RPGaDAY 2015!

rpg-a-day-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!


AUGUST 1ST: FORTHCOMING GAME YOU’RE MOST LOOKING FORWARD TO

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!

AUGUST 2ND: KICKSTARTED GAME YOU’RE MOST PLEASED YOU BACKED

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.

AUGUST 3RD: FAVORITE NEW GAME OF THE LAST 12 MONTHS

wpid-20150415_065836.jpg

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.

AUGUST 4TH: MOST SURPRISING GAME

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.

AUGUST 5TH: MOST RECENT RPG PURCHASE

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.

AUGUST 6TH: MOST RECENT RPG PLAYED

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.

AUGUST 7TH: FAVORITE FREE RPG

OSH

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.

AUGUST 8TH: FAVORITE APPEARANCE OF RPG’S IN THE MEDIA

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.

AUGUST 9TH: FAVORITE MEDIA YOU WISH WAS AN RPG

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

AUGUST 10TH: FAVORITE RPG PUBLISHER

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.

AUGUST 11TH: FAVORITE RPG WRITER

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.

AUGUST 12TH: FAVORITE RPG ILLUSTRATION

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

unleashed bar fight

AUGUST 13TH: FAVORITE RPG PRODUCT

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

My three strongest sets of rollers!

My three strongest sets of rollers!

AUGUST 14TH: FAVORITE RPG ACCESSORY

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!

AUGUST 15TH: LONGEST CAMPAIGN PLAYED

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.

AUGUST 16TH: LONGEST GAME SESSION PLAYED

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.

AUGUST 17TH: FAVORITE FANTASY RPG

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

AUGUST 18TH: FAVORITE SF RPG

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!

AUGUST 19TH: FAVORITE SUPERS RPG

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

AUGUST 20TH: FAVORITE HORROR RPG

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

AUGUST 21ST: FAVORITE RPG SETTING

EBERRON!

combat_eberron

AUGUST 22ND: PERFECT GAMING ENVIRONMENT

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

AUGUST 23RD: PERFECT GAME FOR YOU

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.

AUGUST 24TH: FAVORITE HOUSE RULE

Not worrying about stuff like arrows or food and water.

AUGUST 25TH: FAVORITE REVOLUTIONARY GAME MECHANIC

The 20 sided die.

AUGUST 26TH: FAVORITE INSPIRATION FOR YOUR GAME

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.

AUGUST 27TH: FAVORITE IDEA FOR MERGING TWO GAMES INTO ONE

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.

AUGUST 28TH: FAVORITE GAME YOU NO LONGER PLAY

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.

AUGUST 29TH: FAVORITE RPG WEBSITE/BLOG

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.

AUGUST 30TH: FAVORITE RPG PLAYING CELEBRITY

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.

AUGUST 31ST: FAVORITE NON-RPG THING TO COME OUT OF RPG’ING

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.

-Melvs.

Advertisements

Arm Yourself With Confidence

Melvin here. I’d like to introduce you all to Erik, he is a friend and fellow Vagabond Gamer. Like Topher, Erik has agreed to be a contributor to the blog from time to time, and after reading his heartfelt post below I think you’ll agree he’s a good fit. Welcome Erik!

I’d contend that for each and every person who calls themselves a gamer there has been a moment in their life that they’ve been having a conversation with someone and thought, “you know, I’d bet they’d really love gaming.” Far too often though we’re crippled by a fear of inviting them. So rather than extend our gaming circle, and to spread the happiness we’ve found in the hobby we simply sit in silence. We let our potential convert slip away.

Why do we do it? Why does the fear exist. In this, the age of the Geek, why do we neglect our responsibility to bring others into the fold? We live in an era where things such as “nerd hot” and “geek chic” are truly a thing. Movie stars, regarded by the mainstream as the paramount of cool, openly admit to being gamers. So why then do we so often find ourselves tongue tied when given a clear opening?

Unfortunately the answer isn’t easily discovered, and more often than not it’s personal. I can’t tell you what it is that’s crippling you, but I can tell you what was crippling me. More importantly, I can tell you how I got passed it. Perhaps a piece of what I have to say will help someone who is unable to summon up their courage and invite that friend, relative or coworker to come to the table.

When I first started gaming, I thought it was the greatest thing since sliced bread. As far as I was concerned each and every person on the face of the planet should have been gaming. I was in middle school at the time, and started inviting friends to come and play on the weekends. I got a handful of friends together one afternoon, sat down with my prefab Dungeons and Dragons module and started to run my first game. Not a single person at the table took it seriously.

As it turned out, most of them were there to be nice. Those who were remotely interested in playing jumped on the bandwagon of turning it into a farce rather than a game. I had adventurers tearing doors off hinges simply for the sake of it. Setting houses on fire if they had no treasure in them. As a 13 year old kid running his first game for his friends, or people he thought were his friends, that’s not the easiest thing to deal with. I was at a total loss of what to do, and in short I just wanted to take my dice and books and run off to cry.

It didn’t take long before one person at the table flat out said “this is boring, let’s do something else.” So my group of friends who I’d invited over to game all left to go do something different and I decided to stay home. I was emotionally scarred and from that point on couldn’t bring myself to even raise the question of gaming to anyone. Not just for the short term either, but for years.

I got into a handful of groups in High School, and a few more at Junior College. Nine times out of ten I’d start as a player and then they’d ask for people to volunteer to GM. I’d end up behind the screen and running the game, but I’d never be putting a group together. I never invited a single friend to come and play. I always just found a group, and made an effort to be accepted. When friends would ask what I was doing at lunch, or what I was doing on Tuesday night or whatever… I’d just mumble nothing. I refused to risk the humiliation I’d felt in Middle School.

