Tuesday, 31 January 2012

3 abreast in a 10' Corridor: Photographic Evidence from J E Holmes

Jeff Rients recent post jogged my memories of playing with old school 25mm minis and this plate from Dr Holmes' book "Fantasy Role Playing Games" seems to support it.  Citadel and their 1 inch plastic bases have a lot to answer for.

From "Fantasy Role Playing Games" by J Eric Holmes MD (p177)

A tense moment.  The cloaked figure of the thief (Ral Partha) crouches listening at the door as
the rest of the party (Ral Partha) led by the Elf mage (Dragon Tooth) guard the corridor intersection.
  




Monday, 30 January 2012

Spellbooks as Physical Accessories

books
Over at The Tower of The Archmage, Tim posted some inspirational images of spellbooks.  In my campaign world, The Lands of Dual, I've always insisted that players whose PCs are spellcasters, create their own spell books (or in the case of Clerics, prayerbooks) as a physical accessory. 

This fits in well with my preference for the "Spell Slots" form of spellcasting, where as long as the spell is in a PC's spellbook (ie: they have indepth knowledge of the spell) and they have an unused spell slot (ie: they have sufficient energy) then they can cast it.  I also insist that the player come up with their own cantrip or rhyme which they recite when casting the spell.

Although some will undoubtedly think that this isn't very fair on the poor player who has to go to the extra effort of creating their own spell book, hang on a minute, there are a few paybacks.

PAYBACK FOR EFFORT

Mary Queen of Scot's Prayerbook and Rosary
How many times, as a spell casting player, have you had to dive into the rulebook to remind yourself of the spells exact effect or range?  Using this system you can copy out the pertinent stats on a specific spell so you always have your own reference manual.

As DM I can give XP rewards to spellcasters for "roleplaying" their casting attempts.  It's far too easy for spellcasters to get ignored (or just become non combat time specialists) when you're not upfront slaughtering the bad guys and getting XP for combat.

I've always struggled with the notion that if spellcasting characters "level up" in a wilderness, they essentially forfeit any advantage until they can get to a major urban location or meet another wizard to learn new spells and go through the whole "non-game time research" rigmarole which is not always possible to do in a fluid campaign. 

Using the spellbook system, "levelling up" just means that you have had a breakthrough and that you have unlocked another level of mastery.  If you already have, or subsequently find, a spellbook containing spells of your new level, you will now be able to "understand" them enough to add them to your own spell book.  To my mind it is only right that mages should covet each others spellbooks, as a font of thaumaturgical knowledge.  Cue a campaign where mages are being rounded up and slaughtered for their books.

PLAYING DOWN POWER

"But this might make spellcasters too powerful!" I hear you exclaim.  Not so, there are ways in which you can temper their ability, whilst still making it interesting and challenging for them as players.

Environmental factors can make for interesting play.  One of my players wizards had to cast all his spells from the safety of a trapped airpocket inside a submerged boat during an underwater encounter as he didn't want to get his book wet.

More powerful spells require longer incantations (the length of recital should be in line with the spells casting time) and therefore there is a greater chance that they will stutter or fluff their recital.  This gives you the opportunity as DM to be a little bit creative with the resultant spell effect.  Perhaps that level 5 Magic Missile wasn't quite on target or lacked a little concentration?

CRAFTING SPELLBOOKS

There are plenty of ready made notebooks, such as moleskines or the plethora of hand made notebooks, which you can buy off the shelf or from ebay.  Personal organisers (medieval monks used miscellanies which were a kind of proto filofax) also make good spellbooks and have the advantage that you can add pages as you go.  If you're a dab hand with word, photoshop or GIMP  you could create your own page templates and paste in the important data in a fantasy font.

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Levelling up

In his latest Legends and Lore article Monte Cook posits that:

"levels serve as a means to incentivize people to keep playing the game"

Whilst this may be true for the majority of MMORPGs and those time wasting level machines on facebook, it is not necessarily the case for D&D and other level based RPGs.

Levels are a Challenge Metric

D&D 3e introduced the concept of the Challenge Rating (CR) as a device to scale your encounters / scenario to match the levels of the PCs in your group, and before CR, we used a Monster's Hit Die.  However, the constant used in both systems was the PCs level system.  Successive layers of "Customizeable Elements" such as powers, feats, skills and kits have only added to the complexity of character generation and consequently devalued "Levels" as an effective constant.

