Tuesday, December 20, 2022

A Little More Light This Year

 As far as we can discern, the sole purpose of human existence is to kindle a light in the darkness of mere being.”

Carl Jung

For me the yuletide season means looking for the light in the darkness to sustain us. Different people see this in different symbols: a bright shining star, hope for a savior, flames on the menorah, oil lamps, a warm hearth fire, and numerous others. We gather with friends and family, raise our voices in song, and feast on foods sumptuous and sweet, all in an effort to lift our spirits during the darkest time of the year. Alas, the past few yuletide celebrations have seem muted, at least in our family, given events beyond our control: politics, pandemic, and the sometimes overwhelming difficulties we must surmount. But finally, this year, I’m feeling more optimistic. I seem to find a little more light as I look back on what we’ve experienced and look forward to a new year filled with fresh starts and promising opportunities, especially in gaming.

Our hectic holiday season quickly careens out of control each year. It starts with preparations for Thanksgiving, complete with guests and the traditional turkey meal after which some of us, weary with kitchen duties and fortified with some good wine, collapse into a brief but restful stupor. At some point I find time to bake several batches of Dresdner stollen as holiday gifts for friends and family. Our son’s birthday soon follows, with all the various preparations for guests, presents, and yes, more food, including a cake (TARDIS-themed this year). We have a short respite before the yuletide holidays plunge us yet again into the flurry of wrapping gifts, preparing for guests, decorating the house and yard, and, yes, more cooking. This year – beyond the accumulation of presents arriving by post or special delivery – a few additional game-related goodies arrive, some purchases of opportunity, others long-awaited games, and some simply piled up and overlooked in the onslaught of holiday activity.

I’m looking forward to finding a few calm moments during the festivities as well as in the aftermath of vacations from school and work before the new year. Hopefully I’ll immerse myself in enjoying these treats. The haul from my pilgrimage to the regional used bookstore earlier this month demands some attention: the DVD of The Man Who Would Be King, an Osprey title on the Doolittle Raid, a host of vintage Panzerfaust and Campaign Magazine issues, and a worn but serviceable copy of Heritage ModelsQuest. David Crook (with Bob Cordery) just released The Portable Ironclads Wargame, which, given my past enjoyment of ironclad games with Cordery’s Gridded Naval Wargames, was an immediate purchase. And a long-awaited Kickstarter project – Shawn Tomkin’s Ironsworn: Starforged – finally arrived after various delays, a huge hardcover, full-color rulebook, the spiral-bound reference guide, and a deck of asset cards, all a massive temptation for me to immerse myself. No doubt other gaming items will show up as holiday gifts. I relish the chance to kick back and relax with them before charging headlong into the new year.

I’m not a huge advocate of New Year’s celebrations, though in my youth they seemed an annual highlight. As a family we usually spend the holiday indulging in movies and games, sometimes with friends and, inevitably, with good food. For the past few celebrations we’ve had an underlying dread of where everything might go in the upcoming months (“Straight to hell” is generally my expectation, though I think we’ve somehow managed to surpass even that....) But right now, on the gaming front at least, I have cause to look forward to the new year. I’m finding time, inspiration, and energy to develop a new fantasy roleplaying game setting that, perhaps this time next year, will be at least more in the public eye, if not completely released. I’m looking forward to a few new opportunities to give wargaming (sorry, “strategy gaming”) more exposure in my community through the local history museum, public library activities, and other venues...all in addition to enjoying a regional convention or two as player or host.

My hopeful wishes also extend to others in the gaming hobby and our wider community. As society emerges from the covid pandemic (though we encourage folks to maintain precautions), as we try shrugging off a possible recession and deal with rising inflation, and overcome supply chain shortages, we hope those in financial distress find relief and that all gamers have opportunities to enjoy the adventure gaming hobby. Events from this year offer encouragement for those in the industry, particularly the recognition of the Noble Knight Games United workers union and the efforts of members and their employer to move forward in forging a better workplace and company for everyone...including, ultimately, consumers. We’re always facing some game-related controversy, but the example set by Noble Knight Games and its union encourages us to examine issues, stand firm in our beliefs, and work together civilly to find positive compromises to effect overall improvements and advancements.

To all my readers – and to all the seemingly infinite hosts on the internet who might find this tiny blog – I send the best wishes for a joyously bright holiday season filled with warmth in all its forms. I hope everyone finds something positive to look forward to in the new year!

Earth seen from Saturn by the Cassini orbiter.
We are the light in the darkness.

We are not here to curse the darkness, but to light the candle that can guide us through that darkness to a safe and sane future.”

John F. Kennedy


  1. Starforged arrived for me as well! My "GM" brain is a little tried so I'm decided to run a Starforged character based on the Outlaw template in your Introductory Adventure Game through the Freedom for Edan module. (Obviously with a game like Starforged you can't really "run a published module" but you can pull out the setting, encounters, and NPCs as a general brush to paint over the game.)

  2. I'm always flattered to hear the Intro Adventure Game still offers inspiration today, especially in other games. Next time I see Lumo I'll mention you using elements from Freedom for Edan...he'll get a kick of out it.


We welcome civil discussion and polite engagement. We reserve the right to remove comments that do not respect others in this regard.