports, and then rushing through them just before the next session. And the blog was just becoming a collection of play reports, without the reviews, essays, and other stuff it used to contain.

So, I’m back, but the blog is going to be a little different. I’m not going to do up play reports for every session. Instead, I may highlight something from a session that I thought was cool in a broader sense than just something neat that happened during play. I’m going to be doing more reviews and essays on different aspects of gaming. I’m going to talk a little more about books, movies, and TV shows that do interesting things.

It’s probably going to take me a little while to get into the swing of things with this new direction. I hope folks find it interesting.

Anyway, like I said, I’m back. Look for the first real new post within the week.

Sundog Millionaires: Scum and Villainy

Last week, we got together to do the character creation for our new Fate Core Star Wars game. It had been over a month since we did the game creation session, which is a little longer than I had originally wanted, but life gets in the way sometimes.

And, because life gets in the way sometimes, we got started late and didn’t get as much done as we might have. But we made it through the high concept and trouble aspects, through the phase trio, and through the skill assignments. By the time we got to the stunts1, it was pretty late, and we were getting kind of punchy2, so I gave a brief explanation of what stunts were, and how they worked, and we decided to finish up the characters via e-mail and using our forum3.

As of this point in time, characters aren’t finished yet. Still, I wanted to get a short post about it, because I’m a bit behind on the blog.

So, we’ve got a hidden human Jedi4, a besalisk archaeologist, a human former Imperial diplomat, a wookiee mechanic/slicer, and a messed-up former assassin droid.

It looks like an interesting group. I hope to finish up the characters this coming week, and maybe even start play next weekend.

Oh, yeah. We still need to decide on what kind of ship the gang has.

  1. Arguably one of the most complex parts of character creation. []
  2. To be fair, we always start kind of punchy. []
  3. We have a forum now? []
  4. I knew at least one of the players would go for this option. And I correctly guessed which one. []

Five Hundred

Five hundred blog posts. Wow. Time flies.

It’s been almost a year and a half since I wrote my Four Hundred blog post. Obviously, my output has slipped. I’m going to have to think about that, and see if there’s something I want to be writing about but am not. I know that this summer, I was really slacking on the posting, and then there was some downtime as I reworked the site. Since then, I’ve been posting a little more regularly, and I want that to continue.

Anyway.

Over the past hundred posts, by far the majority of what I’ve been posting has been play reports from my campaigns. Maybe not the most interesting stuff in the world, but I try to spice them up with thoughts about what’s working and what’s not. They get some solid traffic, so I’m assuming that someone out there1 is enjoying them.

Of my new posts, the biggest draws seem to be reviews – this makes sense to me, as word of the review usually gets broadcast further than my normal reach allows, thanks to the publishers, authors, fans, etc. People are obviously interested in my reviews of games and books2, so I’m going to try and do more of those, I think.

The biggest draws on the site are still – and I think this is a testament to how good the game is – my articles about The Dresden Files RPG. It’s gotten so that I can tell when a new group is starting a game, because of the spike in page views on campaign creation and character creation posts. I’m pretty pleased that the game is going strong, and glad that I’m able to contribute to people’s enjoyment of it in my own way3.

So. Five hundred posts in five and a half years4. Daily traffic that averages around 300 page views per day. Nine different campaigns I’ve wonked on at length about, four of which are recorded from start to finish in the play reports on this site. And a number of good friends made through the blog.

Thanks to everyone who reads the blog. Extra special thanks to everyone who comments, or who comes up in person to talk to me because of the blog – it’s nice to know I’m not shouting into a void.

Thanks to the publishers who have said nice things about the blog, and who always treat me so well whenever we interact. Special mention goes to Evil Hat Productions, Margaret Weis Productions, Atlas Games, and Pelgrane Press. These folks all treat their fans with great respect, care, and friendliness. And the make great games5.

Most of all, though, thanks to my friends – my fellow gamers – who let me use their game sessions as blogfodder. They are good people6, and I appreciate their tolerance and indulgence, especially when I go into one of my weird, experimental phases.

Now. Something I don’t normally do. I’m going to open the floor to suggestions. Is there anything that you folks out there would like to see a blog post on? Can’t guarantee I’ll do it, but I am curious to see what people are interested in. Toss your suggestion up in the comments.

And I hope you’ll stick around for another hundred posts, at least.

  1. Beyond my players. []
  2. So much so that I’ve posted my review policy here. []
  3. If you were around when this all started, or if you look back into the misty past as represented by the blog’s archives, you will recall (or discover) that without DFRPG and the cool folks at Evil Hat, this blog would not exist, so the game will always have a special place in my heart. Thanks again, Fred, for your brilliant Disclosure Policy during the playtest! []
  4. Five years, ten months to be a little more precise. []
  5. I don’t have sponsors or advertisers on this blog, and I never plan to. When I recommend something, it’s because I think it’s good, and no other reason. So, take me seriously when I say these folks deserve your dollars. []
  6. Except for Erik, who is a great big freak. And Chris, who is my nemesis. []

Renovations are Done

Things have been a little bit in flux the past few weeks here as I completed the move between WordPress themes. It’s pretty much all hammered out, now, and I hope you like the new look of the site.