Players use this metric during play to judge their own survivability and determine their reactions when faced with obviously superior force strength or capability.  For example a lower level party will often resort to non combat means to overcome an encounter if they suspect that there is a high chance that they won't survive.  Being a hero doesn't always have to mean slaughtering the enemy, particularly if a GM has intentionally used the monsters level to frighten or provoke a non-combat solution.

Storytelling Incentivizes Continued Play

In the same way that the storyline of a soap opera incentivizes millions of people to keep watching, the continuation or completion of a plot in an RPG incentivizes players to keep playing.  Although min-maxing and power-gaming exist as styles of play these are generally regarded in a negative light and are discouraged in favour of more positive storytelling or cooperative styles.

Posturing vs Retrospection

Hands up those who've had (or overheard) a conversation before a game session which goes like this:

"My 5th level fighter will kick your 5th level rogue's ass..."

or after a session:

"Remember when I saved your ass by taking out that orc chief..."

As a DM, I know which one I'd prefer to hear my players use.

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

My 10 Favourite Sci-Fi Posters

Thanks to Davis Chenault for his post highlighting the IGN 25 Top Sci-FI Posters.

Here's my top 10 (in no particular order) with some alternate versions thrown in for good measure:


1. MAD MAX


Original Theatrical Poster

UK Poster
I love the graphic simplicity of the original release, but the UK poster (which I remember from my childhood) makes me wanna see the movie NOW!.

2. DUNE


UK Poster

Japanese Poster
The haunting alien vista of the UK poster is infinitely preferable to the car crash of bad airbrush art that is the Japanese version.  Who is Paul Atreides supposed to be kissing, cos it sure doesn't look like Sean Young.

3. BLADE RUNNER

Original Poster
Directors Cut Poster
The crazy angles and harsh edged look to the original composite are given a more sympathetic and dreamlike treatment for the directors cut.  Much better poster IMHO.

4. THEY LIVE


Original Poster

Marc Palm Homage Poster
Rowdy Roddy Pipper eyeballs your "alienness" in the original, but there's a nice subversive edge to Marc Palm's "Hope" version.

5. STAR WARS


Original Poster

Olly Moss Homage
The original is a masterpiece of both composition and oil painting, even if the blasters seem to be firing light-sabre beams.  The Olly Moss homage is an elegant piece of graphic design genius.  I'm officially torn between the two.

6. ALIEN

Original Poster
Polish Poster
The minimalist original has it all, black for space, weird cracked egg with green glowy yolk, scary byeline and alien eggbox landscape.  The poor poles have no idea what they're letting themselves in for with their bizarre blood vessel drawing of what I can only presume is a facehugger?

7. ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK

Original Poster
Special Edition Poster
The Big Apple has gone all to hell in the iconic (if a little cliched) original as the characters are caught in a spot of mid escape terror.  The Special Edition looks like one of Snake Plisken's holiday snaps, posed right after he's brought down the Statue of Liberty in some sort of explosive mayhem.

8. SCANNERS

Original Poster
Italian Poster
In the definitive original, Michael Ironside's about to explode!!!.  But I love the comic book style and vivid fiery reds in the Italian version.

9. GODZILLA VS MEGALON
Original Poster
Alternate Poster
Godzilla is kicking Megalon's butt in the original and classic poster.  In the alternate version The Lost Continent of Mu has been given the boot in favour of a battle on top of the Twin Trade Towers which due to the exaggerated scale makes both these Kaiju look a bit puny by comparison.  Nice idea, poor execution (and the typeography lets it down as well)

10. THE CITY OF LOST CHILDREN


Original Poster
Ken Taylor Mondo Poster
The arthouse style original with its dirty steampunk qualities are eschewed by Ken Taylor for a heavily inked composite illustration evocative of a Hammer Horror movie poster. 

Saturday, 21 January 2012

Fantastic Locations: Mega City One

This month's RPG Blog Carnival, kindly hosted by Keith J Davies, is entitled Fantastic Locations, and whilst it is tempting to write up one of my own Fantasy campaign locations (like the home plane of the Djinn Caliph), I decided to look again at the origin of the word fantastic. 

According to merriam-webster the definition of fantastic  is:
  • a : based on fantasy : not real  
  • b : conceived or seemingly conceived by unrestrained fancy 
  • c : so extreme as to challenge belief : unbelievable; broadly : exceedingly large or great
    When balancing all three definitions it occurred to me that the only location which truly met the criteria was...

