One Voice, Singing in the Darkness…

If you were expecting a Forgotten Heroes update, I’m afraid you’re going to be disappointed.

However, I do have an update regarding The Age of Unreason project, as things have changed once again.

Steve, Hils and Tarot have decided to retire from the blogging community in its entirety, so will no longer be blogging or posting comments on the blogs they used to follow. The reason for this is their utter dismay in the trend for a large majority of supposed ‘gamers’ to use their blogs as organs for their own self-aggrandisement, this desperate need to seek praise or have the most followers or likes or comments on their blogs, rather than actually playing games which, after all, is the purpose of buying these little men in the first place.

A good analogy for this is White Dwarf magazine. When I started gaming back in the mid-80’s, White Dwarf was the go-to publication for gamers. It contained articles and scenarios on a variety of games systems, some of which you may mot have heard of, but the overall feeling you got from the magazine was that it was encouraging you to take what was published, make it your own and gather your friends together for some serious dungeoneering…or thwarting the machinations of the worshippers of Cthulhu…or venturing into the Old World to defend the Empire against the incursion of Chaos.

This changed as Games Workshop realised that publushing their own rules was more lucrative, and the magazine became a self-serving organ to encourage people to buy their rules, miniatures and paints, showcasing their latest release and the painting skills of their in-house team. Occasionally a batrep would appear, but it was usually just to highlight a new set of rules or a new faction in their games, rather than playing for the sheer joy of playing.

Many blogs follow a similar trend, with the focus on the latest ‘must have’ figures and how the blogger has painted them. If you are a regular blogger, how many of your posts over the last 12 months have been showcases of your painted figures? When was the last time you actually sat down and played a game?

Now, this doesn’t mean you’re not part of the hobby, but can you really describe yourself as a gamer if you don’t play?

So, as Steve, Hils and Tarot are primarily gamers, with blogging a secondary aspect of the hobby to them, they have decided to exit the online community and concentrate on what they feel is the most important part of the hobby for them. And I wish them all the best in their endeavours, as I fully understand and support this decision.

Now, I use my blog to encourage me to actually do something hobby-related, as prior to starting it, all my figures, rules and terrain was just sitting in boxes gathering dust. If not for my blog, I wouldn’t have regained my love of the hobby, wouldn’t have painted the half-finished figures, wouldn’t have written my own rules and certainly wouldn’t have sat down and played some games with them.

So, for me, my blog helps me to focus on what I enjoy about the hobby and hopefully, by sharing what I’m doing, encourages others to do the same. It’s not about praise or recognition, it’s about keeping a record of what I’ve done and being able to discuss these aspects of the hobby with like-minded people.

Now, given Steve’s departure to greener pastures, what does this mean for the Age of Unreason project? Does this mean it’s dead?

Nope.

One of my problems with this project was that whilst I liked the idea of venturing into the realms of tricorne-era gaming, my historical knowledge of the period is somewhat sketchy, so whilst I could put together a pseudo-historical game setting, I felt that I wasn’t doing it justice. Unlike my Tales of the Black Museum, which is based on my love of the late Victorian period and the ample research and reading of fact and fiction about this era, I just don’t know enough about either the locale I’d selected or the era to convincingly portray this in my games. And apparently, the type and volume of trees is an important part, based on various online comments made…

I have the terrain, I have the fauna, I have the figures to play a ‘Muskets ‘n’ Monsters’ style game, but no definitive setting in which to do it…or do I?

Actually, yes. And that setting is…

Many moons ago, this campaign setting was released by TSR for AD&D 2nd edition. It was very popular at the time and managed to survive the various upheavals to the D&D rules over the years, evolving and changing to suit the needs of the then-current players.

It wasn’t entirely perfect, as whilst many cooks don’t necessarily spoil the broth, they can add unnecessary ingredients that make it less palatable (like what they decided was at the bottom of the Shadow Rift…)

Prior to starting my blog, I’d begun a RPG project to streamline the setting, based on the final iteration of the 2nd edition contained within Domains of Dread. Get rid of all the stuff that was stupid or I felt didn’t suit the setting and make it better.

So, I had a setting for which I intimately knew the history of, had copious notes on and, with a slight advance of technology levels from ‘chivalric’ and ‘renaissance’ to ‘colonial’, would work extremely well for this project. And once I’d realised that, suddenly everything started to flow again.