Then I met a buddy of mine named Shriane Dream Phoenixx, and this man helped me fall back in love with gaming. He was someone who had fallen so in love with a system that was inherently broken, that he went to great lengths to resolve the issues with it. He sunk hundreds of hours into fixing this game system, and then went about putting together a group. He asked everyone, because he wanted to play and he believed in his soul that anyone can have fun at the table.

After the third or fourth person who turned him down I asked him about it. “Shriane,” I said, “how do you do it? How do you put up with the rejection? How can you just casually ask someone if they’d be interested in playing?” His response was simple, “Because I want to play. See dude, all they can do is say no. Or all they can do is mess up a single session if they’re not into it. When the dust settles, the game is still there, and I’m still going to love it. However, you can’t play without players.”

You can’t play without players. That right there my friends is the cold hard truth. Sure, not everyone you invite is going to want to play. Not everyone who gives it a chance is going to stick it out. However, if you don’t make the effort to bring people in, you’re going to be stuck without a group. The fact is, we as gamers are happy with our hobby. It brings us joy, relaxation and a creative outlet. The benefits we reap from it are vast and there is no reason for us to be ashamed of it. Those who choose to mock it can only do it once, and then we don’t invite them back. Those who believe it’s not their cup of tea can only say no. Those we bring in, however, are the true worth. The friendships forged around the table, and the enjoyment shared makes the “nos” worth it.

It’s not a cure all, and I can’t say that making this decision is going to lead to the situation being comfortable. However, keeping in mind that the worst they can do is say no will help. I wouldn’t be gaming with my local group of friends if I’d not made the effort to ask. Take the risk, who knows what you’ll find.

-Erik Taylor

Of Dreams and Magic: Live Your Dreams & Battle the Doubt!

ODAM LOGO

Of Dreams and Magic (ODAM) is a new entry into the world of Tabletop Role-Playing Games currently being funded via Kickstarter.  Players take on the form of “Anima” or individuals who have come to the realization that our real world is not what it appears to be and in a “Matrix-Like” gesture have shrugged off the yolk of the “Doubt”.  An Anima becomes a representation of whatever magic they called upon within their dreams when they realize they have power over the Doubt, capable of using this magic in the real world as well.  The Doubt is an oppressive enemy force that acts as a layer of mundane between the people of our world and the magic they should rightfully be able to grasp.

ODAM Girl_Dreaming

The artwork looks top notch.

I’m a fan of the concepts this RPG puts forth.  There is nothing limiting here, the Dreamweaver (title for the GM & love note for you Gary Wright fans out there!…anyone? Eh? No? Ok, moving on then.) has the option of presenting adventures either in the real world or even in the dream world.  Thus you’re limited only by your imagination for what kind of adventure players go forth on.  Then there are the options for the players as any pretty much anything they want to run with.  They choose one of four Archetypes for their Anima that represent various fiction tropes.  Thus a player can play a superhero, maybe a dwarven berserker, a futuristic super soldier, or even something out of the realm of nightmares.  Again there is an emphasis of letting go of anything restrictive when it comes to who you are in game or where you can take those individuals.  Not to forget that the Doubt represents a malign form of this same principle so the Dreamweaver can form whatever villain they wish out of it.

Seeing all the above might make some feel that everything is just fast and loose here, you may find yourself wondering what kind of a system can support something so open ended.  I think they nailed it honestly.  I was a bit surprised to discover a pretty unique, yet robust system utilizing Attributes and skills by rolling two 10 sided die, considered over/under die, and figuring out a number based off the sum of The Over Die – The Under Die + The Appropriate Ability Score (chosen by Dreamweaver) to get the Ability test Result.  To get further into the nitty gritty of the system the authors are actually providing a pretty comprehensive playtest packet in pdf form that explains a bit about the game itself and does a good job of explaining the Gameplay Rules most of all.  You can download it on their website HERE.

ODAM ANIMA

With 19 days to go, ODAM is currently 30% funded.  They sit at just over $3,000 of their $10,000 fund point and I would certainly like to see this project fund completely.  One thing I note that may be a hindrance lies with the fact that the cheapest someone can get a Hardcover copy of the final book is at the $70 pledge level.  Typically the “hardcover level” comes into play at the $50, or cheaper, level with the noted exceptions of the Monte Cook Games fare Numenera and The Strange.  It is important to note that the final book will be a 300 page, all inclusive, and fully illustrated hulk so at least you’ll be getting a sizable piece of work.  Honestly I’m happy to see someone taking the step to really put their necks out there, wanting a quality item.  You’ll also get printed copies of every stretch goal at that point as well.  You can get a Softcover for as cheap as $40, and a pdf of the system starting at $15.

Here’s their project video.  If it is any indication of the art direction, I’m in.

 

I’ll be putting some money towards this myself and I urge others to do the same.  I find it really intriguing and hope to one day hold a copy of the book in my hands.  Then I can force the Vagabond Gamers into my own nightmare realms!  Errr… I mean… let them live out there dreams.

-Melvs

P.S. Check out their site to join in on a game run by the team themselves!  It looks likes they will be running weekly games for the foreseeable future to introduce people to ODAM.  I like that kind of community outreach!

