Pathfinder: Bestiary 6

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Ask anyone, I’m not a Pathfinder guy. I played decades of Dungeons & Dragons 3.X and walked away satisfied, but also with no real desire to play the system again. Even the enhanced version of the rules put out by the wonderful folks over at Paizo didn’t really give me an urge to dive back in. I don’t want to cause any confusion though, I have watch Paizo succeed, and give them nothing but praise for their, practically doting, attention to their fan base and quality product line. In my hands now is their 6th Bestiary. I think it’s high time I delve back in and check out some of these new monsters!

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Pathfinder has always been a game of excesses. They are great about providing a plethora of anything a player or GM might want to get their hands on. The Bestiary 6 sports over 200 new monsters & playable races for the table. Growing up I always had a thing for wolves, this has survived into adulthood so of the many new playable races I really love the look of the wolf-headed humanoid known as the Rougarou. I love the lore surrounding them, they are often mistaken as werewolves but actually detest lycanthropes and hunt them mercilessly. I think I’d really enjoy playing around with these guys. They can even shift to wolf form!

The biggest draw to this book, for Game Masters that is, are the inclusion of some really excellent new archdevils and a really cool Horsemen of the Apocalypse angle. I really like that the Horsemens’ steeds each have their own special stats and abilities. The Horsemen themselves are nasty creatures to go up against, the lowest CR being a 27. These are some truly epic level foes to throw at a party. Their lore is extensive too.

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Even Krampus makes an appearance.

The book is laid out very well. I’ve always enjoyed Pathfinder’s commitment to maintaining an artwork style that flows smoothly over all of its products. Keeping a similar look. This bestiary also sports a huge variety of appendixes to make searching for that perfect foe for your table very easy. The layout and variety of appendixes is something for other tabletop games to emulate.

While I may not find myself playing Pathfinder any time soon, I can eassily say that if you do this book will make for an excellent addition to your library. I have to say, with Starfinder on its way, I am very happy to be starting to dig a little deeper into Paizo’s line of work. They produce really quality items and I know their next line will be the same. Let me know if you have any further questions about Pathfinder’s 6th Bestiary below!

-Melvs

Gen Con 2016

Just like that the thunderous rolling of thousands of dice has finally ceased as the 49th Gen Con has come to a close. Once again I had the privilege of attending, and once again I more than enjoyed myself as I dabbled in old traditions and fresh wonders. Every year has its reasons to be memorable, and maybe it’s simply because I am fresh from attending but this one feels like it may go down as one of the best ever, well… for me at least. I’ll try to unpack everything as best I can but to be honest, with so much having occurred, I’m certain to leave a few things out.

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WEDNESDAY

Once again I had the pleasure of hooking up with the gang from the Gamerstable Podcast (whom I understand will be ending their podcast run in roughly 20 episodes WHAT!?) for some shared driving, room, and board. After a lengthy goodbye to my wife and two lovely kids (I missed them terribly all con), I made the trek to Illinois for the carpool. We left mid-morning and made Indianapolis in good time and the first thing we noticed was dear sweet Drowzee was Indy a hotbed for Pokestops and ‘mons! After a quick check in at the Sheraton we were off to The Ram!

The Ram has become the go to watering hole for the yearly Gamerstable meetup, and historically I’ve always had something else to do that night. This year I was free and clear to join the festivities though and I’m certainly glad to have done so. Getting the chance to catch up with the guys and gals of Gamerstable was a highlight for me the entire convention. I live within and hour or two of most of them but typically during the year life gets in the way of spending all that much together. I spent the night meeting up with old friends and made a number of new ones. Highlights include having the entire Of Dreams and Magic (ODAM) team come by to pay a visit, meeting Pete Petrusha in person finally, and Toju…TOJU my awesome buddy, and fellow Vagabond Gamer, from Australia that I finally met in person as well!

The Ram was highlighting the new EATdition from Privateer Press this year! ;P

The Ram was highlighting the new EATdition from Privateer Press this year! ;P

The Ram was an awesome hangout spot but that was the only place I needed to stop by Wednesday night. So I took a leisurely walk down to the Union Station Ballroom to catch up with Michael Ross from The RPG Academy. It felt like I was walking into a pocket plane wherein AcadeCon lay within Gen Con. I happened to walk into numerous games already in progress and, not seeing an opening anytime soon, I made due with some brief “nice to see-yas” and made my way back to The Ram to finish the night. I had kind of ditched the ODAM team anyway, so I wanted to get back and resume chatting with them, and others.

