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Author Topic: The Year in Review: 2005  (Read 524 times)

RPGPundit

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The Year in Review: 2005
« on: January 01, 2007, 11:33:38 AM »
It seems appropriate to give some closing statements about this foul year of our lord 2005; on these the dying hours of the last day of that year.

For me, it has been a good year, slightly better than the one before, and in the end that is all one can hope for. I have learned the hard way that the very best thing you can do is come in with low expectations, and your existence is likely to be less troubled; to me the mere fact that another year has gone by and I find myself still in one piece, and humanity still alive, is a victory in and of itself.  The reality that the human race has not yet, despite some of its member's best efforts, managed to wipe itself out, is a cause for optimism.

There were some ups and down in this year. The biggest king-fuck downer of them all was that Hunter Thompson decided he'd had enough and chose to check out. It makes the world a duller place.  Some have accused me of being an imitator or a wannabe, but that's patently ridiculous. No one could imitate Hunter, there will never be another like him. This page is not an imitation; its just an homage. Its giving credit where credit is due to the man who I sincerely believe history will end up judging as the greatest english-language writer of the second half of the 20th century, a man who revolutionized both fiction, journalism, and storytelling; and the single writer with the most influence on my style of expression.

Hunter wanted to be remembered by the sound of ice clinking in glasses of whiskey, so if you're a fan of his, or even a fan of mine, pay credit to the man tonight with a glass of whiskey on ice. Any kind will do. His favourte was Chivas, a point in which I disagreed heartily with him. My weapon of choice is Glenfiddich, or Glenfarclas in a pinch. Or Teachers if your budget is tight. Anything but goddamned Johnny Walker.

There were some deaths of people who would not be missed, too. Andrea Dworkin, for example. The world will be better without that particular paragon of feminist thinking, who claimed that all heterosexual intercourse was rape, and suffered from constant rape-delusions herself.

I won't exactly dance on her grave, but we have lost nothing by her death, and perhaps gained some sanity of discourse.

One dead old man who I will dance about was John Paul II. I was almost as ecstatic about the world finally being rid of this hypocritical filthbag  as I was last year at the death of Ronnie Reagan. Those two individuals have a lot to answer for, starting with several thousand dead and missing latinamericans.

Of course, just as Reagan's death was tinged by the bitterness of knowing that the old bastard's mind was completely gone for decades already, and thus could not be gripped with terror at the knowledge of his incoming mortality, JPII's death was shortly made very bitter indeed with the catholic church's election of The Rat as its new pope. Talk about out of the frying pan and into the fire. Still, hope springs eternal, The Rat is not a young man and maybe there'll be another funeral procession in vatican city next year. The Opus Dei got their man in this time, and I'm betting they used up a lot of their political cachet in the Vatican to do so, so if The Rat dies relatively soon there's a good chance the next pope could actually be a moderate.  Then again, that might be worse; it might actually lead more people to think that the catholic church is actually a good or even a relevant institution.

This year also came with the realization that we were going to have to deal with four more years of the gang of thieves and war criminals running the show in Washington, with the idiot-dauphin president till early 2009, barring the democrats managing to grow some balls, win the midterms, and impeaching the bastard. As the year progressed, and especially after Katrina, the American public seems to have woken up to the fact that this guy is an incompetent at best and a downright criminal at worst. But the Republicans are very good at damage recovery, and the Democrats are very good at taking golden opportunities and pissing them away into the gutter, so by the 2006 elections it might not mean anything substantial.

In gaming too it was an interesting year; one that will go down as mostly forgettable but with a few sterling highlights.  I am going to give my conclusions in a positive light, and not bother with the negatives. Here are four things that were really good about the year in gaming, and that the industry and hobby can learn from:

1. True 20.  Green Ronin has earned a place alongside Chaosium and a few other companies in the hallowed ranks of companies that didn't recognize a gold mine when they were sitting on it; and they damn near fought their hardest to actually avoid making True20 a reality, but in the end even they had to see where the wind was blowing. I think it will be a great success for them, if they don't manage to trainwreck it with craptacular settings; I have come to always assume the worst with those guys, but even so I give True20 as a system and a concept my number 1 slot.

2. The Wilderlands Boxed Set:  Someone should contract an armed gang of Brazilian mercenaries, kidnap every other setting designer in the industry, sit them down in a dank poorly-lit room somewhere, and force them to read the whole fucking thing.  Then have the guys who worked on it give them all indoctrination settings on how to do the same.  NOTE TO SETTING DESIGNERS: This is how you create a "crunchy" setting, and this is exactly the sort of thing that settings should be doing today! Not more fucking feats and prestige classes, not limp-wristed in-game fiction; give us more books with 4000 fucking adventure ideas in them! Let the personality of the setting show in the actual adventure seeds, and let the adventure seeds be tied to places on the fucking map. Its so goddamned obvious it makes my ears bleed just considering that I actually have to spell it out to people.

3. Warhammer: This remake was, finally, a Warhammer RPG that was playable. It had all the spirit of the original, and none of the grotesquely untenable rules. The boys at Black Industries have had a couple of fumbles on the subsequent books, but Warhammer is without a doubt a paragon example of how to use the ideas and innovations of D20 ideology in a non-D20 game; and is now the most serious contender around for an alternative to D&D.  It could have been much bigger if Games Workshop did not enforce the assinine policy of refusing to sell the Warhammer RPG in their games workshop stores; I guess their fear is that the warhammerheads will get too much into RPGs and stop paying $400 for an elf army; but I think that those fears were unfounded, and GW missed an opportunity to (at least in the UK, and possibly elsewhere) become Wizard's number 1 competitor for the RPG market, without doing any harm to their fantasy battle game's bottom line.

4. Paranoia XP: the game itself is brilliant. But the really brilliant part was the design process, which was completely open at every step of the way; and serves as an example to all other game designers in how it ought to be done. There is no doubt that Paranoia XP was a far better game than it otherwise would have been, and that it will have a far more loyal fanbase and online support, by virtue of its construction process. Again, time for the Brazilian mercenaries to kidnap each and every game designer that thinks that their design process should mirror the pentagon's secret projects, and insist on misdirection and secrecy as watchwords of their design process; and proceed to beat them into unconciousness with the XP manual. Or lead pipes. I'm not choosy.

There are a few others I could have picked, and that get honorable mention: the Waterdeep sourcebook as a really good example of how to do a city guide, the new editions of GURPS and Shadowrun as improvements over the old, Iron Heroes for sheer creativity, and I'm sure there's a few more. But these 4 were the absolute cream of the crop for 2005, the ones that could make a radical difference if their examples are followed.

Finally, and back to the personal, there was one more really amazing thing about 2005, and that was the creation and success of this Blog. When I started it, I thought it would mostly be a place for me to work out a few thought processes, and would likely only be read by very close friends. To my surprise, it became an overwhelming success, and is being regularly read by a huge number of people that I do not personally know, fans of RPGs that desperately wanted something like this, and people who are captains of the RPG industry.  I couldn't be happier about that.

Look for more of the wielding of the Flaming Keystrokes of Truth, and bashing down of the swine with the spiked Chair Leg of Justice. Look for a few changes too, in the coming year.

Finally, for some of you the day is not yet done. The end of the year is here, but the end has not yet passed. Try to find something beautiful in these last few hours and minutes: as I was getting ready to write this, I puffed a while on my pipe, and for a brief moment the smoke lingered, almost stationary, around my bowl.  That was beautiful.

See you in 2006.

RPGPundit (december 31 2005)
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