Friday, December 29, 2017

And those new days will dawn......

I am wrapping up my 11th year at Plastic Legions with not some toothless resolutions but just some obvious facts that will hopefully lead to a new direction here.  This blogs been around a long time now, long past the heyday of gaming blogs. These days its clear most people go to social media for their gaming fix. Blogs originally were the now boring successor to the much maligned public forum. Now its just quick snap shots on social media, be it Facebook groups, Twitter feeds, Instagram or Pinterest. (I am sure there is some new one I don't even now about) and yes, I have succumb to these things just like you have. My own interest in my own blog roll is few and far between these day only occasionally catching a snappy title or good photo in the feed. I cant begrudge anyone no longer coming by here either.

For instance I haven’t had a reader comment here since October of 2016! I still seem to hang on to same number of followers , picking up new ones  at the same rate I lose them, the result being stagnant at slightly under 400 for at least 4 years now. Of course my content is severely lacking and basically if you are not interested in my projects I haven’t had a lot to say. The same goes for the forums. Most forums are graveyards  even the big ones that are isolated communities of old timers see alot less traffic .I'll still cross post my big projects over at LAF or Hirst forums barely get a comment where even 2 years ago, I'd get 30 and a good traffic spike here..  I dont think its that people suddenly don’t care for it, its just they aren’t looking for that type of content at those places anymore, or if so, not enough so  to comment, they are getting their fix immediately thru the bigger gaming websites , Twitter or Facebook. 

I belong to a whole bunch of Facebook groups, they are all very busy but I never post in them- I dont like them as conversation places . To me they are just like like the old public forums you ran away from.  I just check them out to see whats going on and maybe see what someone I know is doing or most importantly get updates from the company who have mostly shut down all their own forums in favor of FB groups. While Facebook has some value for me its not for gaming , Its for keeping up with old friends, their lives, their kids , their real life experiences…I don’t  want to see the doodlings of whatever hobby their into any more than I want to see  whatever political junk their posting , so its too bad  Social Media has taken over gaming, I don’t really like the one stop shop format, (as in Facebook, because  I don’t do Twitter) there is so much crap in my Facebook feed even with filters that I recently missed out on important things in peoples  lives that I actually care about!

 I used to like spending an afternoon checking out peoples weird hobby blogs in my own quite corner of digital space. These days the blogs are mostly dead, in fact of all the old guys I used to game all had blogs and currently I think I am the only one who still even remotely posts, theirs have just been deleted or have been DOA for years., even other old blogs Ive read frequently have fallen away like mine .--So RIP to the Hobby Blogs,  I'll raise a glass to ye days of old! 

Having said all that-  why I am still limping along here averaging a post a month? Trust me  I have been thinking about about making changes here for sometime, even packing it in completely .. I really just do this for myself anyway.

My life has changed a bunch since I got public with my Hobby back in 2005, I don’t  have nearly the time I did for playing games in the basement or painting miniatures sure I’ve gotten some big  terrain projects done this year  but that is basically all I did, I painted maybe a dozen or so miniatures.  I didn’t play a game with another human that wasn’t my kid in 2017. I've spent most of my hobby time selling off  the tons of stuff I collected in the last decade, including all kinds of recent  things from  Kickstarters that I buy and  realize ill never play and then end up selling, (at least I am making money on it,)  I had even started talking about the adventures of selling off my bloated collections and gaming secondary markets on a separate blog but quickly realized I was the only one interested.

So what’s new at Plastic Legions for 2018?,  well, I still plan on posting at least once a month (maybe more,) Content will be pretty focused, since I now have this really cool massive fantasy table / diorama, I am going to start putting it to use.  One of the more popular things I have done the last couple years where these lengthy blow by blow game write ups specifically Otherworld Skirmish, (thou I did do some Frostgrave and  Sci Fi ones) .  I’ll be focusing on those as a ongoing narrative campaign, called " The Blackbarrow Chronicles " using a simpler streamlined ruleset  (more on that in a sec) we are going to run at least a dozen linked scenarios using tons of different models and hopefully create a cool narrative as these characters live, die, succeed, fail, find glory and find horrible deaths. I have  no idea hows it going to play out but it looks good on paper and we are even going to keep an updated role call of the dead, like some sinster old school RPG.

