Summon WebScryer: 2010 in Review

My “Summon WebScryer” column for Knights of the Dinner Table kept rolling along in 2010, continuing a run that began in 2000. Some months it’s a struggle to come up with ideas, other times the stars align and the column writes itself, but it’s always fascinating to see how folks are using technology to promote, enhance and collaborate on their games.

Here’s the big list of columns from 2010.

  • Surf’s Up at Google Wave: Blog posts, how-to videos and useful links for Google’s now-canceled collaboration tool
  • Pursue profit among the stars with Rogue Trader: Sites for Rogue Trader, Dark Heresy, and Warhammer 40k
  • Igniting the Funeral Pyre for Star Wars: Saga Edition: A farewell to the Star Wars d20 line
  • Return to Gamma World’s Mutated Future: Post-apocalyptia rules with Gamma World, Mutant Future, Darwin’s World
  • Dark Sun Rising: A rundown of Dark Sun sites, both new and old, inspired by the D&D 4E edition of the setting
  • Savage Heroes Mastermind a Four Color Resurgence: Savage Worlds, HERO, Marvel Superheroes
  • The Star Frontiers Renaissance: A look at the classic science fiction RPG
  • Get Rolling with 2010 Award Winners: Origins, Ennie and Indie RPG awards for 2010
  • Celebrate the Geek Life with Homegrown Holidays: Nanowrimo, Free RPG Day, Free Comic Book Day, etc.
  • The Doom That Came From the Junk Drawer!: Discworld in miniature, Random RPG Wiki, d20 random generators
  • The iPad as digital RPG tool: Apps and techniques for using the iPad at your gaming table
  • To the Stars!: Science fiction role-playing games, including Traveller, Warhammer 40k and Eclipse Phase

Looking back on the the year, I see that science fiction dominated, with five of the 12 columns coming from that genre. This isn’t surprising; my group’s primary game is still Star Wars: Saga Edition, and many of the other games we’re interested in — Eclipse Phase, Dark Heresy, Rogue Trader — are also science fiction. Plus, a lot of the interesting new RPGs are SF, so it’s only natural that they garner more mentions. I may have gone a little overboard, but the deadline is looming I go with what inspires me.

I’m disappointed that Google canceled its Wave project, but I understand the move. I tried using Google Wave for a number of different applications — the back channel for a conference, collaborating on a round table discussion, playing in an RPG campaign — and gaming was the only one that worked well. The rest felt like kludges that could have been better handled through forum posts or chat, but everything clicked perfectly when we used it for our Battletech RPG campaign.

One technology I don’t see going away in 2011 is the tablet computer. Epitomized by Apple’s iPad, this technology came into its own in 2010. As far as I’m concerned, the iPad’s proven itself to be more than just a big phone that you can’t stick in your back pocket. The single biggest gain for me as a gamer is the ability to easily read PDFs. Yes, you could always read a PDF on a laptop, but it was never as comfortable as reading the print version. The iPad (and I think this will go for any large tablet) changes that by giving you something that’s easy to read AND easy to hold. It’s also far less intrusive at the gaming table than a laptop, and while I haven’t replaced my printed notes with the iPad, I can see that day coming.

Looking ahead to 2011, I want to return to limit myself to two science fiction columns, and return to some of the old standbys, like horror and fantasy. There’s a new Delta Green source book scheduled for release in 2011, and we can expect the Horror Companion for Savage Worlds. With Realms of Cthulhu and Trail of Cthulhu already out there, I should have plenty of column fodder.

Fantasy keeps going strong with Pathfinder releases and the new Dungeons & Dragons Essentials line offers a more traditional D&D experience, so there are some good column opportunities there.

When the Google Tablet hits (perhaps in July) I’ll likely do another tablet-oriented column. With any luck the updated iPad (hopefully with built-in cameras and USB this time) will also be out, providing even more stuff to write about.

That said, it’s a long year, and I have lots of holes in my line up. Suggestions are welcome, so if you have an idea for a column, please post it in the comments or email me at

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