Getting back to my roots

What a year 2017 has been so far!

After moving back to my beloved hometown of Cleveland, Ohio from sweltering Austin, Texas i laser-focused on a few life goals.

Squad goals! If by ‘squad’ i mean myself

One lofty ambition was becoming debt free. Mission accomplished! (Not counting the consolidated school loan i’ll likely take to my grave.) Savings sustained massive damage and frivolity was curtailed, but monies owed are no more.

Another priority was getting back to my roots as a tabletop gamer. This goal has enjoyed great success throughout the year. In Austin, the tabletop gaming community was a lifeline to a social life in a new city after moving there alone for my muggle job in journalism. Every night of the week was game night at one of the city’s many hobby shops. The gaming culture is strong in there.

Dungeons & Dragons Adventurers League and a steady diet of board games reinvigorated my lifelong love of tabletop gaming, and i brought that passion back to Cleveland. Friends were cajoled into forming a fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons group, which is still going strong. Aside from our main campaign, we’ve played several one-shots and even welcomed a new player to the hobby. He’s already taken a turn behind the Dungeon Master’s screen and started a secondary campaign for the group.

Mesmogdu the Magnificent, rendered in magnificence by Jen Gagne, the fantastic artist behind Pixelscapes.

It’s a point of pride to help usher in a new DM and his game is incredibly fun. My character in that game is already one of my favorite D&D characters of all time, an outrageous drow charlatan illusionist.

With a slew of aliases and an ostentatious personality, Mesmogdu the Magnificent (as he’s known by his adventuring companions) is honored to have an equally magnificent representation from Pixelscapes, RPG monster art from the fantastic talent of Jen Gagne.

Away from the gaming table, the focus here at The Long Shot zeroed in on gaming culture, too. Stories, tips and advice for both players and DMs have been really well received. The Playing D&D with Class series has been a lot of fun and the Blue Magic design diary explored my first attempt at creating new content for D&D. Back in March i put my journalism skills to use interviewing Nerdarchy, and observant readers of The Long Shot will notice a drop-off in content here since. A weekly column slot was open with them and i segued over to that space.

More games

Over at the Nerdarchy website, things escalated quickly. Within a short span of time i went from a regular weekly contributor, to a couple of times a week, to assistant web editor and social media coordinator, to web editor-in-chief – while continuing to assist with social media coordination and creating content under my own byline and as a general staff writer. (“Nerdarchy staff” – yeah that’s mostly me.)

Working with Nerdarchy is rewarding and fun. On top of reaching a wider audience, i get to participate in live chats and more games, too. We recently wrapped up our Aether Skies: The Beginning of the End campaign, an Open Legend RPG-sponsored game. And our Marvel Super Heroes RPG campaign is closing in on the end as well. Both of those games are live streamed, which was a wholly new experience for me.

The emergence of streaming or recorded RPG gameplays for entertainment fascinates me. There are several series forming the core of my media entertainment consumption. Geek & Sundry’s Critical Role tops the charts. What can i say, i’m a Critter and this is must-see viewing. Lots of other shows are great but i’ve come and gone from watching them. Still holding out for Titansgrave Season Two!

Lately Shield of Tomorrow (also from Geek & Sundry) enthralls me. GM Eric Campbell and cast capture the spirit of Star Trek wonderfully. Star Trek Adventures from Modiphius Entertainment is a great game system and a few Nerdarchy writers and i are preparing to play a game ourselves. i’m really looking forward to our game. We don’t have plans to live stream or record it, but you can follow the U.S.S. Elpis on Twitter for our captain’s insights.

Modiphius knocked it out of the park with another game released this year, too. Tales from the Loop cleaned up in the 2017 ENnie Awards, winning five awards including Best Game. As an 80s kid especially, Tales from the Loop holds great appeal. The art by Simon Stålenhag is so evocative and the game concept and system is so elegant. Tales from the Loop is absolutely on my must-play list.

Then there’s Hyperlanes, a sci-fi adaptation for D&D. This was the first Kickstarter project i ever backed. Tremendous anticipation built while waiting for the package to arrive and it does not disappoint. When i backed the Kickstarter, my D&D campaign was still in its infancy and had only just taken the unusual turn into a Spelljammer setting. My thinking was to use Hyperlanes for it, but by release time the campaign had been going on for many months.

Our last session involved a bit of course correction and refocus, and it feels like a good opportunity to consider converting or integrating Hyperlanes material. Players can go over the options and adapt their characters and the setting can get an injection of a bit of science fiction to go along with the space fantasy. Another option is starting a secondary party in the same setting. The main group has been building a successful company for a while, and maybe a fresh batch of employees can introduce Hyperlanes content.

In related news, 2017 is strong with the space fantasy from at least two other sources: Starfinder from Paizo and Esper Genesis from Alligator Alley Entertainment. The former enjoyed a huge response from the official release at Gen Con 50, selling out in mere hours. There’s a lot of excitement surrounding Starfinder…but not a whole lot from me. It looks cool and all, but i’m much more firmly a D&D fanatic. In that regard, the latter intrigues me a whole lot more.

