RPGaDAY 2015!


Last year I dutifully posted a single post dedicated to this topic daily, even during my trip to Gen Con 2014. Well, last year’s Kevin apparently had time on his hands because it didn’t even register as a possibility this year. No worries though, I’m feeding you all the info you need today. I know you’ve been waiting for this with baited breath (my answers to this…not who won the contest right?). So let’s get to it!


Pheonix dawn command

That would be Phoenix Dawn Command by Keith Baker. The premise excites me the most, player characters expected to die heroically and return from the dead to fight once more. It’s been kickstarted and I for one can’t wait for the final product!


Spirit of '77

I actually missed out on Phoenix Dawn Command so I can’t reiterate that campaign. However, it’d be hard pressed to out-due my love for Spirit of ’77 anyway! I’ve had some immense fun reading through the rule-book ever since it arrived. Easily the most groovy Kickstarted I’ve ever been a part of.



Has to be Unleashed. I wrote about it extensively here on the blog, and you should certainly check it out for yourself. The game uniquely places its players in the boots of some of the most savage “heroes” you could muster up. The concept works on all levels, and I can’t wait to run more of it at my table.


gamma world

I’d go with Gamma World, the version made with a hack of the Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition rule-set. What surprises me the most is how well it actually works. I’ve always been a fan of 4th Edition but I think some of the gaming concepts the edition brings to the table actually work best in Gamma World. A really fun, quick to set up, game. Still a go-to for me when I need something last minute.


I don’t purchase a lot of RPG’s from the established companies these days, perk of being a blogger. I do back some of the Kickstarters I believe in the most though as they don’t have the resources to simply gift me a review copy. Some of the Kickstarters I’ve back recently have been Spirit of ’77, BattleBards, Of Dreams and Magic, Feng Shui 2, Karthun, & Fae Nightmares. I realize BattleBards isn’t preceisely an RPG but I like them enough to put them on the list.


I took a jaunt over to Illinois recently to hang out with some of my buddies over at the Gamerstable Podcast to… help with something I’m not at liberty to discuss. Anyway, I got to play Pathfinder for the first time. I played a ton of D&D 3.X back in the day so it wasn’t anything I found myself being “introduced to”, it’s the same game really. I did get to play Greyhawk for the first time ever though. It was a huge pleasure playing games with those folks, always a good time.



Nothing has changed from last year, my favorite free RPG continues to be Old School Hack. A fantastic little pick up game with some great support on it’s website. An honorable mention does go out to FATE though. I need to dig into that a bit more.


I imagine this was meant to be “popular media” and I generally don’t care for how it’s portrayed honestly. I think Role-Play Gaming is just too personal a thing for me and any time I see someone trying to portray it they just get it wrong somehow. It can be the smallest quirk in how they decide to play and I’m out. I don’t get angry though, a poor portrayal isn’t going to ruin the game for me anyway.


Steven Universe

I kindof just let my brain leap to the first thing I’d love to play and I think I’d love an expanded world of Steven Universe to play around in. For those not familiar with the show I’d check it out. Has a great mix of comedy and an utterly intriguing world. Would be awesome to play a character as some form of Gem. I’d also love to play a crazed Rick and Morty RPG.

rick and morty


I’d have to go with Pinnacle Entertainment Group. They make Savage Worlds and a number of the Campaign Settings I love from the rule-set. I’m also a huge fan of Privateer Press these days, I mean Iron Kingdoms and Unleashed are amazing.


This one’s tough but I’ll go with Keith Baker. The guy is just so friendly to fans and he made my favorite D&D setting of all time, Eberron.


Currently I’m digging the bar fight from the cover of the Unleashed book.

unleashed bar fight


My most go-to RPG Product would be my dice I guess.

My three strongest sets of rollers!

My three strongest sets of rollers!


I’ve always been really excited by the prospect of what the folks at Trapdoor Technologies keeps trying to bring us and they seem to have found their place lately with their app Playbook. It’s a soft launch of the product with more to come but go check it out!


Back in high school our main DM Mike “The Meatfist” ran a D&D 3.5 game set in the Forgotten Realms that lasted years and took us from level 1 to level 18. Solidly long game. Wish we’d actually tied it up with a true ending.


Honestly this could be represented by any number of games I played back in college. There were times we’d start in the afternoon and leave the house with the sun peeking out for sunrise. I can’t name one single time that was the longest though.


It’s Dungeons and Dragons, it will probably always be.