Kickstarter Details: Link to the Kickstarter

  • ODAM Publishing
  • Goal: $10,000
  • My Backer Level: Pledge $15 – Digital Anima – You will receive a full color PDF version of Of Dreams and Magic, along with digital versions of all stretch goals.

 

Gen Con 2014

Gen Con has once again come to a close and I can barely come down from the high. So many memories were made as I met up with new and old friends, ate great food, attended some spectacular panels, and, of course, played some fantastic games. This recap will be lengthy, and I intend it to be all inclusive so if I forget anything call me out on it! Here we go folks!

https://i0.wp.com/www.eventsforgamers.com/wp-content/uploads/banner_gencon.jpg

WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 13:

IT BEGINS

Gamerstable

This year I had the honor of attending the con as a guest with the good people of the Gamerstable Podcast & Sidetangent Productions. If you follow my Twitter feed you may recall that I wasn’t going to be attending this year, I couldn’t see myself affording the hotel by myself. Thankfully the offer to attend and room with the group was made and I jumped at the chance, they really are the biggest reason I was able to make the con. So thank you all! I’m honestly eternally grateful. This trip has been the most important thing to happen for my work here on the blog since I started only a few months ago.

https://melsmifgames.files.wordpress.com/2014/08/88665-fiasco.jpg

Crazy enough, we only played on pickup game together this year, and that was on the drive to the con when we played a rousing game of Fiasco. The setting was a country club and we were just a bunch of High School kiddos trying to make it in this world being as cool as we could be. I’ve owned Fiasco for a while now and had never gotten the opportunity to actually play so this was an awesome time. I’ve stated before that no one really cares to hear a play by play of someone’s game so I won’t bore you with the full recap. Being Shawn’s twin brother Ritch Cambell (to his “Ditchweed” Mitch Cambell) was fantastic, and stayed a running joke all con. Also, having Shannon give Jayson and I wedgies near the end of the game gave the perfect ending to the drama. Good times.

DUNGEONSCAPE

dungeonscape_render_16x9DungeonScape is set to be the Digital Suite of tools for Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition being handled by Trapdoor Technologies. I was pleasantly surprised to receive an invite to their small gathering of press, where we were given the opportunity to view a presentation, test drive the product, and ask the hard questions. Well, I don’t think we were that rough on them.

The DungeonScape Press Invitational set the bar high for the rest of Gen Con. When I said that this con was important to my work as a gaming and geek culture commentator it was mostly in reference to this activity. I approved_screenshot_05droned on and on about it once and you can find that post here. I really do suggest you read it if you get the time. I found my experience with the team behind the project both insightful and exciting. Their passion for the project is infectious and they seem to have the skills to back it up. Can’t say I’ve ever been all that interested in an “at the table” digital aid, but I certainly am now.

The rest of the night was spent with Gamerstable, as most nights were, at their yearly meet up at The Ram. Unfortunately I spent a long time chewing the ears off the Trapdoor Technology crew so only a few minutes of hang time were possible. Hell, I was rooming with them so the whole weekend was a meetup for me, so I wasn’t too bothered.

THURSDAY, AUGUST 14

START THE CON!

August 14th is my birthday and Gen Con’s opening day was quite a gift! I awoke and arrived very early to apply and obtain my Press Badge. Once obtained I and the Gamerstable crew made our way to the Exhibit Hall so we could hit the floor an hour before the actual opening of the con. The Exhibit Floor was every bit as gorgeous and well design as it has been every year. I couldn’t wait to hit up some favorite booths.

Sketches!

Sketches!

My first stop was the Blind Ferret booth so I could handle something that had been bugging me from the prior year. R.K. Milholland is the creator of the Webcomic Something Positive and I’ve been a fan of his work for some time now. Last year when I met him for the first time I was nervous as Hell and when he asked me if I wanted a sketch I mumbled something in the affirmative apparently because he drew me an awesome Choo Choo Bear. After he had done that I walked away smiling…and completely neglected to tip him for the gesture. Well this year I was able to rectify that error of judgment and got to chat a little, still nervous of course but I may not have shown it much, and score another cool sketch, of Fluffmodeus this time. Check out the comic sometime, it’s great!

https://i0.wp.com/media.boingboing.net/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/portraitp1.jpg

My next order of business was the purchase of the Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition Player’s Handbook. I picked it up from the Cool Stuff Inc. booth for a little cheaper thanks to a page they had placed in the coupon booklet. All I can really say about the PHB is that it’s a gorgeous piece of work. The art is beautiful and the layout is tidy with a natural flow to it. It’s D&D folks. It has the mechanical feel, the art, even the FONT that screams D&D. Hell I’ll bet if I took a deep sniff it’d even smell like D&D (not sure what that might be though). I can’t wait to get a deeper look into the book but my initial page flipping scores it big props!

Gencon Dice

I stopped by to get my Crystal Caste Genon D6 and ended up splurging on the whole set, a mere $10! Then I just moseyed around looking for something to do, as my “go to” booths had been satisfied for the time being (with one glaring omission, but more on that later). I decided to stop at the first booth I saw where someone was Demoing a game. That booth ended up being Booth 2830 within the Entrepreneurs’ Avenue. The game company Imbalanced Games LLC was running their demo of Titan Tactics.

Embedded image permalink

Titan Tactics was a fun little 30-40 minute game where two players are pitted against each other as titans controlling their earthly avatars in an arena-like situation. The Avatars cannot die but points are scored for damaging them and you essentially play tug of war vying for the most damage dealt during each turn to earn a victory point of sorts if you come out on top. There are two ways to win, either one person deals enough damage to reach a winning threshold of damage or they win enough rounds. I liked the game a lot, each faction was known for a certain style of play and there were more characters in each faction that can be played in one game. These simple changes create a lot of potential ways to play and change tactics. I’d encourage anyone to check it out if they like skirmish PvP games.