So, whilst the proposed joint campaign world initially announced may be no more, welcome to the launch of Ravenloft: Age of Unreason. It’s going to be grisly fun…

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19 thoughts on “One Voice, Singing in the Darkness…

  1. A very deep and thought provoking post young Jeremy. First of all I would like to be the first to wish the guys the very best, the emerald crew will leave a big hole in the gaming community, whether anyone wishes to acknowledge this or not, and to admit they are often deeply correct on a number of things is a bridge to far for many, not without having to look uncomfortably close at themselves in the process. I have had the personal privilege and honour of playing at their house table and what a special treat that was, they play like no others, and they play with their hearts and souls, and their home hosting skills are second to none. I have also seen their club and oh boy, is it ever a paragon of happy fun, and a showcase on how a very good gaming club should be run.

    Jez, whether your run an Age of Unreason (I like the name) is set in Colonial America within historical times, or whether you base your game in early style Ravenloft, it maters not one whit. I know it will be amazing, full of Jez splendours and charm. I have every confidence you will give us something unique, and a joy to read and share, as we live and breath within your world alongside you, all no doubt done in your own special way.

    All the best on this venture.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Dave. Over the years I’ve got to know them, Steve, Hils and Tarot have become ver good friends and I will miss their unique and frank views on both gaming and the hobby in general. They have been incredibly supportive of me and my humble blog and I truly believe their influence has made it better than it once was.
      Has their influence coloured my views on the hobby? No, but their example has shown me that it is acceptable to voice your opinions when you perceive something to be wrong. People may not agree with either mine or their opinions on certain matters, but that doesn’t mean that we’re wrong – we just have a different perspective.
      And the change in setting to one I know very well (which may not be that familiar to others) means I am effectively ‘off the leash’ – I can go anywhere I want with this setting, which will be familiar enough to those that know it to feel they’re revisiting an old friend, but also a bit different, so there will be a few surprises along the way. I’m still contemplating what a tricorne-era Lord Soth would be like…sort of like an 18th century Dr. Doom pethaps? 😁

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Sad news indeed to hear that Steve, Hils and Tarot have decided to refrain from commenting upon the hobby any further, but I’m not sure this particular circle of the hobby within which we dwell is entirely devoid of either BatReps or gaming. Admittedly, I myself haven’t got anywhere near the number of AARs I wanted to post this year, having just published six, but this is a golden time for gamers currently, imho, with all sorts of ranges rising to the surface to attract one’s attention and coinage πŸ™‚

    Personally, I thoroughly enjoy others blogs, irrespective if they post AARS or just their latest loot/paint-jobs. Indeed, I really like to see what people are buying, what the latest releases are, and why they’ve gone for Brand ‘A’ instead of Brand ‘X’ for their gaming delights. I also like to see how people’s painting projects are progressing so as to chide my own paltry painting timetable along, and pick up some tips along the way. I’ve lost count how many times Dave Stone has offered some gem of a painting technique on my own humble blog whilst I’ve been posting WIPs, or spied another awesomely innovative Michael Awdry article which has immediately caused me to switch my own painting projects. Such stuff is what draws me into this hobby, so I’m not convinced things are quite as “self-serving” as you perhaps suggest..?

    Liked by 1 person

    • As with all hobby-related blogs, the choice of content is entirely in the owner’s hands. For every blog that focuses purely on the painting side of the hobby, you’ll have those who focus purely on playing games, such as Alan over on “The Stronghold Rebuilt”. All are part of the hobby, but some bloggers tend to refer to themselves as “gamers” when they don’t actually play any games. It’s a bit like owning a car and referring to yourself as a chaffeur.

      The majority of those involved in the hobby are blogging for their own enjoyment and this is evident from the enthusiasm in which they write about whatever they’re currently working on. Howevet, But there are those who are more concerned about how many followers they have or the amount of praise they get. Both the laws of probability and godd old human nature guarantee it. You’ve probably seen this yourself and these are the blogs you choose not to follow.

      However, if you’ve seen too much evidence of this, as Steve and the guys have, it can taint that aspect of the hobby for you and it’s understsndable that you’d rather not expose yourself to this – especially when you have more pleasant avenues to pursue.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I hadn’t heard of β€œThe Stronghold Rebuilt” before, Jez, so thanks for mentioning it in your reply. I’m not sure I could maintain Alan’s somewhat punishing posting schedule if I were just publishing BatReps, but what an inspirational site πŸ™‚

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  3. im aware of their growing disenchantment and wish them the very best. great friends, wonderful people, who wear their hearts on their sleeve and put their entire spirit on the game table for all to share. generous to a fault, and once you meet them in person you will never ever forget them.

    have a simply wonderful new adventure and may your single voice singing in the darkness find a light to guide you on your road.

