My how the world has changed since I last posted. Needless to say, anyone's expectations for how 2020 would turn out have been largely scuttled, especially those occurring from mid-May onwards, especially for those of us living in the United States.
To be fair, I'd meant to make several posts in the time between then and now, but just never seemed to get around to it. Then again, I have mentioned this would get sporadic updates as opposed to constant ones, and I generally hold to the opinion that I should really only say something if I feel I've got something to say.
As for how I'm weathering the current state of affairs, to be quite honest not a whole lot has changed for me. I've pretty much been working remotely from my apartment since late last year, with the only difference being that I'm now officially a full-time work-at-home employee. Which suits me fine, as most of the folks that I knew in the actual office have themselves transitioned to working remotely full-time or have left the company, some by choice but most not.
In early March I made the trip to Walt Disney World along with my mother, with my main intent to spend as much time as I could hanging out in Galaxy's Edge. And I will admit that the work Disney put into that section of Hollywood Studios was amazing, as it very much looked like a place you'd see in a Star Wars film. The Millennium Falcon ride was a lot of fun, with my favorite position being pilot; sadly if you do the single rider line, you're pretty much stuck being an engineer, which was the most boring position. I did plan ahead and booked a session at Savi's Workshop to build my own lightsaber, opting for a purple crystal and an Old Republic themed hilt; I did also pick up a blue and red kyber crystal as well as a Jedi holocron, as well as the obligatory t-shirts and stuff for a few other folks. The only downer was that my mother and I caught what she believes was a (luckily) very mild case of the coronavirus, with us having a nasty cough and sore throats; the worst of mine went away in about a week with a lingering cough for another couple weeks, but other than that I'm fine with no other symptoms.
Now one of the things I do miss due having to social distance is the Friday night live table gaming, which began with an Adventures in Middle Earth campaign, using Cubicle7's D&D5e adaptation of their One Ring game, with the campaign starting out with an adaption of the Lost Mines of Phandelver adventure. In that game, I played a Dunedain Wanderer (their version of a non-magical Ranger with some generally better class features) that was unashamedly an Aragorn-clone, though completely lacking in leadership traits. It was a fun game, but wound up falling by the wayside as half the players in that group just didn't care for playing online, and I get the feeling that campaign has pretty much been scuttled.
Fortunately, enough of us remained and were able to rope in a couple newer local folks that we knew and had zero issues with playing via Zoom (we tried Skype and Discord, but there were connection issues that we've not had with Zoom), and have launched into a D&D 5e campaign, one that is very much in the theme of gothic horror, but per the DM is not set in Ravenloft, though I'd be very surprised if he's not pulled elements of the Ravenloft setting to populate this Uberwald region. I've very much enjoyed playing Esryn Vandryr, a Half-Elf Blood Hunter of the Order of the Profane Soul, using the 2020 updated version that Matt Mercer published much earlier in the year. It's amusing, as I initially made the character as a "what if?" concept, with no aspirations of him ever seeing play, so getting to actually play this snarky, semi-broody hunter of monsters has been a great deal of fun. We've got an interesting crew, including a couple of characters for whom the players unapologetically took inspiration from Critical Role, being a female human monk (Beau) and a tiefling genderfluid bard (Mollymauk in personality), though our monk (who with the GM's approval is using the updated Path of the Cobalt Soul subclass that Matt Mercer posted online some time ago) is much more cheerful and socially adjusted, perhaps being the most upbeat and energetic PCs of the group (though not anywhere near Jester levels).
Speaking of Mister Mercer, I guess I can officially consider myself a Critter, as I'm very much on the Critical Role bandwagon. While Campaign 1 had some rough patches, I've generally enjoyed Campaign 2, with my favorite characters being Jester (who honestly doesn't love how Laura Bailey portrays the adorably bubbly and mischievous little blue tiefling girl?) and Caleb (Liam O'Brian does a fantastic job balancing the pathos involved without drowning the entire campaign in it). It was rough not having the show to look forward to, but I totally get why they shut things down until a safe way to continue the sessions could be implemented. Though I've also been enjoying their Narrative Telephone series, and do hope that continues for the foreseeable future.
