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Happy New Year!

It’s been another busy year. We finally got the hall and scuzzy stairs decorated – the first thing we said we’d do when we moved into our house 7 years ago. We went to Marrakesh for a short break in April and back to the USA for our third Southwest trip in September, visiting some great places we’d missed and revisiting favourites like Zion Canyon. Sally came over with baby Xander from Idaho Falls just before we left – it was lovely to see them both. Palace escaped relegation yet again and Dougie Freedman is doing a great job as manager this season. Going to Old Trafford to see Palace beat Man Utd is an experience I won’t forget! And, of course, it was a year of great change at work, with several good friends sadly leaving.

Drawing by Symatt

Very excitingly, a thread I started on the Open Design forums about converting the stuff being created for the new Midgard campaign setting to 4th Edition D&D turned into a much bigger thing – a 4e Midgard Bestiary which I co-wrote with Brian Liberge in the second half of the year. Containing over 150 monsters, the manuscript has gone to monkeyking and will be published in April 2012. I can’t wait to see it!

We played a year of the Black Horse Parsantium campaign without lucybrant, finishing the epic Halls of the Mountain King, then playing an adventure set in the Hippodrome featuring gladiatorial contests and Ben Hur style chariot racing, before starting Courts of the Shadow Fey. Brave Ella made her dramatic return almost exactly one year after leaving just before Christmas; Jeff returned briefly to play a thri-kreen hybrid monk-rogue (he likes to keep his characters nice and simple) and new player Marco joined the game for a while, playing Rogad the warlock. The PCs are now 13th-14th level.

The Juma Gang continued with their adventures, reaching 10th level after defeating Zeno and the Golden Scimitars, and exploring the Lost Mines of Karak. The Garden of Graves is up next, followed by King of the Trollhaunt Warrens. Between the two groups, I’ve run 112 sessions in the campaign and have loved every minute of it.

ninthcouncil’s Legend of the Five Rings campaign continued apace with Bayushi Kenzo at last fulfilling his wish to explore the mysterious Shinomen Forest – great fun! We also managed to fit in a few sessions of Andy’s campaign featuring Mignola’s Marauders (although Valthrun the Prescient is still at large!), and started The Slaying Stone with Matt’s daughter Lucy and Ben both playing. For this, I got to bring back Daisy the hippy druid from Graham’s Koremish campaign he ran several years ago.

I had great fun at the 2nd ukdndtweetup in Nottingham in March, defeating Kalarel for a second time in a game run by @adampageuk, and also made it to Free RPG Day at Leisure Games where I played Fiasco for the first time. Paul Merryfield, antiquarian bookseller – he runs the ailing Books Books Books on Charing Cross Road – made his debut in ulthar01’s very entertaining Trail of Cthulhu game.

With a lot of monsters to write, I’ve not been able to read as many books as I would have liked (and a lot of the ones I did read were RPG supplements).

    1.    Dead Beat by Jim Butcher
    2.    Constantinople: Capital of Byzantium by Jonathan Harris
    3.    Bed by David Whitehouse
    4.    Running Epic Tier Games ebook by Mike Shea
    5.    Hellboy: The Wild Hunt by Mike Mignola & Duncan Fegredo
    6.    Ysabel by Guy Gavriel Kay
    7.    Soldiers of Fortune by Matt James (Open Design)
    8.    Tales of the Old Margreve by Tim & Eileen Connors (Open Design/Pathfinder)
    9.    Innocent Mage by Karen Miller
    10.    Dork Decade by Jon Kovalic
    11.    Crime Pays (Goodman Games/D&D 4e)
    12.    The Lost City by Logan Bonner (Open Design/D&D 4e)
    13.    Welcome to Lovecraft by Joe Hill
    14.    The Shadowfell: Gloomwrought & Beyond (D&D 4e)
    15.    The Java Joint by Jolly R Blackburn et al
    16.    The Awakened Mage by Karen Miller
    17.    Monster Vault: Threats to the Nentir Vale (D&D 4e)
    18.    Sickness in Springdale by Tracy Hurley
    19.    Black Rock Bandits by Tracy Hurley
    20.    How to Leave Twitter by @gracedent
    21.    Midgard Bestiary for AGE by Josh Jarman (Open Design)
    22.    Head Games by Joe Hill
    23.    Way of the Scorpion (Legend of the Five Rings)
    24.    Crown of Shadows by Joe Hill
    25.    Keys to the Kingdom by Joe Hill
    26.    The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle
    27.    Dragon Haven by Robin Hobb
    28.    A Dance With Dragons by George R R Martin
    29.    The Affair by Lee Child
    30.    Fables by Bill Williamson
    31.    Horns by Joe Hill

My album of the year is The King is Dead by The Decemberists, with What Did You Expect from The Vaccines? runner up. Gig of the year was definitely The Boothill Foot-Tappers at the 100 Club, supported by Swill from TMTCH and the Blubbery Hellbellies, although seeing The Levellers play Levelling the Land supported by The Wonder Stuff was pretty cool.  It’s hard to choose a film of the year – we saw a lot of good but not amazing films, so I’ll go for Rise of the Planet of the Apes, closely followed by Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2.

Happy New Year everyone!

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