WRITING AND PACKET PICKUP

After the Exhibit Hall allowed the general public in I hooked back up with some of the Gamerstable clan in the lobby and began writing my DungeonScape article. I really was grateful for the opportunity to test drive it for them and wanted to churn that out! Plus it gave me a chance to relax and catch up with what everyone else had bought or done in the Exhibit Hall.

By the time I’d eaten lunch and finished writing the blog piece, to be edited and posted later, it was 1:00pm which meant I needed to get to the Union Station so I could pick up my Race Packet for the Orc Stomp 5k! I was really excited for this race. Rob Orc Stomp Map 02Hall, who writes for Ideology of Madness, had sponsored the race on the site’s behalf and had scored some free race slots for it. When he offered them on Twitter I jumped at the chance and scored a ticket! The race packet offered a few discount goodies and a pretty cool shirt. They also handed out some maps of the course, didn’t realize it then but I was in for a beautiful view.

I finalized the blog piece and hit the Exhibit Hall one more time.  Then realizing it was nearly 5:00pm I raced off to another highlight of the con, the Gamerstable Awards Dinner!

GAMERSTABLE APPRECIATION AWARDS DINNER

2014 Gamerstable Appreciation AwardsWhen I was invited to attend the con as a roomie with the Gamerstable group it came with another sweet perk, I was also invited to be a guest at their Awards Dinner at the St. Elmo Steakhouse. This year there were two award winners.  The first was Shane L. Hensley, author, games designer, and CEO of Pinnacle Entertainment Group. Shane is best known for his work designing the Savage Worlds Role-Playing Game.  The second was John Kovalic who is best known for his Webcomic Dork Tower and his work illustrating the various versions and expansions to Munchkin.

2014 Gamerstable Appreciation Awards

Not only was the dinner superb, though certainly pricey, the company made for a rousing good time.  I was especially glad I got to meet Michal Tresca, RPG Examiner for Examiner.com and all around nice guy.  I was able to pick his brain about a few industry tips and he unfortunately gave me carte blanche to reach out to him post con for more tips of the trade.  He may regret that!  Also, I have to commend one member of Gamerstable, Mike Bridges picked up two of my drinks for my birthday.  The man is a class act!

2014 Gamerstable Appreciation Awards

I didn’t bend the ear of Shane Hensley or his friend and coworker Clint Black, who I discovered was not the country western star but rather Savage Worlds’ Brand Manager, much.  I wanted to leave that to the people who had invited them to dinner.  Also, there was an unfortunate scheduling conflict for John Kovalic so he was unable to attend.  As you can see via the link above though the Gamerstable Team was able to meet up with him later.

LATE NIGHT RAVENLOFT

Embedded image permalink

I’ll just stop calling things “highlights” of Gen Con 2014 because it’ll just get repetitive fast, but my friend Pierce’s, you may know him as @Sorcerer_Blob, Dungeon World Hack of that age old D&D Module Ravenloft was certainly a highlight!  The main reason lies with the fact that Pierce and I talk, a lot, on Twitter and have forged a fast friendship over the years, but at Gen Con 2013 our meet and greet was limited to a ten min chat at the very end of the con.  Getting to spend a few hours with him, and some new friends, gaming late into the evening was a spectacular way to close out the night and my Birthday.  I also got to play the Dungeon World equivalent of my favorite character ever Caul Rickrak. Now we just need to finish the game!  Thankfully, Pierce has promised a G+ Hangout just to do so.

FRIDAY, AUGUST 15

ORC STOMP 5K

I awoke with a start from a dream where I had been being chased by bees that just kept humming and buzzing to discover a few things.  One, the “buzzing bees” were likely a dream manifestation of my phone’s alarm that had been vibrating (not playing “Frog’s Song” from Chrono Trigger loudly as it was supposed to be doing) for a long time.  Two, that my friend Scott (@TheAngryDM) was tweeting me asking me where I was.  Because three, I was late for the Orc Stomp 5k!

It was roughly 5:55 am, I was roughly 12 miles from the Con, and I thought the race started at 6:00 am.  I was embarrassed and furious with myself.  Mostly I was feeling like I had let down Rob after he had so kindly reserved me a spot.  Well, to make a long story short I discovered the race actually started at 6:30 am so i decided to try my luck at making it and I am certainly glad I did.

Embedded image permalink

I mean, look at that view!

I arrived roughly 20 mins late and luckily found the starting line easily enough.  I took off like I’d taken the Run feat at my last level up and quickly realized I’d be very alone for most of the race, though I did see Rob wearing his Flash shirt heading for the finish line.  That was fine though, it was a gorgeous day with some truly lovely views as you saw above.

In the end I caught up with the tail end of the other racers, earning some odd looks in the process.  It looks like I ended up right around my usual 30 min 5k time and I’m more than https://fbcdn-profile-a.akamaihd.net/hprofile-ak-prn2/t1.0-1/c24.24.302.302/s160x160/254535_135810829829893_7632531_n.jpghappy with that considering I hadn’t even gotten to stretch, eat, or drink before the race.  Sticking around to chat with Rob, Scott, and a few other runners made the whole thing worth it honestly.  Not to mention I got some good exercise in.  I will say, being in shape enough to run a 5k gets you in plenty good shape for surviving all the walking you do at the con.  I fully recommend everyone come out for the Orc Stomp next year!