What has changed? Mostly superficial stuff, but here’s the list:

  • Switched to Mantra theme.
  • Changed to two-column layout.
  • Tweaked colours1.
  • Wrote a new About… page, including review policy.
  • Played with sidebar widgets.
  • Added new Twitter feed widget.
  • Cleaned out the link list, and added some new ones.
  • Doubled the number of quotes in the quote database.
  • Ditched the old tagline and replaced it with a new one.
  • Added a custom banner created by my friend, Sandy. Thanks, Sandy!

That’s about it. I’m gonna stop poking at it for a while, now. If you’ve got any comments or feedback about the new look, feel free to post them below.

 

  1. Well, tweaked greys, anyway. []

What the Hell?

So, things look a little different here.

For the past five years, since I started the site, I’ve been using a great theme called Mandigo. And I liked it a great deal. But during one of the recent updates, it stopped displaying correctly. I fought with the settings for a while, but couldn’t get it straightened out, and finally my frustration overcame my laziness, and I decided I needed a new theme.

And thus, I switched over to this theme – Mantra. I’m going to be tinkering with it for a bit, I think, but it’s showing what I want it to show, and showing it properly. Let me know if you spot any weird display issues.

Now that the look of the thing doesn’t bother me so much, I’m hoping to get back to a more regular schedule of posts. Stay tuned.

Housekeeping

Couple of things.

First, several months ago, a reader by the name of Kevin Nault sent me some e-book versions of my posts on magic in DFRPG. I was very flattered that he’d gone to the trouble to make such a thing, and promptly uploaded them to my site. But, being an idiot, I didn’t tell anyone that I had done so or provide links to those files. I’m correcting that now. You can download DFRPG Magic 101 in .azw3, .epub, and .pdf formats from these links, and I’m posting links on the Dresden Files Articles page, as well.

Thanks again to Kevin for doing this, and my apologies to him for not posting the links in a timely fashion.

Second, I’m going away for three weeks, so there’s going to be very little1 in the way of updates to this blog during that time. Posts will continue when I return and recover and have something to write about.

In the meantime, if you are so inclined, you can follow my (mis)adventures as I wander through Ireland at my travel blog.

Talk to you all when I get back!

  1. Probably nothing, to be fair. []

Four Hundred

Welcome to my 400th blog post.

It took me almost exactly 15 months to do the last hundred posts, so we’re looking at about a post every five days. Obviously, the schedule hasn’t been as regular as that; indeed, there have been a couple of floods and a couple of droughts, but still. I’m averaging slightly better than a post a week1, which I consider not too bad.

I’ve been looking over the kinds of things that I’ve been writing about these last hundred posts. I’ve done a lot of play reports, a lot of articles on DFRPG2, a few on gaming in general, and a couple on general nerdy stuff. Obviously, it’s been a moderately successful mix – daily hits have almost doubled over the last hundred posts.

The big attractions here still seem to be my articles on how to play DFRPG; even the very earliest ones are consistently in my top-visited page stats. It’s nice to see that they’re a useful resource to so many folks, and nice to see so many people playing the game! There probably aren’t going to be any new articles in this category, because I’ve said pretty much all I can think of to say on the subject, but you never know.

One of the other big hits on the site is the series I’m working on finishing on emergent campaign storylines. They seem to have a wider initial appeal, but don’t become such return destinations. I’ve got one more article in the series3, and then it’s done. I’ll probably come up with a new series of articles after that, but I don’t know what they’ll be.

Anyway.

This is the point where I say thank you to everyone who comes by to read something I’ve written here. It’s always nice to see that people are reading the blog. And an extra special thank you to those of you who care enough to leave a comment. Sometimes, writing a blog feels like shouting into the wilderness. It’s especially gratifying to hear that there are real people out there.

The most profound, humble thanks I reserve for two different groups of people. First, my friends, who let me talk about them4 online. They are a great group of people to game with, and I’m immensely glad to know them all.

Second, to those of you who I’ve met personally. You’ve all had very nice things to say about my little narcissistic ramblings here, and it’s wonderful to meet so many different people who like games as much as I do5. It’s allowed me to meet some people in the industry that I’ve long admired, and to chat with them semi-regularly. It’s also allowed me to meet some fascinating people who AREN’T in the industry, and chat with them.

So, thanks to everyone for feeding my ego, whether it’s as an anonymous reader, a friendly commenter, or a brave in-person approacher. Thanks for indulging me.

The next hundred posts should start tomorrow or the next day, with a report about this past weekend’s Marvel Heroic Roleplaying Launch Party down in Minneapolis6.

Stick around.

  1. That’s not counting my Ireland trip posts over on my other blog, of course. []
  2. And there’s some crossover there, obviously. []
  3. Well, maybe two. I’m trying to think if the other one is actually worth writing, or if it’s just rephrasing too much of what the other articles say. []
  4. And their characters. []
  5. Weird little aside, here. Many years ago, I wrote a bunch of RPG stuff in the industry, mainly for D&D 3E and Unknown Armies. At the height of my… well, I can’t honestly call it “fame,” but at the height of my presence in the gaming world, very few people recognized my name or my work. This past year, I have had more people ask me if I’m THE Rick Neal because of this blog than ever approached me because of my actual payed writing. It’s gratifying, and humbling, and a little puzzling all at the same time. []
  6. Teaser review: The game is awesome. []

Ireland 2011

This has nothing to do with gaming, but I’m planning a trip to Ireland this fall. Tonight, I launched the blog where I’ve posted my itinerary. I will be posting entries leading up to the trip, and hope to get a post up each day of the trip, with a few pictures.

If you’re at all interested in that sort of thing, you can see it here.

If you’re not, carry on.