I love the concepts in Numenera, and would love to play it more, I just can’t run the game. I have a mind built for fantasy and Numenera is too weird for me there!


Eh, never been a huge fan. Maybe I just need a GM who can introduce me to a game where I actually enjoy it.


Dread. I love the added thrill of the Jenga tower. I do need more exposure to other horror games though.





With friends. Cheesy as Hell, but there it is. I do prefer an in person game to one over the net.


One where everyone is involved with only slight distraction for cutting a few jokes. Plenty of role-play with characters that everyone wants to play, and interesting combat.


Not worrying about stuff like arrows or food and water.


The 20 sided die.


Conversations with friends and colleagues. I love tapping into resources like The RPG Academy Network I’m a part of or The Vagabond Gamers G+ group I helped start. We are all gifted creatives and bouncing ideas off one another rocks.


Can’t say I have tons of experience with this one but I do enjoy taking a gaming style from on area and making it work in Savage Worlds. For example when Gamerstable took Conan and used Savage Worlds to run it.


My Eberron game from a few years back. Loved the players’ characters, my NPC’s, and where the story was headed. Sadly it fell apart. Non-Revivable.


You mean other than Melvin Smif’s Geekery? I’m a huge fan of everyone in the RPG Academy Network, you should certainly check them out. Other than that I like The Angry GM‘s stuff, Gamerstable Podcast, Monkey in the Cage, and Dyvers.


Probably Steven Colbert. He wears it on his sleeve pretty heavily and I think the more you see that the more likely others are going to want to try the games.


Video Games. Without RPG’s most of the things people really dig in video games would have been less likely to ever show up. Hit Points, Experience, Levels. You can thank RPGs for that.

There you have it folks! Let me know some of you answers below! As an added note, I’ll have the winners of my contest posted by Friday September 11th! Don’t forget about the AcadeCon Kickstarter either! It’s winding down but there are still badges to pick up. Would love to see you there.


CONTEST! From Me to You on my Birthday

Hey all, it’s my birthday! I turned 30 today and I’ve got gifts on the brain, but not for me, for you! Not only that but this is my 100th post! I’ve been wanting to hold a contest for a while now and figured today would be the best day to roll it out. So with out further adieu I present:

Melvin Smif’s Pitch Me a Game 

(Just imagine I put some picture of me throwing a 20 sider to a baseball catcher or something. I…I really didn’t feel like doing that.)

RPG Academy Logo

So I’m very excited for AcadeCon, and the Kickstarter, as you may recall from my most recent post. I plan to run a number of games while I’m there and have some great ideas for all of them but I’m willing to bet some of you might have some better ones so I’m going to ask you to pitch me your best concept for a Savage Worlds: Deadlands and/or 5th Edition D&D (bonus points if you use the Eberron setting!).

The pitch can be as brief or as lengthy as you wish it to be (though I’ll admit the more creative you get the more I’ll likely dig it) and I’m going to pick two winners. One for the best Deadlands pitch and one for the best 5th Edition pitch. The winners will be receiving some source books.

Hoard of the Dragon Queen

The winner for the best 5th Edition D&D pitch will receive a copy of the adventure Hoard of the Dragon Queen.

Savage Worlds Logo

The winner for the best Savage Worlds Deadlands pitch will receive a copy of the Savage Worlds Explorer’s Edition signed and personalized for them by Shane Hensley himself!

If I really like the pitches I’ll probably write those adventures up and they may feature at AcadeCon with your names mentioned as Co-Authors of course. After you win you are welcome to continue helping me polish your games if you can;t make it to AcadeCon, or if you can I will run the game for you. After AcadeCon I will feature the adventures on the site.So here’s how you enter. Send an email to melsmifcontest@gmail.com. In the subject line give me “YOUR NAME – ADVENTURE NAME/CONCEPT – SYSTEM” after that it’s all you, give me a sentence, paragraph, word doc, etc. put as much into it as you want! Like I said above, more effort will earn the best chances but hey, who knows you may line up the best couple of words I’ve ever seen so don’t let that discourage you ;)!

Contest will run for two weeks and I’ll have the winners within another two weeks tops!

Feel free to ask questions below or even share your ideas. Good luck folks!


Introducing AcadeCon

AcadeCon will take place November 13-15th 2015 at the Hueston Lodge in Oxford, Ohio.