INDIAN FOOD & SAVAGE WORLDS

https://i1.wp.com/a4.urbancdn.com/w/s/XZ/3kRmigLuw45vov-640m.jpg

After the race I went back to the hotel and got ready with everyone else for the day.  Upon arriving downtown we had trouble finding a parking spot and ended up parking a fair distance away.  This was okay though because it helped us stumble upon a wonderful Indian Restaurant that’s off the beaten path for most Gen Con attendees. Haveli Indian Cuisine has a lunch buffet that’s just $8 and it just plain rocks.  Likely the dining experience of the Con for me, and I had eaten NY Strip Steak two nights in a row.

DL NOIRThe Iron Kingdoms panel wasn’t until 4:00 pm so I had time to kill.  First I went to the Exhibit Hall to catch a few booths I had missed.  I wanted to stop by the Pinnacle Booth to possibly get my Savage Worlds book signed by Shane but he wasn’t there.  Clint was though and while he and I chatted he introduced me to John Goff, writer and game designer for Pinnacle and the designer for one DL NOIR SIGof the newest properties out of Pinnacle Deadlands Noir.  So naturally I bought a copy, had been meaning to anyway, and had John sign it.

Another booth I endeavored to visit was the Harsh Realities booth so I could meet and chat with Ben Rogers, one of the men behind Sixcess.  Ben actually resides here in Missouri, https://i1.wp.com/cf.geekdo-images.com/images/pic1744184_t.pngless than ten miles from me actually.  So I just had to meet up with him and pick his brain about the system.  I’ve always thought it looked solid and it also has a lot of supporting campaign settings.  We had a nice chat and I mentioned possibly meeting up later for a longer interview.  Looking forward to that!

The last booth I hit up on Friday was Hirst Arts so I could add to my collection of molds to use for future 3d Dungeon projects.  I’ve written about my love for these before and was more than ready to pick two more of the beauties up.  I now have enough of my own to get work done without having to borrow from my cousin’s husband.  It’s exciting!

Hirst ArtsFrom there I spent a good deal of time just outside the Press Room so I could use the Wireless they allotted us, and to rest my back from carrying that backpack around all day.  Not long after I’d sat down though, who do I see but Shane Hensley coming down tot he press room to do an interview, he actually recognized me from the dinner too.  It was nice to get to chat with him one on one finally and I even bothered him for a signature in my Savage Worlds book.  Turned out the folks he was supposed to meet weren’t there so he took off.

IRON KINGDOMS UNLEASHED AND DICK JOKES WITH BRIAN PATTERSON

Next up to bat were some back to back panels, the first being Iron Kingdoms Unleashed.  I’m glad I had my laptop on me because the one they had brought didn’t support the Video hookup for the slideshow they had for us.  I plugged mine in and off we were!  I plan to write an entire post about this little gem but I can give it some love right now too.  The game looks fantastic.  For those who aren’t familiar Iron Kingdoms is Privateer Press’ RPG ruleset and Campaign Setting for their tabletop skirmishes games Warmachine and Hordes.  Their first entry into the scene was the Full Metal Fantasy Core Rulebook, and its various supplements, and the best way to describe it would be to say it represents the Warmachine factions in RPG form.  Unleashed is slotted to represent the Hordes style creatures.

https://i2.wp.com/www.beastsofwar.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/Croaks.jpg

It’s going to be really cool folks.  Not only will it be its own stand alone RPG its rules, despite representing a quite different tone, will be fully compatible with Full Metal Fantasy.  I for one can’t wait to get my hands on it.  The cover art we got a sneak peek at may be an ENnies contender!  Anything in that rich world they’ve created is worth looking into for Fluff alone.  Love the mechanics too!  Look for a longer post later hopefully.  I somewhat cornered Ed Bourelle, the Creative Director for Privateer Press, and asked for some slideshow pics to share during that review.  Maybe I’ll get a review copy *fingers crossed*.

brian-patterson

 

Brian Patterson invited me to his panel at the DungeonScape Press Invitational so I felt obligated to be there (just kidding Brian).  I had a good feeling about what was coming down the pipe here after watching Tracy Barnett and Brian tease a co-secret on twitter for the last few months and I was pleasantly surprised to see I was right.  Brian and Tracy have joined to forces to form the company Exploding Rogue and their first order of business is to kickstart Brian’s Campaign World Karthun.  If you’ve read his comic at all you’re likely as eager to get your hands on it as I am.

D&D TYRANNY OF DRAGONS LAUNCH PARTY & THE ENNIES

Hooked up with my buddies and grabbed dinner then we all headed over to the D&D Launch party while still trying to decide if we would go to the ENnies or not.  I got my Tyranny of Dragons poster and unweildly dragon hat then got a few rounds of Sun King Brewing Company’s Froth of Khan, the official beer of Gen Con and a delightful Brown Ale with a creamy coffee flavor.  We all decided to go to the ENnies, heck I’d never even been before so I was certainly interested.  Plus the Gamerstable folks had a friend nominated in the Best Cartography section, Anna B. Meyer with her Map of the Flanaess.

Union Station is a great site for an awards show.

Union Station is a great site for an awards show.

