Monday, May 30, 2011

Busy? Baby Steps!

I'm guessing that most of you, like me, suffer from a too-busy lifestyle. Between jobs, hobbies, families, friends, sinister plots and world-saving adventure, there is barely enough time to breathe, let alone keep the other stuff from slipping through the cracks. Having just come off a major project at work, I took a moment last week to see where I had been slacking in my various personal pursuits and realized that I hadn't updated my D&D game's Obsidian Portal site in months.

I love the OP community, and the the site's usefulness as a gaming public record. However, a public record is useless unless you take the time to keep it up-to-date. This becomes problematic when things like upcoming game prep, or more importantly actual life, intervene. I think I have a pretty good grasp of my general priority buckets.
  1. Survival
  2. Job, Girlfriend & Family (really, if I put any above the other, I get burned in some way)
  3. Friends
  4. Game Night
  5. Blog
  6. Game Web Site <=== Obsidian Portal
  7. Personal Entertainment
Carrying around this myriad of buckets means that those at the bottom of the stack often get neglected. I WANT to keep up with them, because I enjoy it, but I can't justify writing a game recap if I have moldy science experiments festering in the kitchen sink.

Well, last Friday as I contemplated this state of affairs, I came up with a plan that will hopefully allow me to keep up with all of my various priorities without sacrificing the integrity of the stack. My plan? 

Baby Steps.

My OP site provided the inspiration for this approach. Previously, I had been a bit of a site-update bulemic. I would view all the updates I needed to make with dread, until one day, I would reach a tipping point and try to spend a bunch of time trying to catch up. I would binge on OP until I felt sick, and then would completely ignore it until the cycle repeated.

Under the Baby Steps approach, I plan to spend 30 minutes a day working on the site. I'll pick a page to update (I'm working on past adventure logs right now) and try to knock out a concise product in the time allotted. Hopefully, by spending short amounts of time, more frequently, I will be able to gradually catch up on everything that I have let lag.

In other GM-related time management news, Johnn over at Campaign Mastery has an excellent post/review about using the iPad App Daily Notes for jotting down ideas on the fly, and as a result prepping for your next session without even trying. I really like the idea of many mini notes coalescing into a game. As I learned while working on my master's thesis, actually writing ideas down as you have them keeps them from ping-ponging around in the brain causing an inexorable descent into madness.

The trouble I often have with notebooks, however, is keeping the contents of each organized. I prefer to have my notebooks divided by subject, but the day inevitably comes when I show up to a work meeting with only my GM notebook in hand, or vice versa. Thus, the pure unpolluted subject-matter of the recorded thought process is horribly sundered by a recap of the latest board meeting. Nevertheless, I am determined once again to pick up some compact journal in which to strike while the GM-ing iron is hot.

Note: The purpose of the notebook described above is entirely different from the one I use to actually run my game.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Learning to Crawl

My regular D&D group got back to business last night after our usual two-week break, and the party finally dealt with the second namesake of the game. In over two years of play, they had been through many dungeons, but finally killed their first dragon. He was a particularly vain blue, who fancied himself an artiste and who had appropriately made his lair in the ruins of an ancient elven museum. He had littered the halls with art of his own creation, mostly sculptures made from body parts and bits of armor he found in the ruins, or took off the victims of his raiding.

But I digress...

I had a couple takeaways from the experience of running this last adventure:
I really like running a game from a notebook as opposed to a computer.
I feel that my note-taking during the game is greatly improved, and it forces me to be succinct in my pre-game prep. However, I am definitely not yet proficient with the low-tech approach, especially during combat encounters. I need to come up with a note format that is easier to scan in the frenetic environment of battle -As a DM, I need to be simultaneously thinking about the monsters’ next move, while responding to and recording hits made by the PCs and noting things like buffing spells that they cast during their turns. Having to take more than a second to check a monster’s Armor Class, or Save modifiers can really break up the flow of combat. I often come out of such encounters feeling like I just ran a mental marathon.

To that end, I think I will restructure the mini-stat blocks I have created, and possibly make use of highlighters. So that only the MOST important stats are included in the quick scan block, with supplemental stuff off to the side. I am also working out a shorthand notation for tracking player moves. I started listing the initials for each character in the notebook to quickly record each move. To add to that, I’m working out a bit of code for recording specific actions (e.g. “FAM v D 24” would mean Full-Attack, Melee vs. Dragon 24hp of damage)

When I actually remembered to make these notes, I found it very helpful for keeping track of what was going on... when I actually remembered.

