Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Or Maybe Not

That last post may have been a little premature.

Our whole group is seriously considering dropping Gen Con and saying goodbye to the "housing lottery" for good. We're talking about going to Origins. I dunno. Nothing's decided yet.

Personally, I have a lot of good memories from Gen Con, but, if this is the way it's going, maybe it's time to let it go.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Gen Con on the Horizon

Edit: That horizon turned out to be a mirage. See next post. And maybe a few after that. Actually, just to be safe, you should probably read the whole blog.

I've got my Gen Con events worked out.

Doctor Who: The Claws of Time
Thursday 2pm -- Doctor Who RPG
Above 31st century Venus, humans living in an aerostat colony have recovered a long-buried zerosteel vessel from the surface. One silurian passenger has miraculously survived in suspended animation and been restored to life. Since then, there have been weird equipment failures and thefts throughout the station. To make matters worse, several groups of citizens have begun exhibiting strange cult-like behavior patterns. A Second Doctor adventure.

Dreams of Sarnath
Thursday 7pm -- Cypher System
Despite the weirdness, it's really not that complicated. Enter the alien world that lies beneath all human dreams, swing some swords, sling some spells, and recover an object called a prevestige, which can somehow cross back into the real world. Then all you have to do is wake up and hand it over to Professor North. What could go wrong?

Dark Light
Friday 2pm -- Icons Assembled
Blackout has left a trail of destruction across Beta City with her weird darkness-based powers. Despite the seemingly erratic nature of the attacks, however, a pattern is emerging.

The Sinking City
Friday 7pm -- Cypher System
All over the little college town of Blackridge, people are being tormented by nightmares of drowning. Not all of them are waking up.

Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Roleplaying Game for Tables
Friday 11pm -- Bean RPG
Take the roles of animated fast food products or one of their neighbors in this off-the-rails RPG based on the late night cartoon.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

BASHCon Submissions

Here's what I submitted to run at BASHCon 2016:

The Crystal Rifts of Tartarus
Cypher System -- Saturday 3pm
In a frozen ruin on the surface of Pluto, an unscrupulous syndicate has found the key to an alien technology that could be used to access other universes. In their efforts to exploit this potential energy well, the Synarchy may have tapped into a power they can't control. Another tale from the Jupiter Moon Chronicles.

The Nightmare Tree
Cypher System -- Saturday 8pm
The evil tree in the swamps of southern Arkansas haunted their dreams for years. When they cut it down, they thought the nightmare was over, but the horrors only increased. Psychically travel into the heart of a nightmare and beyond. Visit an astral reflection of Ganymede and find the true roots of the Nightmare Tree. Another tale from the Jupiter Moon chronicles.

Of course, none of that will matter if the whole convention is a train wreck this year. Their new registration site isn't filling me with confidence. Still, there could be worse things than the lot of us just hanging around chugging Starbucks and running games for each other.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Worlds Within Worlds

2015 mostly feels like a success.

Don't make too much of the picture. That scene came to mind because this season always raises Michael's shade. It's partly the family togetherness thing and partly because his birthday was New Year's Eve. So here's a flicker of a mood that you can stare right into. Of course, there's no evil robot for me to take revenge upon, but I've found something else.

Anyway, now that we're done with that, let's see how I did on the goals I set last time.
  • Losing Lanterns -- YES!
  • New Novel Underway -- YES! (more on that later)
  • Qalidar Supplement 1 -- Meh.
Okay, so two out of three. I don't even talk about Qalidar as something I'm working on anymore, although it wouldn't take much to finish it. As I've said before, all that's left is grunt work. It's just that, whenever I commit to sitting down and working, I want to work on the novel. The novel feels like The Future. It feels like progress. It would be nice to have that game done, though, especially after I've come so far, so it stays on the list. Eventually, it'll magically finish itself, right?

And when I don't commit to sitting down and working? Two games have really been brightening my nights lately: Icons and Dungeons & Dragons (5th edition, for those who keep count). The Icons campaign that we started in 2014 is still going, and even inspired Tom to do a few spinoff scenarios. I've rambled on before about how much fun I'm having in that game, but I felt like any summary of the highlights of 2015 would be incomplete without saying again how much I love getting together with those guys to spin our offbeat superhero tales. The D&D campaign is run by my one of my oldest, dearest friends. It's only only a few sessions in, but I'm loving both the story and the game itself. And my desert nomad paladin. She rocks.

This time last year, I hadn't decided which of three projects I was going to focus on next. A few months later, I settled on one. By June, I had changed my mind. That second plan stuck, and I got the Bad Idea outlined well enough that I was able to start getting into the prose this September. I probably should have started sooner, but the first sentence is always so hard to write. I'm still moving along and still very excited about this book. I could be putting more time into it, though.

