Friday, May 13, 2016

The May GURPSDay Challenge

Douglas Cole has issued a challenge so I wanted to leave it here, in plain sight, like a glove tossed at your feet.

Douglas wants you to write about GURPS.  I do too.

Why write about GURPS?

Because to teach is to learn.

Nothing will teach you a system quite as well as working out the details well enough to explain them to someone else.  Nothing will teach you a system quite like diving into it and using it. You have to understand a system to write about it, and thus in writing about it, you'll come to better understand it.

Our habits, our daily routines, can force us to grow in a particular direction.  Having a daily, or weekly, habit of writing about GURPS will definitely teach you GURPS, and likely make you a better GM.  Furthermore, the act of having a daily or weekly writing habit will teach you to study and write.  I took up this task of writing for GURPS not to improve my GURPS, but just to build a habit of writing.  I intend to shift it to something less self-indulgent, from RPGs to programming, at some point.

If you make the commitment to write about GURPS, even if it only results in a single post, you'll have still learned/clarified something about the system.

What do I write about?

GURPS, obviously.  Oh, right, you need more detail than that.

You already know what to write.  You're surrounded with piles of material, filled to the brim with it, I promise, it's just a matter of getting it out.  When you think about GURPS, what's the first thing that comes to mind?  Perhaps you think about the physical books, that you've read. So tell us what you thought of them (the forums regularly asks for more reviews of GURPS material).  Perhaps you think about that great campaign you played, or the character you played in it.  So, give us a campaign report, or tell us about your character.  Perhaps you grit your teeth and you have some mechanic to complain about, or you think about how much you love a particular mechanic.  Discuss the mechanics themselves, then, what works, what doesn't.

You have tons of GURPS experience because you're a GURPS gamer, thus you have plenty to say.  Every time you're posting a rant on the forum, that could be a blog post.  Every time you tell a story to your friends about how great GURPS is, that could be a blog post.  Every time you read a GURPS book, or you find yourself dissecting a movie in GURPS terms, or you have a great campaign idea, that could be a GURPS post.

"But those are lame," I hear you say.  To that, I say: Start simple.  You'd be surprised how productive and interesting you can be.  The things I have pointed to are what most of the big names in blogging discuss.  But if you must have something richer and more complex, then look to the ideas beneath them.  Rather than discuss your character, try to figure out why he worked and discuss that.  Rather than talk about your campaign, ponder what made it work and what didn't work, and discuss that.  What makes a GURPS book bad?  Why is GURPS your personal choice for system?  And so on.

How do you write about GURPS for, like, a year?

So, you're up for it, but you think "There's no way I can keep it up." Well, first of all,  your stuff will be here forever.  One of my inspirations for blogging was the Podcast: Religions of the Ancient Mediterranean.  The guy hasn't posted anything on the topic in literally years, but I still really enjoyed what he had posted.  So if you post six posts, and they're good, people will be using them for years.  This idea that unless someone is constantly feeding a blog it's "dead" and nobody will read your content is nonsense.  Good content gets read.

But, okay, you want to stick with it.  Then do what the big names in blogging do: Pick a repeatable theme.  You like the idea of writing a review?  Then review one book a week.  You want to talk about a campaign?  Talk about the whole campaign once a week.  You like the idea of writing up characters and showing us?  Write up one character for each published GURPS setting, once per week.  You want to complain about GURPS? Pick something to complain about, once per week.

Cole has his Melee Academy and his Ammo Press.  Hans just analyzes movies and discusses guns in fiction in GURPS terms ("One lovecraftian pistol a week").  Peter discusses his campaign... once a week. I've got Psi-Wars, which I can go back to, over and over again (and have).

That's not to say that you can't come up with something clever and innovative.  All the big names do.  But some people seem to try to come up with some clever and innovative all the time and they exhaust themselves.  Don't do that.  If you want a consistent blog, have a consistent topic you can easily fall back on.  That's not to say that you can't have something clever, but you can sprinkle your cleverness whenever inspiration strikes, and write your weekly review or character or whatever when inspiration doesn't.

Now, you want to make that reliability extra reliable?  Do what I do: Write ahead.  Most blogs will let you store drafts, or even schedule them for later.  Say you want to review books once a week: Write 4 reviews right now, while you're all hopped up and excited.  Then schedule them.  BOOM!  One month worth of content.  If you feel like doing that again next week, you're ahead by 2 and then three months and so on, until you've actually got a year's worth of material, and then you can start, I dunno, doubling up, or working on something more dramatic.  The point, here, is that you don't have to try to think of something clever every week.  If you've thought of something clever that's big and repeatable and you're particularly inspired, write ahead, so that when you're not inspired next week, it's okay, you can take a break.

Mailanka's Challenge for those Thinking about Undertaking Gaming Ballistics Challenge but are a Little Nervous

Step 1: Pick a simple, repeatable topic.  Examples include:
  • Formalizing my campaign notes
  • Reviewing each issue of Pyramid
  • Creating a character for each setting in GURPS
  • Actual Play Reports from my Dungeon Fantasy game
  • Reviewing other people's GURPS Blogs
Step 2: Write the simplest, easiest, most personally-amusing version you can think of of your chosen topic.

Step 3. Rinse and repeat step 3 until you have about 4 entries.

Step 4. Schedule them in your blog so they come out once a week.

Congratulations, you now have one month's worth of blog lead, a topic someone is probably willing to read, and you've explored something you wouldn't have before.

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