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    • You can only put up with stuff that goes against your principles for so long before reaching the saturation point. And that point has been reached for Stevie and the guys.

      And I agree completely with all you say about the trio, although I’ve yet to meet them in person, more’s the pity.

      And I shall be relying on “A Light in the Belfry” to guide me along the winding tracks of Ravenloft (which is an in-joke for thise familiar with the setting). Thanks for your kind words and support, Luke.

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  4. Very sad they feel they have no place in the community, but wish Steve, Hils, and Tarot all the best in how they choose to enjoy their hobby.
    I think we are all hobbyists in one form or another, some want to spend all their time writing battle reports, others enjoy spending time showing their latest painted model. Neither is right or wrong as it is a personal journey for everyone, I myself never intended to start blogging, it was only Steve asking me to contribute that got me started. I don’t post up many AAR’s at the moment but game every week, does that make me less of a gamer ? Or is it because on the limited personal time I’d rather enjoy playing the game and do a quick update on a painting project on the blog ?
    As a community we need to stop worrying about comments and likes, if I did I would have stopped commenting on other peoples blogs ages ago when they haven’t commented on my latest post, I comment on a few blogs, sometimes their showing something that I’m not personally interested in, but I will still post a comment to show I appreciate the time they’ve put in to their project. This works for an AAR, as we all know how much time and effort they take to write and photograph. A nicely painted model, takes time, as does a conversion or build. Even someone highlighting a new purchase can have merit, as it could be a game you’ve had your eye on, and are undecided on.
    I say enjoy your hobby how you want to as long as it’s not hurting anyone else, and not worry if it’s not how you would do it, as long as your having fun what does it matter ?

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    • Nicely said, Dave. As every post made by a blogger is a personal expression of whatever aspect of the hobby they enjoy, you soon get an idea of their personality and whether the blog is for you.

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  5. So sad to see Hils, Steve and Tarot step away. Their clear-headed views and comments, and support, came at a time I was lost in the hobby world. Seeing what is possible, what others do, and what is just out there reinvigorated everything hobby. I will truly miss their wit and banter.
    Of course, Jez, that means you have to put out 4x as much content now to satisfy this little circle! 😁😁

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      • Three missing blogger/gamers/sources of inspiration. One Jez. 4 times. Lol.

        Its tough. I am so mean to blogging I haven’t really seen what they have. Though I get people “following” who if their blog is any indication, have no idea what tabletop gaming is. Likes and followers mean nothing to me. I’m just trying to stay inspired and active. Progress shots are rare, but necessary so I don’t slip into a period of inactivity. Even though I know if I model or paint, having to show the world keeps me pushing harder. Its just the way my mind works.

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  6. I have to say that I was quite taken aback by this post. Yes, I know you like to address your opinions and thoughts and have every right to do. Your blog, your rules, but because we don’t post Battle Reports on our own blogs we cease to be gamers? We wallow in our own self self-aggrandisement, seeking a narcissistic nirvana; really? I created my blog purely to record my progress in painting, with other related hobby fluff thrown in as and when. I wanted the contact with others, I needed the advice and encouragement in order to progress. A few years down the line, I have reached a level of constancy in my painting that I am happy with. It will never win me a Golden Demon, but I can sit back and say job well done and enjoy pushing my newly painted miniatures around the table. More importantly, I try to give back with positive comments to as many as I can in the hope that it will encourage others to find a similar hobby enjoyment to my own.

    We get to chose what content we post and this often influences which blogs we enjoy visiting. For myself I enjoy seeing how others progress with their painting and ideas and would align myself with the sentiments that Simon mentioned. (thank you Simon, for the lovely comment by the way πŸ™‚ ) That said I have a genuine interest in other aspects of the the hobby, particularly in the development of games like the ideas showcased here of the Buffet. This side of things is so out of my comfort zone and yet the likes of your good self and Stevie have made me feel so welcome that the use of words like ‘dismay’ trouble me slightly. Now I appreciate that I am probably being oversensitive about this, but in the brief correspondence that I have had with Stevie, I don’t think I could ever imagine him being dismayed about anything, such was his generosity of spirit. In fact just reading Dave-G’s comment at the top of the page about how open and welcoming Stevie and Hills are only reinforces my option of them both.

