2016 in Review

Instead of my usual Sporadic Saturday Sweetness post, I’m going to follow along with most of the RPG blogosphere and post a “year in review” type post. Honestly, most of my RSS feeds were either very silent (holidays and all that) or filled with year in review type stuff. Not much to grab any goodies link-wise from there.

I’ll try to keep this mostly chronological, but no promises….

In March, John Arcadian reached out to me and invited me to join the Gnome Stew Crew for writing articles over at that fine site. I immediately wanted to scream, “YES!” from the rooftops, but every time I’ve jumped at something like this, it’s turned out middle-to-poor as far as an experience goes. I exchanged some emails with him regarding time commitment, article lengths, guidelines, etc. After a few emails and a day or two of thought, I let him know that I’d be honored to join his crew. I’ve been writing a monthly article over at Gnome Stew ever since. Since I joined Gnome Stew, I’ve grown as a GM, a player, and made loads new friends. We also won the Gold ENnie for Best Website this year. I guess that means I’m now an “award winning writer.” Wow! That’s pretty cool.

This isn’t RPG-related, but I wanted to share it here anyway. In April, Strigidae Publishing approached me with an offer on the first novel I’d ever written. They were friends of mine and had seen the novel “grow up” from rough draft to polished prose. They’d actually requested the novel in April of 2015, but I turned down their contract. This year, they came back to the table with a revised and drastically improved contract. We agreed upon a deal, and I signed with them. More on this event later.

Things in my personal RPG life have been going well. I have my monthly Pathfinder game that I run. I did have to take a 4 month hiatus from this effort in order to study for the Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) exam. This is basically the equivalent of a PhD in information security. It’s the highest honored and evaluated information security certification out there. The test is rigorous (6 hours to take it, though I finished in a hair over 2 hours) and incredibly difficult. I managed to pass on my first attempt, which is rare. I took the exam in October, and I’m still waiting for the paperwork to be processed in order to finalize the certification.

I also have a 1st/3rd Friday of each month gaming group. We alternate between RPGs and board/card/dice games. While playing RPGs, we gave Monsters and Magic a try, but found the book to be confusing, lacking clarity, and really had nothing to make it stand out from a 1st Edition AD&D game. It was a nice attempt to create something new, but fell short in the end. Because of the confusion and massive amounts of houseruling and hacking we had to do on the system, we dropped it. I’d been studying and reading Savage Worlds books. About the time we decided to drop M&M for something different, I was comfortable enough with Savage Worlds to jump into that system.

I love Savage Worlds!

I’ve always loved “generic” systems that will allow me to do anything I please with them, including mash-up genres. There have been quite a few on the market, and I’ve gone through pretty much all of them (except for the relatively new Cypher System). They’re super heavy on the rules. I’m mainly thinking of GURPS and Champions here. Yeah, GURPS is simple at its core, but with all of the bolt-on options (even if you limit yourself to a few books), things get hairy fast. Champions is super fun, but has never been super simple.

This is why I love Savage Worlds. It has all of the bases covered, and the core (and extended) systems are incredibly simple and elegant. It also has a more natural storytelling flow than any other generic system I’ve seen.

Fast forward a bit to August, and I’m at WorldCon in Kansas City. My social media lights up with the fact that a friend of mine is going through double-bypass heart surgery back home. This is the same friend that (with his wife) runs Strigidae Publishing. I’m immediately afraid for my friend, and a few hours after I get the news… I start to wonder about the status of my novel. I decide to ride out the storm and pray my friend recovers well enough from his surgery to lead a normal life. The good news is that my friend is now healthier and has more energy than ever before. Great! The bad news is that his heart doctor told him to reduce work hours and stress. Thus, the publishing house had to be shutdown. Suck! This meant my novel was now orphaned. I’ve had a few leads on the novel since Strigidae Publishing shutdown in September, but all (except one) have fallen through. I may end up trunking the novel and just moving on to different things in the fiction world.

However, WorldCon was not all a bust. It was a great time, and while there, I received another publishing contract for a different book. WordFire Press had been looking at the first book in my urban fantasy series, and while at the bar on Friday night at WorldCon, Kevin J. Anderson (owner/founder of WordFire) approached me and verbally offered to buy the book. I accepted the verbal offer and told him the final word would have to come after seeing the written contract. He smiled and told me I was a smart guy… then we went and enjoyed some drinks together! The contract was a good one (I made no requests for changes to it), and I joined the illustrious crew of authors under the WordFire umbrella. After two rounds of edits (which just finished up), the book is off to the next steps of its life!

To wrap up the year, I’ve invested in InDesign (layout software for those not in the know) to polish up my own RPG and start working on some Savage Worlds support materials. Just before starting typing this, I finished up the initial pass of laying out my RPG. Once I finish typing this, I’ll go through the whole document and add a layer of polish to it.

Starting in the new year, I hope to find a publisher for the RPG and Savage Worlds materials I’ll be making. Barring that, I’ll just fire up my own business (LLC, most likely) and move forward with releasing it on my own. We’ll see what the near year brings.

I also plan on reviewing more mateirals in the upcoming year. That reminds me… I think I owe you one. 🙂

I want to thank all of my readers for sticking with me during my ups and downs here at RavenousRPG, and I hope you all have a fantastic New Year and a wonderful 2017!