I really don’t like dungeon crawls.
A dungeon crawl is a classic staple of D&D adventuring. It is typically characterized as a room-to-room exploration of some sort of monster/bad-guy infested complex. Maybe its me, maybe its the way that my group plays, but every time my players enter a “dungeon” it feels like the pace of my game drags to a halt. Take this last adventure. The ruined elven museum had only 5 locations of real interest: The main hall, full of animals trapped in stasis fields, the dragon’s lair in a large auditorium, the arcane library which served as a refuge, a planar observatory where the dragon’s minions hung out, and an abandoned alchemy lab. Each of these locations was basically a single room, but it probably took us 5 or more sessions to get through them all.

That’s pretty much par for the course with my group when it comes to dungeons. The last time we ran through a really major dungeon, a couple of my players expressed that they felt bored and ended up switching their characters. This time, I worked hard to vary the types of events that took place, and I was getting positive feedback from my players (especially about the HUGE payoff they got last night) but I was constantly nagged by an inner voice saying “pick up the pace!” This was further enhanced last night when one of my players mentioned his suspicion that another member of the group was growing bored again.

Hearing that your players feel bored is one of the worst things a DM can hear... but it’s better to know about it than not.

Many of the storytelling mistakes I made early in this campaign (it was my first time running a game) are now feeling like stumbling blocks two years later. 
If I could go back, I would have changed the following:
  1. Narrow the focus: I know I was going for epic, but two years of play towards a mission set near the beginning, with lots of meandering tends to bog stuff down.
  2. Tease with the villain: Many of the DM blogs I read suggest bringing in a clear uber-antagonist early on (act I) who is too powerful for the players to confront immediately -think Darth Vader attacking Princess Leia’s ship. This provides the group with a sense of the challenge they face, and causes the rest of the story to feel like an mountain climb rather than a walk down the street. I made the mistake of keeping things super mysterious... which really turned to muddy.
  3. Have the players provide key elements for their characters at the beginning, such as their softspot (candy, unicorns, boys) a character flaw (perfectionist, jealous, impulsive) the name of an ally and and enemy from their past. These would help me better tie the adventure to the characters’ motivations.
Wow... this is kind of a self-flagellating post!

Speaking of D&D-related flagellation, have you seen the most recent Penny Arcade?

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The Mind Reels, Joyously

The airship sperm whale from Leviathan is just begging for a fight with a flying squid!

Jamie over at For a Fistful of Coppers has an excellent post today about re-skinning D&D to set it as a World War I alternate history. While this particular post is more of a "hey, I had a neat idea!" without a lot of elaboration, it definitely set my mental gears spinning.

See, I just wrapped up a major project at work dealing with World War I aviation, and I've gotta say, the technological environment of the turn of the 20th Century would make for a very interesting analog for the high-fantasy magic traditionally found in D&D... During the technological boom that happened in the latter half of the 1800s to early 1900s from photographs to electricity, to automobiles and airplanes, many of the people working with these new technologies must have seemed like wizards to the average person. During my research, it has become apparent that many of them likely did not fully understand the very technologies they were developing! A delicious sense of tapping into and harnessing unknown forces permeates both (genre?, times? inadequate synonym?)

The Eberron campaign setting for D&D sort of touches on the blending of magic and technology, and could very well be used as a pre-made rules set for establishing the feel. However, real world events like the tangled alliances, technological rivalries and industrial espionage that took place in the early 20th century could make for some fantastic plot seeds... hmm... my inner villain is a-cacklin'

Monday, May 23, 2011

Getting Back in the Saddle

A creative experiment for y'all. If you were going to develop a fantasy adventure or story from one of the pictures found here: how would it go?

My regular D&D night is scheduled to start back up this week after our usual two-week in-between time. I have to admit, it feels like it has been longer, and I'm feeling a bit uninspired. Perhaps its the aforementioned slowdown in the story in terms of how much we have been getting through in the last few sessions. I work better when I feel the pressure of time, whether it is at work or at play. With nothing to plan, I've gotten soft and lazy. I can feel my creative mind beginning to atrophy.

I'll definitely need to snap myself out of this funk after this week, because I'm sure my group will resolve their current situation in one way or another (read: victory or death) this Thursday. I do have a pretty kickass idea for the next step, but beyond that stuff starts to get fuzzy and will really depend on the desires of the group.