The night ended with a glance at the Will Call line and a hearty “Hell no I ain’t standing in that!”. I made my way back to the hotel and collapsed, ready to awaken in like 4-5 more hours to jump in the Press line!

THURSDAY

Thursday morning came real early for me. I woke at 5 a.m. and quietly stole from my hotel room into the dark morning. This year someone made the decision to limit press access to the con floor to just the first 90 press badge holders to jump in line that morning at the press room and I wanted that early access. As I was walking to the line I noticed there was an absence of a line for Will Call so I walked up and got my tickets in less than five mins (looks like skipping it the night before was the right call). I was fortunate to get in line as the number 29th line guy and Michael Ross was number 27! He willingly slid back a spot in line so we could chat about our excitement for the convention. The press line is always a fun time, I get to see a lot of familiar faces. Later on a few other buddies showed up further down the line so Michael and I had some fun tweeting back and forth with Rohit from Gamersplane and Bryce. Bryce made a crack about my beardless face & it hurt me deeply.

Press Badge in hand I realized I left my camera back at the room (I’m really good at this “reporting thing”) so I hoofed it back to the hotel. The trip back and forth from the hotel clocked in at .6 of a mile one way. Perfect distance in my opinion, just far enough away to dissuade me from spending too much time there but close enough for a walk.

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The early access line(s)

After grabbing my camera I made it back to the early access line just in time to discover the snafu that had occurred regarding it. Two lines had formed, I had no way of discerning which was the “true line” so I made the call to just sit near a wall outlet and charge my phone figuring I’d get in early no matter what line I was in. This marks the only time at the convention I ever noticed people actually seeming frustrated enough to cast aspersions on others. I totally got it too, see most of the early access folks were VIG’s (Very Important Gamers), they had paid good money for the privilege of early access and they wanted to ensure they got to the booths they were interested in in order to buy the games they feared were limited. So this two line business meant that effectively many were cutting in front of others. I wanted no part in that, had no interest in buying things right away anyhow.

As and aside, and I’ve struggled with whether or not to even bring this up, I feel Gen Con has an issue with the various access levels that they give Press. Now, being a member of the press pool at Gen Con it may seem like I’m complaining from a bit of a “first world standing” but hear me out. Right now the best access the press has to those on the exhibit room floor is the one hour early access on day one of the Con. We are given the same one hour that the VIG’s and various other specialty groups are given, and this year only 90 of us were even given that. The VIG’s are there to shop, they are going to storm the doors and fill up lines and time with the biggest names out there the second they get through those doors. While I have no qualms talking with some of the smaller groups out there, this is an impediment to our ability to catch some of the bigger fish ad hoc. We are certainly capable of setting up our own interview times, mine you, but it just feels like we should have a bit more access. In my opinion Press should be allowed in an hour early or an hour later on some other day. Give the VIG’s their initial day and let press have a day all their own. Maybe even one hour early on Sunday. Right now, other than the novelty (though I really love and appreciate that novelty!), there isn’t a lot of reason for press to be in there with the horde of VIG’s.

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So lovely

Moving on. That first hour on the floor was nice, if not particularly useful. I got to take in the sights without the crush of people you usually run into. I also noticed immediately that the fine folks of Gen Con made huge efforts to lower the crowds with a large increase in exhibit hall space! Later on in the con weekend I noticed the extra space made for a much more open exhibit floor.  I did get to speak with the creators of one particularly interesting game I’d never seen before. Fate of the Norns: Ragnarok has actually been around in some way since 1993 but it’s most current edition originates in 2005 and now has a second edition that came out in 2012. The books are gorgeous and the mechanics rely on the pulling of runes rather than die rolls, this style is called the “Runic Game System” or RGS. Looks like they were there repping their new book FotN:Ragnarok: Denizens of the North on top of their older, core books. Man these books looked very cool and I wish I’d been able to lay down cash right then and there!

The early access hour evaporated very quickly and after watching the hordes descend onto the con floor I grabbed some lunch, headed back to the hotel to chill for a bit, and then grabbed my Orc Stomp 5k packet! I’m always excited about the 5k, despite some thinking I’m nuts for even doing it. It’s fun just chatting with others getting ready for it too, so packet pickup is a nice easy going experience. After that I hit the exhibit hall floor for just a little longer and then it was back to the hotel yet again to get myself all dressed up for the annual Gamerstable Award Dinner at St. Elmos Steakhouse.