“Esper Genesis is a science-fiction tabletop roleplaying game powered by the 5th Edition rules engine and inspired by sci-fi greats such as Star Wars, Mass Effect, Phantasy Star, and Ghost in the Shell.

Mass Effect AND Phantasy Star? ‘Nuff said, i’m sold.

My gaming budget already stretched the limits this year after going to Origins and Gen Con along with many late-night impulse purchases and preorders. But for Esper Genesis i’ll find a way to squeeze a copy onto my bookshelf. There is a free starter adventure called Fall of Eos Keldor at DriveThruRPG that gives a glimpse of the game and setting.

Somewhere between Esper Genesis and Hyperlanes i’ve got a feeling my home game Spelljammer-esque setting will experience a quantum leap in content. At least until Wizards of the Coast releases their official fifth edition iteration!

More writing

The year started off strong for the chief passion in my life – writing. Putting the focus on gaming provided an inexhaustible pool of ideas to explore. Traffic here at The Long Shot grew rapidly, opening the door at Nerdarchy and to the large, vibrant and constantly growing and evolving tabletop gaming community.

Working with then-web editor-in-chief Ty Johnston was a particular treat. Ty is a veteran of journalism and talking shop with him continues to be both informative and enjoyable. He also paid me one of the best compliments i’ve ever received – that my writing is some of the cleanest he’s ever seen. Coming from an accomplished fella like Ty, that means a lot!

Working first as his assistant editor, and then taking over as editor-in-chief for the Nerdarchy website has been quite an honor. The opportunity to combine skills in editing, layout and social media engagement; building and guiding a team; fostering higher quality content; and seeing significant growth of the audience for the site feels incredibly satisfying.

However, there has been an unforeseen drawback. Opportunities for me to continue building The Long Shot and to write in general – either here or for Nerdarchy – have diminished. Undoubtedly there are many benefits and positive aspects to branching out. But doing all the work here, and with Nerdarchy, solely in spare time is taxing.

Being a very detail-oriented and nit-picky person means putting a not insignificant amount of time into the work others do. It’s gratifying to recognize when you’re good at something, and perhaps i’m better suited to editing and community-building than creating original content. Nevertheless, i derive the most joy from writing and i want to do more.

In particular, i enjoy speaking with interesting people doing cool things and sharing their stories, something i was reminded of after i spoke with Wolfgang Baur recently. To that end i got in touch with Rich Lescouflair and arranged to have a conversation with him in the near future. Rich was the lead designer for Esper Genesis and is also part of the inaugural DM’s Guild Adept cohort.

Moving forward

Searching for balance, i’ll be splitting my free time between helping out my friends at Nerdarchy as they continue to build on the fantastic body of work through their YouTube channel, website and new ventures, and putting more time and effort into The Long Shot. When i started poking back around at the nuts-and-bolts of this site, i was reminded of all the awesome memories and experiences i’ve had over the years and frankly i miss my little slice of the internet.

i’ll be looking to create more content here and perhaps even dabble in the video realm as well. In the immediate future i’d like to finish up the Playing D&D with class series plus i’m really looking forward to the interview with Rich Lescouflair.

With an upgraded site account, a whole slew of options opened up, too. A new site theme might be in order, but that’s a big decision. i’ve grown very fond of the one i’ve been using for years now, and since it is no longer supported i fear changing it may mean it’s gone for me forever. On the other hand there are hundreds of themes available.

Longtime visitors may have noticed another change, too – there are now ads on The Long Shot. That was a tough decision to make. Since 2012 The Long Shot has been ad-free. i set out to create a space for me to write about things that interested me and practice journalism, and i still intend to do just that and more. But there’s a practical side to life too. i am apprehensive these new Amazon affiliate links and integrated ads will be intrusive, especially since i’m figuring out how to use these programs as i go. i am happy to note it seems to only have added ads for Comixology, something i personally endorse. And the Amazon stuff is manually created so it’ll only link to things i choose.

With that in mind, if you want to go and order the upcoming Tomb of Annihilation or Xanathar’s Guide to Everything, please feel free to click on the images below. Mine have been on preorder for months and i can’t wait to get my hands on these Wizards of the Coast books!

If you’re a longtime Long Shot reader, thank you so much for sticking around and returning to see what i’m up to. If you’re new here, welcome!

It’s a great time to be a nerd, and i’m super excited to get back in the swing of things here as well as share my time with the great people at Nerdarchy.

My brain in overflowing with all the ideas of things i’d like to write about through both platforms. In fact it’s overflowing so much, it’s spilled out onto a dizzying amount of notes and lists neatly organized around my workspace. So many games to play, people to interview and concepts to explore and share.

Thank you for visiting and see you again soon!


    • Thank you for bringing that to my attention! Unfortunately, using any plugins precludes including the Reblog button. I’ll have to consider the value of each possibility.

      i did speak with customer support though: posts viewed through the Reader can be reblogged. Hope that helps.

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