RPG Academy Logo

Not long ago I became a proud member of the ever-growing “RPG Academy Network”. We are a collaborative group of gaming-centric creatives spanning many areas including blogging, podcasting, and even online gaming. The flagship for our group is The RPG Academy, podcast and online gamers extraordinaire. Michael and Caleb G. run the site and Podcast with an ever interesting rotation of faculty from the site and guest stars to spice things up on their actual plays and podcasts, not to mention a number of useful blog posts and gaming tools.

I’m not here to talk about all that though, I’m here to let you know about AcadeCon. In the past, Michael and Caleb G. have thrown a small version of the con in their neck of the woods but this year they are growing things a bit. This year’s AcadeCon, taking place November 13-15th at the Hueston Lodge in Oxford, Ohio, will be the first step into the brave new world of planning a larger scale convention.


The lodge is a beautiful looking place for a convention. Also, could be just creepy enough at night for a good game of Dread!

They have space set aside for roughly 150 badge carrying players and gamemasters, and the con’s special guests. Not only will many of the RPG Academy Network be there (myself included) but they’ve managed to put together a truly enticing list of notables from around the community. Podcasting guests include James D’Mato & Kat Kuhl, from the One Shot & Campaign Podcasts, and DM’s Mitch and Chris, from the Dungeon Master’s Block Podcast. Following that are makers of games many of you play and love. Big names like Rich Baker, Rob Schwalb, John Wick, and Shawn Carman. For being the first AcadeCon truly thrown to the public, the special guest list is packed!

So, AcadeCon has already funded. This means it’s on, we are having a Con. The thing is there are still badges available for people to attend. You should get on this. I can’t imagine the convention remaining a 150 person soiree in future years so this is your chance to get in on the ground floor and be one of those folks who raises their hand when asked if they’ve been to every year. A better selling point is the mixture of the big names mentioned above and the limited size of the con. Like I said, I can’t see this con being this small ever again so if you want a great chance to mingle with some of the folks who make these games, this year’s your chance!

Before I let you go just know that this promises to be a weekend of great gaming fun. I know I’ll be up late playing and running games (likely running more games than I even promised to run). It’ll be awesome to be involved with this landmark beginning of what I see becoming a big deal. If you have any questions feel free to ask me and if I can’t answer I’ll pass it along to those who can. Hope to see you there, come game with us folks!

Games I plan to run:

  • Savage Worlds: Deadlands
  • Savage Worlds: Homebrew game featuring Bullywug PC’s
  • 5th Edition D&D Eberron

Games I’ll have on hand that I’d love to run:

  • Iron Kingdoms Unleashed
  • Dread
  • Anything Savage Worlds
  • 4th Edition Gamma World


Kickstarter Vid:

Gen Con 2015 via Contributor Alyson Knezevich

When I realized I really needed to be there for my wife and her family during the week of Gen Con, and thus was not going to attend, I started wondering how I could get some Gen Con details on the site. I didn’t want to ask my friends who already write for their own sites, that would be nothing more than redundancy, so I put out a call on Twitter and Facebook to see if there were any capable individuals willing to do me a favor, and not to mention take advantage of a free Press Badge! If I had started sooner I’m certain I’d of gotten even more responses but I was pretty excited to get as many as I did last minute. One was a recently met friend named Beau who is in the process of designing a board game, he was just willing to write something as he already had a badge. I really hope he does because behind the scenes of shopping a game around the con would be really interesting stuff.

Other than Beau’s reach out the other responses I’d gotten were only nibbles. That’s why I was excited when another friend, Josh P., mentioned that his friend Alyson was going and would likely jump at the chance to write something up. Despite not knowing her I went for the idea, and boy am I glad I did. It’s always great to hear other’s Con stories and I’m going to just stop writing now, as I’ve droned on long enough anyway, and let her words take over. Thank you Alyson!


P.S. I know nothing of writing code so I really hope I Copy/Pasted Alyson’s coding joke correctly. Blame me if it looks wrong! 😛


Oh dear. Here it is—a Gen Con virgin writing an article about their first Gen Con. How cliché.
Luckily for everyone reading this, this was by no means my first convention. Although normally my cons are a little closer to home, hailing from Chicago, which is in no short supply of conventions. But you know—why not?

I certainly was not disappointed in the least.

I could gush on and on about how delightfully massive it was, but you would get bored eventually and tell me to—well—buzz off.

Regardless, after figuring out where to pick up my press badge—the sight of the Will Call line made me sob and thank the heavens I didn’t have to wait in it—I got to enjoy the wonderful Dungeon Mastery of one Ben Spiker (who, stands not only as editor for Pure Steam, a wonderful steampunk campaign setting for Pathfinder, but also the creator of the wonderful music that accompanies the books). The second book, which has a western steampunk theme, is on its way and the pre-made characters and adventures from the back of the book really aren’t terrible. In fact, I rather liked them.

