May 3, 2020
David Larkins here. Usually I come to you as the voice of the collective whole of the Esoteric Order of Roleplayers, but today I’m speaking to you from a more personal space.
The EOR came together in late December 2012, a combination of new faces and old friends who I’d been gaming with in Santa Fe, New Mexico over the prior couple years. Jen and I both enjoyed listening to actual-play podcasts and thought it might be fun to start recording our own sessions and putting them out there for anyone who might be interested. On January 13th, we had our first recorded session. By the summer of 2013, the most stable lineup of the EOR was established with Des, Jen, Jade, Renae, Schimpff, and me.
I didn’t start the EOR with the intention of turning it into a Patreon-funded podcast with thousands of listeners around the world. I still remember the excitement I felt when I saw our first episode had been downloaded once! Back then, I was working a job with the Santa Fe Public Library and gaming was still just a hobby for me. A “lifestyle hobby,” to be sure, but something I did in my spare time and strictly for fun.
Nowadays, as some of you are aware, tabletop RPGs are also my profession. We have maintained the EOR as a weekly group for seven years. Over the years, everyone in the group has grown; circumstances have changed. The COVID-19 pandemic has thrown a lot of these changes into stark relief, particularly for me. All these changes did not necessarily spell the end of the EOR, but having to suddenly pause everything has given me time to re-evaluate how the group and the podcast have been serving my needs and goals.
The demands on my time and creative output, in particular, have changed radically over the past two years. My responsibilities alone as Pendragon line editor have me working on gaming-related material and running play-tests not intended for public consumption throughout the week, and looking back I see 2019 was a year of struggle for me as I sought a balance the public-facing gaming of the podcast and my career-related gaming tasks.
And then, of course, there’s the public health issue of physical distancing, all but guaranteeing a lack of face-to-face local gaming for some time to come, which has radically upended our established format.
All these factors have been much on my mind over the past few weeks. I’ve been in touch with the other regular members of the EOR and have come up with a plan for how the group and the podcast will move forward.
First and foremost, the podcast will remain as an online-format show for the time being. Des and I, when we get back to our duet games, will play in person, of course, but all other games will be run online.
This actually presents an exciting opportunity to grow the “Order” beyond the core group of locals as initially established, beyond the confines of my game room. We can feature some new voices along with the old, both as players and GMs. Once regular face-to-face gaming becomes practicable again, we may even see some new “groups” coalescing with our old members serving as GMs. We’ll see how that pans out; obviously, things are still very much in flux for our world right now.
In the meantime, I am planning a seasonal structure of shorter campaigns (say, 10-20 sessions each), much like our World of Darkness duets, each with a rotating cast of old and new voices. Consider our current Palladium Fantasy campaign as the pilot program for this new format.
To carry on from the pilot program, I am looking backwards to move forwards. I’ve come up with a scheme that puts some agency into the hands of the listeners to help me select some other favorites from days of yore.
Taking a cue from the Palladium campaign, I have assembled a list of 36 other “classic” games or settings I owned back during my personal RPG golden age of the 1990s and broke them down into four categories: Fantasy, Science-Fiction, Horror & Supernatural, and Historical & Miscellaneous.
Starting today, I will run polls on our Twitter account (@esoteric_rp) to determine the top game in each category, which will in turn form the basis of a seasonal campaign run over the coming year. Be sure to check back daily to cast your vote and follow us on Twitter if you aren’t already! Final results will be announced after 30 days of voting, on June 1st. And check out our Patreon page for more details on how I plan to go about turning those results into campaigns.
I'm quite excited about this new format, as it will allow me to continue running games I know and love and perhaps revisit some I never got a chance to play properly back in the day.
I would like to take a moment to thank everyone who has participated in our games over the past seven years. The EOR would not be what it is today without each of your creative contributions.
And, of course, that single download back in 2013 has grown into an online community of fans and supporters, all of whom are directly responsible for keeping this silly little podcast going. Truly, without you, there would be no EOR at all.
As I mentioned above, voices you know and love from past games will turn up in games to come; others will serve as my secret play-tests minions as well. The EOR lives on, and many exciting new gaming horizons wait to be explored!
Take care of yourselves and stay safe! To quote Churchill, “this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.”
Santa Fe, 2020
Addendum: I am still in the process of assembling a pool of players to draw from for the games I plan to run. In addition to established EOR members, I am in touch with friends from other actual-play podcasts as well as old gamer friends (such as Alex in our Palladium game) and am looking at how I want to mix things up. I have not ruled out inviting in other folks as well and may have an announcement seeking new players on our Patreon page in the weeks to come.