Monthly Review, January 2023

Marc Majcher
8 min readFeb 7, 2023

It’s the first month of the new year and… what? It’s over already? FINE.

Homestead

It was a pretty quiet New Year’s here—we both went to sleep before midnight, I think. My car was in the shop (for two weeks, ugh) so we just hunkered down at home with our new c̶a̶p̶t̶i̶v̶e̶ pet, Murray the rat. After too many days of stalking and cartoon traps, I eventually got him in a container suitable for transport, and let him out in the (not too) nearby woods.

Other animals did less well, unfortunately. One of our chickens, Didi, had been wheezing and unable to squawk for a week or two after the cold snap, and on the morning of January 4th, Nic brought her inside because she was doing very poorly, and she died in our living room that morning. After transferring her to Murray’s box, we finally decided to put her in the back yard in a relatively safe place so we can collect her bones later, once everything else has been picked clean. Everyone else is doing fine, completely oblivious little dum-dums.

We did get a lapse in the cold a bit, though, and I brought out the little hand chainsaw and a machete and axe to clean up a bunch of the little trees out back. It’s still a work in progress, but I managed to get a fair bit down and chopped to a manageable enough size that my tiny baby wood chipper could turn them into mulch. Between that, a whole bunch of bags of enriched topsoil and compost that I picked up for free off the neighborhood mailing list, another batch that we got from a Great Outdoors gift card, and a carload of salvaged straw, we should be covered for the garden cover for a while.

But yeah, it’s still been cold. Freakin’ Texas. Making the yard cleanup a pain one way or another—just need to get more done before the switch flips and it’s a hundred and ten for six months.

Oh, and the chickens have started making friends with the squirrels. No good can come of that.

Health

I’m doing… okay. I’ve been bad about my blood sugar, by which I mean I’ve been really bad about eating desserts and home-made ice cream. I’m getting it back under control, but, ugh, it’s gonna take some doing. I have been sleeping a lot—I’m on “rotation” at work, so my duties are lessened and I can sleep in sometimes. I don’t know how much is the sugar, how much is from the terrible allergies here, or whatever else. But yeah.

I’ve been having some weird uncomfortableness downstairs lately, which has seemingly been mitigated by drinking copious amounts of cranberry juice, so I’ll keep doing that for a while until my next doctor’s appointment. If it keeps up, more drugs, I reckon. Super exciting.

Games

This was a banger of a month for games. I started up a spreadsheet to track stuff (and also entering them in RPGgeek for the Ladder of Insanity), and, yeah. In one month, I played 26 sessions in 16 different systems (sometimes five or six in a single weekend), which feels like a lot.

  • Played Trophy Gold with Jason Cordova and friends, running through The Rot Beneath Winterbrook. Super fun, as always.
  • We finished up our year-long campaign of The Between with the Faded Havens group, unceremoniously gunning down the Mastermind as she was carried off by a shadowy demon, clutching the Whately camera with telephoto attachment. I’m sure nothing bad could happen with that in the wrong hands…
  • Played a few sessions of Swords of the Serpentine with Gauntlet folks, and although we had fun, it was more because of us than the rules. It’s Gumshoe-based, and it doesn’t feel like a primarily investigatory system is a great fit for swords and sorcery, but I’m glad we gave it a go.
  • Speaking of, also got in a few sessions of Defy the Gods, another swords and sorcery (and Miyazaki) game in playtest. It uses PbtA-style playbooks and whatnot, but there’s a lot of really good bits and pieces in there that are still trying to come together to make a coherent game. I’m still having a great time with it, though, and I’m eager to see it all polished up.
  • Faded Havens also played a session of The Zone RPG, which is always a creepy fun time. Amazing surreal body horror one-shot with a phenomenal web-based facilitator app. (I’ll also be running this for Games on Demand Online shortly!)
  • Shane ran us through the Layers of Unreality in Liminal Horror, big Backrooms vibe.
  • I ran the first few sessions of our Saturday Scoundrels’ new campaign of Galaxies in Peril, set in the MCU’s New York City. We’ve got a Skrull exchange student, a motorcycle-riding mutant sorcerer, Totally Not Batman, and an Asgardian bodyguard just chilling. We’ve got a good start on it, and although I’m still learning the system, it’s pretty fun to run, and it sounds like everyone else is having a good time, too, so looking forward to doing this for a good long while.
  • Finally, after wanting so long to try it out, played a session of Pendragon and… yeah, I think I’m good for now. Maybe later.
  • Jumped in for a session of a run of Red Air that Rich was running, playing a TIE fighter pilot for the empire and being a very bad person.
  • Another finally, I started up a Mausritter campaign with the FH group! It’s dead simple to run (and play), and we’ve only got one session down, but I know this is going to be a good time.
  • Played a session of This Ship is No Mother, a playtest of a card-based BitD hack of Mothership. Did a bit of Pound of Flesh—didn’t get to get into it as much as I’d’ve liked, but I dug what I saw. Looking forward to more!
  • There was an Italian larp festival online near the end of the month, so I got to play a couple games with a great international crew. Elevator Pitch had a bunch of people with complicated relationships stuck in an elevator for a couple of hours, and A Song For Our Remakers was a really sweet experience where we tried to figure out what humans were like from a spotify playlist, so we could rebuild them as we understood them.
  • And on the solo front, tried out some Rune, which is really interesting, and I’m gonna do it some more to see what I can get out of it. Solo Sundays!

