This past year has seen an increased posting frequency and a renewed focus on my gaming activities as I have returned to the hobby. My game group was an amazing support during the pandemic though it has proven valuable beyond the lockdown(s). We play once a week for several hours and I always feel excited and elated after the game.

I ran my first long-form D&D 5th edition campaign (5 months) in our group’s collaborative world, Feyruin, and built out a process for doing campaign prep using Obsidian and custom templates (using the Lazy DM techniques.)

For that campaign (and beyond) I’ve been making new maps on Inkarnate, which is my favorite cartography program. If you’re a game master and author I recommend checking out the program; they have a free version that you can try.

I continue to enjoy the Lazy DMs podcast by Mike Shea though also the Mastering Dungeons podcast by Shawn Merwin and Teos Abadía.

Our group expanded our game system experience through a series of test one-shot adventures where we tried Numenera, Savage Worlds and Eclipse Phase. The group experimented with the sidekick rules and running 1-on-1 adventures in Dungeons and Dragons 5e. I feel like I grew as both a GM and a player throughout all my experiences this past year. I hope the next year will bring more games.

Editors Note: I am participating in Dungeon 23 this year, which caused this post to be late as I have been mapmaking and thinking hard about world-building. If you’re interested in seeing my progress then check out my side blog here.

Now on a serious and more personal note, this article came across my feed this fall and I have been thinking about it a lot as I fall within the referenced demographic.

The Lonely Hearts Club man – BBC Science Focus

…Another important factor is, of course, that men are a bit useless. When it comes to making plans or staying in contact with friends, men are socially lazy. This appears to be especially true in middle age when something strange happens with men’s friendships.

The difference between male and female friendship is often characterised as side-by-side versus face-to-face relationships. When men meet their friends, they stand shoulder-to-shoulder: at the bar, at the football ground, fishing at a river. When women meet up, they often sit across a table from each other and talk.

As truth that I didn’t see when I was younger (re: around the time I started playing TTRPGs), I didn’t realize that the older you get the harder it is to make friends. I think your young life (at least here in the US) is filled with shared activities (school) that shepherd you through life and help you find people you connect with over shared interests. Yet, the older you get you to leave those shared group activities and you change and grow as a person making it harder to form those connections. [^I am an elder millennial, which means I am in the odd place of having an analog childhood and digital adulthood. Now it is much easier to keep connections and manage connections with others. ] Playing TTRPGS is a rare hobby that is both “side-by-side” and “face-to-face” as it is a shared activity though you’re collaboratively building a story, which involves shared experiences and pulling from your own experiences to create a story. I firmly believe that forming connections with others through gaming makes for a fuller, richer, and less lonely life with myriad social benefits. And I am not alone on this opinion either:

I hope this year brings more games and more time to write about games.