I have always found myself loving character and world creation and customization—which the second book makes more offerings for—and HATE using pre-made characters or campaigns. I mean, I totally get using pre-made characters for a one-shot campaign, and I am beyond grateful that they were so well made that it made it near impossible to hate them. Additionally, I want to state that, for the record, I hate playing any magical class. They drive me up a wall. And, naturally, I got stuck with all magic users to pick from, being the third party member to arrive. Normally, I rock non-magical rogue characters—occasionally I am a back-up tank, in the case where a noob to a group is the tank and will likely kill them all, as a favor to my friends.

Alas—I was that one person who just went with the one who sounded the coolest—and the Gear Head Dwarf sounded pretty nifty. I’ll be honest, the way the Gear Head (Burrigan) is set up—his spells are literally just gadgets he gets to use, as opposed to regular spellcasting. Which does come in handy—especially on a mission to find and disarm the bomb on a passenger/freight train with a time limit.
Shenanigans ensued.

Now mind you, being a Gear Head, Burrigan is super intelligent and nearly stomped the Moonshiner (think drunken alchemist) Halfling with his Dwarven rage! (As dwarves are sometimes wont to do.) But first I saved everyone from the Moonshiner tinkering with the bomb, making the timer start to go faster, while I was making knowledge engineering roles to save us all from a fiery death so we could get paid. Good thing it was a one shot… because I rolled a natural 20 on punching him after I disarmed the bomb. Oops. At least it wasn’t confirmed to be a critical hit.

Now, I being a lass who grew up fighting with the Senegal’s Finest of Eryndor (the Michigan chapter of Dagorhir) before they split after I moved to Chicago, was thrilled to find some familiar faces in the gaming hall from Dagorhir, a nationwide roughly Tolkien-based LARP that focuses on combat (magic users need not apply). Primarily the booth was composed of folks from Mittelmarch (the Indianapolis chapter of Dagorhir) and one Senegal who has moved to Champaign, IL. (Hoorah Arczhidea!) As well as the wonderful folks from Forged Foam who hosted the booth (as well as some great combat gear in the vendor hall!)

The only complaint I have at all is that I do so wish they had more room and gym mats for the floor. It would work far better. (For those unfamiliar with Dagorhir, commonly when one takes a hit in the leg you drop to your knees.) The thing is with concrete floors you had to simply pivot on that leg—which kept you frozen in one place…undoubtedly with a lack of injury in the end at least. Additionally moving about is a nice thing to do so you’re not just fighting in a linear fashion. However, for one general ticket and the ability to keep getting in line to fight whomever with provided weaponry, it was a nice surprise.

I don’t get to fight much anymore save sparing with a friend of mine who played Amtgard (Another Foam Combat LARP) as an archer up in Alaska before he moved here to Chicago. Of course, now he has two jobs, and that doesn’t happen so much anymore. So spending a few hours doing that—regardless that most of the time was spent in line and giggling as I watched all these people who I knew could squash grown men into the floor with a single hit, fighting all nice and letting children kill them to be adorable—it was fantastic.

OH! One more thing:

Dear Gen Con,
Please do not put the foam combat booth near where people can make foam weapons that are certainly not legal by the safety guidelines of that game (meaning they could seriously hurt someone with them if they were fighting with them) and would make everyone’s lives a lot easier and less confusing.
Sincerely ~ A Concerned Con Attendee, Esq. The Third

Now, as the readers of this blog don’t know me, I’d like to let you all know now—I am not normally one to attend panels. I’ll run just about everywhere, save panels, when I’m at conventions. However, this time I actually went to one and was pleased to find myself intrigued to say the least. It was of course the radical feminist in me that called me to the Women in Gaming Panel, but that aside it was not the way you’d think it would be. As the panelists stated at the beginning, it would have been too easy and of not much good to anyone to sit there and rift on everything wrong with how women are treated in game and geek culture.

Lynne Hardy, Shoshana Kessock, Elisa Teague, Rachel Ventura, and Nicole Lindroos—some fabulous ladies in the gaming industry elaborated on why it was so important to get to a point where noting the number of ladies in gaming and geek culture isn’t necessary anymore. I mean the feminist in me enjoyed it. Hardy said many a noteworthy thing. The panel as a whole touched on equal representation not just for women, but also for all shapes and sizes and colors of women.