I've been perusing my blogroll in an effort to kick-start my thought processes. There have been a couple new posts in the Architect DM series on creating histories for your fantastical cultures (part 1, part 2) though I must say they are a little short on architecture. There have also been a couple posts on prep-lite maps for games. I may give the technique a try, though I have a feeling that my literal-minded players might be bothered by some of the vagaries of the prep-lite technique.

"What do you mean we go down a couple halls and through a barracks between the throne room and the summoning chamber!? How long are the halls and what do they smell like!? I need to draw it on my map and add the smell notations!"

In other news, I was just made a moderator over at Obsidian Portal and am basking in the heady glow of nerdly authoritauh!

Finally, my spacebar thumb really hurts... way too much typing last week.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Supplemental... Would this be appropriate use of Irony?

I just noticed that my blog's formatting works fine in IE and Firefox, but gets all wonky in Google Chrome. Apparently Google's browser doesn't like Google's Blogger.

Are we there yet?

Summer looms on the horizon, just past this weekend's Rapturing activities and along with summer comes the summer road trip... and along with the road trip comes entertaining oneself while on the road.

I definitely consider myself a technophile. My household has two TVs (though no cable) a vast, linked network of computers and gaming consoles, a Nintendo DS, Kindle, iPod, iPhone and on ad nauseum... Despite my affection for these electronic trappings of 21st century living, I am firmly against televisions in cars. When I see the little glowy screens reflecting through the back of some burbclave bimbobox on the highway, my inner self-righteous curmudgeon gets all... well... curmudgeony.

"Back in my day, we didn't have no car TVs and gameboys had one color, puke green, and I didn't have one and I liked it!"

Full disclosure: I am not a parent (though I hope to be some day) and I am sure those who are parents and have been trapped in an automobile with a gaggle of hyperactive young'uns will tout the lifesaving optically delivered sedatives that are seat back TVs.  However, I am an uncle and have worked with kids of all ages in an educational capacity, and so my inner dilletante has teamed up with my inner curmudgeon to declare that this electronic sedation is a cop out!

Yes, it may be easier to dial your kids in to the church of Spongebob to keep them from each others throats, but caving to this easy bliss negates the very purpose of a road trip, which is to get out and see the world! from the road! Engrossed in seat-back television, kids may wind up thinking that the west coast of the United States is entirely populated by talking cartoon sponges.

I suggest that a better, more fulfilling solution to the "are we there yets" is the implementation of tried and true car games. Growing up, my sister and I had a tic-tac-toe game that we would play on our road trips. It consisted of a 5x5 grid of plastic cubes. 5 sides of each cube had pictures of things you might see out your car window, ranked in difficulty from 1 to 5. Rank 1 would be something like a stop sign, while 5 would be something really obscure like a bear eating a shark. The sixth side of the cube had the "you saw the thing!" X on it. On long road trips, my sister and I would stare out the window, soaking in our surroundings as our eyes scoured the horizon for a glimpse of the elusive images on those cubes... We had to catch them all!... like Pokemon, but without the animal abuse. The point is, we both have incredibly fond memories of that game and of our family trips that meant we got to play it.

There are also tons of games that don't even require a plastic grid of cubes, from "I Spy" to the "License Plate Alphabet Game". You don't need gadgets, just an imagination and a sense of humor. Recently, while driving around my home town, I tried out a game called "Count the Subarus" invented by my friends, Josh and Shiloh. The game works by picking a vehicle type that is ubiquitous to your area and counting just how many people have chosen to perpetuate your local automotive stereotype. In my case, the girlfriend and I counted 53 Subarus over a distance of about 3 miles.

So, while you're out seeing the world this summer, don't tap in to the tube. You can do that at home. Get creative with your entertainment. Even ridiculous games like "Count the Subarus" can help pass the time between pit-stops on the long road to adventure!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Reconnecting with Friends

Would you like to play a game?
My regular D&D game has been going through one of "those" phases. I am referring to an adventure, which I planned to have take 3 to 4 game sessions, but which is now stretching to 6 or 8. In real world terms, a month and a half is becoming 3 months of game sessions.

This is not necessarily a bad thing, and it has happened several times in my campaign (usually during dungeon crawls). My players still seem to be enjoying themselves/not dying. It's just that game encounters that I thought would take an hour have extended well beyond, and with everyone's busy schedules, I have had to run a couple shorter sessions.

The biggest consequence of all this is that I have had no game prep to do for months. No game prep means I have lots of free time to pursue other interests like gardening, Minecraft and taking windy walks with my girlfriend... not necessarily in that order. However, it also reduces the amount of new material I can potentially contribute to this blog as I am not trying out new things and contemplating various forms of RPG shennaniganry.