    I was simply going to ignore this post because, as is often the case when you read things in isolation, I started to think that it was directed at me. Instead I went and had a cup of tea and thought about what you were saying. As valid and interesting as a viewpoint as it is Jez, it is utter tosh! I will continue to post my painting progress on my misnomer of a weblog and people will either comment or not; it matters not a jot to me. What is more important is that I will also continue to sit down at the Buffet and gorge myself on the innovative and creative ideas you have come up or swing by the Game Cupboard to marvel at Dave’s putty pushing before giving a big whoop, whoop to the latest offerings over at Fantorical. What we have is a community of wonderfully diverse and interesting people and we should continue to champion and foster that. I am very sorry to see Stevie and Hills bow out, but they leave having greatly enriched a good many of our hobby worlds and I, for one, am eternally grateful. So I say post what you like when you like, the only thing I want to know is that you are having fun!

    *signs off with a big smile on his face.*

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for your intelligent and measured comment, Michael.

      Because the amount of hobby-related blogs out there is so huge, not everyone will follow the same people and have the same experiences. I personally follow about a dozen blogs, which I’ve chosen because their content and attitude suits my sensibilities. Of that dozen or so, possibly 4 or 5 are ones thst you follow or Simon follows. But the kind of blogger I describe in my article do exist out there and both myself, Stevie and the others have run afoul of these people. When prior to this point all you’ve ecperienced from the online blogging community is an open welcome, it does come as a bit of a shock to the system, as you can’t quite believe what is happening. I think you’ve been fortunate in that you’re particular blogging ‘circle’ you’ve not run into one of these people and I hope that continues.

      Articles like this are to express my opinion on aspects of the hobby I dislike and make people aware of things they may not have come across or thought about in that particular way. They’re not personal attacks on particular people and I certainly wouldn’t knowingly insult someone who takes the time to visit and read my blog.

      As a lot of people have stated, the choice of HOW you enjoy our wonderful hobby is entirely up to you and as YOU said above, the choice of content on your own personal blog is also down to you.

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  7. Well….I really don’t know quite what to write here. Probably the perfect thing to do is cut and paste what Michael wrote above as he has eloquently put into words my thoughts and sentiments exactly. I realise that you write from the heart, and that is one of the things I’ve always admired about you most, but it rather hard not to take this a kick in the teeth (even though I know it probably wasn’t meant as one).

    I also have to say, and this is definitely not a personal attack on anyone, as I don’t know the in’s and out’s of the situation, and I really don’t want to fall out with anyone either, but I think it rather poor for Steve to pull out of this project at this late a point, once you have fully committed to it and begun posting those (all important) AAR’s, if this was a decision made over time with a growing disillusionment to the blogging community, perhaps he shouldn’t have started this or made his feelings known to you. Part of the reason I have rather turned my back on the actual gaming side of the hobby, is over the years I have lost count of the number I have been drawn into periods or games by the enthusiasm of others only to discover that all my effort to get figures painted and scenery made has all been for nought as my opponent has either lost interest or moved onto the next project.

    Having said that I wish all the very best to Stevie, Hils and Tarot, in whatever they do next, as said above it’s each to their own as they say.

    Cheers Roger.

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    • Actually Roger, the change in setting was down to me, as I didn’t really feel I could do it justice. Had I decided to continue with it as originally envisaged, Steve would have supported this decision and contributed. However, as I knew of the guys disillusionment with certain aspects of the online community, I released him from his pereceived obligation – I’ve never been one to make someone do something they don’t want to.
      And I know that I have strong opinions on various hobby-related matters and sometimes use my blog to ait them. Hopefully people understand that these are just my opinions and they can agree or disagree as they see fit. If someone offers a well-reasoned counterpoint to an opinion I hold and proves me wrong, then I’ll be the first to admit it. But sometimes, especially in an online community, it’s easier to just ignore those things that aren’t right, rather than addressing them.

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  8. I agree with Roger. I could just cut and paste Michael Awdry’s remarks, and you’d get my general feelings on the matter.
    Of course, I didn’t do that. I was halfway through leaving a comment here when I realized it was long enough for a blog post. So I did that instead. Drop by and read it if you wish.
    That being said, I think the Ravenloft setting is a good choice for your Age of Unreason project. I’m a huge fan of the original module, and although I have the campaign setting, I’ve never played in or run any games set in it. I’m looking forward to reading your fiction and AARs around this new project, and now I’m going to dig out the boxed set to refresh my memory on the various domains…

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’ve read and commented on your post, Keith, and hope that my comment there explains a bit further.

      Being a HUGE fan of the Ravenloft setting during its classic period (i.e. up to the end of 2nd edition) and having owned, at one point or another, everything that was released for it during this period, I do know it quite well. However, having matured (yeah, right…lol) I now realise that just because its ‘canon’ doesn’t necessarily mean you HAVE to keep the bits you don’t like, so whilst it’s Ravenloft, it will be my version of Ravenloft with all the silly bits removed.

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