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Eric presenting Monte Cook the coveted Gamerstable Award

This year’s award recipient was Monte Cook, and his plus one was none other than Shanna Germain. I am consistently impressed by the ability Eric Austley has to draw in big names for this award, his recipients all deserve the accolades too. Monte and Shanna were excellent dinner table companions, despite the fact Monte convinced Shanna and I to try a Sichuan Button.  Don’t get me wrong, I like trying new things but… let’s just say it was not for me, not big into “electrocuting” my tongue. There were numerous folks I enjoyed chatting with in attendance as well. I got to meet Chris Hussey, in fact I sat next to him having a pleasurable conversation for about an hour before I finally realized who he was! I was able to catch up with my buddy Scott, The Angry GM. Running back into Michael Ross & Pete Petrusha was great too. Of course I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that this was the prime spot to run into Eric (and of course most of the Gamerstable crew; Shannon, Jayson, Mike, Dan, etc.) who was apparently super busy all con because he disappeared like a ghost after that night!

In the afterglow of the dinner I offered to run a pickup game of Savage Worlds: Sundered Skies for a group of us in attendance and I had a blast doing so. I witnessed a new friend of mine, Jason Butz, roll up one of the biggest exploding die continuations ever. His sorcerer meant to just freeze a railing in order to bust it and the grappling hooks attached to it but ended up freezing the entire side of the ship! They lost the cannons on that side of the airship but the pirates who were after them lost 3/4 of the men attempting to board. It was crazy!

Realizing it was midnight and Shannon and I both had to be up at 5 a.m. to run a 5k we called it a night.

FRIDAY

A mere 4-5 hours after going to sleep I found my eyes creaking open and somehow willed myself from my bed to get out the door and head to the Orc Stomp 5k. The second I was out in the cool morning air I found myself waking up instantly, it was a damn fine morning. As with every other time I walked to and from the hotel I casually had Pokemon Go running to grab stops and the myriad of Pokemon that crawled across the city streets of Indy. Many feel like you can’t truly enjoy your surroundings while playing the game but I find I can easily glance at the game off and on while taking in the sites quite well. not to mention I was made aware of some cool historical markers in Downtown Indy that I would have never paid any mind to before. Somehow I wasn’t even aware the Capitol building was right there near the convention center but, I know now!

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The Orc Stomp 5k was held, once again, along the White River Trail. Honestly this is one of the most gorgeous 5k runs I do every year. I met up with a fellow blogger friend of mine, Rob, who two years ago introduced me to the race by letting me run it under one of the free passes obtained by his sponsorship of the run. It was great catching up with him while we all prepped for the race. We had a few laughs about the last time I ran, where I overslept, drove frantically to the race, and then posted my best 5k time ever (something like 27 mins) just trying to finish the already started race! I enjoyed all the costumes immensely and reminded myself I’d like to dress up one year, I then found out that one of the costumed groups actually had a role in the run itself. The “Raptors” were associated with Exile Game Studio, specifically their game Hallow Earth Expeditions. As you can see in the image they dressed up like Raptors and “chased” us throughout the race. Essentially there were two main raptor types, fast and not as fast. If you beat the faster raptor you’d get a gold ribbon, and if you beat the next fastest you’d get a green ribbon. I loved this concept because I’m never going to win a 5k but I can sure beat at least one of them raptors!

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Waiting for the race to start was pretty fun. We discovered the starting line camped two Pokestops and we made use of them while chatting with fellow racers. I never got the name of the racer wielding the giant mallet, but I learned the next day after speaking with my buddies at Dog Might Games that the mallet was theirs, it was pretty damn heavy, and the guy who held it through the entire race had won the 5k the year before. Needless to say he didn’t win this year but man what an achievement to run 3.1 miles carrying that monstrous thing! Soon, the race was off. I made the mistake of running the thing as if I were actually in shape and earned myself a pulled calf muscle for my hubris. Still, I clocked a time of 33 mins, only three mins longer than my average. I was a blast and I even earned myself a green ribbon! I stuck around for the rest of my buddies finishing the race and then we headed back to the hotel.