The ENnies were well run and never felt as slow as you would expect an Awards Show to be.  Plus the presenters shied away from making it an opportunity for stand up and really made sure to put on a fine show, with a touch of humor, but mostly stayed out of the limelight.  Anna sadly did not win her category as she was not given either “Pathfinder” or “Numenera” as a name at birth (a glaring misstep in hindsight).  It was actually pretty much Paizo and Monte Cook Games’ show this year, cleaning up in any category they were nominated in.  To the point where they were thanked at one point for not entering one of them.  So I had fun at the ENnies, despite one accident with a beer cup sporting one of those weird magnet bottoms…but we won’t get into that.

SATURDAY, AUGUST 16

MISTBORN RPG

https://i1.wp.com/www.crafty-games.com/files/image/CFG07001-Mistborn_Cover-Sales_Page.jpg

Saturday we got to sleep in some.  This was a good thing considering my last two days had involved me staying awake for over 18 hours each!  My first item on the agenda was one of the few gaming items I had actually scheduled for myself, a Mistborn RPG called “The Good, The Bad, and The Alloy”.  The Mistborn RPG is set in the universe created by Brandon Sanderson, and really has a unique setting to play in.  Most everyone has some sort of power influenced by metal they either ingest or have on their person, with some really unique options.  take a look at the series if you want more, or the RPG.  Both earn a  Melvin recommendation.

If you guessed the game was a spin on The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, give yourself a cookie.  It went well and, unlike most con games, it seemed like most of us were roleplayers who wanted the best outcome rather than just a bunch of fisticuffs.  We were careful with out resources and approach to things, we made sure to try talking things out most times before heading straight into the fight, and the one time we knew we had to start a shoot out we used caution to set up a damn near perfect ambush and won in a way better than the game actually considered possible!  In the end we found what we were looking for and had circumvented the big showdown with our earlier win.  We pulled off some good stuff there!

DUNGEONS AND DRAGONS: A DOCUMENTARY

https://pbs.twimg.com/profile_images/1462713844/D_D_Sticker.jpg

Oh look! He’s talking about THAT again!

This panel was a highly anticipated event for me.  Not only was I getting to catch a sneak peek of a film I had kickstarted and given loads of lip service to, but I was getting to meet some of the people behind it that I’d been talking to (mainly over twitter) for some time now.  The film looks great and will certainly provide a wonderful narrative of the origins of Dungeons and Dragons, it’s impact on gaming in general, and will certainly display individuals that simply love gaming!  The film also didn’t display itself as a typical “talking heads” fare but rather it felt free flowing with its imagery and focus on dynamic on screen action, far more than what you would expect from a historical piece.  I can’t wait to see it and every day that seems more and more likely.  There was even talk of a theatrical release!

While there I got to catch up with Michal Tresca again, who’s apparently in the film, and then D&D a Doc 01got to meet with Jon Peterson.  Jon is an affable guy who can easily be distinguished as one of, if not the, leading historian for Dungeons and Dragons.  At one point he informed me on a piece of lore surrounding the 4th edition digital tools that I’d previously been unaware of and the recent stuff isn’t even his forte!  After Jon I finally cornered Anthony Savini, the director of the film, and was surprised when he was genuinely excited to meet me and had a lot to talk about.  I mean, we’d spoken before but “can’t wait to meet you at *such and such event*” doesn’t always mean that someone earnestly awaits shaking your hand, but Anthony was that type of guy.  I left knowing the film was in even better hands than I’d earlier assumed.

COSTUME COMPETITION

Embedded image permalink

You were robbed Kat!

https://i2.wp.com/us.cdn281.fansshare.com/photos/souleater/soul-eater-maka-by-seig-warheit-maka-801083428.jpg

I hadn’t gone the previous year but certainly enjoyed seeing everyone march about the con in their finest Cosplay.  This year was no different but I had incentive to catch the actual show this time.  Gamerstable Eric’s daughter had crafted a truly killer costume and routine for the show and having seen it I honestly thought she was a lock.  She was Maka from Soul Eater and her costume was utterly fantastic.  Not to mention she had an honest to God black belt (because she is one) level martial arts routine tied together with audio and music she had ripped from the show.  She had done all of this on her own, and when I heard she’d gotten second after a pair of kids who played Tuffnut and Ruffnut Thorston, from How to Train Your Dragon, in a decent performance I was frankly confused.  That’s the kids division for you though, cuteness often overrules quality.

LURKERS IN THE VALLEY CALL OF CTHULHU LARP

Magic

There was one last item scheduled for my trip to Indy and that was a LARP.  Now, I’d never done a true LARP before, but I was big into theater and drama all through high school and a decent chunk of college so participating in what boils down into essentially an improv game didn’t seem too tough.  Little did I know getting to put my acting chops back on turned out to be one of the funnest things I got to do at the Con!

The setting was in a big city place of entertainment called the Magic Mansion and I was a private investigator named Johnny Modesto.  I was just there to tail some broad who was steppin’ out on her guy.  She never showed but I caught a look at some dame who bore a striking resemblance to someone from a previous case but I just couldn’t put my finger on it!  From there my character just enjoyed the evening while putting the worm in a few people’s ears to try and get some dirt on the new mark I had.  Of course, my story was only one of many people’s that night and when things (and people) started going crazy from odd supernatural events, my problems started piling on!

LARP

 

I had some company along with me in the form of Shannon and Eric from Gamerstable, who both played their characters great!  An added benefit of their attendance is that sometime down the road we plan to get together and give a good play by play of the whole thing.  I’ll end up linking it here for your enjoyment!