I've even got a working title, The Throne of Gorgudai, and a web page, although the web page is not quite finished because I can't get over being offended by the expectations people have regarding summaries and character descriptions. I want to just say, "read the damn book if you want to know about the characters!" but that's probably not great for buzz or engagement or whatever the hell I'm supposed to call it.

Blackridge hasn't been abandoned. It's just something I doodle with now and then instead of a specific book I'm working on. It could very well be the next main project. One of my scenarios at last year's Gen Con was set there, and I'm thinking of doing that again. Which reminds me that I'm behind on submitting my events for BASHCon and I also need to work out my schedule for the big one pretty soon. Yeah, Gen Con's still a long ways off, but, believe it or not, the frenzy begins in January. I love Gen Con, but I hate it, too.

For next year, my only serious goal is to keep working on Gorgudai. Finishing it would be great, and should be achievable, but I'll be happy if I can honestly say that I kept it moving and stepped up the pace a bit.

So... I guess I'd better get back to work.

Friday, December 04, 2015

Lots of Games

It's funny how fast I went from mostly gaming at conventions to juggling a calendar full of home games. There's my regular superhero game (Icons), of course. I've talked plenty about this one already, but let me just say again, I'm absolutely loving this campaign. Tom's recently started his own spinoff sessions, so now and then I get to play in The Scrap Pile as well as GM. Thanks to the magic of teleconferencing, I even got to sneak off to a game while I was visiting Mom for Thanksgiving.

There's also Beckett's Red & Pleasant Dungeon Crawl Classics campaign. It's been a while since we played that one, but I don't think it's dead. That's the only completely in-person one, which makes it a little bit more challenging to schedule. The others are all online Hangout games.

And then Curtis started his 5th Edition D&D campaign, and Jerry's running at least one more session of his Old West horror scenario. There's nothing I can link to for those, but they're both pretty cool so far.

Games good.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Carnage of the Lost World

Last Wednesday, we packed up after work and took off for what, if pressed to choose, I would probably call my favorite convention. I think the trip is actually part of it. Out of the soul-numbing corn flats of Ohio, we cross through the picturesque hills of upstate New York and eventually into Vermont, which is basically one giant resort in the mountains. Well, that's what it looks like, anyway.

Just to make the fairly long trip a little more leisurely, we usually stop for the night in Syracuse before moving on. That gets us to Thursday, when we settled into our room and bought some groceries. Since this was Tom's first year at the new location, we also wandered around a bit to take in the scene. It looked kind of odd to me because, last year, everything had been white.
I sent out some messages to let everyone know where we were and we got the Thursday game of Conspiracy X going. I had been having reservations about the system after slogging through a few NPCs and a "monster," to the point where I went out and found pre-generated player characters online instead of making my own.

Despite all that, the game itself ran smoothly. I had some great players (ended up using all six pre-gens because Rags joined in at the last minute) who were able to navigate my over-complicated plot in style. I say it was overly complicated but, considering the genre, maybe that's the wrong word. I mean, we were playing a game in which most of the title is the word, "conspiracy," right? Also, I did something I've wanted to do for a long time: drop a crew of modern world characters into the Tomb of Horrors. It was an abridged version, but still. The looks that went around the table when I dropped that first illustration were (I hate this word, but...) priceless.
Some drinking (okay, more drinking) and socializing followed, first at Game of Growlers, then back in the room with a smaller group. Tom poured so many glasses of rum down Matt's throat that he couldn't find his own room.

Tom and I woke up weirdly early on Friday, so we went across the street for breakfast at... I can't remember what it was called. Club House or something like that. Anyway, I never gave much thought to the relative quality of pancakes, but these were amazing.

We wandered around a bit, got our badges, all that. Tom went off to run a game and I went over my notes for the ones I had coming the next day. I was scheduled to play in a game that afternoon, but it wasn't my first choice and another thought had been squirming around in the back of my head.

It was cloudy and a little drizzly outside, but otherwise really nice. It was freakishly warm for Killington in November. There are hiking trails there. Hiking trails in the mountains. Remember that I live in Ohio now? I felt a little bit guilty about bailing on a game, even one where I was only a player, but this was an opportunity I couldn't miss. And hey, the convention theme this year was "the lost world," so going exploring seemed like an obvious win.

I looked over the map of the resort, grabbed an overcoat in case it rained, and took off. It was crazy windy and I did have to pull the overcoat over my head a few times. I had an umbrella, but I already knew it was no match for those gusts, so I didn't even bother carrying it. A little poking around and one false start later, I was on a trail and heading up the mountain.