I was very fortunate to have plenty of time to shower and ready myself for a very exciting portion of my day, the RPG Academy Network Panel.We had a decent crop of network folks at the con so Michael had decided to set up an open panel. It was a lot of fun, the podcasters fielded the majority of the questions early on because, let’s face it, podcasting is sexy as hell. Later in the session though we started delving into some blog, game mastering, advocacy, and regular old gaming questions that I was more than happy to jump in on. Little pleases me more than chatting with others who hold a reverence for this hobby and I enjoyed every moment of it (finally got to meet @theworstDM in person too!). Not to mention after the panel we got to get a little bit of gaming in as Senda and Emily introduced us to their 5 min RPG concept, and by “introduced” I mean slaughtering us mercilessly one after another…in 5 mins or less! This was recorded so you might later hear our downfalls.

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Left to right: Chris, Lucas, Senda, Michael, Emily, Myself

After lunch I stopped by the press room to debate drinking coffee or going back to the hotel for some sleep. While there I ran into Michael Long from Tribality and had a nice chat, then saw Rob Stith in the hall. By then the general lack of sleep had finally caught up to me and I trudged back to the hotel for a nap. Sadly this meant I ended up sleeping through the Phoenix Dawn Command & Shes’s a Super Geek panels that I wanted to attend but I know I needed it!

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I did make it to one of the panels I scheduled that day though. Privateer Press put on a development panel regarding Warmachine and Hordes. In years past I’ve attended panels by these folks regarding new upcoming products so it was interesting to listen in on one that comes on the heels of the major release of the third edition of the game. Many in the crowd, myself included, were hoping for a reveal of the newest faction that has been teased for some time now but we were left wanting. The majority of the panel consisted of some discussion regarding the way they go about creating a concept and the various channels it then goes through before becoming a retail piece. I could tell the room wanted to know more about upcoming items but frankly they didn’t have a ton to show off. If you recall two years ago, in the Unleashed panel, they had computer issues and luckily were able to use my computer to show off their images and such. Well, they had computer issues again and this time I did not bring my own so i couldn’t save the day. One tease we got for the new faction was that they intend to have them use feats completely differently from the other factions, but this is all still in development.  I asked about the Roleplaying Game (because of course I did) and I learned they want to expand on Piracy some more, which sounds fantastic!

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One thing I knew I had to do at Gen Con this year was visit with my friends behind Trapdoor Technologies and the Playbook app. In case you are unaware they have now aligned themselves with Paizo and Pathfinder (their app is even more polished  now than ever before). They were holed away in the Sagamore Ballroom with the rest of the massive Pathfinder realm. The place was truly daunting in size. It was great catching up with Chris and

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The last scheduled event I had for the night was the big one for me, the ENnies. If you are a regular reader you know this but this year I had the esteemed pleasure of actually being nominated for the Best Website category. I was pretty damn certain I wasn’t going to win even the Silver ENnie but I knew I needed to go to the event if only to see my site’s banner flash across the big screen in the front (which I totally neglected to get a photo of… luckily someone else did)! The best part for me was when my site popped up on the screen Kevin Kulp made the comment that my banner was the “Happiest he’d ever seen”, high praise to Wes of Nameless PC’s! Well folks, I didn’t win anything but I am certainly excited that I’ll forever be an ENnie nominated writer. Can’t take that from me eh? I sat there just long enough to see if Michael won Best Podcast for The RPG Academy (sadly he did not), and decided to catch the rest of my group at Giorgio’s Pizza for some excellent deep dish.

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We finished the night with a pick up game of ad-hoc Pathfinder run by Mike Bridges, of Gamerstable fame, where I was so slap happy tired that I ran a rogue modeled loosely after Emperor Norton , the first and last Emperor of these United States. His name was Vernon Lundman, he dressed in the finest of rags, knew everyone, and even minted his own currency known as the “Lundmark”. It was an awesome ending to a crazy day.

SATURDAY

Saturday was much more laid back than the previous two days. I spent most of my time running into friends and chatting a bit. Forgive me if you’re one of those I ran into and you aren’t getting a mention! I really had nothing planned until early afternoon. I ate an awesome Gyro from the Ali Baba’s food truck, which is starting to become a tradition for me. Then I spent some time in the park near the JW Marriott catching Cubones on Pokemon Go until I could evolve to a Marowak, as one does. Soon it was time for me to head to my scheduled game run by none other than Chris Hussman!