The one complaint I had was there was not a single woman of color on the panel. Different sizes, yes. Ages, kinda. Ability, yes. We even had people from the international community—however, everyone was still white. When I look in the mirror, I see a feminist. When my friend Liza looks in the mirror, she sees a black feminist. The set of problems are different for her than they are for me and still have to be recognized. Perhaps that can be remedied next year.

Panel aside, I was rather happy to find that there was so much—and I mean SO MUCH—Cards Against Humanity, both pick-up games officially organized ones, EVERYWHERE. In fact, during one such session a wonderful lady was feeding me scotch. But I digress… my point being, as a terrible person I found myself in many a game of CAH feeling familiar and safe with complete strangers equally as terrible. Probably good for children not to appear during those games… with talk of coat-hanger abortions, lampreys biting taints, Bigger Blacker *cough* Boxes and what not. My first two nights certainly ended with CAH games that went on for a while as they often do.

The third ended with six hours of “Are You A Werewolf?” with the same moderator. Our moderator loved us (us being my two companions for all six hours of gaming)… maybe. We certainly loved him, and how he cared less and less over time. It was hilarious for us at least.

boolean play = false;
int time = 0;
int x = 0;
boolean modCaring = true;
var mod;
boolean somethingHappening=true;

void wereWolf ()
if (x==15) {
play = true;
} else {
if (play=true;
&&time==1.08e+7) {
modCaring = false;
if (modCaring = false&&somethingHappening=true;
) {
mod = ohThatsRightImModding;
} else {

Yes, I did just make that kind of joke. (Yes, I could have more aptly coded that so it could actually work—in fact, I just might.) I have to say though, it was bloody brilliant not being werewolf fodder twice in a row. It was also bloody brilliant unleashing my sneaky werewolf self, as I chomped the village to nothing—twice in a row. Om nom nom, villagers.

As far as the vendor’s hall goes, I was extremely pleased to discover a wonderful steampunk game. “Incredible Expeditions: Quest for Atlantis” with a dapper convincing sir, Tobias McCurry, on stilts selling the pants off of it. Though only watching the game play, I was intrigued by it anyway. It’s one of those rare board games where, not only can you play it co-op or competitively, but you could also play it on your own when you have some time to kill, wonderfully versatile indeed.

Of course, I nabbed some more expansions for “Dominion” for a fantastic deal, “Cthulhlu Munchkin” (Because why not?) and “Fred”—which is a very ridiculous game whose art reminds me strongly of a mix between the works of Michael Hussar and Roman Dirge, and whose game-play sounds like it’s bound to lead to someone being arrested because that game seems like one that will be played with alcohol involved. For example, one card dares a player to strip to their skivvies and run a lap around the building in which you are playing. (Questionably arrest-worthy here in my neighbor in Chicago.)

And a few other trinkets here and there. What looks to be a wonderful comic, “The Sixth Gun” (Authored by Cullen Bunn, illustrated by Brian Hurtt and published by Oni Press) which was described to me as a western-horror-fantasy. The line work is gorgeous in it. I also purchased the 5th ed. Player’s Handbook because, while I do have the .PDF, it’s always nice to have, you know—not questionably acquired things that you can hold in your hands. A new dice bag with an amazing octopus embroidered on it. You know—things and stuff.


Learning from my mistake this year—waiting until the last minute to purchase event tickets is a terrible plan of action. So if you have never gone to Gen Con before—let me lay it out as a good plan of action now. BUY ALL THE EVENT TICKETS. Well not all of them, but certainly more than one event specific ticket.
Also I really should have brought my camera—says the BFA with a concentration in photography. I know I left it behind for the very reason that I absolutely know I will get caught up taking photos of all the cosplayers and not actually doing fun convention things—however it makes me sad that they only pictures I got were terrible phone images. //cringe
The two that I took were important (to me anyway: one wonderful Slenderman cosplay and a video of a fantastic Star-Lord complete with music.) I probably should have taken a picture of my Capable cosplay from Thursday, but I’m not too concerned.
Also bring more money… so many things I wanted in the vendor hall—so many things.
In addition to that, I need get a room attached to the convention center—or near it. Yes it will be far more expensive, but I can really rock my con body at that point and not sleep for days. It will be wonderful!
And then it would be terrible.
Yay coming home to my copy of Exploding Kittens (complete with NSFW deck) and another PS3 controller!
Hope everyone made it home safely and I hope I will see you all next year!