The 17th of May, 2023 was the 15th anniversary of the Monsters & Manuals blog. Yes, I have been writing this thing since 2008, when I was on a break at work one night (I was routinely working 12-14 hour days at that point) and idly surfing rpg.net; suddenly inspired, I opened up a new browser tab, started a Blogger account, and got typing. 1,878 posts, 24,809 comments, and 3,441,525 page-views later (according to Google, which I think underestimates page-view numbers from the era before it bought Blogger), I'm still here.
But not, I think, for all that much longer.
Now, hold your horses - don't throw yourself out of the window in a pique of despair just yet. No, I am not going to stop writing Monsters & Manuals. And no, I am not going to do a 'Huge Ruined Scott' and delete what I have written so far. However, I am giving serious thought to shifting over to Substack in a slightly rejigged form at some point during the course of this year.
Why would I do such a thing? And, more importantly, why should you inconvenience yourself by having to type in a different web address in your browser a couple of times to visit my new blog until its address comes up first in the auto-fill?
There are three reasons, of which one has a sub-reason.
1) Substack has a nicer interface and is a more direct (dare I say intimate?) way to communicate with one's audience. You subscribe, you get my posts in a pleasantly readable form in your email inbox. No more navigating to a (rather clunky, let's face it) site.
1a) The sub-reason to reason 1 is that I have always had a feeling of foreboding that at some point Google will yank the plug on Blogger - as its occasional wont (and as most of us remember with respect to what happened to G+). I would like to have my exit strategy already executed before that happens.
2) I have recently found that old posts of mine are being reviewed for 'sensitivity' by Google and having warning signs put on them. I'm not sure if this is a step towards a more robust form of regulation on Blogger that will mirror what Google already does on YouTube, but the whole exercise of sensitivity reading just gives me the willies and sours me on the platform. I don't plan to post anything I consider to be 'insensitive', but whether I do so or not is my responsibility, and whether people want to read it or decide to be offended by it is likewise their prerogative. That is the position that appears to have been adopted by Substack and it is one I endorse.
3) Substack provides an opportunity for monetising creative content that is much more interesting and exciting to me than Patreon or its equivalents. Let me make clear: I have no intention to move to a model under which people pay for the type of content I post here and will continue to post when/if I make the switch. I will go on posting much as I currently do - about twice a week on average - and that side of things will remain free. But I like the idea of releasing content (campaign settings and adventures) in portions to paid monthly subscribers as an alternative to the Big But Rare Kickstarter Release Model that has become standard.
This decision has not been decisively made yet, and if I do ultimately make the switch there will be an extensive swap-over period during which I post both here and at the new place, so you will have plenty of warning.
I daresay that some of you will have opinions about this - please feel free to tell me what they are in the comments. Let me take the opportunity in closing to say what I rarely (if ever) say, which is that I greatly appreciate my regular readers and commenters here at the blog. I wouldn't have kept on doing this for 15 months, let alone 15 years, if it had felt like howling into the void. That it doesn't is largely because people read my writing, comment on it, and share it. I am grateful.