That being said, I have had the wonderful opportunity these past two Fridays to reconnect with two of my best friends from high school by getting together and playing board games.

The Seattle area seems to be firmly locked in an explosion of esoteric board-game enthusiasm. I am not sure if this is unique to the Pacific Northwest, or to my particular social circle, or if it is a nation/worldwide surge in board gameage. I find that this enthusiasm for games is primarily directed towards lesser-known titles (i.e. not the ilk of Monopoly, Candyland or Pictionary).

The past two weeks, I have spent my Friday nights playing Settlers of Catan, Chrononauts and Zombies!!! with the aforementioned best buds, and I gotta say, I forgot just how fun board games can be. As I have mentioned in previous posts, I prefer cooperative gaming to competition. However, these game nights have not brought forth any of my usual grumblings about playing against my friends. Maybe its the company, maybe my usual trepidation is all in my head, but it's been a wonderful experience.

Can anyone help fill me in? Is this a Northwest phenomenon, a young urbanite phenomenon, or is it something broader? Also, what games would you recommend I add to my burgeoning game shelf?

Friday, May 13, 2011

Winter is Coming

I'm not sure what happened, but this post disappeared from my blog. I kept getting a Blogger error for a while yesterday, so maybe a glitch made it disappear. The only other thing I can think of is that a studio bot flagged it for linking to a Game of Thrones video, but since the video is still active on YouTube and since I didn't receive any sort of warning email, I have to assume it was the former issue.

I woke up this morning with the main theme to HBO's adaptation of Game of Thrones running through my head and thought that three or four episodes into the series was a good time to talk about it.

As with any rational human being, I have a major love-hate relationship with the works of George R.R. Martin. I originally stumbled on the book Game of Thrones at the Los Angeles air port. I was getting ready to fly home for summer vacation and thought, "After focusing on literature, classic plays and history all year, I want to read a mindless fantasy novel!"

Looking back, it seems like the literary equivalent dating someone you met on the bus. It might be really exciting, but there's bound to be a lot of crazy wrapped right in with it, and chances are, you'll never get that person/book out of your life.

What I discovered was a high-fantasy novel of a type which I had not previously experienced. Whereas magic is front and center in most books of the genre, in Game of Thrones, it is more of a rumor, a hint, a way to explain the unexplainable. While I love me some Balefire hurling sorcerers, this subtler touch was something new and intriguing. I also found myself thoroughly sucked into the characters. Gone was the classic hero arc, and really heroes altogether. While it is less apparent in the first novel, reading the series really made me realize that every one of Martin's characters is capable of being ruthless and bloodthirsty as well as compassionate and caring. While he suggests that the Stark family is his main group of protagonists, he also goads you into rooting for people who are ostensibly their enemies.

I'm not going to go into spoiling details, but finishing that book was the first time I had ever wanted to hurl a book across the room. Not because it was bad, but because my blood was boiling with an unquenchable thirst for vengeance and the second book hadn't been released yet in the U.S. (For those of you who are just watching the series, see what you can look forward to!?) <=== not spoiling, just foreshadowing.

Anyway, I stumbled upon books two and three in a similar fashion to the first. I had just arrived in Oxford for a study abroad program and had a couple days to putter around the city before the program started. I stumbled into a bookstore, again looking for summer fluff and had to restrain my astonished and triumphant "Huzzah!" when I saw books two and three on the shelf (not out in the U.S. at that point, either).

I read through books two and three in about three days. That's probably about 1600 pages of reading, and I am an abysmally slow reader.Unfortunately, as the series drew on, Martin began to commit several of the common sins of fantasy writers:
  • Ever-branching plots that don't come back together
  • Equally branching points of view
  • 50+ page chapters and several chapters before returning to a particular storyline.
  • Years to near decades between books
  • Worst of all, entire books of setup for things looming on the horizon which might not even happen
Yet all the while, his books are impossible to put down because I love his characters and his merciless knack for killing them just as you start to like them.

Okay, this review was supposed to be about the HBO series...

I have to say, HBO's adaptation of Game of Thrones is at least as enjoyable as Jackson's adaptation of Lord of the Rings. I feel like the show was superbly cast, I can't go into some of the details of why I think that, because they might spoil things for the non-reader types, but I particularly like the choices for Ned, Tyrion, Cersei and Jamie. I also think the actress who plays Catelyn does an excellent job of capturing her weathered and composed public face with a lot burning beneath it. Honestly, I could go on to list most of the rest of the cast, but you get the point.