SUNDAY, AUGUST 17

Its always bizarre to wake up on the last day of Gen Con and suddenly realize it’s basically over.  We packed up and hit the Con for one last buzz through the Exhibit Hall where I bought a copy of King of Tokyo for my wife.  After that I endeavored to return my Generics but upon discovering the line I handed them off to a few new found friends who I met through catching up with Pierce one last time.  Then, we hit the road.  I was eager to get home to my family.

POST CON THOUGHTS AND REGRETS

I know I need to thank the entire Gamerstable crew for inviting me along for the ride this year, I likely wouldn’t have even gone to the con without their kind inclusion. Also, I need to remember to use my early hour on the Exhibit Floor, granted by my press badge, wisely.  This year I should have grabbed King of New York while I was out there!

I missed a bunch of people this year, some at the con but mostly those who couldn’t make it.  Next year I’ve been told by the Vagabond Gamers that many of them intend to show and that would be some awesome stuff!  I definitely want my buddies here at home to come with me some time, I love hanging with all the online friends I’ve made but wish I could introduce the friends I grew up with to the con as well!  Most of all, I missed my wife.  Sarah made it last year and that meant I got to see the con through two sets of eyes.  Next year the con starts at the end of July though and that means her school schedule won’t get in the way!  So here’s hoping she can join me!

It was a banner year for me at Gen Con and it also marked a true change in how I see this blog.  I’m hoping to get a bit more serious about tracking down some real stories out there and trying my hand at reviewing games and game related items.  Onward to Gen Con 2015!  It’ll be a blast seeing what changes in the industry between now and then!

As always, take care and good gaming!

-Melvs

Day 18: Favorite Game System

DAY EIGHTEEN: FAVORITE GAME SYSTEM

Geez… I just got back from Gencon and you hit me with this question!? Talk about a tough choice, especially when I’ve just spent four days being reminded of the many many systems out there and why I love them all so much! I need to choose though, and I choose Savage Worlds.

Savage Worlds Logo

Okay, so my opinion may be swayed a mite by the fact that I spent a great deal of time with Shane Hensley, Clint Black, and John Goff during Gencon at the Gamerstable Award Dinner (I even scored some autographs because in the end I’m a Fanboy at heart) but even without that fact in play I think I would still have gone with Savage Worlds and its many varied campaign settings. It may not be the system I’ve played the most, Dungeons & Dragons in various forms earns that particular honor, but it is certainly the system I reach to first these days.

Deadlands Guy

If I've not cemented myself as a full on geek in your mind yet, here's my Hail Mary.

If I’ve not cemented myself as a full on geek in your mind yet, here’s my Hail Mary.

Hensley’s set of generic rules are very adaptable to any sort of game, be it one of the numerous established settings already available (i.e. my favorite, the Weird West setting, Deadlands Reloaded) or even a game of your own creation. I once crafted a game where the characters were all Bullywugs investigating the poisoning of their swamp lands. Setting customization runs the gambit of Fantasy to very Real Life and Ancient Times to the Far Future, with little difficulty.

 

No Lie, Matt Fuller (Monkey in the Cage) once blew up an entire airship with a Moltov due to having enough Aces!

No Lie, Matt Fuller (Monkey in the Cage) once blew up an entire airship with a Moltov due to having enough Aces!

The mechanics are simplistic but can easily allow for some more complex actions and maneuvers if someone desired to really get squirrely. Revolving around a die mechanic that allows only D4-D12 and matching those die to single Attributes and Skills makes for low numbered Target Numbers and a limited scaling that doesn’t complicate the math too much down the road. Some of the more exciting additions are the additional Wild Die one rolls, no matter their common Skill die, and chance a better result out of the two options and if either of the die you roll hits the highest number they are capable of you “Ace” allowing for another roll to add to the total. That “Ace” can account for some truly unexpected results.  After that I would point to the Initiative system that uses a deck of cards every turn. This randomizes the fights ever turn, rather than limiting everyone to a static initiative. This does a good job of adding the chaos one would assume a true fight to the battle. Will you go before the big bad?

So Savage Worlds is easily my favorite choice for a pickup game, or a limited engagement, and can work just as well for long term play. I also feel it’s simple enough that I’ve used it often in Google+ Online Hangout games with the Vagabond Gamers and in a few Play by Post games in the past. I’m gearing up for another Play by Post right now actually. If you’ve never tried this game I urge you to check it out. It has some of the best support when it comes to Campaign Settings that I’ve seen with a generic set of rules and you’ll quickly fall in love with throwing those Bennies (tokens that the players, and even the GM, get to use for added “Benefits”) around!

RPGaDAY Day 15: Favorite Convention Game

DAY FIFTEEN: FAVORITE CONVENTION GAME

Ah Gencon 2013, my first ever Gaming Convention

Ah Gencon 2013, my first ever Gaming Convention

There is no contest here, one game comes to mind immediately.  That game would be one run by GM’s Hujraad Johaansen and Matt Chimienti at Gencon 2013 titled “Big Showdown in Little Canyonside: Snakes on a Plane Redux” (Apparently it was a sequel of sorts).  My wife and I joined this game on the advice of Matt Fuller with Monkey in the Cage and we were lucky to have done so!