    Mega City One

    Mega City One Map
    First appearing in Prog 2 of 2000AD (on 5th March 1977), Mega City One it is arguably the real star of the long running Judge Dredd comic book series.

    Originally stretching across the entire Eastern seaboard of the once proud nation of the United States it was largely destroyed during the Apocalypse War and now is home to some 400 million citizens.  It's western edge is bordered by a gigantic wall which protects it from the mutant inhabitants of the irradiated wasteland known as the Cursed Earth.

    Architecture of Mega City One

    The majority of Mega City One's citizens live in gigantic 1000 storey high Post Atomic Tower Blocks dominating the skyline.  Nestled amongst these are smaller 500 storey blocks and puny 100 storey Pre-Atomic Blocks.  The proximity of the blocks means that daylight cannot reach the lowest (and consequently) poorest levels of some blocks leaving them in permanent darkness and giving rise to the nickname "City Bottom".  Much of what were once the shining corporate edifices of cities like New York has long ago been concreted over to form the foundations of these mega blocks and has created a subterranean "undercity" inhabited by a degenerate subhuman species of troglodytes. 

    Winding around and through all of these structures are a spaghetti like network of megways (roads), slidewalks (moving walkways) and pedways (pedestrian only) which allow citizens to move between blocks and other locations.  Some of the citizens live in computer controlled mobile homes known as mo-pads which perpetually drive around cities megways.

    Comparative Scales of
    Contemporary Buildings
    and a Mega City Block
    The larger blocks house upto 60,000 citizens and contain everything that a person may need from schools, shops and recreation facilities to hospitals, offices and greenhouses.  Each block is a self contained town and it has been known for some citizens to live out their entire lives in the same block until they die and are carted off to Resyk for disposal.

    Life in Mega City One

    Robot labour has largely replaced that of humans and unemployment runs at a staggering 87%.  Most citizens try to find ways of aleviating boredom inevitably leading them to commit some sort of criminal activity which is dealt with swiftly by the city's law enforcers the judges.

    This constant search for new ways to entertain oneself creates a steady stream of new crazes which sweep through Mega City like a plague (and are often just as deadly) and disappear just as rapidly leaving a swathe of destruction in their wake.  The crazes which have graced the pages of Judge Dredd strips over the years are often influenced by contemporary fashions or pastimes, but taken to an extreme level  For example body modification becomes crazes like fatties or uglies, extreme sports becomes crazes like boinging and skysurfing, even something as simple as being a pigeon fancier can be taken to the extreme when a "pigeon" is a giant prehistoric pterodactyl.

    Living cheek by jowl can be stressful and there is always the chance that local rivalries will errupt into a full scale Block War between neighbouring blocks.  Each block is equipped with its own militia (aka Citi Defence) in order to prevent large scale conflict from ensuing but they are sometimes as much of a problem as a solution.  However, there are those citizens who just can't take living in such a crazy city are diagnosed as suffering from Future Shock Syndrome and end up taking their own lives and as many bystanders as they can.

    Locations, Locations, Locations

    The beauty of Mega City One is that it operates on a scale so vast that anything you can imagine might exist on an entire planet can exist within the walls of the city.  Want a zoo stocked with terrifying alien creatures? have one.  Want a 10 mile long ski slope with death defying jumps over a 10 lane motorway? have one.  What ever your imagination can conjure up, Mega City One can accomodate it.

    Mega City One as envisioned by artist Dave Taylor
    Judge Dredd © 2012 Rebellion Developments/2000AD
    Judge Dredd created by John Wagner and Carlos Ezquerra

    Want to Know More?

    Thursday, 19 January 2012

    A to Z of UK RPG in the 80s: I is for Indiana Jones

    Indian Jones
    Indiana Jones
    For most people of my age the movies of George Lucas and Steven Spielberg are part of the pop culture landscape and none more so than those of the unlikely hero, archaeologist and tomb robber Indiana Jones.  The 80s saw Indy make three outings to the silver screen in Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), The Temple of Doom (1984) and The Last Crusade (1989) but his origins lie in the heroes of the Saturday Matinee serials of the 1930s, 40s and 50s.

    Kids TV in the UK also saw the more popular serial heroes (Flash Gordon and King of the Rocketmen) being repeated as cheap time filler. Christmas TV schedules were always peppered with repeats of great pulp movies like Doc Savage: The Man of Bronze and Doug Mclure always seemed to pop up "At The Earth's Core", in "The Land That Time Forgot" discovering "The People that Time Forgot".