In video games, much lighter, but still put in a good number of hours. I tried out this multiplayer long-turn-based 4x(ish) online game Neptune’s Pride. Very nicely put together, but turned into a log after a bit, so I bailed and left my empire to the computer. I also spent way too much time dungeon diving in Unexplored. Ascended, got a bunch of badges and unlocks, did a bunch of this and that and… I have a problem with roguelikes, guys.

Media

Kind of a light month, it feels like.

  • Watched a bunch of fun short movies on youtube: Changing Room, Lazy boy, Stalled, OI, Utopia. I’m not gonna list everything, clearly, because man, I spend a lot of time on youtube.
  • We watched the first season of Wednesday on Netflix. It was fine. There’s a lot to pick at, but overall, fairly pleasant and inoffensive.
  • I watched the first episode of the new Witcher: Blood Origin thing, and I probably won’t watch the rest unless I get super bored with everything else. Tropety trope trope, and not in a fun way.
  • Okay, more youtube—Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared is a thing, and I highly recommend checking out this weird little fucker.
  • Watched the first season of Marvel’s Runaways (for research), and it was fine. Could have been shorter, or rather, could have packed a lot more into the season, but I’m not mad about it.
  • Whooo, got around to checking out the first three episodes of The Last of Us on HBO, and jeeeeezus. If you don’t know anything about it, good. Watch and enjoy.
  • And finally, watched Outland, with Sean Connery as a space sheriff in sci-fi High Noon. (Also for research) Actually holds up pretty well, aside from some handwavey science and Connery being That Guy, as usual. Super love the vibe, though, and … well, I’ll be seeing more of that soon.

Work

Like I said above, I’m on rotation at work, which means that after leading a fifteen-week cohort, I have three weeks without. So, I covered for some other teachers’ classes when they took time off, worked on the new python curriculum stuff, and generally kept myself occupied. This is the first rotation I’ve gotten since they announce that we were doing this like a year and a half ago, so, yeah.

Otherwise, just doing some writing, putting together some materials for orientation for the next cohort, writing up some community agreements, and whatnot. New cohort starts … well, now, so here we go.

Other

January felt like it just flew by, right? This is part of the reason I do these reviews—if I didn’t write down all the stuff I did, I’d feel like it all went by in a snap, and I’d miss it all.

We took Paidia to get an assessment for ADHD and all that fun stuff—these assessments are super expensive, but doctors gotta doctor. After all that, it basically told us what we already knew (she takes after her dear old dad) and next steps is to look into therapy options for her (which she is super not interested in, and I get it) and what kind of medication might work for her. But otherwise, she’s doing pretty well, aside from a bunch of school-related anxiety, which, yeah, totally get that.

I went to see Nic do their new burlesque act at Kickbutt Coffee’s Monday night Jammie Jams, which was a hoot. I… don’t get out much these days, so a room full of hootin’ and hollerin’ for the ladies and theydies on stage was a nice change of scenery. And Nic put together a super cool act where they were a mushroom… it was a very Nic thing, and it was great.

Plans (lol)

So, like I mentioned last month/last year, the current season is the Winter of Foundation. Meaning, I’m going to concentrate more on things that set me up to do stuff, instead of scrambling to crank stuff out like I did last year. (For better or worse.) I’m working on two main fronts—getting the yard prepared for whatever I want to do with it, and getting my office unfucked so I can actually do something besides hunker down at my laptop in there. It’s actually a struggle not to sit down and write and design and publish stuff, but I’ve got more than enough to keep me busy, so that’ll do.

So… more of that, I guess? I’ve got some games on the calendar, plus the regular ones, and a big old todo list, so, let’s get it todone, I guess.

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Marc Majcher

Teacher, Game Designer, Performer, Developer, all the things.