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Michael claimed this guy looked like Freddie Mercury

I was joined by Michael Ross and one of his podcast’s faculty members Brad. It ende dup being just the three of us as we weaved our way through a story filled with heartache, high adventure, and good old fashioned “end of days” stopping. I don’t want to go into too much detail, just in case some of you have the chance to ever play in this specific game. I really wouldn’t want to ruin it’s many twists. Suffice it to say it was my favorite game of the con. Michael, Brad, and I played really well off one another and in the end Chris even had some high praise for our roleplay and decisions throughout. I really got into character and loved every moment of it. Reminded me of why I love these games in the first place.

After the game we ran through a playtest of a neat game concept Michael is working on and I went looking for my crew for dinner. At this point, basking in the glow of completing all my scheduled fun I got to be a bit homesick if I’m to be honest. I missed my family a ton but knew I still had some fun times in store.

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Dinner was fun, we sat with the incredible Anna Myers at Champs where she had hung up her massive map of Greyhawk that she had crafted on her own. She is truly a master Cartographer. It was at dinner I where I was convinced to go to the Gencon dance, namely because Toju was going and I hadn’t spent nearly enough time with him. It was one Hell of a way to end the day, I’ll tell you that. The Union Station was filled to the brim with scores of us nerds just dancing (and drinking) the night away. Tons of fun, I only wish my wife could have been there, some of the most fun we have together is hitting the dance floor!

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The dance ended and I hit the hotel, instead of going to sleep I sat up with a number of my roommates. Shannon’s boyfriend Brandon and I chatted about how Goku is kind of a jerk among other awesome anime talk. After that it was lights out.

SUNDAY

Hard to believe the con ever really came to a close. I wandered around aimlessly with Shannon, Brandon, and Jason B. for a bit, then tracked down Michael at his Post Con deal where I ran into Dani and John. We sent a little love via snapchat to our buddy Pierce, who should have been at Gen Con running a Ravenloft game for us (had some weak excuse about buying a house). I then headed back to the con floor to debate once more if I’d make my one purchase of a Hirst Arts Mold but decided against it as I figured I’d spent plenty that weekend already. Thus, I made it through all of Gen Con purchasing nothing but food and lodging.

Lastly the gang and I met up with Toju, where we quietly chatted in the back of the exhibit hall until they shut the thing down signaling the end of another great year. After that the car ride home seemed to take forever as I yearned to get back to my family. Man, what a great time though.

Last thought? Sure wish Wizards of the Coast had been there this year…

Feel free to share Gen Con stories in the comments! Also, if you’ve got a hankering for another con, check out AcadeCon (meet me there!)! There are still passes availiable

-Melvs

PICTURES!

So there were a number of things I now realize I forgot to mention, namely because I can’t recall what day they occurred! I’m going to be lazy and simply put the pictures up with some blurbs.

 

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The Porkchop Express was in town for the event

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Some cool cats eh? Left to right The Carpe DM, myself and Rohit from Gamersplane

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Always awesome catching up with author Hans Cummings

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The RPG Academy Podcast pre-con meetup

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Finally worked up the nerve to shake Jolly Blackburn’s hand

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The ODAM team drops by The Ram

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TOJU! We look eerily similar in the face in this picture.

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Toju and Shannon

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More shots of the Gamerstable meetup at The Ram

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One of many fine brews I had the pleasure of sampling

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Dan and Mike strike a cool pose

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Pete and Jayson.

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Shannon and Rob

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Be proud of carrying that thing man!

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THE RAPTORS!

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The Pathfinder room was HUGE

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Got to the ENnies early enough to get a picture of the empty hall

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Had great fun with this crowd all weekend

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I witnessed the CarpeDM win a goblet scoop of dice from these guys

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Dogmight Games always has me salivating over their products

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My actual roll at the Crit for Success booth

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Cardhalla

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Anna Myers’ full map!

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Brandi & Toju

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The dance was most excellent

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Toju & Mike

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Shannon and Babs got to meet Andy Looney!

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Shannon’s Ash Ketchum was great!

COSPLAY PICS

Here are some great cosplay pictures that Shannon’s cousin Brandon was more than happy to pass my way.