Logo and Header for the new project , Art courtesy of the great William McAusland.

And that’s it - The Blackbarrow Chronicles for 2018- the game reports and any projects that arise from them may get spotlighted but thats pretty much it, I may even change the blog title and move it over to Word Press leaving Plastic Legions up as a tombstone (no decision has been made there at all just a thought) Anyway outside my huge all collection of  generic fantasy gaming figures and terrain,  look for A LOT of items from me on eBay -if you want some nicely painted figures and terrain on the cheap. !

So- Speaking of that ruleset for the coming year, I am afraid I have been Hacked!
 As in “The Black Hack” . If you follow OSR RPGs at all as I do, (not that I actually play but more as an interest in nostalgia from wayback when I did.)  You might have heard of “The Black Hack” (TBH) which is basically a very simple RPG system inspired by  B/X D&D it uses bits from various rulesets  over the years to create very simple modern fantasy role playing ruleset, thats dripping with  “back in the day”old school feel  Last year it succeed getting going from blog to published product on Kickstarter  and you can pick it up for like $2 from the usual digital places. The core document is really bare bones at a measly 20 pages  However a quick google search will find you a lot of free fan made content that fills in a lot of the gaps and well as the authors updates and additional docs..

For use with Blackbarrow I have re-framed TBH as a miniatures gaming rule-set,  let’s call it the “Mini Hack”. I originally read about the TBH  on some forums, I checked it out and a lightbulb immediately went off.- I thought this could be the “RPG light” ruleset I was looking for , It has got all the standard Fantasy tropes , a D20 mechanic (which I want -as I am so tired of D6 games) and I felt it was pretty intuitive for a RPG campaign type system based on miniature battles.  I made a couple quick hacks of my own based my personal preferences.  First off all  I swapped the dice around so you roll to hit by “more than a target number” versus the TBH which uses “less than the target number”, in the RPG -all rolls are based on testing vs your attribute stats as in: I have a 14 strength, I need to a less than 14 to “hit”…, I have a 9 Dexterity I need to roll less than a 8 to avoid that ranged attacked.  It was pretty easy to swap around and say my 14 = needing a 7 or better on a D20..this works with the standard mechanic we are familiar with from RPGs or games like Frostgrave.

My converted D20 dice chart

Another Hack on my end was movement and distance.. TBH uses a very abstract range/distance system of “Close, Nearby, Far Away and Distant great for tale tales with Pen and Paper but not quite precise enough for miniatures battles- but by simply adding a 5th range of “Over There” we have 5  standard distances, I have used in many a miniatures game : base to base or touching 2. up to 6 inches, 3. 6-12 inches, 4. 12-24 inches and 5. 24+ inches, pretty simple.

scale chart.
 I wont  ramble on here about every detail-  if you have played fantasy RPGs or Fantasy miniature games , I think the rules  will all be pretty self explanatory and I’ll save that for the first write up for the Blackbarrow Chronicles which should be showing up year right after the New Year flips to 2018 , 12 years a blogging, crazy.

Happy New Year!


daveb said...

I find social media lacking for some of the same reasons you mention, plus it's incredibly difficult to look at historical stuff or refind anything. I'm hoping that there will be a core of bloggers that continue to soldier on and perhaps there will be a Renaissance in the future.

It's interesting to see how active the oldhammer folks. They manage to stay quite busy on the blogs, but also have a facebook group. I suppose if we all made efforts to comment on posts rather than being silent spectators it would do a lot to foster the community. I suspect it's an outcome of being a facebook user and just getting used to content sleeting through you without a need to engage with it.

Unknown said...

Hi, I only just found your blog a week ago through a lead adventure forum post. You won’t see me in your followers list as I subscribed to your RSS feed using a reader.

I’ve still not managed to read everything here but I’ve been loving the Otherworld Skirmish battle reports.