Also, being on HBO, the creators are free from censors who would shy away from a solid half minute of watching a character blow blood bubbles as he slowly dies from a lance through the neck... In most other contexts, I would feel that scene was gratuitous, but I felt it was thoroughly appropriate given the tone of the books. The producers also seem game to include some of the other unusual elements from the story: dreams of 3-eyed crows and a character who can only say his name, Hodor! (Our whole viewing group cheered when Hodor showed up)

I also thoroughly enjoy the way HBO has broken down the storyline. They do an excellent job of ending each episode with a "Holy crap!" moment that leaves you hungry for the next installment... just like Martin, teasing his readers just enough to ensure they will buy the next book when it comes out 10 years later...

Monday, May 9, 2011

What's in a name?

"A rose by any other name would smell as sweet"

Even if it was called the cat piss plant?

Unless you get into fantasy writing as a means to flesh out the stories behind the several languages you have invented, you likely will struggle to come up with effective character and location names from time to time.

Fun Fact: I have run several of the names in this video through various generators/translators
to come up with character names for my game.

I struggle with this constantly because, as I have mentioned before, a poorly chosen name can destroy the entire tone of a story. I have adopted a number of tricks and techniques to help me avoid the pitfalls of poor naming conventions, which I shall now share with you, my dear readers...

1. Break out the virtual baby book: The name generator over at Behind the Name is one of my ultimate go-to resources for coming up with character names. I have assigned a couple real-world cultures to each fictional culture in my game. When I am pressed for coming up with a good character name, I simply pop up the generator and click away until something fitting comes up. Tying each of my fictional cultures to specific real ones has the added benefit of providing a sense of consistency among the characters encountered in my game.

2. Google Translator is your friend: Google Translator is to places as Behind the Name is to characters. When I feel at a loss for naming a city or geographical region, I'll pop a description of it into Google Translate and tweak it until something sounds good. For example, "river port" translates as "flod havnen" in Danish, which then gets shortened to "Flodhavn" -the name of a trade city in my game, which is located at the mouth of a river.

3. More exotic names call for more exotic translators: There are numerous online translators for the various languages devised by Tolkien. I will occasionally turn to one of these when devising a name for more arcane locations, elven cities or characters, or dragons. Again, I typically plug in a basic description and let the translator make it sound cool.

4. Leave it to the Brits: One of my favorite naming conventions that I have come up with is the technique I use for naming the Gnomes in my game. Whenever I need to introduce a new gnomish character, I break open a map of the British Isles and peruse the place names. I don't know why, but it just seems to fit. example names include: Ipswitch Cogsworth, Gatwick Rugeley, Arlsey Biggleswade, Sandy Bracknell, Spilsby Holt

5. Brush up on the classics: Finally, The Encyclopedia Mythica is an online resource dedicated to the various mythologies of ancient cultures. The myths described on the website provide a treasure trove of names and ideas just waiting to be bent to my... or your nefarious purposes.

Okay writer and gamer friends, do you have a particular method to your naming madness?

Friday, May 6, 2011

The Character Pitch

After reading L.G. Smith's post over at Bards and Prophets on pitching a novel, I suddenly thought, "Wow! This technique could easily be applied to create characters for a roleplaying game!" The technique Smith discusses comes from author, Linda Rohrbough and involves breaking down the pitch into a series of sub-components called, "log lines" (is this an industry standard term or something of Rohrbough's invention?).

The log lines are three short statements that address:
  1. The main character and action in the story
  2. The character arc and changes which take place
  3. The theme of the story
For the purpose of adapting this technique to game-character creation, we are mostly interested in the first log line. Since a tabletop RPG is essentially a story being written as it is played, the other two log lines will naturally take shape as the game progresses.

So, the first log line should include the following elements: Hero, Flaw, Life Changing Event, Opponent, Ally, and Battle.

Smith uses the movie, Rocky as her example, but I decided to come up with an example character off the top of my own head.

Slaw, a half-orc barbarian (hero) who wrestles with his orcish bloodlust (flaw & opponent) feels out of place among his people until he meets an elven slave (ally). The slave introduces Slaw to his druidic ways (life-changing event) and helps him control his violent impulses. In turn, Slaw becomes a vegetarian and helps to free the slaves of his tribe (battle).