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Playbook! The Immersive Gaming App

Title

A new app is in town from some old friends of ours. Trapdoor Technologies now brings you Playbook, a fee app available on iOS systems. Playbook represents a platform for Tabletop Gamers to generate characters, purchase adventures, and eventually forge their own worlds all within their linked iOS devices. In its current iteration we see a fully developed character generator and burgeoning bookshelf of, for purchase, adventures compatible with the system. Though still in Beta this is a free app that has some incredible potential for any Tabletop player utilizing the free rules from the Pathfinder Reference Document.

7 integrated modules.

7 integrated modules.

As mentioned above, Playbook comes to us from Trapdoor Technologies. The name may sound familiar, certainly so if you were ever excited for the Dungeonscape App that was being developed for D&D 5e. Trapdoor Technologies was the company behind what seemed to finally be a step in the right direction for Wizards of the Coast in the technological field. We were going to get an app that would finally garner us access to the books we buy in pdf form and it was being handled by a team of dedicated folks who loved gaming and had a knack for community involvement. Wizards botched things by dropping the project with no real reason stated. This blogger knows that it likely harkened back to their distaste for any kind of official pdf being out there and probably had a lot to do with how open Trapdoor Technologies was (is).

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This isn’t a bash on WotC article though, when it comes to their staying current in the technology realm that is way too easy a target. I’m here to talk about why you should check the app out. First of all, it’s a free character generator for games like Pathfinder and other OGL games. It’s smooth, and produces great content. If you and your friends all have the app you can create characters and the GM can run the game through their own iPad. Your GM may even use an adventure or two that you can purchase from the app, currently the only thing that associates cost so far as I have seen.

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One of the more endearing aspects of the Trapdoor Technologies team has always been it’s “Open Door Policy” when it comes to fostering community relationships withing our hobby. I see this playing a huge role in the fact that they have already worked with community members to create adventures based on the Pathfinder Ruleset that are currently for purchase in the store associated with the product. It appears that content creators can craft a solid adventure and then sell it through the app for others to play. To me this is an exciting prospect, I may even try to write something myself. Currently you have to approach them about it but there may come a time where this is a bit more automated. I also want to mention that they have also forged a partnership with Ed Greenwood to support the rule-set for his upcoming Roleplaying game Hellmaw!

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The app is currently in beta, but it works great for what it does now. If I’m to complain about anything it’s how difficult it can be to find in the Apple Store, hopefully as popularity grows that changes. In the future you will see additional content like the oft mentioned Forge where you will use the interface to create your own adventures, linking within your docs to maps, NPCs, enemies, tables, etc. I have also heard of work being done to bring the app to Android and even web based operating systems, which greatly interests me. After borrowing an iPad for a span of time I can safely say they’ve interested me and I can’t wait to see where it develops. Growth with this product has some incredible potential.

Adventures - Enemies

-Melvs

P.S. If you wish to approach the Playbook staff regarding publishing one of your adventures (or for really anything else) a good place to start would be their Twitter handle: @__Playbook__ Careful, that handle contains two underscores before and two after the name Playbook.

RPGaDAY 2015!

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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.

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!

-Melvs

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

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.

FINAL THOUGHTS/REGRETS/LESSONS

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.
Anyways…
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!

-Alyson

Gaming in 2015

I’ve made no secret that ever since I joined Twitter in March of 2012 I’ve entered into my own kind of gaming renaissance.  2013 was a year for growing my knowledge of new Tabletop RPGs and board games I’d never played.  Then finally this last year was one for growing my professional association with the hobby I love, utilizing this blog, my many connections through Twitter, and even a bit of Google+.  Of course, beyond all that, every year has been one of making new connections and, more importantly, friends.  So let’s just say I’m very excited to see where 2015 takes me, the industry, and my good buddies.  Let’s see what’s planned in the new year!

FOR THE INDUSTRY

By far the biggest story of last year was the release of the 5th Edition rule-set for Dungeons and Dragons and I am certainly looking to the future for what they have planned.  As of right now we know that Wizards of the Coast (WotC) plans to release two items in early 2015, currently March 17.  There will be the Elemental Evil Adventurer’s Handbook and it will be herald of another large adventure series called Princes of the Apocalypse.  At this time I’m not seeing a second adventure following PotA the way they handled Hoard of the Dragon Queen and Rise of Tiamat but perhaps it just hasn’t been announced yet.