It was wonderful. I didn't come across any particularly striking vistas, and the visible wildlife consisted of a woodpecker and some angry bluejays, but it wasn't long before I couldn't hear or see the road. There were no buildings, no people, and not a single goddamn farm anywhere. I realize it was hardly deep wilderness or anything like that, but it was enough.
Like I said earlier, it was crazy windy. It wasn't constant, but there were powerful gusts that started getting scary as I got higher up. I don't know how common this is, but wind like that stirs up some kind of visceral panic in me. I feel, all the sudden, like I need to crouch down and grab hold of something or I'm going to fly right off the planet. I wanted to find out what it would be like to keep pushing through that, but then the rain picked up, so, after just a couple of hours, I headed back.

I hooked back up with Tom and we had dinner at the Snowshed before our evening games. For me, that was Steven Parenteau's Spirit of 77 adventure. I played Tangerine Jones, a sleuth with an orange perm-fro who tried a little bit too hard to fit in with her cool friends. Don't tell anybody, but her real name is Edna Pearlman. I wasn't all that helpful in the mission, which involved helping our car guy's brother get some moonshine across the county line to sell, but I had a lot of fun.

I was wiped out after that. Zack came by with Tom and we chatted for a while, but I was half asleep even while I was talking.

As before, I was a little surprised by how early I was up and moving on Saturday. I swore off morning games a long time ago, so there was plenty of time to chill and then get ready.

My 13th Age game, "The Fire Within," only had two players signed up, but Tom had a few players and a game he wasn't all that eager to run, so we combined the groups into a slightly more than full table. I had seven players and only six characters, so Tom and Zack played the two brain-halves of the Frankenstein's monster character (statted as "warforged," but I don't like steampunk contraptions clanking around in my fantasy worlds).

The game itself was a lot of fun. The players kept things moving for me, so it was easy to run my "what's going on in this village" scenario. Whoever came up with the winged cat familiar on the pre-gens -- thanks! I had a lot of fun giving the wizard a headache with that one.

The rules were really smooth. Everybody enjoyed using their special abilities but (apart from the fact that, between the ranger and the druid, the party could muster two huge bears to terrorize the villagers) they weren't so god-like that they stomped the setting. The only thing that puts me off sometimes is that the characters I just described as powerful but not quite god-like were only first level. I kinda think 5th level is as high as I'd ever want to go with this game. I'm not sure that's a drawback, though, just not what I'm used to. After all, I decide what level everybody is every time in convention games, and the fact that these guys loved playing their characters is worth way more to me than my calcified notions of what first level should be like.

After a brief recharge and rule book swap-out, it was time to move on to Doctor Who with "Out of Joint." Another full-plus table gave us The Doctor, Romana, Ace, Jamie, Peri, Kamelion, and Nyssa (of Traken, not New Jersey). And yes, there was a reason for the crazy assortment of companions.

They put on a good show. The Time Lords are the hardest to play in that game (probably any game) and those players were both awesome. Peri made friends with a metal lizard, but had to leave it behind when the time spur collapsed. I consoled her player with the reminder that she wouldn't remember and was about to have her brain removed anyway. I decided to let Jamie, who was beginning to remember his work as a Time Lord agent, and the lizard, stick with the Doctor, just because. Maybe I'll use that backstory in some future adventure. Maybe they'll save Peri first because... technobabble retcon. I mean, Trial of a Time Lord was a mess anyway, so I can pretty much invent whatever continuity I want. Or they try to save Peri and just get Lord Kiv in Peri's body. Oooh, I could have an absurdly mismatched team go looking for Peri's brain!

Tom was either not finished with his evening game or was jumping right into his late game. Steve and Rags were in my game, so we were already together and headed over to the makeshift bar (the real one was being renovated) for drinks. Along the way, Matt used his unsettling ninja powers to materialize behind me out of nowhere. Or, okay, somewhere else. I'm sure he wasn't literally nowhere. That would really be unsettling.

We were actually sitting right where Tyler had said the trivia game would be, but after a couple of drinks we wandered off for some reason, had several interesting conversations at Scott & Petra's room party (once again regretting that I had been unable to play in Tom Mechler's Cypher game where the players are all velociraptors), wandered off again, and eventually got a text from a different Tom asking where I was, so Matt and I headed over there to hang out with Tom and Zack.

And then there was Sunday. In the end, there will always be Sunday. I had planned on packing up the car and then hanging out a little bit. I think I even told several people "I'll be right back" as I rushed past. Then I got caught up in Tom's mania to omygodwegottagetontheroadrightnow and forgot about all that. My apologies to anyone who felt slighted. I honestly meant to come back. I just didn't do it.

We later found out that the hotel was already filling up for next year, but we still managed to get the room we wanted. The theme has already been announced too, and here it is: Carnage Royale. So, I guess espionage and super-spies and stuff. Or painfully stupid banter about hamburgers in Paris. I really hope it's the first one.

And then Carnage was done for another year.


Monday, October 19, 2015

Stay Tuned

...or go away. I don't care.
But I'll probably announce something this week.

Here's a picture of some chewy fish oil.