Unfortunately, due to COVID-19 and the current federal administration's absolutely botched job of handling the pandemic, the another thing that I'm missing out on this year is GamerNationCon. While I ultimately wasn't planning on running anything, it's still nice to get together with members of the D20Radio network to roll some dice and exchange stories. But with Texas being in the condition it is now, I can't see anyway they'd be able to hold the convention this year, and unless things seriously change even trying to hold it in April 2021 might be a stretch. I hope that's not case, and that once a new administration takes effect in January things will start to drastically improve. But sadly, I've lost a lot of faith in humanity over the past several months, so I'm setting my expectations really low.
Another thing I very much miss is opportunities to hang out over lunch or dinner with my long-time friends Amy and Tiff. I miss the two of you horribly, and hope that you both remain safe and sound; once things are under control and it's safe to do, I am eager for an opportunity to get together over good food and hear all about Amy's initial efforts of running a campaign of her own.
Back to personal gaming, a couple weeks ago, on the night of the Fourth of July, I concluded my Force and Destiny campaign. I'd started this campaign way back in August of 2015, though with a number of breaks so that other folks could run games, especially during those times when one of the players was unavailable for personal reasons (some good, some alas painful). The campaign, called the Errant Ventures, ran for a grand sum of 43 sessions, with the PCs generally being at around 1000 XP. The group enjoyed it, and as a GM it's reassuring to hear that your players are saddened for a campaign to end due to their ties and investment into the world you've created. I will admit that it was fun to have the PCs from my friend Linda's sadly aborted Age of Rebellion game show up as cameo appearances, especially as it was the same group of gamers that had played the members of Roke Squad that played in my F&D campaign. I did mention to them that I wasn't adverse to returning to those characters at some future point, but sadly one of the glaring problems that's shown itself with the FFG system is that it can be difficult to remember all the stuff a PC can do (especially if they're a Force user) if you've not played that character for several months.
Currently, we're gearing up for Linda to run the Onslaught at Arda campaign for a new group of Age of Rebellion PCs, with that due to properly start up come the first weekend in August, with that running however many weeks it takes. Sadly, one of the players has a prior commitment for the next couple weeks, so August is the soonest we could start. But this should be fun, as it gives me a chance to once again play my Chadra-Fan Engineer/Saboteur whose quasi-Brooklyn accent is in zero way indicative of his being a pastiche of a certain explosives-loving, gun-totting anthromorphic procyon lotor whose good with motors.
The other game that is being worked on by my Canadian buddy Eric is a new Mutants and Masterminds campaign. He'd made the decision that it was time to bring the story of the Stormbreakers, the team of heroes that had started with the long-faded Punching for Justice podcast, to a premature conclusion. We did have a pre-Session zero conversation this past Saturday, both to discuss how events of what would have been the final sessions would play out and how our PCs would be involved in the gigantic galactic event that would be thwarting Collapsar's attack on Earth, as well as the aftermath and why this iteration of the Stormbreakers would go their separate ways.
Now, I'll be honest in that a part of me is going to miss the opportunity to play my take on Spider-Man, and someone did mention "you could just a Miles Morales and make a legacy character!" but that just doesn't feel right, and it does feel like it's time to put that character aside and let him become a background element of Emerald City, being one of its few active superheroes and one that's very much paying attention to lower-level street crime (in between juggling college courses, a paid intern program at MarsTech, and maintaining a long-distance relationship).
However, I am looking forward to the new campaign, as we're playing teenage heroes in the newly founded "supers school" of Arcadia Academy. I've come to really like Emerald City as a campaign setting, and it'll be fun to play a new hero (very much leaning into a Paragon archetype for this one, making for a substantial change from Spider's role in the Stormbreakers) in a setting that I'm more familiar with now and that has a history that I and the other players have helped shape. Plus, high school hijinks and the various emotional minefields that come with playing teenagers, especially ones who truly have the power to change the world around them.