What we know is that WotC has once again teamed with an outside company to craft both the handbook and the adventure.  This time they will be utilizing Sasquatch Game Studio LLC.  They are relatively new on the scene, having launched a successful Kickstarter back in the beginning of August for their Campaign Setting Primeval Thule, but the company houses industry veterans Richard Baker, Stephen Schubert, and David Noonan (I’d also be remiss if I failed to mention that my friend Scott, the Angry DM, helped out on Primeval Thule so I’m hoping to see his name in the credits once more).  I had the pleasure of speaking with the folks behind the studio at Gen Con last year and walked away impressed by not just them but their product.  I’m currently awaiting the 4th Edition version of their Primeveal Thule setting but considering their current partnership they might be busy.

Dungeons and Dragons may be the big dog in the room but there are certainly other companies and games I’m keeping an eye on.  One of the releases you may recall me being excited for is Iron Kingdoms Unleashed from Privateer Press.  I wrote about the Press Panel I attended at Gencon for the product and I’m hoping to get my review copy any day now.  I’m all geared up to read about this interesting foray into Role-playing.  It seemingly promises to be very different from most games I’m used to.  If you’re a fan of Pinnacle Entertainment Group’s Savage Worlds system, and especially their Deadlands setting, keep an eye on their news feed as just a few days ago they announced that the long awaited third Deadlands plot point is soon to be launched called Stone and a Hard Place.  Monte Cook Games had a strong 2014, winning numerous Eenies for their RPG Numenera and I expect to see some great things in 2015.  Also, we can be certain Paizo will continue to put out quality items, I’ve just never paid much attention to them.  Maybe I’ll try better for 2015.

One last bit of industry I’m wildly interested in, that doesn’t have a firm future, is Trapdoor Technologies and their amazing product Codename: Morningstar.  Sadly their Kickstarter doesn’t look promising at just about 18% of their fund amount with only three days left.  Obviously I’d like to see them fund, and their is still time if anyone wishes to go support this product I yearn for, but I have to admit I’m not hopeful at this point.  I’m still hopeful we’ll see something from them though, they have a vision for the future of how we game that I certainly support and, despite what some say, is nowhere right now.  I’ll continue to keep in contact with them even if their Kickstarter fails to fund and will continue to support them in any way I can going forward.  They are good people and I think they have something special to share with us.

MY PERSONAL HOPES FOR 2015

Obviously I plan to try and grow my impact with this blog, and possibly through some other channels.  I am upping my Con attendance, having been invited to a few in a press capacity.  Currently I plan to attend Origins in June and certainly Gen Con in August but there may be more in the future, I’ll let you know.

One of the things I was most proud of in 2014 was dipping my toe into mixing volunteerism with my love of gaming. It started with running a panel at the local Teen Fandom Con on tabletop gaming then culminated with running a game once a month for teens interested in learning the hobby.  I fully intend to continue running my once a month game, as the kids and I are loving it, and am hoping to bridge this into something more eventually!  What I would love to do is see if there is a way to partner with some volunteer groups that deal with either at risk kids or individuals with illness that may like to escape for a while into a world of fantasy.  Another idea is to run games for charity where people donate to be a part of the game.  These are bigger picture ideas though and I may not get to them in 2015, but I may start laying the groundwork!

Another little concept of mine is to perhaps do either a bit of Vlogging or finally start up that Podcast my buddy Topher and I always talk about doing.  If I don’t start my own podcast I at least hope to take a little time to visit with my good friends at Gamerstable across the state line and do a little guest work, if they’ll have me.  I’d love to see the Vagabond Gamers G+ group we have grow some, great group of gamers there if you want to meet with some online folk!  Who knows, maybe I’ll do some sort of collaborative work with Toby Gee over at Roll and Groove, he’s family so he might be honor bound to accept any proposal I through at him anyway.

I plan to get fit!  Maybe I’ll bring back a bit of geeky exercise information, like when I wrote a piece on my mental/physical prep work done to get ready for the Marathon I ran.  I know a few people who use apps to play out scenarios while they run.  I should probably check those out, maybe I’ll review a few for you all.

If nothing else, I hope my year is full over gaming. Hope yours is too!  Let me know what you have planned below if you so wish!

-Melvs

P.S. Keep in mind 2015 is the year they visit in Back to the Future II so you can expect all of that stuff too.

Like... Jaws 19

Like… Jaws 19