The Level One Wonk Holiday Special: 2018

Ho ho ho, holy hell that’s a lot of views! As we enter into the twilight of 2018 and as all of you are home with your families, it’s time once again to reflect on what the year has brought us. My year on the home front has been a difficult one (for reasons I need not get into here), but what we’ve been doing at Cannibal Halfling Gaming has been a continual bright spot for me no matter what else was going on.

Like Seamus said earlier, this has been one hell of a year. We’ve seen more views, more clicks, and more articles than last year, and we’re still on an upward growth trajectory. This is the most successful creative endeavor either of has been a part of, and we’re humbled by and thankful for our readers who seem to like what we’re doing.

Unlike last year, Seamus beat me to all the statistical quick hits, so I’m going to be taking a different tack. We come to all of you as writers, of course, but this all works because we are also gamers. As gamers, and as writers, and as designers, there is more and more we want to do…even if we know we need to start slowly. As you all likely know, we have this here website and we have a Patreon site, where we get small and steady infusions of cash to pay the hosting fees, buy some games, and pay it forward to other creators. Our DriveThruRPG affiliate links contribute to this as well. As you may not know, we have a Discord channel, which has hosted nothing more than some digital tumbleweeds and the backroom channel where Seamus, Aki, Geni and I bounce ideas off of each other and beg forgiveness for missed deadlines. As you almost certainly don’t know, I have a teeny-tiny Youtube channel. Nothing’s really there, but all of us have looked at Youtube and all those other streamers and vloggers and started scratching our chins.

Now none of us, not Seamus with a son, nor Aki with a house, nor myself who can only stealthily write at work for so long (note to my boss: kidding, kidding!) can really expect to actually expand our remit so massively and so quickly. That said, we are gents with ambitions, and we’re looking for things to do which will increase our profile and scratch some new creative itches. As we look forward, I see a couple things we’re going to do which will provide more content and more value to all of you reading our stuff.

First, I think we’re going to try to get a public Discord channel off the ground. Everything is set up and we even have maybe half a dozen trial users in there, but it’s time to provide a more easily available and open communication pathway to our readers. Once we figure out how we’re going to use and moderate this channel, I believe this is something we can roll out without too much trouble.

Second, we want there to be more actual games. We make mention of one-shot games in our Patreon rewards, but haven’t really done much with that. That should change. All of us think we could run an extra session a month or so, and we all have plenty of experience running online games. This one will take more planning and time, but we all have ideas and want to see them realized.

Third, we’re looking into different media, thinking about expanding into audio via podcasting and video via vidblogging. This is where I don’t know what will come out of it; we are all busy and creating content in these media that we can be proud of takes work and more importantly time. Even so, it’s been a topic of conversation and we want to figure out how to make it happen.

With all this talk of the future, let me bring you into the past for a moment. As Seamus has discussed and as many of our readers know, the seeds for Cannibal Halfling Gaming were planted in the retirement of the Mad Adventurer’s Society, a site which Seamus contributed to and which was also dedicated to bringing games and gamers together. There is another historical vector which helped to create Cannibal Halfling and brought its three primary authors together. Back in 2010, I was in grad school and in the midst of a long and bleak gaming drought. Through the four years of undergrad I had played with a group of college friends, and it was one of those friends who I contacted with the crazy idea to keep playing through a voice chat service. A lot of self-congratulatory enthusiasm later, my friend said to me, “oh by the way, there’s this guy from a play-by-post I’m in who’s looking for a group. Do you mind if I invite him?” That ‘guy’ was one Seamus Conneely. Aki joined us later through a very similar referral, and we’ve all been playing together ever since.

The dynamics of that online group have led to the dynamics of Cannibal Halfling, and it’s hard to write about this and easier to show it. Back in 2014, one of our more dedicated players was, as part of his career in the US Navy, deployed abroad. We didn’t want to finish our current game without him, so I decided to run what I thought would be a cyberpunk game in Fate Core to tide us all over. It went sideways very, very quickly. What you ended up with was Vyper Blitzken, the ‘last resort mercenary’ played by Seamus, Techmech Joey, the overzealous cybersurgeon played by Aki, and a cast of other characters including two celebrities, a Time Nazi from an alternate dimension, and “Skippy”. The whole crock of nonsense took place in New Jersey, and the PCs were somehow responsible for a time conspiracy gone awry and a nuclear meltdown. Just to top it off they had stolen a flying saucer from Area 51, and were trying to record a rap single so good it would change the course of history. Somehow I GMed this mess, and somehow we recorded it all. The recording below is of the final combat of the game, and much like many of our brainstorming sessions, it starts off with Seamus just saying “god damn it”.

There is another ambition of ours, beyond writing, beyond other forms of content, and beyond playing games together. All of us are aspiring designers. Seamus is currently wrapping up a PbtA game called Transit with several other collaborators, and we all have irons in the fire. In the aftermath of that insane game you may have just listened to, I started drafting a design for a time travel game. The working title is Paradox, and it’s currently in early alpha. The three of us began brainstorming a game idea that stemmed from playing a game about Cyberpunk bartending. We all come up with ideas, but we all need help bringing them to fruition. If any of you are at all interested in what comes out of our twisted minds, all I can tell you is to watch this space.

Seeing how the site did in 2018 humbled us, inspired us, and stoked our ambitions to do better and to do more. We hope you stay with us next year as we keep building, writing, and bringing games and gamers together.

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