A Lazy Sequence

My 2021 in Tabletop RPGs, and looking ahead to 2022

2021 was a good year for tabletop games. My regular local group has continued the Burning Wheel game we started back in 2020, which makes it the longest running game we have played in nearly a decade.

Now that we are a significant number of hours at the table with the game, I’m getting a clearer sense of how the system is working for all the players at the table, and we have a spread from accepting but not enthused, too invested. Nobody else in the group is offering games at the moment so we play what I want to run. I cannot overstate how valuable the ability to arrive at the table having only done a minimum of prep for the session has been, and Burning Wheel has delivered there. One player has asked for a little more simple “kicking down the door” fun, so one change I’m making this year is trying to incorporate more of that into the game.

The Indie Game Reading Club’s now annual online convention ran for a second time, and unlike the first time round, I overcame my impostor syndrome and signed up for two games: A one shot of Burning Wheel, and what has turned into three sessions of an excellent Torchbearer adventure, both with folks who are very experienced with these games, which was a real privilege. Big thanks to Dave Turner for running the Torchbearer game, and his support in onboarding a new player.

My goals for this year are modest. Either we continue playing this Burning Wheel game for the whole year, or I try to wrap it up properly at a sensible stopping point. If we do wrap it up, I have three contenders for a followup:

  • Torchbearer—My experience with this at the IGRCon is nothing but positive. I’m repeating common wisdom here, but it makes all the minutiae – light, inventory, mapping – of old school dungeon delving adventures actually fun. Every test is fraught, and resource management becomes front and centre, without sacrificing the narrative elements of indie gaming. The only question is whether the complexity of learning how all the various subsystems working is going to be overwhelming for my players.
  • Cartel—Mexican Narco Fiction PBTA. This game looks challenging but incredible. Just a question of whether the serious subject matter and heavily dramatic mode is something my group is up for.
  • Palladium Fantasy Role-Playing Game—This is a wild card for sure. I cut my teeth on Palladium games in my teens, but haven’t touched them in decades. A combination of the play reporter from some folks on the IGRC slack, and the current (as of writing) Bundle of Holding PDF bundle has fired up some nostalgia for this game.

Finally, with the combination supply chain issues, difficulty and expense of shipping to New Zealand, and a shelf of full of games, I don’t anticipate buying any new games for the foreseeable future. I’m at a place with my gaming where I’d rather dig deeper on the games I’ve already got than speculate on potential new ones.

22 January 2022