MonsterMind is Peter Eijk (he/him). He writes roleplaying games.
That this has been a weird year is no surprise. I didn't anticipate how much it would impact my reading habits though. I've had years were I read about 80 books, but this year I might not even crack the 40.
The main culprit is that I've been working from home since the pandemic started. This meant less time spend in my daily commute, which was my main reading time: every day at least an hour when taking the bus to and from work. Due to the time saved I did manage to write a few evenings a week.
One of my favorite books I read in 2021 was Blackspire by Benjamin Sperduto. Blackspire takes places in a New Weird city with some grimdark vibes. If you like China Mieville's New Crobuzon books, or more recently (and a bit more comparable even) Gareth Ryder-Hanrahan's The Gutter Prayer, this is highly recommended.
Blackspire's Lowtown is a filthy and nasty place, but the characters are real, the plot tangles some nice mysteries with political background. I hope to read more in this world!
I loved Erin Morgenstern's the Night Circus, and The Starless Sea was no different. A great book about the power of books to open portals to other worlds, in this case quite literally. A magical book about books.
You're never to old to read (good) children's literature. In my research for the portal fantasy game I'm working on, I started by re-reading some of the classics (Wizard of Oz, Peter Pan, etc), but I found them quite dated. Luckily there are some very nice additions to the genre.
The Land of Roar by Jenny McLachlan is great fun, and good alternative for people who want to kindle the love of the genre in their kids without resorting to the dated views in books like Peter Pan.
Another great middle grade fantasy book I read was Malamander by Thomas Taylor. I just love how fantasy elements are added in a comtemporary setting. An old creeky hotel, mysterious orphans, talking animals, creepy sea monsters and ghosts all appear in this rollicking mystery adventure.
Nothing groundbreaking, but so much fun!
While I didn't read as much issues as in previous years, Beneath Ceaseless Skies deserves an honorable mention. This online magazine manages to fill each issue with high quality, inclusive, character driven, original fantasy. Every year they help me discover exciting new voices in fantasy and science fiction. Stories can be read online and can downloaded for your ereader for a small fee. Patrons on their Patreon get access to older ebooks as well.
Since discovering the indie tabletop roleplaying scene, I've found some great zines and ttrpg books. I might do a longer post about all the great zines later, but in this post I wanted to highlight two of my favorites.
Presented as the in fiction memoires of Wall Parker, Endsville by John Battle is not just a game setting, but a great New Weird piece of art. Reminiscent of Jeff Vandermeer's City of Saints and Madmen, this is a post-modern weird look at a city beyond understanding. Random tables are interspersed with adventure hooks, evocative pieces of fiction and weird maps.
I have no idea if I'll ever be able to actually use this in a game, but it just speaks to me. At night. Whispering in my ear.
I just love everything Nate Treme writes . Small, evocative games with simple rules, easily hackable, whimsical, creepy and above all: fun! Haunted Almanac collects a great deal of his creative output from the last few years with a great layout by Gontijo.
It is highly recommended for everyone who wants to move away from complex, crunchy rules systems like D&D 5th Edition, and just roll up a character and dive into a dungeon.
I managed to write about 100 words a day, just a bit below how much I wrote in 2020. It's not an extreme high number, but nice and steadily I was able to finish both some stories and tabletop roleplaying games. Of course a lot of the writing is still very much a work in progress. One of my goals for next year is to have less projects at the same time, so I actually finish more. Well, a person can hope, right?
This year I finished just two stories. The first, for a themed contest (Waterloper) finished at place 25 of 40, most of the jury commented on lots of small grammar and spelling mistakes, that'll teach me to finish in a story just before the deadline and not have anybody proofread it. I also got asked to submit a story for a themed anthology, which will be published at the end of 2022.
Two of the stories I wrote last year got published this year. One got published in themed anthology (Nevelkinderen published by Godijn Publishing), and the other in a genre magazine (Fantastische Vertellingen 58). Both stories are only available in Dutch as of yet, but as they are my first real publications I'm really proud of them.
Another thing I'm proud of is A Visit to San Sibilia, the solo journaling roleplaying game I wrote this year. In February I rediscovered my love for tabletop roleplaying games when I stumbled upon ZineQuest. The indie ttrpg scene is very inspiring, and I quickly started writing my own stuff.
Heavily inspired by my love for the New Weird genre, San Sibilia is a city not found on any maps — San Sibilia is both part of and distinct from our world. The city manifests itself differently to every visitor.
Next to that I also participated in a few game jams, the result of with can be found on my Itch profile.
While I didn't read or write as much fiction as I hoped, I did discover the indie tabletop scene, which gave me some great stuff for reading, and a new found love for game writing.
I hope I can continue this next year!
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