(Note: the idea for Slaw, the vegetarian barbarian came up during last night's game session)

As the above example shows, Rohrbough's approach to novel pitches adopts quite well to character creation. Three sentences was all I needed to put together a character backstory with tremendous roleplaying potential.

Happy Friday everyone!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Happy little Caves

First off, I my campaign wiki for the Westerlands over at Obsidian Portal just hit 50 fans! W00T!

I am facing a couple major deadlines at work this week (I am forcing myself to take lunch today to regain some sanity and post about stuff I like) as such, when I arrive at home, I feel very stressed and have been turning to Minecraft as a way to relax and turn off my brain.

There is quite a bit of discussion out on the web that likens Minecraft to a sort of video game equivalent of a Bob Ross painting (The "happy trees" guy). Just do a Google search for "bob ross minecraft" and you'll see what I mean. While most of the "discussion" is in the form of one-line quips, I think there is a solid basis behind the equation.

As with Bob Ross's show, the Minecraft experience is one of pure creation. There is no driving plot or set adventure. The user makes whatever he/she wishes out of the randomly generated world. The single-player Minecraft world is also rugged and devoid of people, just like a Bob Ross landscape -but with some farm animals, skeletons, zombies and other monsters thrown in. Most importantly, however, the experience is very soothing. I have found myself chipping away at virtual mountainsides for hours in the evening -to the increasing chagrin of my wonderful girlfriend... sorry babe. It's sort of zen like in a way and has really helped me to turn off my brain so I can sleep this week.

To take the parallel even further, I have become at least as addicted, if not moreso to a series of YouTube videos called X's Adventures in Minecraft. While the narrator is certainly more animated than his afro-clad painterly equivalent, I find the cadence of his delivery accompanied by the visuals of gradual creation result in a very soothing experience very similar to watching Bob Ross's The Joy of Painting -its visual vallium. At the same time, however, the videos provide inspiration, making me want to go out and make an X style Minecraft structure of my own. I've already copied his design for a greenhouse.

Anyway, I recommend you check out at least the first video to see what I am talking about.

Monday, May 2, 2011


Okay, I couldn't wait until Wednesday when I saw this little bit of brilliance in my blog roll this morning.

Mike Shea has an excellent post up about being "done"...or rather, building a habit of having players in a tabletop RPG say, "Done!" at the end of their turn. I have to say, I think this is a pretty brilliant little idea. It's so simple, but has the potential to do away with the "Oh wait, can I just do this other thing..." statements that disrupt the flow of a combat round in D&D.

The post touches on a broader challenge that every GM faces on occasion -building good habits at the gaming table. It's amazing how little changes -even as small as a word- can have a tremendous effect on a game experience.

Saying "done!" is the D&D equivalent of taking your hand off of a chess piece. I may have to try out the technique this Thursday in my own game.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Z is for ZOMG! I did it!

Well, I made it all the way through April's A to Z blog challenge, and I only finished a day late, due largely to a very busy business trip right at the end of the month. I shall now summarize my A to Z experience.

I decided to participate in the challenge the day before it began, largely because I had never heard of it before, and I wanted to see if I could commit to blogging every day. I think I was successful in stepping up the frequency of my posts. However, now that the challenge is over, I plan to return to my usual MWF posting schedule... beginning this Wednesday, because I need a break!

Other reflections:
  • I found that having a prompt... even a letter of the alphabet can provide excellent inspiration for a blog series. I may seek out some other blog carnivals to aid me in a similar capacity.
  • I began the month without a theme other than posting about tabletop rpg gaming. However, as the month progressed, I came to realize that the vast majority of my posts dealt with tools, techniques and tricks that GMs can use to better run their game... with the exception of "K for Kobolds" -though every game is better with kobolds!
  • I realized that it is not necessary to be profound with every blog post. Sometimes you just have to get something down on paper (on internet?). The best blog posts tend to come about unexpectedly, and if you keep writing, they will eventually show up.
  • If I decide to participate in the A to Z challenge next year, I will definitely try to pre-plan my posts as much as possible.

Some Statistics:
  • I began the month with 4 public followers and ended it with 20. A 500% increase in readership is a rousing success in my book!
  • On the flip side, I at least doubled the number of blogs that I follow and broadened my spectrum to include a couple excellent blogs about writing and at least one about sci-fi.
  • I posted 29 posts in April vs. 18 in March
  • I had 50% of all my page views since my blog started in the last month! I really started posting to my blog in February (though I first started it last summer)
I definitely enjoyed my time with the April A to Z challenge, though I am also very glad that it is over for the year. How was your experience with the month?

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