    The net effect was that British cinemagoers were already primed for Indy's arrival.

    Indiana Jones RPG (TSR)


    TSR Indiana Jones RPG
    TSR Indiana Jones RPG
    TSR released the Indiana Jones RPG in 1984 and followed up with six adventure modules and an expansion:

    IJ1 - Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom
    IJ2 - Raiders of the Lost Ark
    IJ3 - Indiana Jones and the  Crystal Death
    IJ4 - Indiana Jones and the Golden Goddess
    IJ5 - Indiana Jones and the Nepal Nightmare
    IJ6 - Indiana Jones and the 4th Nail
    IJAC1 - Judge's Survival Pack

    Bizarrely, for an RPG, the boxed set did not include any rules for generating characters in the world of Indiana Jones, forcing you to play one of the established characters such as Indy, Marion or Shortround which probably accounts for its poor critical reception.  When the license expired, all remaining unsold copies were ordered to be destroyed, all except one...

    The Diana Jones Awards

    The Dian Jones Award
    The Diana Jones Award
    When the staff at TSR UK destroyed their unsold copies the last one was creatively assembled into a perspex pyramid and has since 2001 been used as the trophy for the annual Diana Jones Awards celebrating excellence in gaming.

    Other ways I've Roleplayed Indiana Jones

    GURPS Cliffhangers - Originally released by Steve Jackson Games in 1989, this Genre Expansion for the popular GURPS System contains all you need to replicate Indy or any other pulp character's adventures.

    Call of Cthulhu - CoC is set in the 1920s so needs little or no modification to update it for Indy millieu (anytime between 1930 to 1950).  Dropping the heavy mythos creatures has little effect on the game mechanics and SAN can still be lost as a result of truly terrifying or shocking events such as dangling over a pit of snakes or gazing into the Ark of the Covenant.  I have successfully used the system many times to game in the literary worlds of Agatha Christie, Tintin, Hercule Poirot, Jeeves and Wooster as well as other pulp heroes.  Check out White Dwarf #60 (or the WD Cthulhu Omnibus) which featured the mini-scenario "The Bleeding Stone of Iphtah", an archaeological adventure set in Egypt.

    Tuesday, 10 January 2012

    All I want from 5e is...

    This is what happens when you type
    "D&D 5e" into Google Images
    The blogosphere is abuzz with the announcement that WotC are going ahead with development of the next iteration of Dungeons and Dragons.  Rather than fuel the fires of the edition wars, which would be pointless as I don't play 4e and I don't play Pathfinder either, I thought I'd just throw up a list of what I would like to see in 5e and what would make me as an old skool gamer fast approaching 40 part with cold hard cash for what is essentially a new version of an old game.


    1.  Simple Rules to Start With - The concept of a basic game which as you level up gets increasingly complex makes good sense both from a new player/DM perspective and from a sales perspective.  Everyone needs the basic rules to begin with but not everyone needs the Expert/Immortal rules right from the get go (notice how I didn't use those new fangled Heroic/Paragon/Epic Tier names, that's because it's a conceit and it sucks, what's wrong with calling something "an adventure for 5-6 characters of levels 10-15" anyway!!).

    Face it, it takes years to become a good DM, there are no short-cuts or training courses you can go on.  We've all put the years in to a greater or lesser degree and the focus of any pen and paper based game should be on DM arbitration.  Too many rules to begin with overloads the casual or newbie DM and makes the game drag for players.  If you want to entice more younger gamers into D&D to replenish the ranks of the old and bold then this is a must.

    2.  D&D needs to be cross platform - There are 2 major consoles (3 if you consider the Wii which actually outsells both of the other 2) which are more than upto the task of running an MMORPG / VTT game.  There's also the traditional Mac and PC platforms, which even if you can't put together a full 3D HD Wizzy MMORPG such as WoW, it shouldn't be too difficult to put together an HTML 5 web app which will run on almost anything from the lowliest console to the latest spec kit.  Hire an expert company like Zynga or their competitors to do the dev, they do it day in, day out.

    Let's face it the world has moved on even from the 4e release only a handful of years ago.  There are potentially more iPod/iPhone/iPad and Android users in the world than there are console gamers or any other platform specific community and it's getting bigger every day.  A character builder is something that can  feasibly be built for next to nothing and can even be given away as a free mobile app to entice new and old players alike.


