It's hard to believe that I started this blog way back in 2009! It's come a long way since then, as is apparent from reading my first post. I had spent the previous year across the country in WA volunteering full time through AmeriCorps. I was an individual placement as opposed to the more common field crew, and so I found myself living in a strange city far from anyone I knew, and without a car to fully take advantage of the recreational opportunities the area offers. D&D 4E was in full swing, and I dove into the online community, followed all the new releases, contributed to character optimization discussions, and took advantage of the system's tactical combat engine to stage "solitaire" playtests aplenty. In short, having an overabundance of free time and nothing else to do with it allowed me to delve more deeply into this hobby than I had before.
Back in those days, this blog was just another outlet. Once I returned home, between seasonal jobs again, I got a campaign going (the Talamhlar campaign) and used the Chamber of Mazarbul as a platform to keep a record of the sessions. This was more for myself and any players in the group who were interested than anything else.
Then I got another remote field job, and 2010 was a very lean year for posting. I did a little bit of writing on 4E mechanics sporadically, but a combination of poor internet accessibility at my site, a lot of overtime during fire season, and a close enough proximity that I could visit home or friends on most weekends meant that my "obsession" with TTRPGs waned.
2011 was a year when I had a lot of time "between jobs." While this wasn't that great for my bank account, I was at home playing D&D regularly. At this point the Chamber of Mazarbul was still mostly used to record my group's sessions, this time for our GM-rotating campaign called The Red Frogs.
2012 was a bit of a transitional year for the blog, with a notable spike in total post count. The D&D Next playtest was generating a lot of hype, and in addition to that The One Ring served as my second introduction to RPGs that weren't D&D (fun fact; I played a campaign of Vampire: The Masquerade in college, but outside of playing in that game I didn't really invest much time exploring the system). The Edition Wars heated up, but instead of being focused on 3.x vs 4E it was more of an every edition for itself free-for-all. I read arguments from OSR (old school renaissance) grognards, fans of non-d20 systems, and all manner of other people whose interest seemed to be piqued by the possibility of having some input in the direction of D&D's 5th edition. I became less steadfastly loyal to 4E myself even as I grew tired of the very concept of edition warring, and I began to focus my energies on exploring other systems and analyzing what a given game brings to the table, and how its rules make that happen.
In short, I feel that my posting developed more substance, and I began to view the blog as more than just something to record my game sessions with. 2013 followed suit, with more emphasis on 13th Age and Edge of the Empire, and more willingness to tweak mechanics and home brew. That, and it broke 2012's record for number of posts (though not by much).
I've slowly come to realize that I enjoy using this blog to contribute to the online community, and as a way to explore game mechanics and examine various game systems. I didn't use it to log game sessions for the13th Age game that I ran, nor the Edge of the Empire game that I play in (and will be wrapping up soon). I'm not usually much for New Year's resolutions, but my goal for 2014 is to post more consistently, and increase the readership for the Chamber of Mazarbul. I'm having a lot of fun with my 13th Age Options series, and I'd like to continue with that in addition to creating more regularly updated columns. The vague idea I have floating around in my head right now is a series on generic set-pieces in an effort to provide useful content for GMs. The side effect is that this will help to get my own creative juices flowing and hopefully make me better at coming up with well-crafted set-pieces when I run games. Hopefully my posting rate for 2014 will not only beat 2013, but ideally I'd like to average about 2 articles a week, at least one of which is useful content for GMs.
By the time you're reading this you'll have noticed that I decided to change the look of this blog as well. The old color scheme was becoming a bit off-putting, and I wanted something in a calming light blue, with the text on a white background for increased readability. The background picture was a spur-of-the-moment decision, but when I saw it I thought of the Misty Mountains, which fit well given the title of the blog (the Chamber of Mazarbul is the ancient Dwarven hall of records in Moria). So hopefully you all enjoy the new color scheme, and I look forward to seeing what 2014 will bring!