2012 is past, and a new year beckons ahead. From a blogging perspective, 2012 was a good year for The Learning DM, but perhaps not as great as 2011 was. A variety of factors, both gaming related and not, caused my productivity to falter as the year progressed. I started very strong, with multiple articles each month, but by the last half of the year, the postings became more and more infrequent. Still, I am proud of my work here in 2012, and wanted to highlight two of the more successful posts of the year, as well as discuss a bit about what to expect from The Learning DM in 2013.
Though I am not a Reddit user, I became very familiar with the effect that Reddit can have on a website this past January. One of my posts, Did Cartoon Tiamat’s Design Influence the Look of Modern Dragons?, was posted to Reddit, and drew more visitors in one day than ever before. I’m proud of the post, which compared the look of Tiamat from the classic D&D cartoon from the 80s with the Wizard’s modern style for dragons. There are some very clear influences, but not quite for the reasons I suspected. Cartoon Tiamat takes many design elements from the original 1E Monster Manual dragons, which I was unfamiliar with at the time of writing. I have since obtained a copy of the original MM and it’s obvious to me now that modern dragons are based on those designs. I feel a bit silly for writing the article in the first place, now, but I still think it’s worth a look for fans of the history of D&D’s art style.
The second most popular post of 2012 was a real surprise to me: my review of 4E’s Draconomicon: Chromatic Dragons. As a book from the early life cycle of 4th Edition, I wasn’t expecting much attention, but the review has had a steady stream of readers throughout the year. While the book itself is wonderful from a lore perspective, the mechanics and other crunch are woefully outdated. Still, it’s worth picking up for DMs who plan to use evil dragons heavily in their campaigns.
Disappointingly, very few of my remaining 2012 posts seem to draw much attention. Many of my 2011 posts still get far more views than most of my 2012 material. I’m not exactly sure why this is. It could be that D&D Next is attracting more interest, or it could be my less than regular posting habits as the year progressed. I still believe there are some gems to be found, most notably my thoughts on adding new players to a campaign and my review of the Silver Anniversary edition of Ravenloft.
As I look back on my experiences as a Dungeon Master in 2012, I have mixed feelings. On the one hand, it looked for a good long while that our D&D campaign was finished as of early 2012. There was a four month space where we didn’t play at all. We ended up losing a player, wrapped up a few loose ends story-wise, and then added two new players to the campaign in early summer. We’ve been meeting on a monthly basis ever since. While I am very thankful to still be playing D&D regularly, I’d rather be playing more often. Additionally, my group is totally disinterested in D&D Next after only one playtest session. I find the concept of playtesting the upcoming edition of D&D very exciting, but my players are very happy with 4E. Small problems, to be sure, especially when compared to the prospect of not playing D&D at all, but they still stick in my craw a little bit.
As it stands, then, I am happily running a successful 4th Edition D&D campaign. Later this month, it will have been two years since we began. I have learned much over this time, and though there is always more to learn, I am confident in my abilities to run a fun, efficient, exciting game that keeps both me and my players entertained. I’m looking forward to moving into paragon tier this year, and will definitely watch the development of D&D Next with great interest. 2013 will certainly be an interesting year for D&D fans!