    Want to support the Organised Play / D&D Experiences / Living 5e communities, fine, let authorised DMs add XP and other adventure rewards online.  These can then be reflected on your character app almost instantly.  Couple it with a web based VTT as above for which you charge players as an in-app purchase to go on adventures and you've got a new funding model for a digital age (this should keep HASBRO happy).

    Ultimately choice of OS should not be a barrier to enjoying a D&D online experience.

    3.  Miniatures with RFID/Bluetooth - The recent Wii hit game Skylanders has pushed technology that little bit further with their RFID enabled miniatures, do the same for D&D miniatures.  No collectibility, just offer them for sale.

    4.  No Subscriptions Please (were British) - I know that PC and console gamers are going to object to this, but I'm afraid that the subscription model of charging for gaming is a bit of a dead dog.  It works in an MMORPG sense as you tend to collaborate online with people you don't know, but in a sit around the table VTT sense I'm not sure it will work as I'm sure nobody wants to tell one of the Players to get their VISA card out or they can't join in.

    I don't think I'd be able to convince "Her Indoors" that a subscription for a game I may only play once a week is value for money, but I also don't want, and can't afford, to invest the sort of time one needs to in an MMORPG style game in order to recoup my cash investment.

    Ultimately, if the likes of major newspapers like The Times or the WSJ  can't get paywalls to work for them, I can't see how WotC can get it to work for D&D.

    5.  Print Pubs with Online Extras - This is already happening in the indie scene as more and more publishers supplement purchases of the dead tree version of their games with a free PDF version.  We're not stupid, we know that you sent the book to the printer as a PDF, don't try to rip us off with overpriced e-books.  Whilst you're at it, give us some promo codes for extras which are only available if you buy the dead tree adventure modules (that are allegedly hard to sell).  Look at the sterling work being done by Worlds of Wonder with their bordgame promo codes.

    If a tenth of this ends up appearing in the final release edition of 5e, I may be enticed back, maybe...

    Tuesday, 3 January 2012

    Moviewatch: Looking forward to 2012

    I know that this is a little "off topic" but who doesn't use movies as inspiration for their games...?  Here's a list of movies I'm looking forward to in 2012

    MOVIEWATCH: LOOKING FORWARD TO 2012 

    JANUARY

    • The Divide - 13th January (USA) - A bunch of survivors are holed up in the confines of their apartment building's basement after a nuclear war.
    • Haywire - 18th January (UK) - Steven Soderbergh directs this story of a female Black Ops soldier who seeks revenge after being set up during a mission.
    • Underworld Awakening - 20th Jan (UK) - Kate Beckinsale dons the leather catsuit again for another outing as Selene in the 4th Underworld movie.
    FEBRUARY
    MARCH
    • John Carter - 9th March (UK) - Disney adaptation of the Edgar Rice Burroughs' Martian hero John Carter.

    • The Hunger Games - 23rd March (UK) - Gary Ross (Seabiscuit) directs this adaptation of the Suzanne Collins novel of a dystopian future. 
    • Wrath of The Titans -  30th March (UK) - Sam Worthington returns as Perseus to battle Hades and rescue Zeus.
      APRIL
      • Iron Sky - 4th April (FIN) - Nazi flying saucers leave their secret moon base to invade Earth.
      • MS One: Maximum Security - 13th April (UK) - Guy Pearce stars in this outerspace prison break movie written by Luc Besson.

      • Battleship - 20th April (UK) - Liam Neeson tries to see off an alien invasion with his trusty naval fleet

      • The Avengers - 27th Aril (UK) - Thor, Iron Man, Capt. America, Black Widow, Hawkeye and The Hulk appear in 2012's most anticipated superhero slugfest.
      MAY
      • The 25th Reich - 10th May (AUS) - Time travel, Nazi Robot Spiders, what's not to like?

      • Sinbad: The 5th Voyage - 18th May (US) - Patrick Stewart narrates this low budget Sinbad tale.  
      • Men in Black III - 25th May (UK) - Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones return as agents J and K in this time travelling sequel. 
      JUNE
      • Prometheus - 1st June (UK) - Ridley Scott directs this Alien prequel which covers the events of an earlier expedition to LV426.
      • G.I. Joe Retaliation - 22 June (UK) - Sequel to the family friendly action movie featuring Channing Tatum backed up by Bruce Willis, Dwayne Johnson and Ray Stevenson
      JULY
      • The Amazing Spider-Man - 4th July (UK) - Andrew Garfield dons the lycra in this reboot of the spidey movie franchise and faces off against classic super-villain The Lizard played by Rhys Ifans.
         