The game was run using Hujraad Johaansen’s rule system named HiBRiD, an acronym that stands for Heroic Ite’ Based Role-playing-game in Development.  The game focused on a group of 80’s action heroes, chosen from a group of pregens that had been crafted for us, that were thrown into a crazy nonstop (very 80’s) adventure.  The GM’s decided to really pump things up by providing everyone with gobs of what they called “Ite'” points.  These could be used to up the ante on the action by spending as many points as you wished to make your character do some really crazy things.  For example, near the end of the game when things were honestly getting really crazy my wife playing basically a version of Chuck Norris killed roughly 1,000 enemies in a matter of seconds and at the same time I spent enough Ite to have my speed boat (I was a Hulk Hogan like character) burst through a cave wall after running through some subterranean tunnels.  Yeah, it was sort of nutty, but it sure was a blast!

Don't mess with the Hulkster brudder

Don’t mess with the Hulkster brudder

I could give you a play by play, it has been etched in my memory, but I’ll just settle for linking the episode of the Monkey in the Cage Podcast where Sarah and I guest starred aside Matt and Robert talking all about Gencon 2013, and a lot about this game(Here’s the Link to that).

Also, here’s a link to Hujraad’s blog and twitter, he doesn’t spend a ton of time on the web but I certainly look forward to his next Gencon game set to happen in 2015 as he sadly only attends bi-yearly.  Hope he’s ready for the Vagabond Gamers though, cuz 2015 is going to be our year to crash Gencon together and his game will be on our list!

RPGaDAY Day 13: Most Memorable Character Death

DAY THIRTEEN: MOST MEMORABLE CHARACTER DEATH

I’ve been pretty lucky that as a player, of course I don’t play as often as I run games, I’ve not had a lot of characters die on me.  However, I do have one character whose death certainly stands tall above the rest, and I think the Vagabond Gamers likely know who I’m going to reference here.  Congratulations Erik, the death of my gnome Tevris takes the most memorable death title!

  • First, the players:
    • GM: Erik (aka @shrimpiclese)
    • Darn Shatterclub (Dwarf): Brent (aka @allgamer1)
    • Garin Stonefist (Dwarf): Matt (aka @freerangegamer)
    • Belhad Ironseeker (Dwarf): Jason (aka @TojuXinshu)
    • Tevris Fizzlewotz (Gnome): Me

Gnome memeErik is currently working on a world concept, to be fit into a yet undecided rule system, that is pretty cool.  I won’t go into too many details, as it is his world to share not mine, but the adventure we were on involved us exploring some ancient deep mines beneath the current Dwarven and Gnomish mountain kingdoms.  There was old steamwork-like tech lying about and Tevris was only invested in the trip because he was seeking a long lost technological artifact, and because he’d been coerced but you know, lemons into lemonade and all that.

Typically when we play in a Vagabond Gamers online session our characters have always been very helpful and considerate of each other.  They’ve always been teams that worked like well oiled machines.  Not this time though, oh Hell no.  Something happened here, and these characters barely tolerated each other.  Keep in mind that we the players were never at each other’s throats, no we were only bickering in game, but man did our characters bicker and though they were getting the job done they did so begrudgingly.

A team that bickers but ends up getting the job done! Ok... so we never meshed as well as the GotG but... ok I just wanted to use them in something :P

A team that bickers but ends up getting the job done! Ok… so we never meshed as well as the GotG but… ok I just wanted to use them in something 😛

Near the end of the game all Hell broke loose, mainly because a certain dwarf split from the rest of the group to go down while we went up (cough cough Belhad cough cough) and because my character upon seeing the ancient artifact he was interested in approached with zero caution.  Well, Jason’s character set in motion some sort of sacrificial ritual that would bring forth a demonic invasion and my character absorbed an artificial intelligence and lost an arm.  Oh, and Tevris went insane as well, couldn’t really adjust to the AI ride-along.

While Tevris was going insane Darn & Garin, who had made the climb up with my character, looked around saying “this is a bunch of nope” and just cheesed it.  Garin ended up hijacking a drilling machine, pushed go, and drove whatever direction it decided to move and made his way to safety and Darn just jumped through a random portal into a lush field and surprisingly it wasn’t some kind of horrible trap.

While Darn and Garin were escaping the crumbling subterranean pyramid (I think I forgot to mention that was happening) Tevris flew down the stairs to the bottom, screaming madness the entire route because the AI wanted him to stop the ritual being performed on Belhad.  Belhad had simply gone along with the suggestions of the creatures who considered him the reincarnation of their king, and when they asked him in the broken language he only barely understood if he wanted to begin the “ritual” he took a drag on his stogie and just said “yeah, sure”.  Well that ritual turned out to be sacrificial in nature, with the added bonus of reincarnating an ancient nigh unstoppable demon.  This is the small matter the AI wanted Tevris to stop.

Along the way Tevris had used his mechanical knowledge to forcefully attach his gnomish kopesh to the stump that used to be his arm, blown off when the AI tried to make him throw a grenade at Garin and Darn.  So Tevris arrived at the scene of the ritual fully prepped to go to war with those sacrificing Belhad.  Well, it didn’t really go so well.  Belhad got released sure but Tevris’ wild approach to the issue ended up serving him up as the ritual instead.

Like this, only with a tiny little gnome guy

Like this, only with a tiny little gnome guy

So Tevris Fizzlewotz died as a recent amputee, driven mad, and setting off the chain of events that would later cause great strife in the world Erik has created (did I mention he told us he would consider this adventure canon?) as an extra-planer entity known as a Kezrakai broke through the barrier into the world.  Belhad tried to put some hurt on the critter but nothing even scratched it, so Belhad ran and actually got away safely.  Certainly not Tevris though, he died rather horribly.

It was an awesome game and certainly a character death that will not soon be overshadowed.  Thanks Erik.