An Unexpected Journey: 2021 In Review

The second [dream], it was like we was both back in older times and I was on horseback goin’ through the mountains of a night. Goin’ through this pass in the mountains. It was cold and there was snow on the ground and he rode past me and kept on goin’. Never said nothin’ goin’ by. He just rode on past… and he had his blanket wrapped around him and his head down and when he rode past I seen he was carryin’ fire in a horn the way people used to do and I could see the horn from the light inside of it. ‘Bout the color of the moon. And in the dream I knew that he was goin’ on ahead and he was fixin’ to make a fire somewhere out there in all that dark and all that cold, and I knew that whenever I got there he would be there.

And then I woke up.

– Sheriff Ed Tom Bell, No Country for Old Men

Friends, readers, listeners — I don’t think you need me to tell you about all the struggles 2021 brought.  You had them, I had them, and we all know what the score is.

But, like in Ed Bell’s dream, there’s always a fire at the end of the dark, cold road.  And this year, my friends and I lit a fire.

The spark started in early April when Kristian Serrano, who at the time was working for Pinnacle Entertainment Group (aka PEG, the company that makes Savage Worlds), revealed himself to be lurking my posts on the Eberron Discord and approached me about the idea of consolidating my game tales and mechanics talk into a blog.  It would be organized, accessible, able to reach a wider audience, and hopefully help cross-pollinate the Savage Worlds community with the Eberron community and bring together more people to enjoy these two things that Kristian and my table and I love so much.  I was skeptical at first, but eventually agreed that there was no harm in trying, and Tales from Savage Eberron was born.

It surpassed my wildest expectations.  From the beginning, it saw a steady influx of readers — far more than the handful of people I thought to be reading my content on Discord.  Now, not only did I have a platform to indulge in the writing and storytelling I’ve always enjoyed so much, but it seemed to be one that others enjoyed sharing in as well.  And that’s always been my favourite thing about creating — sharing it with others.  We concluded our first campaign together in early August of 2021, and by that point preparations for Mourners of Lhazaar were well underway, but planning a new campaign wasn’t the only thing we had to discuss.  Phillip had floated the idea of turning our adventures into an actual play show months earlier, but there were some logistical issues that prevented it at the time, and the idea was shelved.  As we wrapped up Seekers of the Ashen Crown and moved on to planning Mourners of Lhazaar, he broached the subject again.  We talked about it, we were all interested and willing, and with the exact same attitude I’d brought to the blog, we came to the consensus of “where’s the harm in trying?”  With even more help from Kristian, as well as Rebecca from Eberron: A Chronicle Echoes guiding us through the technical logistics of producing a podcast, the details were hammered out, the site was rebranded to Savage Tales of Eberron, we put two episodes in the can, and we waited to see what would happen.

We didn’t have to wait long.  The show was well-received from the get-go — again, wildly surpassing my expectations.  Michael (who played Ivello in Seekers and now plays Torlan in Mourners) volunteered to lend his expertise at handling all the audio editing and has knocked it out of the park every single week finding appropriate music, trimming dead air, adjusting the levels, and making us sound really good.  I learned how to navigate Twitter (if you see a tweet from @SavageEberron, you can safely assume that I’m the one who wrote it), Phillip decided to dip his toes into writing GM-facing mechanics articles for the site to compliment my player-facing ones, and together, we make an incredible team.  Ernesto’s portrayal of Trucco the cocky rogue has quickly become a fan favourite among our listeners, and Kevin?  He might be the “new guy,” but he came to the table as a known quantity — as a dear friend — and he slid so easily into both the camaraderie and the campaign that it’s easy to forget that he hasn’t been with us from day one.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: being at this table feels like I won the lottery, and the prize was four brothers (five counting Daniel who portrayed Kayde in Seekers of the Ashen Crown and has since moved on, but we continue to be in touch).  The amazing story we have built and continue to build together at the table pales in comparison to the story of…look, I’m just going to come right out and say it.  The real story is the friends we made along the way.

Me and the New Guy at PAX Unplugged 2021

We’ve also made a few friends outside of this little ragtag crew.  Kristian Serrano, mentioned above, isn’t just some guy who badgered me into starting a blog — that proposal kicked off a journey that’s blossomed into a friendship, and he has not just been a mentor and cheerleader but has freely loaned his voice to provide what in my completely unbiased opinion the most epic intro of any AP show on the air.  Through that connection, I began a correspondence with PEG COO Jodi Black. She has also been incredibly supportive of our little project, and it was a delight to be able to speak with her face-to-face at PAX Unplugged in mid-December (and for the record, she gives the best hugs). 

Kevin, Elly, and PEG COO Jodi Black on the convention floor at PAX Unplugged

Through the Eberron Discord, I’ve forged bonds with other content creators like Jarrod Taylor, Joseph Meehan, and the previously mentioned House Sivis Echoers, and Kevin and I (along with Jarrod, Joseph, and the Echoers) have had the pleasure of corresponding, playing with, and even enjoying a slice of pizza with Eberron setting creator Keith Baker — who is not just an amazing worldbuilder and storyteller, but an absolute delight of a person.  And the list of community members who are not “content creators” or “worldbuilders” but just plain old good, dear, amazing people and friends is too long to list here.  We have been welcomed into this community with open arms, and I’m incredibly grateful for the outpouring of support and friendship that’s come with it.

Clockwise from left: Stephen and Rebecca (House Sivis Echoers), Keith Baker, Jarrod Taylor, Joseph Meehan, Kevin, Elly, Sierra, Emma, and Andres enjoying a slice

I also enjoyed a personal tabletop milestone this December. Being invited to run a game of Savage Worlds as part of a corporate event at BioWare Edmonton wound up being the catalyst to finally get off my butt and try my hand at running Savage Worlds like I’d been talking about for the past five months while doing exactly nothing about it. Though I was previously experienced at running D&D 5e, I felt a bit nervous about GMing this system for the very first time as an event guest, but my friends were happy to serve as guinea pigs. What I learned from the experience is that Savage Worlds is an extremely friendly system for new GMs, and by all accounts, my players had a blast. Handing out chocolate loonies and toonies as bennies might have also helped earn their favour. 😉

We set up shop in the bar of the Sheraton, and didn’t leave until well after last call. You wouldn’t either if you were having that much fun.

So to all of you who continue to read, listen, and support, to all our friends old and new — all of us at Savage Tales of Eberron wish you a New Year filled with light, hope, and a wealth of new stories to share with those you hold dear.  See you on the other side.

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