Welcome Back to the Labyrinth

"We have been away far too long, my friends," Ashoka declared, his face lit by the eldritch green glow of his staff. "But we have finally returned to the labyrinth whence our adventures first began."

"Just imagine the treasures that lie within," said Yun Tai, flexing his mighty muscles. "Wealth enough to live in luxury the rest of our days."

"And arcane artifacts of great power," added Ashoka his words dripping with avarice. "All ours for the taking!"

"Umm...guys?" Nysa interrupted. "Do you hear something dripping?"

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Taking Stock

As the year draws to a close it seems like a natural time to think about where this blog is headed and where I want to take it in the next year.  Of course, this may be moot because, if the doomsayers are correct, then we've all only got a year to live since the Mayan calendar only goes up to 2012 after which time the world will end for some reason.  But we might have even less time, since I've noticed that my kitchen calendar only goes to the end of 2010!  However, on the off-chance that arbitrary time-keeping devices don't actually herald the end of days, I'm going to go on making plans for the next year and beyond.

December has been pretty significant for me - I've made my 100th post and gained my 50th follower this month, which is something that neither I nor the Mayan codices could ever have predicted.  It was just a year ago that the first seeds of game blogging were planted in my  head.  Although I was largely unaware of the old school blogging community, I had been lurking in the shadows for some time, reading Swords Against the Outer Dark.  When I finally stopped lurking and posted some comments, Shane Mangus suggested that I might want to start a blog of my own.  Initially I dismissed this idea - what could I have to say that anyone would ever want to read?

But the seed was planted and a few months later, as I was about to launch a new campaign, I decided that a blog would be an excellent forum to post session  notes, house rules, and my gaming philosophy for the benefit of my players, some of whom haven't been in the hobby for very long and were unaware of how its history has shaped my perspective and play style.  And thus was Tales from the Flaming Faggot born.  Initially I had intended this blog to be solely a resource for players past and present, and had thought to allow only limited access.  I reconsidered, however, thinking that while it was unlikely that anyone else would ever read it, anyone who wanted to was welcome.

Ironically, very few of my intended audience ever read the blog, but I started attracting followers after just the first few posts.  As of this writing fifty-three people now follow this blog, only one of whom plays with me, so obviously the blog has grown well beyond its intended audience and purpose.  This has made me start to rethink the blog, starting with the title, which doesn't make a whole lot of sense outside the context of my campaign.  I've had nearly 10,000 visitors since I added the counter last May, and I suspect a large number of those visits have been from people looking for gay porn.

I haven't decided whether to change the title or not - once you've established a bit of name recognition it probably hurts more than helps to change it.  Also the Flaming Faggot roadhouse has been in every roleplaying campaign I've run for the last twenty-five years so it is an icon of my gaming history.

One thing is for certain - the subtitle needed to change, and I've already done so.  A subtitle should serve as a summary of what the blog is all about, and the old subtitle was suitable when the blog was just about my current campaign, but I've transcended that, so it was no longer appropriate.  My new subtitle, however,  implies a focus that I would really like to steer away from in the coming year.  I'd prefer to post fewer rants and more gaming goodness; but it made me laugh and it will do until I can think of something better.

So, where to go from here?  I've been perusing Google Stats to see what my most popular posts have been.  By a very large margin it has been, and continues to be, my Weird Wonder series, particularly the starfish post.  I assume that most of the visitors to these posts are non-gamers who have been searching for information about different animals and find themselves on some weird gaming blog.  I can only attribute the thousands of views of the starfish post to the fact that I included labeled pictures of starfish anatomy that biology students might find useful.  Discounting visits from people who are here by mistake, my next most popular posts are ones in which I express fairly strong opinions: When is a Dwarf not a Dwarf?, The Tyranny of Magic Missile, and Dungeons and Slavegirls in order of popularity.  The Tyranny of Magic Missile was linked on Grognardia, so that accounts for the large number of hits there, and Dungeons and Slavegirls has slavegirls, which is always good.

What I'd really like to do is to contribute more gaming goodness to the community.  The OSR blogging community is incredibly prolific and creative and I've really enjoyed reaping the benefits of other people's labours of love that have been freely distributed.  At the moment I am especially enjoying the various geomorph projects that people are posting, such as Dyson's Delve, Risus Monkey, Stonewerks, and The Nine and Thirty Kingdoms among others.  I'd love to do something like this, but my computer-fu is weak and I have no skill with computer graphics, layout, and design.

I do have some small skill at painting miniatures, and in the new year I plan to begin a series of articles devoted to all things miniature.  I won't presume to call it a 'how-to-paint' series, but I will cover everything from the basics to advanced techniques such as non-metallic-metal, and object-source lighting, as well as equipment and tools, as well as step-by-step painting projects.  I am by no means an expert painter; I got back into it about five years ago after a twenty year hiatus and I know from reading other blog posts that there are lots of other people getting back into painting just as I did.  I know that I would really have appreciated some 'how-to' advice when I was getting started, and I hope that this can be my contribution to the OSR community gestalt.  Painting has become my main obsession the last couple of years and it has become the hobby within the hobby that claims most of my free time each evening.  Looking back at miniatures I painted a couple of years ago - heck, even a few months ago, I can see how much I've grown and if I can improve this much so quickly so can anyone.

I'd like to thank everyone who had taken the time to read Tales from the Flaming Faggot this past year and I've enjoyed the many thoughtful comments that you have shared.  Stay tuned, there is more to come.

Happy New Year!


The Happy Whisk said...

Hi Sean. Just read your post and I'm excited to see your miniatures. Blogging is still new to me, but it's fun. See you in the next year. Happy Blogging. Happy Painting. Happy Gaming and of course, Happy Eating.


John Matthew Stater said...

Happy New Year!

Sean Robson said...

Thank you both for stopping by!

The Happy Whisk said...

I enjoy your blog. And now that I think of it, I never even thought much about the title of the blog. Or even the title of many blogs. I just kind of go by the voice of the writer, as to if I'm going to keep reading.

Tim's highest blogpost hit at one point was Rocking Your Bathroom Medieval Style. For some reason, Texans were the largest group that clicked onto that post.

So odd, sometimes how it all works. Anyway, I look forward to more of your blogs. Happy 2011.

Porky said...

I'm the newest here, but it won't be a case of last in first out - I'll be tuned in for some time to come. Great blog, no shame about the title.

Happy New Year!

Sean Robson said...

Thanks for the kind words, Porky, Happy New Year to you, too!

Shane Mangus said...


It has been a pleasure keeping up with your posts. I am just glad you heeded my advice and began to blog. The OSR is much better for it. I am tipping a glass of Guinness in your honor as I type this. Here is to another great year if gaming!


Peter Darley said...

I enjoy your writing a lot; however, in the opinion of this anonymous know-nothing, the content of your blog isn't well reflected by it's homophobic (or at least homophobic sounding) D&D tavern name joke title. I'd change it. :)

Sean Robson said...

@Shane: I can think of few higher honours than a glass of guiness. Cheers!

@Peter: Thanks for sharing your viewpoint, Peter. I appreciate the feedback.

C'nor (Outermost_Toe) said...

You can draw the geomorphs by hand and then scan them, which I'm fairly sure is what Dyson does.