      • The Dark Night Rises - 20th July (UK) - Christain Bale returns as Batman to face off against Bane
      AUGUST
      • Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter - 2nd August (UK) - Dominic Cooper and Alan Tudyk feature in this adaptation of Seth Grahame Smith's novel.
         
      • Total Recall - 22nd August (UK) - Colin Farrell stars as Doug Quaid in a remake of the classic Phillip K Dick short story "We Can Remember It For You Wholesale"
      SEPTEMBER
      • Resident Evil: Retribution - 14th September (UK) - Milla Jovovich makes another outing as Alice in the latest installment in the war against the Umbrella Corporation.

      • Para Norman - 14th September (UK) - The team behind Coraline and 9 return with this animated tale of a boy who can see speak with the dead.
      • Dredd - 21 September (UK) - Karl Urban stars as Judge Dredd in this big screen outing for the 2000AD hero, which will hopefully blow away all the bad memories of the 1995 Sylvester Stallone version.
      • Looper - 28th September (UK) - Sci-Fi thriller where mob hit-man Joseph Gordon-Levitt gets hired to kill his future self.
      OCTOBER
      • Hotel Transylvania - 12th October (UK) - Genndy Tartakovsky directs this animated tale of a boy falling for Dracula's daughter in an upmarket holiday resort for monsters.
      NOVEMBER
      • Red Dawn - 2nd November (US) - Chris Hemsworth stars in this remake of the 80s classic as a group of American teenagers attempt to save their town from a North Korean invasion.
        DECEMBER
        • The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey - 14th December (UK) - Martin Freeman as Bilbo Baggins in the first part of Peter Jackson's adaptation.
        • 47 Ronin - 14th December (UK) - Keannu Reeves stars in this true story of 18th Century Japanese samurai who take revenge for the death of their master.
        SCHEDULED FOR SOMETIME IN 2012
        • War of The Worlds: Goliath - Animated steampunk movie sequel to HG Well's War of the Worlds produced in association with Heavy Metal Magazine.  This one has been threatening to come out for a while, hope it doesn't turn into vapourware.

        • Paradox Alice - A rescue mission is despatched to Europa to fetch water for a dying earth but something puts the mission in jeopardy.

        • A Little Bit Zombie - An HR manager turning zombie trys to keep his life together and marry his fiance.

        • Polypore - A young man's hunt for answers to his newly found gift of telepathy uncovers a web of corporate intrigue.

        • Cheech & Chong's Animated Movie - Cheech Marin and Tommy Chong's animated movie based on their Grammy Award winning albums.  Probably has nothing useable from an RPG stance but I like a bit of Cheech and Chong now and then.

        • Vehicle 19 - Paul Walker stars as a foreign tourist who unwittingly picks up a rental car and is drawn into a scheme of corrupt local police.

            Sunday, 1 January 2012

            Happy New Year and 2012 Resolutions

            Happy New Year to all of you out there in RPG Blogging land, especially to those members of the RPGBN and RPGBA who have been along for the ride over the past 12 months.

            RPG Resolutions for 2012

            1.  Be a Player and not a GM - In 2011 I spent most of my time (33 weekly sessions) GMing my C&C campaign which took up most of my freetime.  I don't know how other bloggers manage to fit two or three campaigns into a year, but one was enough for me.  Playing games rather than running means that I have more time to put thoughts onto paper (or screen) and develop ideas for future games.  I suspect that I'm no different to a lot of other gamers in this respect, I need a playing sabbatical in order to recharge my batteries.

            2.  Read More and Play Apps less - I have been seduced by a number of really cool app games over the last year which have taken over my daily commute and turned me into an iOS zombie.  I used to read on the train but now I can be found playing drawrace or some other equally addictive timewaster.  I have a huge stack of books beside my bed which I really ought to get through.

            3.  Re-skin the blog - Although this blog is cool it looks pretty scruffy and amateurish in comparison to other blogs, my day job is in the web so it's actually quite embarrassing at the same time that I've not done anything about the CSS or branding on the site at all.  This year I hope to smarten things up.

            4.  Publish more - becoming a self publisher has been a blast so far and I have a number of projects which are in several stages of completion.  This year I really must pull my finger out and get them published.