You are spot on about social media and how people are using them for gaming but I think that it’s about to reach its peak. I build websites for a living and I’m seeing a bit of a backlash against Facebook, Twitter etc amongst the more tech savvy. The usual pattern for things is once this happens it spreads to the general public after a while.

Mikko said...

Thanks for a thoughtful post! There are still people blogging and reading out there, but it really does appear the heyday has passed. Still, social media is a different beast: while I can and do spend a lot of time on it, for hobby stuff it still tends to be secondary. While I'm a member of several hobby groups on FB, I rarely browse through them - simply enjoying the stuff when it pops up in my feed. Old forums have become a lot more quiet though!

My own blog plods on at the approximate rate of one post per month, and visitor numbers are a fraction of what they used to be. Still, a group of regulars has formed, and that keeps things interesting and enjoyable.

Here's to a great 2018! Let's keep retro internet going :)

Mike "Shades" Schaefer said...

Thanks for sharing your thoughts on the current state-of-affairs of hobby blogs. I pretty much came to the same conclusion a couple of years ago. But I press on with the Mini Mayhem blog, just because I gain some sense of accomplishment, when I: post a completed painting project; share a particularly entertaining battle report; or have some burning opinion on the state of the hobby or industry. It amounts to a personal diary, and I have to enjoy it for its own sake, with no expectation that strangers will engage in dialogue (which I do enjoy, when it happens). I do get the occasional feedback from friends, who say, "hey, I still read your blog", so that's a nice, occasional motivator.

I had this discussion with my friend, John, who writes the 40K Hobby Blog. He had asked, "Are blogs dead?" And I answered, "Yes, they are; Facebook killed them." But then I went on to explain why I continue my blog, citing the reasons above. Apparently, that seemed to sit well with him, and he continues to post at pretty much the same rate as before.

Many of the hobby blogs that I follow continue to post content. In aggregate, it's a right-size diet of hobby entertainment and inspiration. I figure I might be doing the same for someone else. Hopefully, our blogosphere hive-mind will at least maintain the status quo. So, I'm glad you're pressing on.

For what it's worth, I vote that you continue using Plastic Legions to post progress on your new game, instead of launching a new blog. The new game "counts" for content for Plastic Legions, in my mind, and I would not wish for you to lose some portion of your audience that you already have for Plastic Legions.

Thank you making the time and effort to post content for all these years. Even though your (our) audience is mostly silent, know that your efforts are appreciated.

Dean Vuckovich said...

I still post on my blog, but mainly for my own record keeping (games played, models painted) and a place for a finished model.

A lot of times in the FB Groups or my Twitter, I’ll just link it back to my blog.

Happy New Year! (Neighbor)

Robert said...

Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I agree with all your points about blogging and social media and recently posted some very similar ideas. I hope you keep this going. I read it but I need to be better about commenting and providing feedback. Ironically this was one of my complaints - lack of feedback - turns out I am guilty as well. Have a great new year and I hope to see some posts on your hobby activity.

airbornegrove26 said...

I still think blogs are very relevant to the hobby. Facebook is way to passing, and good luck trying to find something cool you saw a week ago. For some reason your blog hadn't been appearing in my feed, it was a blogger issue with several others as well. I got that fixed and should be seeing your in my blogroll from now on. I really enjoy your blog, and hope you don't pack it in. Looking forward to continue reading along. ;)

Joe Procopio said...

Now I feel especially late to the party after reading this. I am new to the hobby of tabletop miniatures gaming, having picked it up in the past 18 months at the age of 47. I've fallen in love with this pastime so much so that this past spring I launched my first blog ever, Scrum in Miniature.

I cherish blogs like yours, and came across your Otherworld battle reports back in spring 2016. In all sincerity, I remember the photos and reports clearly to this day, and they in particular were one of the things that fueled my excitement to throw myself into this kind of gaming.

I hate to hear that i missed the glory days of gaming blogs, but there is still new blood discovering this hobby through blogs like yours...I can personally attest to that.



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